Heritage Breeds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Brother Rooster, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. Brother Rooster

    Brother Rooster New Egg

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    I just started raising chickens. Two friends and I were going to get 20 or so birds each, we ended up getting 200 chicks. we thought we were going to get a better selection, no Cornish X. Out of my 67 birds I have 8 hens (Araucana's), These we will keep for eggs. My question is this,1) do I need to keep a rooster for egg production? 2) how old should the chickens be to butcher? Black Sex link's,Barred Plymouth Rock's
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    No, you do not need a rooster for hens to lay. Commercial egg producers do not include roosters with the laying flock. The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs. The rest is just personal preference.

    That was easy. Now it gets a lot harder, when to butcher dual purpose cockerels. Some general information first. The older a chicken gets, especially a cockerel, the tougher and more flavorful the meat gets. The broilers you buy at the store are babies, 6 to 8 weeks old. They are especially tender and pretty bland flavored because they are so young. That’s why you can fry them or grill them without them becoming too tough. But your chickens are not going to pack on meat like those broiler hybrids. Some people butcher at 12 weeks old but there is just not much meat there. But at least they can fry or grill. I like to wait until 18 to 22 weeks. There is a lot more meat and somewhere in that age range they slow down on packing on the weight. You can eat any chicken, regardless of age or sex, but you have to alter your cooking methods to make that work. The older they are the slower they need to cook and the more moisture they need to keep them from drying out.

    That is a lot of chickens. How much freezer space do you have and how much chicken can you eat? That might factor into it too.

    One reason some people butcher cockerels pretty early is that they go through puberty and get pretty rowdy. Puberty might start pretty young, maybe even before 12 weeks, or some will wait until 20 weeks or more to start. And the older they get the more space they need. With that many cockerels and that few pullets, I’d suggest you separate the pullets by 12 weeks to make their life a lot easier. The sex links should be sexed pretty well but there is a fair chance you will have a pullet or two in with your Barred Rocks. You might look out for that and separate any of those pullets too. You can eat the pullets but with that many cockerels hitting puberty they are likely to be really harassed.

    When to butcher dual purpose cockerels is not a clear cut question. It’s going to depend on your circumstances. I’ve waited until 7 months when my freezer was full and adjusted my cooking methods accordingly.
     
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  4. rainbowrooster

    rainbowrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could also sell the cockerels for cheap and use the money to by already processed chicken from the super market. I have what I call a chicken broker who will by any bird but pays $6 for large roosters. For that amount I can but a bird that is already cooked and not deal with the mess or pay for someone else to process the bird.
     
  5. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Rainbow, if you're just going to sell them for $6, you'd be better off just culling them right now. It takes a lot more than $6 worth of food to get a heritage bird to adulthood. (and that's not even considering work, and other expenses)
     
  6. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm in agreement with Crazy Talk. The herritage roosters I raised last summer cost about $12 each including purchase, shipping and feed. They were only about 3lb each by the time they were processed, so the cost per pound was pretty high when compared to the Freedom Rangers I raised last summer as well. Even so, I'd rather eat one of my herritage roosters than purchase a chicken from the grocery store. I raise my own chickens because they lead healthy, active, natural lives with plenty of sunlight, fresh air and room to be chickens. While I'm not a big fan of butchering day, I feel better about what I'm eating when I raise and process the birds myself. Good luck.

    By the way, my roosters were between 18 and 20 weeks when i butchered them. Some we've smoked, some we've cooked in the crock pot. I don't roast many because I have the Freedom Rangers for Sunday roasters, but the roosters are very tasty and I"m sure nothing will go to waste.
     
  7. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Hummingbird Hollow

    Not to go way off topic here - but how do you smoke them (temp and time)? Every time I try to smoke a rooster I turn it into a baseball glove -there's not enough fat to keep them moist.
     
  8. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hubby does the smoking...probably 2.2 - 3 hours in our Smoker...only one temperature setting. We've done this with Cornish Game hens for years and with our turkeys this past two years as well and loved the results. I usually make a smoked chicken salad that is simply stripping the carcass, cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces and mixing it with mayo. Super simple but guests always assume it is some sort of gourmet recipie because it tastes to good. Perhaps it is the mayo that makes up for the leanness of the meat, but we did have some of the last one we smoked in sandwiches and it was good. The carcass then goes into the stock pot and we get the most delicious smoky chicken broth that we throw some grilled peppers and corn into...sometimes with a can of black beans and have a smokey grilled vegetable South West type soup.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    X2
     
  10. rainbowrooster

    rainbowrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are absolutely right. I was only suggesting one option based on my own 20 years experience of being as efficient as an endeavor will allow. These birds I sell for $6 are culls from projects and exhibition breeding. These birds were never intended to be eaten (by me). Its far more efficient for me to sell them then waste time, money, and physical effort on these birds as a food source. As soon as I determine they are a cull they are sold. It would be great to get more $ but the market for cockerels is nearly non existent. In fact, I usually locate 15 to 20 unwanted roosters every fall and sell them to the "broker". The money is put back into the hobby. I use a local mill and the feed only costs about $16 to $17 per 100lbs so I am not loosing anything on a 4 to 6 month old cockerel.

    For food we raise the faster growing strains of Cornish crosses.
     

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