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right age to butcher rir cockerels

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by PunkinPeep, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think i had it in my head that some people butcher multi-purpose birds between 20 and 28 weeks. Now, today, i'm re-reading and seeing that it's more like 16-20 weeks. Is that right?

    I have two that need to be butchered who will be 21 weeks on Monday, but i'm pretty sure that the hubby is going to drag his feet on doing it this weekend.

    And i was hoping i would get to try to fry these two - or at least bake them - instead of rooster and dumplings.

    Is it too late? If we butcher them at 22-23 weeks, are they going to be good only for stewing?

    I've had them confined for a couple of weeks, feeding them grower to fatten them up (and also because they need to be separated from my flock). But it starts to seem a little cruel to leave them confined for a whole month. They're together in a separation pen that is about 4 x 5 1/2 x 4. And they don't fight at all. They mostly roost and eat.

    I'm a newbie at this. I have butchered 3 roosters before - but those were about a year old, and i knew better than to try to fry them.

    Your thoughts and advice are welcome.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Smoky73

    Smoky73 Lyon Master

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    When I did it, I just judged by how much meat was on them. Seeing they are not meat birds, they will not be very meaty which made me want to wait. I think I waited till they were 24 weeks or so and they were tough. Confining them was a good idea, as well as the grower, however, when we did our turkeys, we fed them nothing but corn for the last week (now I do not remember why that was). I would not wait much longer if you are satisfied with the amount of meet is on them. I still think they will be a bit tough, because the birds we buy at the stores are only about 6 weeks. I bought red meat birds one year from ideal and they were great (looked like RIR's) and they butchered great at 12 weeks.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    You might want to read through this thread, although I don't think it gives you a clear answer to your specific question. I'd personally slow cook yours. Roosters do get tough earlier than pullets. I think they are too tough to fry, but the meat may not be too tough for you. We are all different in our expectations and standards. You can always try part of one but be ready for disappointment.

    My preferred method is to braise my older pullets. Your roosters should still be young enough to do this. They cook slowly so can get tender and are constantly basted by the liquids condensing on the lid. Delicious.

    Cooking chickens thread
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=151339
     
  4. FortWorthChicks

    FortWorthChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2009
    Fort Worth
    Hi yall,

    When I saw this post it quickly got my attention because I have been reading up on meat birds; I hope yours turn out to be great baking or frying birds.

    I had no idea the ones in the store are so young!! I somehow figured they were at least 16 weeks old!

    I am new and learning so much from the BYC community! I was very interested in growing a few meat birds to test the waters. I have a small yard with a laying flock (pets!!) of 5. I can't think of a good place in my small yard to set up a processing area out of their site. There is just no way I could do that in front of my sweet laying flock.

    I have heard of having chickens processed for you but have not found a place in my area that does it. Is it uncommen to have your chickens processed for you? The lady I heard mention getting her chickens processed (on youtube) said it cost 2 bucks per chicken. Is this unreal... and I really just need to figure out a set up here in my small yard hidden from the view of my flock?

    Thanks for any advise
     
  5. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    SouthEast Texas
    Thanks for your responses. I think i have the hubby convinced to do it tomorrow if the weather is nice. We've had so much rain lately, it's hard to say. Hoping for sunshine.

    I think in the future, when i'm doing this on a little larger scale, i may separate the cockerels earlier and keep them in a smaller pen to fatten them up. The younger cockerels i have right now aren't even close to being big enough to butcher, but they have been doing a lot of running around.

    Thanks for the link, Ridgerunner. You're always a wealth of information. Would you mind describing how you braise your chickens? I looked it up on wiki, but i don't think i'm really getting the picture.

    FortWorth, could you leave the flock inside the coop or something while you do the killing early in the morning or something?

    For what it's worth (and some might call me a name for this, but that's why i'm writing in the meat section), my flock saw me butcher three roosters, and it seemed to me that it did not register with them at all what was happening. And i am certain that after the feathers were off, they had no idea whatsoever what i was doing.

    As to the $2 per bird to butcher, costs like that, for us, eliminate practicality. But that's just us. We're looking to cut down on costs, while at the same time eating healthier meat - and having a healthier lifestyle. Adding $2 to the cost of each butchered chicken is completely impractical for us - and well worth learning to get good at doing it ourselves.

    Oh yeah, one more thing.....does anyone do the campfire thing to get rid of the pin feathers? I'm told that my grandfather did it that way back in the day - kept a hot fire going to singe the pin feathers of the plucked chickens. That would sure save me a lot of trouble!
     
  6. Smoky73

    Smoky73 Lyon Master

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    When we butcher birds, we always just take the breast, legs thighs and sometimes wings. We do not keep the whole body, because there is so little meat on the actual main body its not worth it and then we do not have to gut the birds.. If your birds are fully feathered, you should not really have pin feathers. We often skin ours though. Much easier.
     
  7. FortWorthChicks

    FortWorthChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2009
    Fort Worth
    Thanks for the response. I see what you mean about the cost. What you said about doing it in front of the other chickens and them not seeming concerned at all gave me some more confidence.

    I think I am going to go for it, and get a few meat birds and try my hand at it. I would so much wrather be eating my own chickens than the mass production storebought ones!

    Thanks again!!!

    Jeanette:cool:
     
  8. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    SouthEast Texas
    Quote:The ones i butchered a couple months ago were about a year old, and they still had all these annoying little hairs on them. I assumed these were pin feathers.


    Quote:Happy to help, Jeanette. I hope it goes well for you. Tip: i'm sure you've been told this, but just don't name the ones who are dinner. It personalizes them too much and makes the process harder.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Would you mind describing how you braise your chickens?

    Based on Christopher Kimball’s The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook

    BRAISED CHICKEN

    Salt and Pepper
    3-1/2 pounds Chicken
    3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    1 Tablespoon Butter
    1 slice Bacon, cut into matchsticks
    1 Cup Chopped Onion
    2 Cups Course Chopped Vegetables
    ¼ Cup White Wine
    1 Cup Chicken Broth
    ½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
    1 Teaspoon Minced garlic
    2 Tablespoons Mince Parsley

    Heat over to 250. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons in Dutch over and brown chicken in two batches, about 10 minutes per batch. Remove browned chicken and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.

    Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in the Dutch oven. Saute bacon for 1 minute. Add onion, sauté 3 minutes. Add vegetables, sauté 3 minutes. Add white wine while still hoy and scrape up browned bits and cook for 1 minute.

    Add chicken back to Dutch oven along with the broth, ¼ teaspoon salt, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in heated oven. After 30 minutes, add garlic and parsley. Cook another 15 minutes. Internal meat temperature should be 170.


    I'll be fairly specific as I don't know if you are one of those that needs precise measurements like my wife or will approximate some recipes like me. The main thing is to cook it slowly and long enough. The lid needs to fit tightly. I usually put in enough potatoes, carrots, and celery, maybe a leek, so I have vegetables for the meal.

    I butcher around the corner where they cannot see me but mainly because that is where the water and such is. I don't think it gives them any kind of complex. I've had a hen drop dead in the coop and the rest seemed unconcerned.

    Oh yeah, one more thing.....does anyone do the campfire thing to get rid of the pin feathers? I'm told that my grandfather did it that way back in the day - kept a hot fire going to singe the pin feathers of the plucked chickens. That would sure save me a lot of trouble!

    I don't bother with those hair-like feathers, but when growing up, Mom did not want them. I set a piece of newspapaer on fire and singed them off. Worked great.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:We use the entire body. The back, neck, heat, gizzard, wings, and feet make a great stock. We pick the meat off the back, neck, and wings and use it to make chicken tacos or chicken salad.

    I skin my dark-feathered chickens because of those pin feathers. I either pluck or skin the light-feathered ones, whatever I feel like. Getting the hot water is my problem in plucking. If I have hot water, plucking is easier for me. I find that the older they get, the harder to skin, especially the roosters. The skinned ones can dry out more than the skinned ones if you are not careful so watch how you handle them.
     

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