Dual Purpose Birds - Cockerals

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by marie1, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. marie1

    marie1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2008
    Hello all,
    I am trying to improve my flock of RIR for egg laying and for meat and am confused about how to manage the flock.

    I have a number of questions and wondered if anyone can help.

    These will be slaughtered but when?
    Do I wait for them to gain a certain minimum weight (I think the breed standard is about 6lb) or do I assume that if they have not gained sufficient weight by say 18 weeks (?) they never will and should be slaughtered anyway regardless of how much they weigh.

    Many thanks
  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    Cockerels should be butchered around 12 weeks if you want to fry them. For any other preparation, butcher at 15 or 16 weeks. Any older than that and the meat will become tough.

    In my experience, they will not have reached the 6 pound mark by 16 weeks.

    If you do end up butchering birds over 16 weeks old, they should be slow cooked to keep the meat from becoming too tough. I did fry an 18 - 20 week old roo once. I soaked the pieces overnight in buttermilk. Most of the meat was tender but the legs were tough. Not too tough to eat, but tough nonetheless.

    Hope this was helpful!
  3. muddler6

    muddler6 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2007
    Jefferson County, PA
    I too would do the deed when they were about 10 to 12 weeks. If they are a little small, roast a batch of them like cornish hens and give everyone their own bird.
  4. marie1

    marie1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2008
    Thank you for the advice. I guess if I keep improving the flock and only hatch eggs from my fastest growing hens and roosters then eventually I will end up with young cockerals between 10 - 16 weeks that have reached their best weight......at least thats the theory.

    SSooooo. I guess there is no putting off the inevitable. I have at least three cockerals around 16 weeks old. One is massive and I will keep him for breeding. The other two are small and need to be slaughtered.

    I will have to do the deed this weekend and feel terrified. Arrghhhhh.
  5. smith2

    smith2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 5, 2008
    Paris, TN
    I have a dual purpose flock and start eating my roos at 13 weeks. After you do this a while, you will be able to pick up the bird, feel its leg and thigh and tell how developed you want yours before eating. Start "feeling" them now so you will have something for comparison purposes later. Some people will start processing earlier than others. I continue processing a few each week until about 18 weeks. The legs and thighs are definitely tougher than the breast meat. So after about 16-17 weeks, I start keeping the legs/thighs to slow cook, and I cut the breast meat off the bone and fry it. The breast meat is still tender enought to eat fried. Sometimes the meat is not as tough as you would think if you brine it for 24 hours first even after 17-18 weeks. After about 20 weeks they get really chewy but are still good stewing hens.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  6. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    You can always resort to a crock pot, if in doubt. Leave it cooking until it gets tender, however long it takes.
  7. marie1

    marie1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2008
    Thank you for the advice. It is amazing what you have to consider and think about when preparing your own meat compared to buying it at the shops. It will change the way we eat, not just in the way I cook the food but we are already reducing how much meat we eat now we know how hard it is to grow. !

    Have another question on dual purpose hens ...think I will post another topic.

    Thank you once again.
  8. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    If you are breeding and hatching your own eggs, then you can sell or eat your surplus males. It takes around 15+ weeks to get roasters and the ammount of feed you put into them is brutal on your pocket book (it would be far cheaper to buy organic, free range birds from Marks & Spencer than to raise them yourself).

    If you are not breeding, then don't get dual purpose cockerals for meat production. It's uneconomical and you'll be left with largely unsatisfying birds & meat. I recommend people raise crops of broilers once or twice a year, then dispatch them to the freezer. With vacuum sealing and frost free freezers, you don't lose quality.

    Also, you'll need to raise your boys on a broiler ration from day one if you want them to be ready by 15 weeks. You cannot raise your hens on the same, but need ot use a starter then pullet developer. So, you will be stuck with two management groups of birds from day one, that's even if you can sex your own birds (which makes a strong argument for doing black or red sex links instead of RIR).

    At least with doing a crop of broilers, you are then only feeding 2 flocks for a short perdiod of time rather than half the year (or more).

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