Taste difference of hen vs roo?

SpeckledPullet

Songster
9 Years
10 Years
Jan 24, 2010
330
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Northeast Florida
I commented to someone at the grocery store that I had a hatch of chicks and planned to eat the roosters and keep the hens for eggs. The lady told me the roosters taste bad compared to the hens. I have never heard this. I kind of assumed she must have meant older roosters? Anyhow, I thought I would ask on here if any of you have noticed a difference in taste from a roo vs a hen?

Also, what age is the best to cull off the roosters for optimum tenderness and taste?

If some of them are not meat or all purpose birds, should I even bother culling/processing them or should I just sell them?

Thanks!
 

purelypoultry

Songster
Aug 2, 2008
873
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Fremont, Wisconsin
At the grocery store half of the birds would be males and half females. Roosters do not taste worse than hens. I would suggest butchering at 16 to 20 weeks for dual purpose breeds. We always butchered a bunch of White Leghorn cockerels and sold a bunch of show type white leghorn cockerels. They made a good stew pot bird and fryer.
 

rhoda_bruce

Songster
10 Years
Aug 19, 2009
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Cut Off, LA
I have eaten bantams, araucanas, leghorns, cornish Xs, RIRs, BRs and probably a few others. The cornishs were more tender, but they were all good. Its better to put yourself through the trouble of plucking them, regardless of their size to make your flock more profitable and get what meat you can in the process.
Now about hen taste vs. rooster.......well I don't know for myself, but my oriental customers wanted me to sell them the hens because they claimed they tasted better. I refused because it would have defeated my purposes of homesteading. I may find out for myself when my hens are about 3 years old and I cull them. But I have heard that they are better.
 

dancingbear

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11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
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South Central KY
I think it's mostly age that makes a difference. Older birds have more flavor. A three year old hen will have a more pronounced flavor than an 8 week old rooster.

I only eat my hens when they get killed or injured, (and I'm nearby so that I know what happened, and the bird is fresh) So I've eaten a lot more roos. One thing I have noticed, is that the hens almost always have more fat. They tend to be a little more tender, as well, at least in the 16-30 week old range.

There's a great link from a recent post, to an article about cooking dual purp/heritage type birds. Maybe somebody who knows where that is will post the link.

Our PBS channels are having a pledge drive, and they're running a Julia Child program during the drive. I watched it a couple of days ago, there was a segment about roasting a chicken. She showed the different kinds of chickens, what ages they are, how to tell which is which, it was very interesting. You might be able to find it on the web, too. They weren't the modern meat hybrids, either, and you can see what a huge difference there was in meat birds of the past, compared to today's hatchery birds. The kind of birds Julia showed, really were dual purpose chickens.
 

Bossroo

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11 Years
Jun 15, 2008
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The RIR, NHR, and PR of even 20 years ago are vastly different from those breeds of today. We always butchered the extra roos at 16 weeks and they made a decent meal. Today's birds need 20--24 weeks to accomlish similar yields since the emphases now is on egg production rather than meat. As for taste of the old hens, just sink your teeth into the tiny morcels of the spent hens in the canned chicken soups... chewy bland what is it ? The flavor in those soups come from any chicken fat that made it through the skimming off of chicken broth and some added spices , then the added too much SALT.
 

SpeckledPullet

Songster
9 Years
10 Years
Jan 24, 2010
330
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Northeast Florida
Very interesting info, everyone!

I am going to have quite a few extra roos with my recent hatch. Most are Wyandottes, but I guess I ill wait until they're 24 weeks or so. Maybe, I'll throw one in the pot at 16 weeks and the rest at 24 weeks and see how much of a difference there is in weight, taste, flavor, etc.

I would have thought older birds would be more gamey in taste, but it's interesting to know they're more flavorful.
 

dancingbear

Songster
11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
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South Central KY
I still don't get what people think is "gamey", I've eaten chickens of all ages, some had more intense chicken flavor than others, but none have been gamey, whatever that is. The only meat I ever though of as gamey was venison from an older an buck, and sometimes goat.

I just baked a hen tonight, about 30 weeks old. She met with an accident or something, I think the tom turkey tried to mate with her, and squashed her. Part of her insides were coming out her vent, she was still alive. All I could do was give her a quick end. The turkey has since gone to freezer camp, as well. Anyway, I let the hen age in the fridge for a week. Baked with salt and pepper and sage. I put a little buttermilk over it, too, covered with foil and baked at 300F for 1 1/2 hrs., then turned and baked another 30 minutes, with the temp increased to 375. Then I took the foil off, turned the pieces skin side up, and put it back in for 20 minutes to brown. It came out really nice. Tender, flavorful, not stringy. Not bland.

There was a lot of fat on this one, I took a big pad of fat from the belly and rendered it. Still more poured off from the pan before I browned it. I'll save that for making biscuits. My DP roos are usually very lean.

I've eaten a few hens older than her, one was about 3 years old. They were all good, too, I cooked then in the crock pot.
 

SteveH

Songster
10 Years
Nov 10, 2009
3,392
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191
West/Central IL
Quote:
I absolutely love an older DP hen , fattened on scratch , for chicken and noodles , soup , slow roasted and eaten with a white gravy made off the drippings , etc. . Very rich and flavorful ! I always assumed canned commercial chicken soups were from anemic looking , processed battery leghorns that had sat in a cage eating a restricted diet designed to keep their weight down and egg production up .
 

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