Sustainable "experiment"

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by VanUnamed, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. VanUnamed

    VanUnamed In the Brooder

    34
    19
    24
    Jul 26, 2018
    Romania
    Hello,
    Last year, I raised 20 cornish crosses, they became huge at 10lb dressed weight, but I am really disappointed overall. meat taste like nothing, the birds themselves aren't apt for a sustainable/ free range homestead.
    This year, I have tried a new experiment. I bought an incubator and put some of the eggs from my laying flock. I have a very large rooster, and some kabir hens/barred rock. I also have bought 30 fertilized eggs of the breed light sussex, the parents were quite large, both boys and girls. Plan is to raise them free range in a third of acre with either tractors or "chickshaw" + electric poultry netting.
    I have no idea how a very large "father" for the chickens will influence size of his offspring, I just wonder, if in 5 or 6 months, I would get a 5lb dressed weight carcass? anyone has experience?
    I would prefer to keep my own breeding stock and use the offspring as meat birds, feed cost is not that relevant, as I would raise hardier animals to resist heat and better forager, not to mention healthier meat of animals that moved around and ate things other than commercial feed. Is it best to process at 5 or 6 months?

    thanks !!
     
  2. The Dapper Duck

    The Dapper Duck Songster

    222
    436
    116
    Apr 9, 2019
    Coastal Humboldt, CA
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...hicken-breed-other-than-cornish-cross.439641/
    I recently got some good info on this thread.
    Speaking from personal experience raising a large breed for eggs, I would cull cockerels at 16wks and get about a 4lb carcass that was tender enough for frying. I don't think any bird is tough at that age, but some slower growing birds might not be very big and not worth harvesting at that time. I had black Australorps, which are pretty fast growers.
     
  3. VanUnamed

    VanUnamed In the Brooder

    34
    19
    24
    Jul 26, 2018
    Romania
    Thanks for your reply. My experience with "older" meat type, is 3 cornish cross hens that I had spared due to bad weather, lived 5-6 months, cooked in the oven with potatoes, the meat was slightly chewier than usual, but nothing too bad, Now i dont know if this applies only to cornish or any other breed. thanks alot again
     
  4. The Dapper Duck

    The Dapper Duck Songster

    222
    436
    116
    Apr 9, 2019
    Coastal Humboldt, CA
    Yea, that's a bit long in my opinion. Especially for a really fast growing bird. Every breed is a little different and maybe you'll find that sweet spot, but if you are not caponizing, then you are looking for the maximum size but stop before they hit sexual maturity which is when that meat starts getting a little stringy. I was finishing my birds on a heavily coconut diet toward the last two weeks so they put on some good fat. Corn would essentially do the same thing.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    23,000
    9,181
    667
    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    This year, I have tried a new experiment. I bought an incubator and put some of the eggs from my laying flock. I have a very large rooster, and some kabir hens/barred rock. I also have bought 30 fertilized eggs of the breed light sussex, the parents were quite large, both boys and girls. Plan is to raise them free range in a third of acre with either tractors or "chickshaw" + electric poultry netting.

    Your plan on how to raise them will affect size. I like the plan but since they will forage for a lot of their food they will probably not grow as fast as if all they ate was a high protein feed specially designed for meat chickens. With your plan the cost per pound of meat will probably be less, maybe significantly less, but you are unlikely to get as much meat.

    I have no idea how a very large "father" for the chickens will influence size of his offspring,

    Quite a bit. The genetics of the mother will have an influence too. Roosters don't lay eggs so if you are breeding for egg laying you look at the hens. But roosters contribute just as many genetics that affect egg laying as the hen so it would be beneficial to know what the egg laying ability of his mother was.

    But you are looking at meat, I assume cockerels only. Due to genetics roosters and hens grow differently so it is harder to know how a hen will genetically contribute to her sons' size just by looking at her. But if you know the size and conformation of her father you can get an idea. Conformation can be important too, some people prefer more dark meat, some white.

    I would prefer to keep my own breeding stock and use the offspring as meat birds,

    I agree. To develop a flock that meets your goals you need to carefully choose which birds you allow to breed. If you want a flock that the hens often go broody, hatch eggs from hens that go broody. Again, the rooster will contribute as many genetics toward broodiness as the hen so saving a rooster from a hen that goes broody can move you more to that goal. Don't forget the principle that both parents contribute genetically. If larger cockerels are your goal, the basic principle is to eat the cockerels you don't want to eat and breed the ones you would want to eat. And save hens from the larger ones you breed.

    Is it best to process at 5 or 6 months?

    There is a lot of personal preference in this. Some cockerels put on weight faster than others. I keep those for breeding. How you cook them can influence when you butcher, the older they are the more restricted you are in how you can cook them. Coq au Vin is how the French make a gourmet meal out of a very old rooster. Chicken and Dumplings is an American South way of turning an old chicken into comfort food. And of course there is chicken soup. So you can cook any chicken of any age or sex. A normal progression is that a very young chicken can be grilled or fried. A bit older and they can be roasted. Older and they may need to be baked. The younger they are the hotter and drier they can be cooked. The older they are the moister and slower then need to be cooked.

    Once the hormones hit the cockerels and they go into puberty those hormones affect the flavor of the meat. Some of us like that, some don't. The older they get the more texture they can have, which leads to the different cooking methods. I'm not going to give you specific ages for butchering and how to cook, we all have different preferences for flavor and even texture. Trial and error can be beneficial to finding what works for you.

    I like to butcher my cockerels around 23 weeks. Mine forage for a lot of their food so feed costs isn't a huge issue. 23 weeks is generally when mine slow down in putting on weight. I like to bake mine, 23 weeks works well for that for me. Another member targets 14 weeks, he likes to grill them. He has targeted selecting his breeders from those that meet his 14 week goal.

    My suggestion is to first decide on your goals. If you don't know what you want it's hard to reach those goals. Then select your breeders that best meet those goals. Eat the others.

    Good luck!
     
  6. VanUnamed

    VanUnamed In the Brooder

    34
    19
    24
    Jul 26, 2018
    Romania
    Hello ridgerunner! I kinda hoped you would reply to the thread :)
    You have basically answered all my questions. On point #1 I wanted to say that they would go forage some of their food (as in a 25%) not all. They would still have available feed, even if I am not sure if to use 16 or 20% protein.
    The "father" infact, grew very big in 5 months. it was big and grew faster even as a chick.
    Also thanks for reminding me that I should have a "goal". my goal is more on the roast side, as I never grill (or broil??) chickens, I actually cook tights, wings in the oven, use backs and necks in soup, and fry the breast, but I can do without frying, even though a good marinate always help :p
     
  7. VanUnamed

    VanUnamed In the Brooder

    34
    19
    24
    Jul 26, 2018
    Romania
    Here some pictures of the boy's breed. I don't know for sure what breed is it. looks like barred rock but i am not 100% (these picture were taken at around 4 months of age)
    "henry" the "father" :p
    20180914_133626.jpg
    the girl of the same breed, henry in the back
    20180914_133706.jpg
    That's another boy of the same breed. We sent him to freezer camp as opposed to henry which is very kind and docile was really aggressive.
    20180914_133852.jpg

    Hope you enjoyed the chicken pictures :)
     
    Ridgerunner and The Dapper Duck like this.
  8. The Dapper Duck

    The Dapper Duck Songster

    222
    436
    116
    Apr 9, 2019
    Coastal Humboldt, CA
    Awesome post!
     
  9. VanUnamed

    VanUnamed In the Brooder

    34
    19
    24
    Jul 26, 2018
    Romania
    Yay! out of 41 eggs at the 12th day, only 7 are no developing. 4 of the 41 were refrigerated for a day or two, of those 2 are developing 2 are not. happy.
     
  10. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Crowing

    1,184
    1,293
    296
    Oct 20, 2014
    Arizona

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: