Processing 16 week old Roosters

davidmpenning

Songster
Mar 12, 2019
54
186
136
Michigan
We have three roosters I’ve been trying to give away for over a month, and I can’t find anyone to take them. But we also don’t want them - one is a jerk, the other two aren’t the breeds we thought we were buying. And although we weren’t going to start meat birds until next year, it looks like we are going to have these three roosters for meals this summer.

They’re around 15-16 weeks now - one is a sapphire gem and the others are marans crosses. I’ve done enough research and reading and talking to have the logistics of butchering down, but I do have a few questions.

1. Being 15-16 weeks old roosters, are they going to be tough? Should they be slow cooked and rest for 2-4 days or can they be grill-worthy for some bbq?

2. My wife would like to keep some of the feathers. If we do wet plucking/scalding, can the feathers be dried out to keep and still look nice?

Any other tips or tricks or things that you think I should know and/or be aware of?

Thanks!
 
We have three roosters I’ve been trying to give away for over a month, and I can’t find anyone to take them. But we also don’t want them - one is a jerk, the other two aren’t the breeds we thought we were buying. And although we weren’t going to start meat birds until next year, it looks like we are going to have these three roosters for meals this summer.

They’re around 15-16 weeks now - one is a sapphire gem and the others are marans crosses. I’ve done enough research and reading and talking to have the logistics of butchering down, but I do have a few questions.

1. Being 15-16 weeks old roosters, are they going to be tough? Should they be slow cooked and rest for 2-4 days or can they be grill-worthy for some bbq?

2. My wife would like to keep some of the feathers. If we do wet plucking/scalding, can the feathers be dried out to keep and still look nice?

Any other tips or tricks or things that you think I should know and/or be aware of?

Thanks!
Screenshot_20201124-175957.png
 
1. Being 15-16 weeks old roosters, are they going to be tough? Should they be slow cooked and rest for 2-4 days or can they be grill-worthy for some bbq?
Interesting question. To me you are in that zone where it could go either way.

Different people have different preferences and tolerances. Some people might be OK with the texture, some might not. I think you are stretching the limit for many people.

The hormones of puberty has an effect on the meat, both flavor and texture. Some cockerels hit puberty earlier than others so may be tougher than late starters. I would not be surprised if your jerk turns out to be tougher than the other two if you butcher them at the same age because of early maturity.

How you prepare the meat can be important. All chicken meat should be aged unless you immediately cook it. That's so rigor mortis passes. If you try to cook it when it is in rigor mortis it will be tough.

Brining is where you soak it in salt. You can add salt flavor any tine yo want, what brining is about is that it causes the meat to retain moisture. If you are going to cook it a wet method that's not very important but if you cook it with a dry method (like frying, grilling, or roasting) brining can help.

Marinating is where you use an acid to tenderize meat. The acid breaks down tissue. The stronger the acid and the longer it works the more it breaks down tissue. Common acids used are tomato sauces, vinegar, or wine but there are a lot of marinade recipes. You can add some really interesting flavors with marinades too.

If you are going to try grilling a 16 week old cockerel you may want to use all three of these. Definitely age it to get past rigor mortis no matter how you cook it. Maybe brine it as you age it, then marinade it before you cook it.

2. My wife would like to keep some of the feathers. If we do wet plucking/scalding, can the feathers be dried out to keep and still look nice?
Yes you can. They will need to be washed. I wash them in dawn dishwashing soap and rinse them well, then spread them out in a thin layer to dry. Turn them or stir them a couple of times a day until they are really dry.
 
Interesting question. To me you are in that zone where it could go either way.

Different people have different preferences and tolerances. Some people might be OK with the texture, some might not. I think you are stretching the limit for many people.

The hormones of puberty has an effect on the meat, both flavor and texture. Some cockerels hit puberty earlier than others so may be tougher than late starters. I would not be surprised if your jerk turns out to be tougher than the other two if you butcher them at the same age because of early maturity.

How you prepare the meat can be important. All chicken meat should be aged unless you immediately cook it. That's so rigor mortis passes. If you try to cook it when it is in rigor mortis it will be tough.

Brining is where you soak it in salt. You can add salt flavor any tine yo want, what brining is about is that it causes the meat to retain moisture. If you are going to cook it a wet method that's not very important but if you cook it with a dry method (like frying, grilling, or roasting) brining can help.

Marinating is where you use an acid to tenderize meat. The acid breaks down tissue. The stronger the acid and the longer it works the more it breaks down tissue. Common acids used are tomato sauces, vinegar, or wine but there are a lot of marinade recipes. You can add some really interesting flavors with marinades too.

If you are going to try grilling a 16 week old cockerel you may want to use all three of these. Definitely age it to get past rigor mortis no matter how you cook it. Maybe brine it as you age it, then marinade it before you cook it.


Yes you can. They will need to be washed. I wash them in dawn dishwashing soap and rinse them well, then spread them out in a thin layer to dry. Turn them or stir them a couple of times a day until they are really dry.
Thank you so much! This really is so helpful.

And I think you’re right - the one rooster matured much earlier than the other two so I’m sure he’ll be tougher. I’ll make sure to take the time to let him rest with those different ways to try to tender him up.
 
I’ve seen this before but have (dumb) questions. What is meant by ‘fowl’ and how is that different in texture, taste.
And secondly, how is a true heritage breed different than hatchery heritage in size, texture, taste?
Asking for the masses :oops:
Not uncommon questions
There's a link to the article in my signature, under my post. I think it's the second one.... If you're on a phone, rotate it sideways so it's on landscape.

Fowl is old and needs to be crockpot or pressure cooked to be tender. Otherwise it's like rubber bands. Makes great soup. Old Age develops great flavor. I had to pressure cook a couple years old rooster 2 and a half hours but he made great pulled chicken.

The true dual purpose heritage are larger and meatier. Hatchery are bred for more eggs so more chicks to sell. Although some hatchery's are selling Delaware and New Hampshire for meat that seems great.
 
The stewing chicken they sell at my local super markets are old egg layers. It was so cheap, I bought them thinking I got a good deal. But after I roasted one, I figured out why they called it stewing chicken. They were like rubber and it took a while to soften up in a soup pot. However, the flavor of the soup was intense and the meat became soft and didn't dry out like regular chicken in soups. We can over cook a Cornish X in soups and stews, but can't really over cook a stewing chicken, it holds its texture and doesn't dry out.
 
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