Practical question on raising dual purpose birds for the table

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jake and pippa, May 5, 2017.

  1. 5 pounds live weight

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  2. 5.5 pounds live weight

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  3. other

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  1. jake and pippa

    jake and pippa Out Of The Brooder

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    I am looking to benefit from all of your collective experience here. I am raising several dual purpose chicken breeds, including Rhode Island Red and American Bresse, for my own table and for sale to local restaurants and caterers. The chefs are asking for processed birds with a 3 to 3.5 pound dressed weight. I do not normally include giblets in birds, I bulk package those separately. I think separating the giblets keeps them fresher, and I can sell those organs fresh, or freeze immediately.
    These are not hatchery birds, they are straight run, and different breeds, so I have birds of different ages. As our business grows we will have more uniform birds because we will have more birds, and we will be hatching out more as we expand. My question is this, What live weight I should be aiming for? I have a baby scale, and many birds will cooperate so I can get a good idea of their weight. I was thinking 5 pounds live weight, but since I usually go more by age, I am not sure when to harvest. I can pick and choose among my birds to select ones for the restaurant, but naturally I want to get all the birds as close to 3.5 pounds dressed weight as possible, as we are paid by the pound. For my own table I would usually raise birds to about 16 weeks.
    An important pont is that I bring my birds to the processor in the late afternoon, early evening, and they are processed early morning the next day. I will make sure they are not overcrowded in poultry crates, but they will not have water overnight. Should I weigh my birds first thing in the morning to get accurate live weights? How much weight does a bird lose from fasting overnight?
    Thank you all for your help.
     
  2. daxigait

    daxigait Overrun With Chickens

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    try the meat birds thread @duluthralphie
     
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  3. jake and pippa

    jake and pippa Out Of The Brooder

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    I thought I did post this to the meat birds forum. I do not know how to search the entire meat bird forum for the answer to a specific question. I can only look at the titles of the threads.
     
  4. daxigait

    daxigait Overrun With Chickens

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    There is an active thread which is why I tagged ralphie because he would know the one to ask on. I will try to get his attention. Maybe I should mention eliminating ducks??? Sorry inside joke.
     
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  5. Chaos18

    Chaos18 Minion King Premium Member

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    Slowly Losing it......
    You can expect a roughly 30% loss from live weight to processed weight. Some probably a little more, some probably a little less but at least this will give you a ball park estimate.
     
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  6. daxigait

    daxigait Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks for coming over to help.
     
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Are you raising your Bresse in the traditional french way or just standard?

    I would weigh the previous morning as you say. None of my birds have water over night. Love the attention to detail.

    What do your birds weigh in at 16 weeks? My Splash Marans barely weighed 2 pounds 10 ounces at 8 month. We could tell he was smaller than the other boys, one reason he got processed... doesn't meet my breeding goals.
     
  8. jake and pippa

    jake and pippa Out Of The Brooder

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    We are working to use the French standard, but I do not intend to use cages, I may confine in a shed. We gave a Bresse that we raised in our standard pastured poultry fashion to a chef, he liked it very much and asked us to raise some for him. We are adding milk to the finishing feed, and we will let you know what he says when he gets the new birds.

    Some of our birds have water at night, it depends on their housing, but they don't eat or drink in the dark anyway. I am a scientist by profession, this is my second career. To me everything is an experiment, and all experiments must, by definition, be controlled. We will start processing a small group, I will gather my own data, and will post here. I can't tell you what they weigh at 16 weeks, but I will post more later in the season.

    We have raised Marans, I have a few now. I don't breed them, I have a local source of excess cockerels that I can get at a decent price. We do have American Bresse breeding stock, purchased from GFF at auction last year.
     
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  9. Akrnaf2

    Akrnaf2 The educated Rhino Premium Member

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    You can add yogurt too, did you ever considered to caponize them? That will give them some extra weight and tenderness to the meat.
    Age=more flavor layers to the meat
    But Age= Toughness also!
    Canonization will solve the problem.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
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  10. jake and pippa

    jake and pippa Out Of The Brooder

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    We will consider yoghurt. I know most people use powdered milk, some people use goat's milk, but we don't have any goats.

    I did consider caponizing, for just the reasons that you mentioned, but I do not want to do it myself. I have done recovery surgery in animals in the distant past, but I don't feel my hands are steady enough now, I certainly do not want to hurt the birds. I would need to practice on cadavers until I could do the surgery very very fast, and I do not think that is likely for me at my age. In addition, while we might love a huge tasty bird, and I think there is some market for that, most people seem to want a smaller chicken. I completely agree that age brings flavor, but I need to listen to the marketplace. I do not know if anyone near me who knows how to caponize, it seems to be a bit of a lost art.
     
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