tough meat

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by morton, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. morton

    morton Out Of The Brooder

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    My first hen was 21 weeks old that i put in the fridge. i used the ax and tree stump method and drained it for 30 min. cleaned it and chilled it in ice water. after cold i brined it overnight and and then ate it for dinner 2 days after it died.

    that being said, the meat was tough and stringy. i heard that if the bird is not calm when the ax reaches its neack then the meat will be tough is this true? or is there something else i did wrong?
     
  2. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like you did everything right. What breed of hen?

    A backyard layer hen will never be as tender as a white broiler that you get in the supermarket. Those birds are slaughtered at 7-8 weeks old, and they are 5-6lbs at that time. They are meat-making machines, and you can do anything with them that you can do with a standard supermarket bird. Many other breeds, especially laying breeds, are going to be considerably more toothsome and would benefit from a low and slow, wet cooking technique like braising.

    Some dual purpose birds such as Delawares and Barred Rocks will also be tasty at 21 weeks, especially if they are fed higher-protein feed to pump up the muscle mass. But even those will not be nearly as tender as a white Cornish X broiler.

    We do batches of white broilers each year, and love them. We also process our cockerels from other breeds. The broilers are processed at 7-8 weeks, the other breeds around 14-16 weeks. Even at that young age, they are never as tender as the broilers and I save them for stew.

    You also may wish to post your question on the Meat Birds Etc. forum.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  3. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am assuming you cooked the bird a short while, like frying.

    It is the age of the bird. The commercial broilers do nothing but sit and eat they do very little walking around, flapping of wings etc. etc. and this is why their meat is tender. Meat is muscle and the less an animal uses the muscle the more tender it will be.

    Next time make a great pot of chicken-n-dumplings or chicken noodle soup. Bring to boil and slow simmer until the meat starts to fall off the bone.
     
  4. GD91

    GD91 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, found this thread very informative. Looking to cook some birds myself soon.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    How did you cook it?

    And I'm just curious, why did you butcher a 21 week old hen? Was there something wrong with her?

    I've heard of folks saying a stressed bird can be tougher, but honestly I can't think of a more stressed bird than a commercially raised cornish cross, and they're tender as mush.
     
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    And skim the stock! A great chef once said "you must skim your stock, or the stock will suck!" Skim away all the grody gray foam that rises to the surface and your stock will be clearer and tastier.
     
  7. morton

    morton Out Of The Brooder

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    mmy bird was a barred rock. i dusted it with flour then seared it in bacon fat and braised it in sausage gravy with mire poux and rice. It tasted very good..and only the leg was tough. Not the thigh.
     
  8. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Hmmm... a young barred Rock should be reasonably tender, especially when braised. Is it possible that it was only tough compared to a commercial broiler, but edible? I ask because the heritage birds will never be as tender as a Cornish X--heck, your hen was three times as old as a supermarket bird. I did once try to fry an EE cockerel when I was a newbie and ignorant, and he was inedible. Simply couldn't chew him at all.
     
  9. morton

    morton Out Of The Brooder

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    It was edible. Just a little chewy.
    ii planned on doing cx next spring. are they easy to raise and slaughter?
     
  10. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    They are very easy to raise as long as you're prepared to keep them clean. They will move less than your heritage, but will produce twice the waste of any other bird you've ever seen. Some people raise them in pens that are as small as 1.5 sq. ft. per bird, but I feel happier and my birds are healthier in 4 sq. ft. per bird. Once they hit 5 weeks or so, they'll need new grass (in a moveable pen) or new bedding every day or even twice a day depending on how small the pen is. The biggest issues with them are overconsumption of feed--we remove feed after 12 hours--and things like broken legs, overheating, and heart attacks. A larger pen will help with both the broken legs and the overheating. Don't give them perches, they can break their legs jumping down. But mostly, they are silly, waddling things the beep at you and will sit in the feed bowl and eat rather than run around chasing bugs. I like them very much, and think they're cute. Not many others think they're cute, though!

    Processing couldn't be easier. Those loosely-held feathers will almost fall out in your hand. The cavity is so large you can get your whole hand in there. Easy peasy. Add to that the fact that they only hang around for 7-8 weeks, they're way easier (to me) than heritage birds. I do know that others on BYC vehemently disagree with me. [​IMG]
     

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