Good age to eat Heritage Breeds for best meat? (Marans, Wyandottes, Delaware)

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by OrganicChicken, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. OrganicChicken

    OrganicChicken In the Brooder

    Jun 6, 2014
    Portland, OR
    When is the prime age to eat heritage breed chickens? I've got some bullies in my layer flock that are about 6 months old, just started laying. Didn't really plan on eating them becuase they were intended to be egg layers, but they are being mean as hell to my other chickens, so will probably have to go.

    what happened is, I added three 6 month old hens + a rooster to my flock of 10 six month old hens, the 10 established hens are being very mean to the new ones, pecking them, not letting them in the coop, not letting them eat food, just randomly attacking them, chasing them all over the place. Even my bottom of the pecking order bird is being very mean and aggressive to the new ones.

    The bullies are pretty much all of my older birds with the exception of buttercup, ive never seen her do anything mean. The primary aggressors are snowflake, silvia, sativa, indica, and sissy. Layne and Roz are pretty nice to the new ones, daphne didn't attack them either at first but she has started also being an aggressor. But thats most of my flock, i just wish there was a way to put them in their place, instead of having to eat them.

    Was thinking about trying the trick ppl do with aggressive roosters hold them upside down under my arm and carry them around the new coop is 6x4 and made to hold 15 so the space isn't an issue, plus they free range in my yard all day there's no way I can seperate them any more than i do already, since the older ones wont let the new ones sleep in the coop they roost in my large outdoor brooder box

    The established flock breeds are all listed in my signature, we just added a cream legbar, an amaracauna, and a black marans x lavender ameracauna olive egger as well as a bantam phoenix rooster, the only one who has successfully integrated into the flock is the rooster

    We added them 3 weeks ago, thought at first it was a passing thing that would change with time but if anything has gotten worse, starting to wonder if there is there anything I can do to get them not to pick on the new hens or if I should just start to eat them...
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Your integration time is going to be longer with pecking order due to the size of your coop. Sure if all the birds were raised together they will pack into that size coop, assuming it has enough roosting space, but a newly integrating flock is not going to be as accommodating. The rooster should be helping out though he's slow in doing so because he's a new intro too.

    It's hard for me to imagine that many birds in a 6x4 structure. Now I'm not a "you need ubber or X square ft coop space" kind of flock manager but it's difficult to imagine unless they are bantam or your nesting boxes are attached not in coop and if you've two 6 ft poles at same height to roost on.

    One winter I integrated two extra birds late fall into a 4x4 coop that already had seven girls totaling 9 standard birds to 16 square feet. It took them a solid month or more to integrate and that's the most, maybe one more could have roosted. The nesting boxes were externally attached so it was a full 16 SQFT with 8 feet of roosting. The experience showed me that with a rooster seven pullets/hens was a maximum fit for the space, integration was about October or Nov. depending on when the older birds I was culling went into molt to make the space.

    Long post short: Give them a bit more time to integrate, it will happen. In the future an established rooster will aid with new flock member integration and perhaps stopping with 12 birds total will smooth things out too.

    6 months is a good grow out time for heritage birds to roast if that is what you need to do. Over year old birds are considered stew birds. Roast at 325F in a covered pan. I also like to brine the freshly butchered birds for day and half to two days. Over two days and it's too salty.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  3. popsicle

    popsicle Songster

    Letting them integrate longer should help.

    That said, I've never regretted culling out a chronic bully.

    Age to eat heritage breeds? Really, any age. At 6-months you will need to consider cooking method--original, older Julia Childs recipes and others that were written with "old hens" or slower growing dual-purpose breeds in mind will work better than anything found in a new cookbook. Of course there are "new" cookbooks with heritage birds in mind, Forgotten Skills of Cooking is one I like. I always recommend looking at cookbooks at a library before purchasing since everybody has their opinion of a good cookbook, and a different set of cooking skills.
  4. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Songster

    Oct 20, 2014
    I think your coop is too small for that many birds of that size, if they were all Banty size, it may work ...

    If you could separate the new ones with just say two or three of the established ones, for a couple of days, that would speed up the process, take your mellowest (like Buttercup) and have them get along (two or three established ones with the four new ones) they would help get to be friends!

    Right now you have the established ones saying, this is our home, there is no room for you! They have the superior numbers to gang up on the new ones, and even the BO is getting in on the action!

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