What is the Best Tasting Heritage Meat Bird?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Farmer123, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. Farmer123

    Farmer123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello! I'm getting ready to start chickens for the first time this Spring and need advice on getting the best tasting meat bird. I'm interested in getting a heritage dual purpose breed i.e., BO, RIR or BR. I would prefer sticking to a single breed using some hens as layers but would consider getting separate breeds if needed. I've read some feedback here on BYC that BO's and RIR's are disappointing for meat but from others I've heard that they are quite good. Appreciate any input, experience or advice that you might have. I'm located in West Michigan.

    Also, my understanding is that the weight and age of the bird determine it's classification as a broiler (2-3#),
    fryer (3-4#), roaster (5-7#) or stewer (7+ and/or over 1 year old). Is this correct?

    Thanks,
    Farmer 123
     
  2. bj taylor

    bj taylor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i'm curious for answers so i'm going to bump your questions.
     
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  3. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The problem that most people have with BO and RIR as well as other heritage breeds is that they are comparing them with the chickens we buy from the stores. Heritage breeds will have less breast meat and if they are not aged properly and cooked like a heritage bird they can be a little tough if they are older than 6 months. I find that I can go as long as 9 months with my birds and have heard that you can go as long as a year before processing as long as you age them well before eating them. If you are okay with not having huge breasts on your chickens the taste of a heritage breed bird is absolutely amazing. My son who has eaten our heritage birds for the last 3 years now says that birds from the store and the Cornish X that we raised are very bland and spongy tasting. The heritage birds which are all we eat now are much more flavorful and the meat has more substance to it. I'm not sure if I am describing this in a way that you can understand but it's the only way I can figure to put it lol.

    I have eaten BO, RIR, Production Red, Delaware, Brahma, Gold Comet, Cochin, and mixes of the above so I have tried a lot and many different ages as well. It doesn't matter how old they are as long as you know how to cook them. Older birds go in the crock pot younger birds can be cooked like birds from the store you just have to age the meat to get rid of the rigor first. The birds at the store go through the same process we just don't see it since we aren't eating them right after processing. Love the taste, the texture and won't be eating anything but my home grown birdies anymore. Sorry for rambling it tends to happen when I type late at night lol.
     
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  4. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree totally with the comments of LilyD! It is more of a perception thing. I think chicken tastes great. It doesn't matter it's Cornish X or one of the cockerels from a "fry pan" special at the local farm and ranch...or it it's stewing an old hen in the crockpot. I will admit when I first tried something that hadn't been from the store I was little put off. But then I thought, "Why would it taste the same?" Now I kind of accept each bird on its own merits and cook them accordingly and enjoy them just as much. I feel the same about venison. It tastes different than beef but it is still delicious.
     
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  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I think Redsox and LilyD are right on.

    The only place I have any disagreement at all with what either of them said is I have eaten roosters more than a year old and thought they tasted great and were not tough. They had some texture but I don’t consider that tough. I had no trouble eating them. It does depend a whole lot with the older birds especially how they are cooked, but if you have an age appropriate recipe, any chicken can be cooked.

    As to your basic question. What is the best tasting variety of tomato? What is the best tasting pie? It depends on the person doing the tasting. My point is how can a total stranger know how your palate works? What I consider flavorful you might consider strong, especially if you are used to those extremely young chickens you buy at the store. What I consider a nice texture you might consider so tough it is inedible.

    Sex gets involved too. A pullet will stay tenderer and have less flavor than a cockerel the same age.

    To me age has a whole lot more to do with it than weight. According to your weights, you could fry some 5 year old bantam roosters. I’m not going to try to chew it if you do.

    Just like I’m not going to try to guess what flavors you like, I’m not going to tell you any specific hard and fast rules for how your family will enjoy chickens of a certain age. That is about as pure personal preference as you can get. All I can suggest is try a few different things until you hit what your family likes. I suggest when you first start out, choose some slower moister cooking methods to see the results. Then adjust from that.
     
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  6. Farmer123

    Farmer123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks LilyD for the info, it is very helpful! How do you age the meat?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  7. Farmer123

    Farmer123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Ridgerunner! I guess I was looking for opinions on how the Buff's tasted compared to a RIR or BR. I've read somewhere that the BO was mild and the RIR was a bit stronger but I do agree that it's a matter of personal taste more than anything. I was just looking for opinions. I guess I should try them before actually buying them but there aren't too many people around here offering it. Thanks again for the reply.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  8. Farmer123

    Farmer123 Out Of The Brooder

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  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    You can age them in a refrigerator for a few days after gutting and plucking. Or you can soak in brine for 4 to 24 hours, 3/4 kosher salt per gallon water.

    By age heritage birds would be classed Broiler up to 13 weeks, Fryer 13 to 20 weeks, Rooster 5 to 12 months and then stew birds. I'd like to try an older rooster roasted at 300F, bet it would be excellent and would seem almost wasteful to stew. Going to brine the 11 month old cockerel hanging right now from the swing set as I'm using his brother for mating for Easter hatching. Though it's understandable why three year old layers would be stewed.

    I had Orpington and have settled on a variety of Plymouth Rock and it's merely because I like that variety and breed. I've not noticed a difference from Orpington to Plymouth Rock in taste. I'd just pick a breed you want to work with for whatever reason be it that it's endangered, grows larger, or is pretty (like my blues) and go with it.
     
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  10. cukooformarans

    cukooformarans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are getting dorkings for meat birds. I have not tried one yet though only read about them. We have eaten Orpington, game-marans crosses, Cornish cross, turkens, and several other miscellaneous breeds. Our favorite so far has been the game-marans cross and the turken.
     
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