Did I process them to soon?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by RoosterML, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. RoosterML

    RoosterML Songster

    It was my first time processing a none meat bird. To be specific I processed 4 Lavender Orpington Cockerels roughly 16 weeks old. Also 5 more cockerels that were a cross from a Lavender Cuckoo Orpington Roo and production red hens roughly 12 weeks. Looking at them they were really nice size so I figured last weekend was the day to process them. After all was done I was no impressed with the amount of meat on the bird. 3lbs dressed. I will be eating my first one tomorrow so I will see if they taste different compared to meaties and are worth it. Is that normal weight for that amount of time? Did I process to soon? At what age do you all process your birds at? These were extra cockerels from spring hatching. Maybe what’s throwing me off is I have 6 week old conventional broilers along with some red broilers out on pasture. Now I know why they are referred to as meat birds. I am not expecting heritage breeds to grow like meaties but I did expect more I guess.:idunno:idunno
    Parront and Compost King like this.
  2. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Yep, Orpington grow quit slow but are indeed a dual purpose bird.

    3 # is very often the size we look at if process early. For birds of this type, many of us aim for 24 weeks... and require a much slower and lower cooking. VERY different from meaties. For what it's worth, many other dual purpose birds like white Rock and Marans will grow a bit faster than Orpington and slow growth was the reason I moved away from them.

    I never do big batches since it't just me processing. I cull out attitude problems first. And select after that maybe for size as I can only do about 2-3 per day. Hormones setting in and stepping up antics is one benefit of meaties over heritage (crosses), less of it before processing age.

    They should taste stronger like chicken. People unfamiliar might call it gamey. And they will be longer in texture almost stringy... speaking to 20+ weeks and especially if not cooked correctly. Older birds have thicker skin. (less desirable to me but your family may be less stuck on texture than me. I have not raised meaties myself but did trade a breeding rooster for a freezer bird that was delicious. :drool

    If you don't like other methods of cooking we use some of ours ground. Seasoned correctly, makes good tacos, spaghetti, chili, etc. But we like using it otherwise more shredded style like enchiladas, burritos, soups, casseroles... noting my less than stellar cooking skills.

    Hey, I'm just glad you're going for it and trying different things to feed your crew! :wee
  3. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    We start at 16 weeks with Marans and Bresse. At the moment my hybrids are taking a little longer but I was breeding for neat eggs more than meat this year. In order for us to breed we need to also be willing to eat the extra cockerels since they just don't sell well, or for much more than feed expense.

    3 lbs is the average at 16 weeks for us, with the exception of the Bresse. For them we start with the smallest and that's about 3 lbs. I'm aiming for a size increase from them so the biggest are held back until we have a winner for the breeding pen at around 7/8 months old. This year's new fella is a beast! He got there quickly too, for a Heritage type bird.

    The CornishX just don't live long enough to develop the flavor we're after. We do a lot of pulled chicken, mixed with rice/veggies or done as BBQ for sandwiches. We pretty much live off of Burritos filled with what we have grown + rice and seasoning. And cheese. A nice mild white cheddar, usually.

    When we process an older bird (24 wks+) with great size/type... we treat him special and leave the skin on for baking. 24 hour salt water soak, 4 days to age in the fridge. Another day to marinate. The 3 pounders are skinned and processed down to breast, thigh/legs and wings and bagged in 2-3lb portions and frozen. We just did 12 that way and the total take was 15 pounds after further processing. Valued at $4 a pound in our area, that was $60 in meat from 12 birds at 16 weeks. That's the reason we don't give away our boys like a lot of breeders/hobbyists in the area do.

    The Bresse have bigger breasts, the Marans have bigger/richer thighs. When we bake, it's always a Bresse since they have a finer texture to the meat than the Marans.

    If there is a cull that's too scrawny, the dogs are MORE than happy to take them and we'll do a crockpot of chicken gravy for the dogs. So we save on dog food too, since they also get the eggs that aren't perfect or needed for hatching (they get the remainder of the turkey eggs this year, I'm done hatching now)

    We have a bachelor pen where the boys are grown out on pasture after 8 weeks old. I have an older cockerel who runs that coop and keeps the bickering down since there is a defined leader. He's fair and respectful and sets a good example. When a breeding candidate "graduates" from rooster coop, he's polite, diligent and hen ready. Rooster coop shares a fenceline with my best rooster and they do seem to learn by watching those interactions. It's been very beneficial to have mentor birds!

    We do the same with Turkeys, though it's a minimum of 20 weeks before you can even think about processing a Heritage turkey. They get height first, then fill out. 16 weeks for a double breasted Turkey.
  4. Parront

    Parront Free Ranging

    Jul 27, 2017
    Prescott, AZ
    I think that is an acceptable size for 12 weeks. Those are young enough to BBQ or fry. In my signature is a link to an article with pressure cooker fried chicken, from my 1972 pressure cooker. It calls for a chicken of the exact size you just harvested. We have gotten used to the size of the Modern Cornish-X, but the traditional fryer size is 2 1/2 -3 pounds.
    Tycine1, Texas Kiki and RoosterML like this.
  5. RoosterML

    RoosterML Songster

    I’ll be cooking this guy on the Ronco Rotisserie so I can compare apples to apples as far as cooking method goes.
    As far as waiting until about 24 weeks with Orpingtons they would have needed to be separated from the rest. They were starting to be a pain in the butt. I wouldn’t want to deal with them for another 8 weeks together in the flock.
    Maybe the Orpington is not for me. I don’t mind waiting but when I do I would prefer better results.
    Anyone have experience with Delaware’s? I have a couple hens and a cockerel. Maybe that’s worth a try. Original plan was Orpington Roo over Delaware hen for my own meat bird. I will try that and see how those go also.
    Parront likes this.
  6. Parront

    Parront Free Ranging

    Jul 27, 2017
    Prescott, AZ
    You will never get the breast meat like a Cornish-x from a cross of traditional breeds. The chicken you buy in the store has 50 years of professional breeding to get the size and feed conversion efficiency you see on them. You can go from chick to freezer size of 4-5 lbs in 6 weeks with some strains of modern Cornish-X. Even us backyard chicken raisers can appreciate getting 1 pound of chicken for ~3 lbs of feed in 6-8 weeks. . . the Orpington never could do that, crossed with anything or not. I like the taste of the older birds, but some do not. It is not what we are used to getting when we buy chicken anymore.
    Ridgerunner, Texas Kiki and sourland like this.
  7. LilyD

    LilyD Crowing

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    My Coop
    I have processed pros between 16 and 20 weeks usually they are a decent size by then.I think if you get heritage birds its better to buy from a breeder rather than a hatchery which will give you a bit of a head start on a more dual purpose bird.
  8. RoosterML

    RoosterML Songster

    Birds were not purchased from a hatchery.
  9. RoosterML

    RoosterML Songster

    Finally ate the first Lav Orp yesterday cooked via rotisserie and not impressed. Leg meat was tough(er) / stringy I believe due to much more of an activity level compared to meat birds. Breast meat was good but not much of it!
    Flavor I didn’t really notice a significant difference maybe a tad more “chickeny” :lol:. All in all I think I’ve just been spoiled by my first batch of meat birds last year. One good thing is I have some many more ways of trying to cook them. Also give me more reasons to bring in different/more birds. ;)
    EggSighted4Life and Texas Kiki like this.
  10. RoosterML

    RoosterML Songster

    @aart what’s your favorite DP bird?
    Not impressed with Lav Orp.

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