Like raising heritage chickens but hate the meat... what to do? Capons?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by 777funk, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. 777funk

    777funk In the Brooder

    May 28, 2015
    I raised my first batch of heritage breed cockerels last year and after butchering a few of them starting at 14 weeks, I all but gave up on cleaning the rest because they tasted horrible (in my family's opinion) and were tough (fact not opinion). I baked them for about 45 minutes at 350F. They ran from 1.5 to 3 lbs dressed.

    This year we raised Cornish X birds butchered at 6 weeks and 3-4 lbs dressed and they were much more to our liking (tender and light flavor like the store/restaurant).

    My predicament is that I really enjoy raising heritage birds... so much more fun to watch, good free rangers, eat our ticks, we can hatch the eggs ourselves, but we don't like eating them.

    I looked into caponizing as a solution but I can't do it. I've tried it on 2 live birds today (after trying it on a dead bird first) and ended up dispatching them about half way through because I couldn't continue exploratory surgery with a good conscience. I will say the bird was a 10 week old cornish cross if that makes any difference. But it was beyond me to do a good job at it without a personal lesson on how to do the work. I was bummed out.

    Any suggestions? Maybe I could find someone locally who could do the caponization. I hate to pursue something this difficult without knowing if I'd even like the meat.

    I guess what bothers me most is that I can raise heritage breeds from hatch to butcher and almost for free (free fertile eggs) but I don't like the meat... such a bummer.

    Public rant... sorry! I'm publicizing it in hopes that maybe there could be something I'm overlooking before I give up the hobby.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Did you try different methods of cooking your cockerels? Did you dry bake them, or use moisture? Did you let the meat rest, or did you brine it? There are different things you can do to make the meat more tender. But then, it's never going to be an 8 week old CX, either.
  3. 777funk

    777funk In the Brooder

    May 28, 2015
    I think I am so used to the 8 week old CX that I don't know if anything else will ever = chicken in my mind. I've eaten a lot of pheasants over the years and even those were more tasty than our heritage birds.

    We did let them rest for a few days in the fridge before baking. Don't remember if we brined any of them.

    I may try caponizing again at some point.
  4. eviemethugh

    eviemethugh Chirping

    May 14, 2015
    North Carolina
    I would consider growing the heritage breeds out even longer (like 20 weeks) to get a little more meat on the bones, it still won't be much. You shouldn't need to caponize to go to just 20 weeks. Then cooking them the slowest way you can possibly manage. Like ALL day in a smoker, all day in a crockpot, roast them in the oven or in a dutch oven with lid veryyyyyyy slowly all day. These things should be falling apart when you try to pick them up, like the more unbearably slow you can cook them, the better.

    Personally, when we eviscerate, I have seen anywhere from 1-5 ummm nuts (?) HA. I don't even understand! And I am 1000% sure I know what they look like. Maybe we get some serious frankenchickens because I would go crazy if I was trying to make a capon and only found one testicle!
  5. a704

    a704 In the Brooder

    Aug 26, 2013
    NE ohio
    Older birds are more for stews and soups than roasting imo

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