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Raising Chickens for Meat

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by MamacatPatch, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. MamacatPatch

    MamacatPatch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I'm going to go out on a limb and finally buy chickens for the sole purpose of eating them. This is a GIANT step for me, a former city girl who has 'gone country' ... who has always loved and cared for LIVE animals. Never ever had to eat an animal that I knew when it was alive! [​IMG] Still not sure I can do it but I am willing to TRY so I can eat organic free range chicken!

    Now what are the best meatbirds to buy? Do I have to buy roosters or would straight run be ok? Do most eat roosters or do they eat roosters and hens both? I want to order them for next year as soon as I can.

    We're still trying to find a good chicken processing place near us because the LAST THING ON THIS EARTH I want to have happen is to buy 25 cockerels and not be able to process them for eats! Anyone know any good processing plants in north central Indiana? We have a lead on one in Rochester but no info back yet.


    Thanks for any help!



    Marci
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    You have a few different choices. What a lot of hatcheries call broilers or Cornish crosses are the fast growing white birds that develop to butchering size in about 8 weeks. With the birds being this young, the meat is very tender and can be cooked about any way. They grow so fast they can have medical problems and cannot be kept very long without injuring themselves or dying unless you severely restrict their diet. One advantage (or maybe disadvantage) is that you have to process them all at a young age. It gets it over with, but it also means you need a lot of freezer room. These are the most efficient in feed to weight gain ratio.

    Some people use Freedom Rangers. I'm not familiar enough with them to be able to say much about them. I think they are somewhere in between the broilers and the dual purpose breeds.

    There are many different breeds considered dual purpose. They are called dual purpose because they are OK for egg laying as well as eating. They do not have the medical problems the broilers do, but they grow a lot slower. You'll get a lot of different opinions as to when to butcher them and how to cook them. I'll mention a bit but others do it differently. I generally start butchering them when they are about 15 weeks old. You can still fry them, but the meat is tougher than the broilers. You may or may not like that. The older they get, the slower and moister you need to cook them. I've cooked old roosters long, moist and slow and they have been excellent, but your cooking options decrease as they get older. One advantage to me in kleeping dual purpose is that I butcher them as I need them. With the broilers, you pretty much better butcher them when they are ready or they will start dying on you.

    I suggest buying roosters if you go with the dual purpose. I don't have experience with the others so I can't comment on them. Roosters grow faster and bigger than pullets so if all you are doing is butchering them, they are definitely the way to go.
     
  3. maggiemooscluckers

    maggiemooscluckers Chillin' With My Peeps

    I bought straight run slow broilers from Welp Hatchery. I got five roos and 13 girls. I butchered the roos around 9-10 weeks and am waiting on freezer space to finish the last girls. They are now 14 weeks so I am anxious to get it done. I have had NO trouble or loss with these chickens. They are slower growers so no medical issues and no food restrictions. I am housing them in a predator proof run outside with very little protection from the elements and they are doing just fine. I will probably buy these again next year since they have done so well.
     
  4. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    My suggestion, based on your desire to eat them but hesitancy to end their life is that you start out with CX. They get insulted a lot and they poop and eat A LOT, however they have a very short life span anyway and typicaly you are butchering them right before their legs and hearts start to give out - so really your only cheating them out of the pain if my crazy line of thinking makes any sense to you [​IMG]
    I have had straight run which means either you will be butchering birds of two main sizes or having two butcher dates if you a want consistency in size. I think next time I am going to get all boys or all girls (girls are apx 10 days to two weeks longer for same size) because my butcher is a bit of a drive and It's more cost and time effective to make one trip. You butcher boy CX's before they start crowing or hasseling the girls which is another plus to this "breed" of meat bird.
     
  5. MamacatPatch

    MamacatPatch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the great information !!! What is a CX? Cornish X Rocks? McMurray Hatchery has Jumbo Cornish X Rocks, Cornish X Rocks, Cornish Roaster and a 'Frying Pan Special' of Highland 55’s or White Leghorns.

    I'm trying to foresee all possibilities. At least if I get pullets and something happens that we can't process them, we'll just have more eggs. But if we get cockerels and that happens, we'll just have more TROUBLE! On the other hand, I just hate the thought of eating perfectly good egg laying hens! Sigh.

    I need to order soon as McMurray Hatchery runs out of birds fairly quickly and I can't wait till January to order or they might be unavailable! I'm ordering some 'Easter Egg Chickens' with this order too and they'll be gone fast too I'm sure.

    Basically we want a fat juicy chickens and ONE TRIP to the butcher .... just as soon as we FIND a butcher! [​IMG]




    Marci
     
  6. marquisella

    marquisella Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Not having a processor nearby is one of the reasons I have waited so long to get eating chicks. I had to drive 2 hours, wait another 2 hours for them to be processed, and then drive another 2 hours home...not fun.

    I've finally found someone about a half hour drive from me. It seems, now, more "speciality" poultry processors are popping up, and I'm thankful they are. They charge $3 for a chicken, but then only $5 for a turkey. I think that is reasonable.

    Sue
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    To find a butcher, I suggest you call your county extension agent, in the phone book under county government, and talk to them. I'm real confident they will be able to help you.

    Another possibility is to talk to the people at the feed store. Somebody there might know somebody. Maybe they have a bulletin board at the feed store where you could hang a notice?
     
  8. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To find a butcher, I suggest just trying it yourself. I have seen many threads on here of people saying they could "never do it themselves", but after having to do it saying "it's not so bad." We used to take them elsewhere, but now doing it ourselves, we have discover how much easier it is. You don't have to worry about driving, and if you only want to do a portion of them, that's all you do that day. If you say, "we don't have the equipment." If you spend some time in this section, you will discover that all the stuff you need can be found at home, or easily obtained for little money.

    Take a chance and try a few. You can do it, you just need to talk yourself into it. You will be amazed how much self satisfaction is gained by taking a day old chick and turning it into a family meal with no outside help.

    Goodluck!
     
  9. marquisella

    marquisella Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I use to work for the county coop extension. They had no clue. If they had a questions about chickens, they would ask me. I was in 4H.

    Sue
     
  10. LuckyDozen Farm

    LuckyDozen Farm Out Of The Brooder

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    The best way to butcher is to skin them..Plucking and eviscerating is pretty hard work, and lends itself to only a little extra meat. I can go from dead chicken to cold water in about 60 seconds skinning this way. Plus the chicken skin is not very healty to eat anyway. I found the Cornish X hens to be easier to skin than the roos, but the roos had bigger breast meat. My dad showed me how to quick-skin a chicken and I have never found anywhere online or books, that is quicker or easier.
     

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