Roosters - when do hormones 'spoil' the meat?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Pickled Egg, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. Pickled Egg

    Pickled Egg Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2008
    Perth, Ontario
    My apologies if this has recently been covered.

    I have six going on 15 week old Barred Rock cockerels that I am fattening up with grower/finisher and additional cracked corn. I've heard that once they reach a certain age and their hormones kick in it will make their meat really tough. what is the general age limit to kill before? My plan is to have them slaughtered in 2 or 3 weeks, am I pushing it?
  2. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    The meat becomes tougher as the birds get older and the muscles develop. It has nothing to do with hormones, it will happen with both hens and roosters. Dual purpose breeds such as your barred rocks will usually be somewhat tough, even at 16 weeks or so. Any bird I've butchered past 12 weeks old has been at least a little tough. Yours are already past being fryers, but they can still make really tasty meals.

    But if you cook them right, they'll get tender. Many French recipes, such as Coq Au Vin, are traditionally made with older roosters, because they have more flavor than young ones.

    Breast will remain tender even in an older bird, you can debone the breast and fry it, and the thighs, to a lesser degree. Because of the exercise they get, they'll be a bit chewier than the breasts. Put the rest in a crock pot, and it will get tender after several hours. You can also cook it in buttermilk, that'll make it get tender faster. Marinating in buttermilk, or pineapple juice, or yogurt, or any number of highly acidic marinades will tenderize the meat. Or cut up the whole bird and cook in the crock pot.

    I cooked one a few days ago, that turned out especially tasty. He was a 20 week old Delaware. I cut it up, put it in the crock pot, seasoned it, and added enough buttermilk to not quite cover it. After about an hour and a half, I turn the peices so the upper parts were submerged. After about 3 hours, it was fairly tender. Without buttermilk, it may take closer to 6 hours to become tender. I took it the crock out of the base of the crock pot, and put it in the oven to finish, so it would brown a bit. Next time I'll transfer it to a baking dish, so more of the parts will brown. Anyway, it came out tender, moist, and really yummy. My DH loved it.

    Buttermilk will separate and curdle when it's heated, but the curds just get brown and tasty, the whey makes the bird tender.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2009
  3. kooltex

    kooltex Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2009
    NE Tx
    I find the older birds very tastey! They make excellent chickn dumplins, and soups! And cook 'em in the crock pot, and season the meat 4 enchalada's ! mmmm good.
  4. VA from WV

    VA from WV Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 26, 2009
    Eastern Pandhandle WV
    Soaking meat in buttermilk for 24-48 hours(the longer for red meats) will impart a delightful tenderness to it. It's my treatment of choice for tough old birds and overly fibrous cuts.
  5. NurseNettie

    NurseNettie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2008
    Northern Maine
    I like the buttermilk suggestion- I'll have to try it next year when we get extras again! We just removed 5 roos from our newest flock this weekend, meat being fed back to the livestock, since we didn't like the meat last time. I guess we'll have to give it another go!
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Most of the roos I butcher are mixed-breed or standard-breeds, I like to give them time to get big & beefy so usually wait until 18-22 weeks before processing, sometimes even more. I think they're always tender & flavorful. Most of them have testicles the size of prunes so there must be a lot of hormones coursing through their veins. I usually simmer them in herbed water over low heat on the stovetop for a few hours until the meat just melts off the bones, then pick it to use in soups, stews & chilis. I let them rest in the refrigerator for 2-3 days after butchering but don't bother with marinating in anything.
    [​IMG] Enjoy your birds whenever you butcher them! [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2009
  7. ninny

    ninny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    Quote:What do you have for livestock that eats meat?
  8. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Poultry doesn't work like bulls or hogs. Testosterone won't taint the meat. Aging and lots of free exercise that builds muscles causes tough stringy meat. Roosters can be very tastey at any age. You just need to learn what to technique to use to cook them. Coq Au Vin requires a 1 yr old rooster.

    Buttermilk soaking the meat will help keep it tender.

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