What age is best?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Tony101775, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Tony101775

    Tony101775 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 25, 2011
    Hi all,

    What is the ideal age to butcher a cockerel?
    Does the breed make any difference, and can all Chickens and cockerels be eaten, or just certain breeds? Do they get tougher the older they get?
    Complete novice here.
    I have a couple of birds at the moment and i am not sure what sex they are. They are black copper Mirans, which i beleive are fairly large birds .
    I suspect they are cockerels as they look a bit large for their age and the comb is quite large. They do not fight one another though.
    They are around 20/22 weeks old have not laid, but have not crowed either. I expect one or the other any day now.
    What age would they begin to crow? If they are as i suspect Cockrels then I will have to butcher and eat them, but I dont want to do that until I am 100% sure of their sex. I also dont want to have a tough meat as I read Cocks are a tougher meat anyway.
    I want some egg layers but as yet have not had any of the few birds I have. I have 2 other very young birds approx 6 weeks old and am pretty sure that one of those is a cock also as it too has a larger comb that the other bird of the same age.
    How does one tell the sex?
    Is it just experience? It just looks that way so it must be. What about different breeds?
    So many questions and probably no sense at all.
    I alo have 12 blue hyline eggs in the incubator. Once these hopefully hatch I will need to sex these. The eggs look a little wierd being blue. Are they good to eat if I actually get a couple of the hens to lay next year. Will the resulting cockerels be ok to eat?
    Many thanks

    Tony
     
  2. Frenchchickens123

    Frenchchickens123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 25, 2010
    Hi, I will try to answer your questions as best I can. I have been breeding chickens for both meat and eggs. You can eat both cockerals and chickens and yes they do get tougher with age. I have eaten chickens at 6 months and they weren't too tough. Ideally a chicken should be eaten before 30 weeks as I find they get a bit tougher than I'd like. Some breeds are better for meat than others, my first ones were a cross between copper maran and black stars. They did not have a lot of meat on them no matter how long you let them go on for, I now have Sussex which seem to be much better (don't know yet as chicks are only 4 weeks but already look better). I have no experience with blue hylines so cannot tell you whether they are any good for meat (ie whether they will produce enough meat, but would still be edible if you want) but if you get some hens the eggs will be good to eat. For you Marans if they are boys they may not crow for a couple more weeks, they do have noticebly large combs compared to hens. My copper maran cockeral was 2kg when finished which was good but lacked the breast meat a bit but still worth it. When your eggs hatch you will be able to tell if they are boys or girls by usually around 8 weeks. You will notice some chicks starting to have pinker, bigger combs thansome of the others, these will be boys. Don't worry you will soon learn :) if you do want to produce birds for meat and eggs I suggest you try to find dual purpose birds. These will produce a lot of eggs and be big birds too so good to eat. You will know what I mean what you have to process a bird as it is an effort plucking and gutting etc and if you don't get much meat you will wonder if it's really worth it, which it is when you have a good table bird. I hope I have answered your questions if you have any more please feel free to ask away. I has taken me a year to learn about chickns breeds and what's best for my needs as there are soany breeds!! By the way if you google blue hylines you should be able to find some good info on the breed and their uses. Hope this helps
     
  3. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    Quote:I would post pictures on the What Breed/Gender is This? forum, at 20-22 weeks with Black Copper Marans it's pretty clear if you've got pullets or cockerels (someone like me with BCM's will be able to tell). The pullets can start laying at anywhere from 18-28 weeks. If they are cockerels, now is a good time to process them. I have a 24 week BCM cockerel and he's a big boy, but I'm saving him this year to create a dual purpose flock next year for eating.
     
  4. Tony101775

    Tony101775 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 25, 2011
    Hi all

    Thanks for the replies.
    I think I know what i have after looking at different pictures.

    Here are my boys a few weeks ago.
    [​IMG]

    Tony
     
  5. Frenchchickens123

    Frenchchickens123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 25, 2010
    Yep definately boys! You can also tell by the saddle and neck feathers (these are really thin feathers they get on the neck and on the back by the tail. Give them a good feel to see if you think they have enough meat to process them but they should be good to go. :)
     
  6. Tony101775

    Tony101775 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 25, 2011
    Thanks

    I thought as much:(
    I am pretty sure the little white chick is too as its comb is much bigger than the small black chick and they are now 5/6 weeks old.
    Not looking forward to doing the nasty, but I guess it has to be done.

    Tony
     
  7. Frenchchickens123

    Frenchchickens123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 25, 2010
    Yea I don't do the nasty my OH does but when it's done I do the plucking and gutting which is ok and when you come to eat it you will appreciate it. I hate the fact we kill chickens but love the fact I'm eating home grown chicken, tastes better too :)
     
  8. CluckCluck2

    CluckCluck2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 27, 2011
    Morris, Illinois
    What's a good age for production reds? They were sent with my order from Ideal for warmth.
     
  9. Frenchchickens123

    Frenchchickens123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 25, 2010
    Not sure what production reds are exactly. But as a guide pure breeds/dual purpose can take longer (around 28/30 weeks old). Certain breeds specific for meat like naked necks can be finished at 18 weeks and the really fast growing like cobbs, sassos is 8 weeks. My hybrid maran cross RIR and black stars took a good 28/30 weeks. I just felt them to see what sort of meat they had on them if it was good enough for at least a meal we did it. My naked necks and Sussex I weighed. When the were more than 3/3.5 kg for boy, 2.5/3 kg for girl live weight it was done. Hope this helps :)
     

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