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Heritage Breeds Processed

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by davidchickens, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. davidchickens

    davidchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 9, 2012
    BYC members. I haven't posted in a long time. For a quick update...We have an entirely new set of chickens than the one's we had last time I posted! They are, 2 new hampshire hens, 2 barred rock hens, and two mutt roosters ( getting rid of at least one soon!). Mom and I were discussing possibly starting meat chickens next year. We are pretty sure CX are not what we want, ( our goal is a different bird altogether.) I'm pretty sure I'd like to get some freedom rangers, but I wouldn't mind finding out a couple of things. On certain heritage breeds (perhaps New Hampshire, Deleware, Rocks) has any one been able to get cockerels (12-16 weeks old) to a dressed weight of 3-4 pounds? Has anyone seen a breed like this. Working with heritage what has been your experience for the MALES (we would keep any hens for egg layers.) The reason is we were looking for something we could keep breeding. Our own line if you will. Any information will be useful. Also I have noticed there is a new variety, called the Pioneer or Dixie Rainbow chicken. Not a heritage but it's supposed to breed true. It's pretty new and I saw some bad reviews on it early on, but they were both for the same hatchery (the breed is now being sold by two others). It's been several years and I was just wondering if they have improved. Thank you!
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    I raise heritage Barred Rocks and heritage New Hampshires. The difference between these and hatchery birds with the same names is so vast, they barely seem related. My goal was to have a better quality bird for eye candy and eggs, and be able to eat the extras. I butchered a BR cockerel last week who was probably about 5 months old, so a little older than you are asking about, but he was so huge he didn't fit in my regular cone and I had to get out the turkey cone for him. He yielded 5-6lb of meat. Really flavorful meat. My DH is very impressed and happy with the direction we are going.
     
  3. davidchickens

    davidchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 9, 2012
    Thank You. Very interesting. Makes a lot of sense though. Hatcheries are interested in "heritage breeds" only for their egg qualities. Trying to make every DP a leghorn. Will look in to local breeders, maybe somehow I'll find some who sell birds like yours. (Hey... do you sell?)
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    LOL - yes, but only locally. I've never really liked the idea of chicks being shipped - so many of them lose their lives when temperatures along the way are extreme, or the box they are in is "lost" for several days.

    I should clarify on why it is hard for me to guess the amount of meat I got from the cockerel last week. The way I've been doing them lately, is I skin, eviscerate, and then place immediately into my large crockpot, on the slow cook setting for 8-10 hours, adding nothing else to the crockpot. The bird cooks down in its own juices beautifully. At the end of the cooking time, the meat is literally falling off the bones, and once it is cool, I pull out the bones, then divide the meat up into ½-lb portions that go in Ziploc bags in the freezer. The meat therefore, is already cooked and deboned, ready to be added to casseroles, which is our preferred way of eating it. However it makes it hard to judge the "dressed weight" since I didn't weigh him before cooking. What I can tell you is that I got 2 ½ pounds of cooked meat. In addition, the juices that run out of the bird during cooking, I collect and store - it makes a very rich soup base or can be used in place of wine in recipes. I got about 20oz of juices. And, I use the feet to make stock, and they yielded 3 cups of thick, rich stock. After the stock is cooked, my dogs get a foot each as a treat. I render any fat down and store it in a jar in the fridge to use for frying - I find animal fat far superior to any of the vegetable oils on the market. Even though this guy was young, he had an excellent layer of fat and I was able to render quite a bit of fat from him. The organ meat is cut up and fed back to the birds as additional protein. So the only waste is the head, skin, bones and intestines.

    Cooked meat weighs less than raw because raw still has the bones and all those juices in it, which is why I "guesstimated" how much meat he yielded at 5-6lb. By comparison 2 ½ lb probably doesn't sound as impressive but I've been doing it like this for awhile and that is really a decent amount of meat - he was a BIG bird.
     
  5. davidchickens

    davidchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 9, 2012
    Thanks HEchicken. I know for sure breeder stock is WAY better than hatchery stock, but it's so hard to find (especially since we will have to buy no earlier than February! Most of them sell out by January!). Any one have experience breeding hatchery chickens to a better bird. I know you could never get show quality, but has anyone bred them to a more utilitarian position (particularly in the meat section). Also still looking for recent info on Dixie Rainbow/Pioneer chickens!
     
  6. TheFabSeven

    TheFabSeven New Egg

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    Feb 13, 2012
    This is the difficulty with producing a true heritage breed broiler. I have just started experimenting with line-breeding a mix of heritage breeds and pioneers using Delaware (for fast growth), Jersey Giant (for bone structure and organ health/strength), Dark Cornish (for weight and feed conversion), Australorp (for weight-egg production) with a dash of Pioneer tucked in for consistency. After a full season I will let you know.

    I do sprout whole oats, barley, peas, lentils and sunflower seeds for their bio-availability, to balance feed costs, heritage breed flavor with the right dressed weight. I have them on a feeding schedule similar to the CXs. Total feed mix weight combined with the bio-availability of sprouts - I have my fingers crossed for good results.
     

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