ISA Browns for dinner?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by CK Chickadilly, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. CK Chickadilly

    CK Chickadilly Songster

    Sep 11, 2008
    West Michigan
    ~Has anyone butchered their ISA Browns?
    ~Are they good meat birds when you are done with them as laying hens?
    ~How do you prepare them?
    ~Is the meat tender?

    Thanks! [​IMG]
  2. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    I'm not familiar with ISA browns, but any hen that has lived long enough to be finished laying is going to be a tough bird. They all pretty much become tougher the older they get. Older than 14 weeks you're no longer looking at a fryer. A slow roaster, maybe, until about 20 weeks.
    Layers, even the quickest maturing, don't even start to lay until at least 20 weeks.

    After that, though some will disagree, they're pretty much best cooked in the crock pot, IMO. But, older the bird is, the more flavor it has.

    Coq au Vin is traditionally made with an older rooster, because they have more flavor. Get some recipes for slow-cooking chicken, if you plan to eat spent layers. They make yummy chicken 'n dumplings, but also much more.

    Hens can lay for years. I have had hens lay for at least 6 years. Production wanes after the 2nd year, (hens lay their largest eggs from the 2nd year on) but depending on what your needs are, you may not want to replace all your layers every two years. If you don't require a hen lay every single day, you might be happy with 3 and 4 year old hens that lay 4 or 5 eggs a week.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I started out with 3 ISA Browns a couple years ago -- only 1 left now, as sadly the other two succumbed to internal laying type problems [​IMG] They are really not the biggest meatiest bird in the world, even compared to other breeds and types (like, not even considering supermarket-type Cornish X broilers). Other than that, I would not expect them to be any different than any other older hen (i.e. they will be flavorful but tough, possibly boot-leather tough if they are some years old, and definitely in need of slow moist cooking [there is a reason that spent layers are sometimes referred to as stewing hens]).

    My neighbor bought some ISA Brown point-of-lay pullets the summer before last; she started with 12 in July and was down to just 3 by that November (unprotected freeranging in a coyote- and raccoon-infested area will do that) which she actually paid money to send off to be processed. I've never asked her how they were, but she's an older lady who's eaten many a homegrown chicken in the past (likely including ISA Browns, as the local feedstore is big on them) so presumably she expected them to be reasonably worthwhile -- although of course I guess hers were less than a year old at the time.

    Sorry not to have more info for you,

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: