Strong Tasting Chicken? I found out why!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by tackyrama, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. tackyrama

    tackyrama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 14, 2008
    Central Minnesota USA
    OK here's the deal - We butchered some of our roosters later than we had planned last year. They had already developed into adult breeding age. Most of them tasted great but two had a very strong, gamey flavor that we could not stand. I was unsure of the cause of this. Now I know and will share this with you all.

    I was discussing this at coffee the other day and a lady seated nearby came over and said she couldn't help but overhear. Turns out her parents had owned and run a comercial poultry operation. According to her strong taste can be caused by two things:

    1. Not cleaned properly. The lungs and bloody area along the ribs and back has to be cleaned out very well. This can be made much easier by plunging in very cold water after the intestines are removed. Also the wind pipe has to be completely removed.
    2. If your chickens are free range they could be eating something that would make the meat taste strong.

    I was very glad to learn this from someone that was "in the business" The cleaning I can do something about. My chickens are completely free range and there is nothing I can do about what they eat. Hopefully they will clear out what they like and I don't.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2009
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    With dual purpose breeds, isn't it best to slaughter at about 16 weeks?

    I've got some 8 week old leghorns that are already crowing!
  3. tackyrama

    tackyrama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 14, 2008
    Central Minnesota USA
    Quote:I'm not sure about slaughtering age. According to this lady age in regards to a rooster does not affect the taste, only the quality. 16 weeks is probably about right if you are concerned about feed costs. My chickens are free range so I'm not concerened about diminishing returns as they are mostly feeding themselves. I've read that some dual purpose breeds such as Jersey Giants are not fully grown till 18 months old.
  4. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2007
    I'm not sure about slaughtering age. According to this lady age in regards to a rooster does not affect the taste, only the quality

    I wish this was the case but I'm sad to say it's not. The older a rooster gets the more complex the amino acids get... making it a more complex muscle/meat. So the nutritious part and quality are there but as far as taste goes... if it's not cooked right you will be eating an old tire.

    The strong taste doesn't come from the forage itself but yet the actual free-ranging itself. The more chickens run around to find those tastey morsles in the grass.... the more they move their muscles. ( think of it this way).... It's a little weird but the best comparison I can give at the moment *I'm only on my first cup of coffee*[​IMG] Think of it as a body builder.... what would have a stronger taste... a guy that sits in an office all day who doesn't use hardly any muscles at all... or a body builder who day in and day out works out to get huge muscles or *complex muscles*.

    It's the same thing for chickens... think of those free ranging chickens like little body builders... the more the run around... the more their muscles develop. But heres the catch, you take advantage of this as dual purpose roosters forarage really well if you have adequate forage available. The whole goal is.... is to slam as much forage they can eat in 16 weeks before they develop those really complex amino acids that make the meat taste stringy and strong. 16 weeks is about the furthest I would raise them personally... This way as long as they are young... will be very full in flavor and many people actually prefer a chicken that is 16 weeks instead of 42 days due to this flavor they build by free ranging.

    The whole bottom line is you fall into a whole other catagory when you take them past 6 months.

    1-8 weeks... Very tender succulent meat
    9-12 weeks... Firmer meat with enhanced flavor
    13-18 weeks... Very firm meat with extremely rich flavor
    18 + weeks... Very strong meat and stringy/tough

    All of these categories have different cooking methods too. If you choose the wrong one you could have an extremely upsetting meal in front of you. For instance you wouldn't want to fry up a 18 week old rooster in the skillet. This would require a slower method of cooking to bring out the flavor in the bird.

    The blood thing and the windpipe is a good thing too.... you always want to make sure you start with a very clean bird.. no pin feathers, oil gland/ blood.... ect.​
  5. KareyABohr

    KareyABohr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 14, 2009
    SE Iowa
    I have NOT found what that lady said to be true. When roosters develop long enough to "Crow" and they are not caponized they taste gamey and I think they taste terrible.

    I have some in the pen outside that are trying to crow so I called in the troops and we are butchering them on Wednesday!
  6. the_great_snag

    the_great_snag Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    Staples, Minnesota
    I read in Storey's guide that the taste of roosters gets really bad about the time they develop spurs and become sexually mature.

    The book referred to it as the "stag" stage.

    In my personal experience, I've found sexually mature roosters to be virtually useless as human food. My dad used to always kill any rooster that turned aggressive around us kids, and they sometimes made for some really lousy meals. lol
  7. wisdom_seeker

    wisdom_seeker Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 27, 2008
    From my research on caponizing I would say that the bad taste comes from the high levels of testosterone in a mature rooster. This would also explain the toughness of the meat. This is also very typical in other livestock. You would not like a steak from an intact Bull.
  8. Kev

    Kev Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 13, 2008
    Sun City, California
    I am very glad others noticed the same thing.. it was a lesson learned not to ever butcher cockerels that already had been breeding hens and crowing. Horrible taste.

    However, old hens are the most delicious tasting chickens I've ever butchered and eaten. I simply got around the tough meat issue by cutting them up finely and using in tacos.. simply delicious.
  9. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    I eat tough older birds all the time. I cook them in the crock pot until the meat is falling off the bones. Then they aren't tough anymore.

    I don't find they taste 'bad' at all. I enjoy the more flavorful older roos. In French cooking, older roos are often preferred because they have more flavor.

    I have some friends that I get together with for dinner every couple of weeks, and have shared the crock-pot roosters with them. They love them, and these are city-raised folks who only had store-bought before this. I often shared crocpot birds with people I worked with, I don't recall anybody not liking it. They generally asked for seconds, so I don't thnk they were just being polite.

    Sometimes, an adverse-flavor experience, (for some, not all) is that a person is expecting it to taste bad, (often, due to others telling them it will) so it does. Unless of course, there was a poor job done cleaning the bird.

    It's a matter of proper cooking, and what you are accustomed to. There are people who have become so conditioned to the bland supermarket birds, that anything else tastes bad to them.

    When the meat is chopped up and used for BBQ sandwiches, or used in spicy dishes, such as tacos or enchiladas, the difference is less noticeable. I like it for spicy dishes because it has enough flavor to still taste like chicken, even with the spices and sauces.
  10. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I have 9 week old Leghorns that are crowing. I'm giving them another 7 weeks to get some meat on the bones, then they go to freezer camp.

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