Meat characteristics of free range birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by dacjohns, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    I just butchered a bunch of my Cornish X and had some for supper. The leg was the only thing we ate and it seemed really chewy, not at all like store bought.

    I was wondering if this is typical.
    The birds range during the day, were 10 1/2 weeks old, not real heavy ( 3 lbs 4 oz average). They did have quite a bit of yellow fat. I have had them at my house for about 2 weeks feeding them a mix of layer and finisher (they are housed with my hens) in addition to ranging. Prior to me getting them back the person that had them fed them mostly a locally purchased feed which looks like it is just ground up grains.
    I cooked the legs in bacon grease at a pretty high heat and cooked them well. They weren't dry just chewy. The chewiness reminded me of squirrel.

    Could one of the reasons be that it was fresh and hadn't aged or been frozen therefore not "tenderized" through muscle tissue breakdown.
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Real chicken is chewy and it's real. It's what chicken looks and tastes like when they animal actually had a life, was allowed to exercise and display natural chicken behavior. Feel good about the chewiness, it means your birds had a life.

    Eventually you will find grocery store chicke wet and insipid. I do.

    Commercial chicken is 'marinated' in brine for 2 days prior to packaging. This allows them to sell water at chicken price and makes the meat artificially moist. This is all considered "natural" in the US.

    Find yourself a cookbook prior to the 1950's before the practice was common and follow those guidelines.
  3. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    Thank you greyfields.

    I kind of suspected that. The birds get exercise (sometimes forced on the lazy bums) therefore the muscles are more developed and stronger. That's why I compared it to squirrel.

    I was at the grocery store yesterday and feeling glum because chicken was $0.49 a pound. Right now my birds are about $2.00 a pound. Looking at the packages, All Natural, packed in broth, no hormones (yeh, they gotta put that on there right, especially since hormones aren't allowed, even says in on some of the packages, marketing).

    I really enjoy your posts. If I get to raising meat birds on purpose instead of by accident I will be doing some searching of you posts.
  4. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Chicken is viewed as cheap meat for one meal here. I sell 4-6 lb roasters for 3.50 per lb. And at that, I make $2 per bird if I get lucky. It's simply wanting to do things the right way and if I sell enough, people are actually paying me to eat my own chicken. That's the good life.
  5. spook

    spook Songster

    Apr 21, 2008
    North Central Florida
    Quote:wow, interesting. I know a few years ago, I had a chicken in the fridge, had to cook it now or throw out, so I just dropped it into a roaster pan, cover and oven. When it was done, it was a small bird, 2 inches of water and to salty for us to eat. Yuck.
    I always thought it was my own mental issue, lol. I am in hopes to get a few 1 monthers. I have an area 4'x3', chick wire in a secured area. I would like 6 of them, what do you think about this for housing?
    Just not sure.
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    I processed 6 cockerels of about 9 wks old recently. I had read somewhere about not freezing them right away and keeping them chilled in the fridge for a couple of days before freezing. It worked!!! When I thawed them out, I marinated for a couple of hours in a water/red wine vinegar solution with about a Tbs. of salt. We BBQed these chickens and you never tasted something so tastey and tender.....and NOT chewy! These were just mixed-breed birds of meat/laying breeds, freeranged and given free choice on laying mash. It took about 1/2 hour on a hot charcoal grill to achieve this level of tenderness. No comparison with store tasteless at its best. I split the birds down the middle and served halves. The guests took home the leftovers to "let their husbands" taste them! I didn't get to keep any! [​IMG]
  7. HenniePennie

    HenniePennie In the Brooder

    Jul 16, 2007
    About a month ago my mom was telling me about how she had read that commercially sold chicken had a lot of water added. I was not suprized at what the gov't will allow to go on commercially.
    This is only my 3rd year of having chickens and hens. The first year I did it with my son. I read everything I could get my hands on at the library & on the enternet about meat birds, layers, and chickens in general. The meat birds that first year were not very good. My sons and his girlfriend/now wife bought the meat birds & their feed I just provided the land. They bought chick starter and then later also feed them whole wheat grain and cracked corn [scratch]. When they were fried they were tough & just not what I had expected. The 2nd & 3rd years I have done them alone. Last year the birds were 8 to 10 lbs, tender & wonderful flavor. This year I have let them out in a small area just outside the coop. I am anxious to see how they taste & their average size. My son told me that I should not let them outside but to just keep them in a small confined area inside so they don't move around & 'waste' calories that could go to meat. Also that my would have more dark meat since they were moving around more than his. I figure he can do what he wants with his meat birds & I will do what I want with mine!

    I will never purchase another bird of any kind from a butcher or grocery store!!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2008
  8. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    In comerciall packing plant the time from the kill to freezing can be really short. Plus the plant may inject water. Typically rigor will set in in about 1/2 hour and fully in about 4 hours then start to decrease. The rigor won't go away for anything less then 2 to 4 days. So the trick is to refrigerate you bird for several days before freezing.

    In a meat packing plant I worked in some years ago it took like 15 to 20 minutes to get the Cows from the kill to the quick freezer to there was very little time for rigor to set in. Injecting water brine then freezing the carckus will also break down rigor.

    Also most commercial birds are not allowed to walk around a lot, it ranges from being kept in a cage barely big enough for two birds to a large barn where they have little more then standing room.

    It can be amazing the taste and texture difference between home grown meat and commercial meat. When I was much younger I could always tell the difference between what we got from one of my uncles farm and what we got in the store. I always like the home grown much better.


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