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When would be the best age to butcher these birds?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by kara_leigh, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    This is my first time having chickens, so I am learning as I am going. I have a group of Americauna mixes that are around 12 weeks old. I also have a group of Black Sexlinks that are around 6 weeks old. Do all breeds get butchered at the same age, or does it vary? They free range, if that makes a difference.

    I've read on here that you should let the carcass rest after butchering it. How do you do this?

    Also, does free ranging make them taste any different? They all still get free choice of feed, which they eat a good amount of in addition to all the bugs and plants that they eat free ranging.

    Thanks!!! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011

  2. BetterHensandGardens

    BetterHensandGardens Songster

    Feb 28, 2010
    Clinton, OH
    You generally want to butcher the chickens when they have reached full size, but not keep them much longer than that because you're just paying to continue to feed them and they won't get any bigger. When that time is will depend upon the type of chicken.

    As far as tasting different, they should have more flavor, and I wrote a little explaining that here: http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/2011/02/27/heritage-birds-for-real-chicken-flavor/

    you're going to process them as they would have in the past, your black sexlinks would probably have been processed as fryers (they'll never really be meaty enough for roasters), and the others as roasters.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Your black sex links will be bigger than your Ameraucana mixes. I think the other poster got that backwards. Also as sex links, unless you got roosters specifically for meat, will be excellent layers come 20 to 24 weeks. If they're black then pullets. My black star is the best layer with largest eggs.
  4. 1) YES. I would wait at least 18 weeks on an Ameracauna. The longer you wait the slightly bigger they get.
    2) Stick em in the fridge to rest for 1 to 3 days. I prefer 2 myself.
    3 YES they will tast different if they free range on bugs and plants. To compare apples to apples get a store bought chicken and cook it at the same time the same way and see for yourself.
  5. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    Quote:Hmmm...I'm totally confused on the sex links. I have six of them, and 5 are brown/black with orange around their neck and chest. Some are more orange, almost completely. One of them is all black with white tips to some wing feathers and white under its chin. When I got them he said they were barred rocks, but I knew right away they weren't. I didn't care b/c I just want meat and eggs at this point so breed doesn't matter. Are they females or males?

    Five look like this

    One looks like this
  6. kara_leigh

    kara_leigh Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Bradleyville, MO
    Quote:I've never had chickens before or even been around a chicken IRL, I have NO clue when or how to know they are full grown. For all I know, they look full grown to me, and they are only around 12 weeks old.
  7. elieugene6

    elieugene6 Songster

    Jun 17, 2010
    Western ny
    I would have to say that if they are sex links they are all girls. The girls can be all black or have the red/gold/brown markings. The white tips will go away with age. A lot of black birds have white tips when they first feather in.

    I have butchered both ee and black sex links. The sex links get bigger or at least mine did. I waited until around 24 wks for the ee and they were around 4 lbs the sex links I did at 20wks and were 4-5 lbs. I did do them at different times of year though. The ee was this spring and the sex links were last fall. I don't know if that makes a difference. Also my ee were free range and the sex links were penned up.

  8. SentryFE

    SentryFE In the Brooder

    May 30, 2011
    I go by how much I think I want to eat. I like to smoke or BBQ small birds around 10-12 weeks. But if you want to fry then let them grow to 3-4 lbs
  9. tlb796

    tlb796 Songster

    Mar 10, 2010
    I just butchered 5 cockerals. One light sussex and 4 americauna/bcmarans. They were hatched Jan 7th. making them approx. 5 months.
    I wanted to wait longer they felt light and boney. I was very pleasantly surprised. They (of course ) had a different body shape,size and meat to bone
    ratio than the meaties but dressed out about 4-5 lbs each. Perfectly respectable! I would be proud to serve these to anyone! Yes they cost more to produce.
    They ate alot. Thats why I butchered them earlier than I originally planned.

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