Eating Layers...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by The Force, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. The Force

    The Force Out Of The Brooder

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    Is there a process to fatten up a layer, or get them to go off the lay in preparation for the table?
    I don't have chickens yet but will be getting some in about a month for the first time (dual purpose type). I would like to butcher two or three so was thinking of just getting a few extra off the start and then trimming out problem birds (if there are any), though this wouldn't likely be until about 6/7 months of age. Just wondering if i'll end up with a skinny hen that is putting all her energy into eggs, or if there is a way to get them to bulk up a bit.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Depends on your breed and your expectations. Most hens will fatten up better than a rooster, as far as fat goes. Not all DP breeds are created equally, so not all hens of those breeds will have meaty carcasses. I don't know why you'd want them to go out of lay before you eat them but there's no real process or thing you can do to force them into not laying. Periods of broodiness, natural slow downs at certain times of the year can stop or greatly reduce laying.

    You can pen them and feed them up if that's what you are wanting to do and they will fatten well, depending upon the breed. I've never intentionally eaten a young hen before, just old and spent layers who have their full size and meat density.
     
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    If you want to eat birds just to eat fresh home grown then get straight run chicks. They'll be cheaper and average 50% male. Dual purpose males are good at 14-16 weeks and obviously can be grown out to 20 weeks. You'll note a growth spurt at 12-14 weeks, It's most economical and tender to cull after that. You can keep a male and hatch your own chicks next spring. A constant supply of pullet layers and meat.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  4. The Force

    The Force Out Of The Brooder

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    Not specifically fat content but more meat / body mass.... Was just thinking if I could get them off or slowed down on egg production then more energy would go into meat.

    What age do roosters start to get noisy? No roosters allowed where I am at so kkeping one around won't work, but if they hit the freezer before they know they're roosters than I should be ok.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    A good breed for that is the Plymouth White Rock, as the cockerels put on weight well and efficiently for the feed used and you can get a good meat yield by their 3-5th month before the crowing starts, depending upon the rate of maturity per individual bird. I just killed a WR cockerel of 6 mo. of age...a little later than I had wanted, really, but he had a dense and heavy meat yield. It's no mystery why that breed was used to develop the CX meat birds they currently use for the broiler industry.

    The hens of that breed lay wonderfully and they too finish out with a huge meat yield for a hen, with dense, fine textured meat and a great fat content. I have pics of their carcass and fat capabilities if you'd like to see it...fattest chickens I've ever butchered and these are very old hens and out on free range for most of their feed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  6. The Force

    The Force Out Of The Brooder

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    I'll need to look into them, thanks. Breeds are a bit limited out here, at this time I am considering lohman Browns and/ or ISA Browns as there is a good local supply. Eggs and friendliness ( have a year old son) are the main priority right now.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You can eat any chicken of any sex and of any age, but some have more meat on them and the older they are the longer, moister, and slower you need to cook them. I plan to eat every chicken I hatch, male or female. Some may get to hang around for a few years as part of the laying/breeding flock but the majority of the males and females I hatch each year get eaten that year. When their time comes the older ones also get eaten. Since I try to keep about the same number of hens in my flock each year and half of what I hatch are female, I wind up eating about the same number of females as males each year.

    The Lohman Brown and the ISA Browns are the commercial chicken hybrids, best I can tell from reading about them on different sites. This means they are a lot like the leghorns. They have very small bodies with very little meat on them. They have been developed to convert what they eat into eggs, not use that feed to maintain a big body. If you only want eggs they can be a pretty good choice because they are egg laying machines, but when butcher time comes they are not going to provide much meat. For older hens especially you might be better off thinking in terms of stews than pieces of chicken with them.

    You are going to have trouble putting meat on any hens, especially the laying hybrids. They are just not genetically made to pack on meat. What they eat is converted into eggs. That’s how they are designed by the breeders.

    Even a dual purpose hen converts a lot of the extra they eat into fat instead of meat. Before any hen starts to lay she packs on some extra fat. A lot of that is in a fat pad in the pelvic area but fat is spread all over. Some hens do put on a lot more fat than others but it is the hens that naturally get fat. There is a purpose for this. That fat is what a hen lives on when she goes broody. A broody hen does not leave the nest much to eat or drink. That extra fat is the reserve that she mostly lives on while broody. Roosters don’t go broody so they don’t pack on fat like a hen will.
     
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  8. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    A good hybrid layer that is on the heavier side is Black Star/ Black Sexlink. It's likely hatchery dependent how big they get but the ones I had with mixed flock of feed store chicks got bigger than the hatchery Barred Rocks and there's no comparison to size of Red Star that lay equally as well.

    Most of my cockerels start crowing at the 14-ish week range which is a good time to cull anyway. The first crows are not as loud as a mature bird and almost comical to hear their attempts.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Black star or red star is just a marketing name for sex links. Some hatcheries offer black stars or red stars that are based on the commercial hybrid egg layers. They will be smaller like the red stars mentioned. Some hatcheries offer red stars or black stars that are made by crossing two standard size dual purpose breeds. These are going to be pretty close to the size of their parents. It depends on which flocks their parents come from. There are big differences in the sex links form commercial hybrids and the sex links made by crossing two dual purpose breeds. It’s difficult to know which type you rare getting because different hatcheries use marketing names for these crosses since they are not a breed, but they usually give you the expected weight of the adults. That’s your big clue as to the size they will get.
     
  10. The Force

    The Force Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow roadrunner, a wealth of info and all good stuff! Thanks to everyone for the responses and suggestions. I've done some waterfowl hunting so have the old bird stew figured out haha.
    Good answers, all makes sense and all go to the freezer.
    In short, despite the breed is there a feeding regime for the final few weeks That gives any benifit ( hier protein or something)?
     

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