Free Ranging Meat Birds...tender or tough???

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by CostaRicaMark, May 15, 2016.

  1. CostaRicaMark

    CostaRicaMark New Egg

    Jun 2, 2013
    I live in Costa Rica, so tropical environment.
    I've had a laying flock for a few years, and I am looking into having meat birds.
    The few times I've bought an "organic free range" chicken here, the meet was tough and there was very little breast meat.
    Now, I may have been given an older laying hen....I'll never know for sure.
    Here is my question:
    Is it possible to free range for the day, put up for the night, and still have the tender plump chicken I am used to getting from the commercial growers?
    I am sorry that I do not know what meat breeds are available here, yet.
    Other than breed, are there theories on the possibilities of letting them have their days free to roam, and still stay nice and tender?
    Does the free range exercize toughen them up, or is it simply age?
    As a finishing note, I do realize that some feel it is not important to the "happiness" of the chickens (their quotes) to free range them, but if I am keeping them, they get to free range....just make me happier, if nothing else.
    OK, thanks for the help!
  2. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 21, 2015
    No where Nebraska
    Ok, most likely, when you buy the free range organic chicken you are buying a dual purpose, slow growing bird. These birds take longer to grow and so are older when you process them and that is why they are tough. These birds can taste wonderful but you must know how to cook them, there are many good recipes. You cannot just fry them up, they would be very tough.
    How the chickens are raised plays less a roll in how they taste. I free ranged my Cornish Cross (the King meat bird) and they were very tender. You need to look at the breeds available to you, for the taste you are looking for try to get Cornish Cross, or another fast growing breed. Something you can process no later then 12/14 weeks, CX are I believe 8weeks. If you do not have those available find what you can get and then ask around, people can give you good tips to cook a slower growing bird do that they are fall off the bone tender.
    I agree, and most on here will, how a chicken is raised does matter.
  3. CostaRicaMark

    CostaRicaMark New Egg

    Jun 2, 2013
    Great info OrganicFarmWife. Thanks so much for taking the time. I'll look into what breeds I have here to choose from. Thanks again.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree age has a whole lot more to do with it than breed or how they are raised. Once they hit puberty, males get more flavor and texture faster than females, so sex can play a part. What they eat can affect the flavor some, but age is the real criteria with sex maybe playing a significant part at or after puberty.

    There are various threads on here on how to cook older chickens. In general, the older they are the slower you cook them and the more moisture you need. Different people have different thresholds for that too. Some people are OK frying a 15 week old bird, for some a 12 week old chicken is too old to fry. Some of it is individual taste and some is what you are used to. Some of it might even be in how you fry it. It’s kind of a trial and error to see what suits you and your tastes. If you are used to the chicken you get at the store you will notice a difference in taste and texture. Some of us like that difference, some don’t.

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