Heritage Breeds (Cackle Hatchery's "Fry Pan Special") partially free range partially fed (cracked co

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by 777funk, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. 777funk

    777funk Out Of The Brooder

    May 28, 2015
    We raised these birds:

    They ended up being (guessing here since it's a surprise lot you get):
    -Buff Orpingtons
    -Black sex-link (Barred Rock look alikes)
    -Red sex-link (looked like production or rhode island red and some looked like Delawares)

    Here they were at around 9 weeks.



    We fed these 1# of feed (chick starter) per bird to 8 weeks and after 8 weeks 1/2# of the starter plus cracked corn (for flavor) and let them range through 10 acres of mostly forest (grubs, worms, bugs) with some fields and mowed areas for the rest of their diet. When I cut open the crop they all had a mix of feed, bugs, and some grass.

    Anyways, the smell while they were cooking and the taste made these inedible. Even our boys wouldn't touch the meat. I was the only one who would eat it and only because I was the one who paid. It wasn't good. Maybe I'm used to the taste of cramped quarters Cornish Cross you find at the store... All I know is that these were a huge waste of time and money. We had 100 and I don't think we finished one of them.

    I cleaned them myself (being a bird hunter it was something I'm used to) and here was the kill routine.
    1. Pellet to the head to incapacitate (quick and painless)
    2. Slit the throat to bleed out.
    3. Scalded and plucked (took me about 20 minutes since I'm NOT used to plucking)
    4. Gutted (completely clean internally)
    5. Washed thoroughly
    6. Rested in fridge 2 days
    7. Baked (in oven as I regularly do with store bought whole 4lb chickens)

    I also tried skinning a few. No better. I killed some at just under 2# dressed weight and some at just over 3#. None were good. I believe the first kill was at 14 weeks and the last at 22 weeks. So we had a variety of ages to test. All were bad. Maybe this is how they're supposed to be... but I sure hope not. If so, I don't care for 'real' chicken. I will say it was fun raising them.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  2. 777funk

    777funk Out Of The Brooder

    May 28, 2015
    I should add that Cackle's service was great! So nothing on them. Just specifying what we bought in case maybe this was the problem. All of the chicks made it to our post office alive and well. And the surprise exotic chickens were a ton of fun to watch grow.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    How were you cooking them?

    Grilling age or what's called broiler is pushing the limit of age at 14 weeks. Fryer age begins there to 20 weeks. Over 20 is roaster. Your cooking methods may have something to do with how the birds came out. Meat toughens and more muscle with age not to mention testosterone. But even when prepared correct for age some don't care for it. Added flavor ad texture with age. Dark meat of older birds reminds me of duck.

    Feeding from 14 weeks to 20+ only gave a bit over 1 pound to meat. That's good to know. People interested in these all male hatchery specials may learn to settle for the smaller carcass. Keeping meat tender and feed costs down. Knowing what to expect is a lot of the process.

    Speaking of process- A turkey fryer or Coleman stove to keep water hot is indispensable when plucking. 155F and keep dunking until the largest wing or tail feathers pull with ease. Let the water do the work before plucking. It's like stripping wallpaper. Any effort done before it's ready is wasted energy and destroying the wall. In this case tearing skin.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    From what you described you did nothing wrong. When they were resting in the fridge did you have fish, saurkraut, or something else in there that they could absorb odors? Spread out over eight weeks like that, I doubt it.

    Foraging like that it may be possible they were eating something that altered the flavor or smell. Cows that have eaten wild onions or wild garlic will give milk that really smells. But a lot of people butcher chickens that free range and never have those issues. I seriously doubt that is the problem.

    Again something highly unlikely. When you butchered them did you cut and spill bile over them. That’s a green fluid in a container mixed in with the liver. If you rinses thoroughly that should not have been a problem even if you did.

    I think you are just seeing the difference in the 6 to 8 week old store bought chicken (usually brined and often with additives) you are used to and the older chicken that free range and forage. How you cook them will affect the texture, slow and moist is better than grilling, but you are talking about smell. It’s difficult for me to even imagine that would make that much difference to others, usually it is texture due to improper cooking, but expectations are a big part of this.
  5. mominoz

    mominoz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 17, 2009
    North Georgia
    What do you mean by bad? taste? consistency ? flavor? when I first had chickens I had the tough problem years ago, because I immediately froze them and cooked the same as 'store' birds.... I now have ducks and geese... and have had to process some unexpectedly.... Because they were a year or older.... I knew I could have 'toughness' issues... Mode of death was varied. 2 head chopped after blow to head or pellet gun to head first, then bled out.. one died naturally, choked. Dry plucked or skinned them. No scalding or feather machines. .... I let rest in fridge 3-4 days... then froze until I used them. All were cooked by slooooowww methods, 2 in a crockpot on slow cook for 4 +_ hours. One goose in closed roaster with some liquid. One in a soup... I also cook with spices... so perhaps it is your cooking methods... that need to be modified.Often store chicken has injected fat , water and salts...
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri

    Off-flavor can happen in chickens. It is something I must routinely check like with fish. The off-flavor I smell / taste is musty like a wet rug that a dog sleeps on. Look up geosmine. I am leery of chickens consuming a type of piss ant we call skunk ants. Those ants can be abundant in wooded areas with lots of rotting logs. Normally I am in the camp that thinks chicken have reasonable powers of taste and smell but with respect to the skunk ants evidence it not in my favor. Some woodpeckers eat the same ants and I think it makes them less palatable to predators.

    Foods the chickens eat can impact flavor of meat and eggs. Most of the impact is associated with the fat deposits.
  7. 777funk

    777funk Out Of The Brooder

    May 28, 2015
    It's interesting, the eggs taste fine but the meat on every bird we ate over the course of 2-3 months worth of separate kills was bad. I would say it was edible but we all agreed it was not good. Really I was the only one of us who ate a small portion of each bird cooked. Most of the meat just got tossed. The chickens liked it of course.
  8. oldrooster

    oldrooster One Crazy Nut

    I read somewhere there are gland near the tail that can effect the flavor inn the meat also, never had the guts yet to process any chickens since my "sensitive neighbors" moved.....
  9. Mosey2003

    Mosey2003 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2016
    Any chicken that isn't Cornish cross isn't going to taste like store chicken. To me they taste......gamey? Much more chicken-y, and I don't find it particularly pleasant, although I don't find it super bad. Can you describe in what way they tasted bad, precisely? If you hunt fowl you obviously don't mind gamey-er meat... I wonder if they mustn't have been eating something that affected it while free ranging.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by