How old is too old to process a chicken?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by HHandbasket, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Hi everyone,

    We've only this year entered into chickeneering, and we realize that the day will come at some point when my girls no longer lay and will need to be butchered. I know that with regular "meat birds", they are processed at around 8 weeks of age & are yummy and tender. How old is "too old" to process a hen? Also, from what I've gathered from others, older birds should be stewed rather than roasted ... is it because the meat is tougher? I don't mean to sound stupid... I'm new at this and just learning. What is the most suggested type of stewing method/recipe for older chicken?

    If we ever get a big enough place where we can have and process meat birds, I think we'll probably just start letting chicks hatch from our dual-purpose breeds & cull the young males for their meat. Is that something that others do? Does it usually work out pretty well?

    I am not looking to make a living at chickeneering, just lookin' to feed ourselves and maybe sell a few dozen eggs here and there for pocket change, but that's about it. We are currently city-chickeneers but hope to be moving to a quieter, more spacious, more country setting in the next year.

    Thoughts, ideas, suggestions? Thanks!
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  2. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2010
    Even the toughest old bird will make fine soup or stew. Just adjust your cooking for older birds low and slow.

    As far as meat though none of the DP chickens come close to the feed conversion efficiency of a true meat breed.

    It is good to process unwanted roos and old hens but might want to raise a few meat birds if keeping the cost down is importaint too. But they are liekly best suited to thee non-city environment. Some people like them some people hate them, but you won't know til you try.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  3. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Thanks for the info! We do eventually want to do cornish crosses when we get out in the sticks, as well as possibly a couple of turkeys. In my fondest dreams, we have a little place in the country with a bunch of fruit trees and a garden and some poultry, some peafowl (for companionship and yard ornaments, and I also hear they make great "watchdogs"), our dog and two cats and maybe a couple more outside cats for vermin control and maybe get one more dog to keep Ginger (current dog) company. Wouldn't mind having a couple of goats and learning how to process all our own animals. Ideally, it wouldn't be TOO far from a good fishing spot, as well.

    Someone on here once said something to the effect that if they didn't kill it, they don't eat it. I think that's a fabulous way to live and would prefer that the majority of our food come from animals we either raised or caught, as well.
  4. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2010
    Getting that spot and being able to be there full time is the trick. I'm working on that second part but paying the bills is messing my plans up.[​IMG][​IMG]
  5. aka Rachel

    aka Rachel Chillin' With My Peeps

    My neighbour and her Mother helped me process my first chickens ever this weekend, and her Mom has gotta be 90!

  6. Ibicella

    Ibicella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2009
    Everett, WA
    They are never too old! Old birds are the BEST. [​IMG] I normally put them in the crock pot, fill it with water, and set it on low allllllll day (8-10 hours).

    You get the most delicious stock you can imagine, and the meat falls right off the bone. It's full of flavor and a little chewy. You can use the meat for any recipe you want that you could use pre-cooked chicken meat for.

    When you cull a young excess rooster at the point it's just starting to crow, you can still roast and fry them too.

    I still like the Cornish Cross meat birds though for certain things. They are my favorites for things like roasting or grilling because of their tenderness and big breast meat.

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