Laying hens for Meat?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by 2FluffyChicks, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. 2FluffyChicks

    2FluffyChicks New Egg

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    Aug 10, 2013
    San Antonio, Texas
    I've been raising laying hens for awhile and am wondering if I can butcher hens/roosters from my flock, keeping in mind it's at the right age and is a good breed for meat as well as eggs. I don't want to strictly raise Meat birds but I don't want to try to eat laying birds if they're not going to be good.
     
  2. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 18, 2014
    Missouri
    After they are over a year old and get tougher. They are typically called stew birds because they are generally too tough to roast. If raising laying breeds for the table, they should be ready to butcher in about 6 months and won't taste much different than a meat chicken, maybe a little more flavorful. Layers are quiet a bit skinnier than meat birds, so you get less meat for the same amount of work and more feed cause they take longer to grow.

    If you are buying the chicks, i would go with a good meat bird. If you are hatching your own to eat from your layer, that is great, especially if you have room for them to free range.

    If they free range, the leg meat will be a lot tougher. Good luck!
     
  3. oldrooster

    oldrooster One Crazy Nut

    Quote:what you are asking is what many many people have done for generations in America and around the world. my grandparents on both sides (living a hundred miles apart) did as you are asking and many of their neighbors, they buy straight run chickens butcher the roosters while young, and as the other poster suggested used the older hens who where "spent" (ie not laying at full speed anymore) as soup/stew chickens. once in a while a young hen with health problems like a plolapsed vent or egg bound would see the frying pan (or even if they where caught by a dog or machine and injured the "effected meat" was cut off and the rest was dinner) those where doul purpose birds, I am sure some raised meat birds as well. many here on byc do also the same thing raise dp and eat them when older, but there are also those whom will only raise meat birds, the choice is yours.
     
  4. Phoenixxx

    Phoenixxx Chillin' With My Peeps

    I learned the hard way that the production layers aren't worth eating, no meat on them. I phased them out and switched to heritage breeds for that reason. I've yet to eat any of my hens because even the 4-year-old marans - a VERY hefty bird that will fill the roaster nicely! - is still laying very well. I eat my extra boys and boy oh boy, once you figure out how to cook them, are they ever good! For the amount of work it takes to process by hand, I've decided it's better to go with larger breeds. One rooster I butchered I had a heck of a time getting my hand inside to clean him out, lol, so I'm now breeding for size as well as egg colour variety and cold-hardiness. Hmm, I guess this means more extra boys... dinner!
     
  5. araeihrig

    araeihrig Out Of The Brooder

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    We just ate our first red sex link tonight. She was 2 years old. They are a pain to clean due to having a small body cavity. But I tell you what, the meat that was on that bird was delicious. She was 2.2 lbs. I cooked the bird in the crock pot on low for 12 hours with potatoes, carrots and chicken broth. :)
     
  6. 2FluffyChicks

    2FluffyChicks New Egg

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    Aug 10, 2013
    San Antonio, Texas
    Thanks everyone for the advice!! I like the idea of breeding them and using the extra roosters! I've always wanted to try eating from my own flock but didn't want to get in over my head with real meat birds, as I've heard they tend to die off, at an early age, due to heart attacks. I will definitely be ordering some good dual purpose birds next spring and start breeding from there on. Thanks again!:D
     
  7. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your welcome :)

    It is true the meat birds tend to die off, but that is mostly the growers fault. People want a bird that can butchered really young, and so they feed them a meat grower food. It does make them get to a heavy weight in a short amount of time, but you sacrifice the birds health. I like the nice big birds, but i can't stand seeing them cooped up doing nothing but eating and pooping.

    Despite what people tell you, they CAN be free ranged and grown slower. I did a small batch of Cornish cross that i got as an experiment to see if i could have them live to a breeding age. I fed them regular chick starter as babies (not high protein meat grower) and as soon as they were out of the brooder, they went out to pasture and were totally free range. They are not as good at free ranging as heritage birds, but they really love it. I would feed them a limited amount of various grain mixture (corn, oats, barley, wheat, and chick starter). Don't free feed them, or they will just eat and eat and eat.

    Okay, sorry. [​IMG] I had to throw that out there because i am pretty passionate about these guys, and seriously dislike how they are normally grown. Here are a few pictures of the cornish cross that i raised last year these were 6 months old, which they should have died of heart attacks or broken legs months ago. They were still super healthy and running around when we butchered them. Oh, and it was raining when i took these, and they are actually outside all day and didn't want to go back in the coop.
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  8. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Almost any chicken is worth eating. I've processed itty-bitty production leghorn hybrids and young Yokohama cockerels. They all taste like chicken.

    There is a good book called "Small Scale Poultry Flock" by Harvey Ussery--he describes his suggested method of ordering straight run batches of chicks (or hatching your own) and eating the cockerels and surplus layers.

    I also highly recommend looking at old cookbooks (think Julia Childs, etc) from before the 8-week-old broiler became the critter recipes were designed for. There are many books out there that have recipes geared toward older birds. Another one I like is The Forgotten Skills of Cooking. I always advise looking at the library before purchasing--since cookbooks are so subjective.

    Personally, with older birds, I just skin them. I love good crispy skin, but scalding and plucking one or two old birds at a time is too tedious for me.
     
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  9. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Phoenixx - would you be willing to share how you've learned to cook them? I'd love to hear! Thanks!
     
  10. Phoenixxx

    Phoenixxx Chillin' With My Peeps


    I haven't got it down just yet as far as a good recipe goes, but I put them in a slow cooker on 220 for about 4-6 hours. The next one I do I'm going to try in red wine. There are a few threads here on cooking heritage birds and older birds, I totally recommend browsing through them!
     

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