Dual-Purpose questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by HHandbasket, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    So.... we have decided to finally take a foray into raising some fowl for the table/freezer. We have a LOT of young cockerels, many of them Rhode Island reds. Rehoming them has not been easy--can't even GIVE these guys away. Our girls have been hatching out chicks this summer, as well, and it looks like we have about 5 more roosters in the yard. DH built a pen for meat birds just this past week. So we decided that since we buy/eat SO much chicken anyway, this is a good time for us to take the plunge and use our dual-purpose birds for purpose #2 (i.e., raise them for their meat).

    So I have some questions. How old should DP chickens be when you butcher them? We are not going to free-range the birds meant for processing--we are going to keep them penned up, albeit in a very spacious pen where they will *almost* feel like they are free ranging anyway! The RIRs we're putting in the pen are about a month old, and I was thinking we could process them around mid/late NovemberÂ… would that be workable?

    Should we feed them meat builder/broiler food or the Nutrena All-Flock that we give to everybody else? Are there other things we should give them that will give them the healthiest, best-quality meat and not tooooooo much chicken fat?

    Any advice would be deeply appreciated.

    Thanks to all!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    How old should DP chickens be when you butcher them?

    I raise them differently than you will. if you are giving them the extra potent stuff (higher protein), they might be read a little earlier than mine are. Mine free range and have grower available if they want it. They really don't eat lot of it at this time of year.

    I would not process a young DP rooster before 15 weeks at the ealiest. Mine just don't have enough meat on them to make it worthwhile before that. My preferred age is 18 weeks or older. I usually only do two or three at a time anyway and keep the rest fresh on the claw. I don't like to have too many in the freezer due to occasional power outages.

    At 15 weeks or older, they don't really fry or grill that well, at least in my opinion. But there are plenty of other ways to cook them that are great. And I don't mind cooking an old rooster. They can be delicious if cooked right. I'm of the opinion that toughness difference between the broilers that are processed at 8 weeks and the DP birds that are processed at whatever age is more due to age than anything else.

    Should we feed them meat builder/broiler food or the Nutrena All-Flock that we give to everybody else?

    As I said, I don't feed them that way. The higher protein you feed them the faster they will grow. Since they are for meat, you are not worried about developing them for a laying/breeding flock. Hopefully you will get others that will respond that feed them your way. If nobody responds, I'd suggest at least a 20% protein feed and probably a 24% would be even better. I would not be too concerned about them getting overly fat. They won't live long enough for that to be a problem and a little fat is not that hard to strip out when you priocess them.
  3. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Thank you !! That's the type of information I'm looking for. I kind of figured I should give them something higher in protein than what the rest of the flock gets. They'll also get scrambled eggs and table scraps which will include lots of meat. I am not sure what to feed meat birds, which is why I was asking. [​IMG]
  4. bwmichaud

    bwmichaud Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2010
    I feed my DP cockerels a 20% broiler feed and process between 16 and 20 weeks. I feel that after 20 weeks they start to get tougher and require slower cooking methods. Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the more crowing birds you will have around. If you have a whole of them, it could be quite bothersome. Usually around here, there is someone on Craigslist that will take any unwanted birds for food. I have a few people that I trust that I take cockerels from but it is hard for someone to take a bunch of birds from an unknown person for fear of bringing a disease into their flock.

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