wondering how heavy breed cockerels will dress out

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by gadus, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. gadus

    gadus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am trying to get my hands on some Australorp roosters to integrate with layer chicks I'm picking up at local feed store in late May but not much is turning up locally. If nothing happens between now and May, I was going to order directly from the hatchery I used last time but it seems silly to just order one or two cockerels. Since I also wanted to try a run of meat birds anyway, I wondered what would happen if I ordered 15 cockerels and kept the one I liked and butchered the rest.

    I know that simply breaking even on meat birds is asking a lot so I'm wondering just how impractical is buying heavy breed cockerels and butchering them?

    How long can I expect to be feeding them for before butchering?

    What will the dress weight be at that time?

    Is the meat quality even worth the effort?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    The weeks of growth are dependant on how you want to cook the birds. 15 weeks is cut off for broiler (I prefer 14), 20 weeks for fryer and 8 months for roaster. The longer you grow the birds the less economical they are and of course the tougher the meat is.

    Austral cockerels on a good protein feed may reach 3 lbs dress weight in 14 weeks. If your selecting for breeders you will be keeping the largest ones and eating smallest so I'd expect 2.5-2.75 lbs dress weight. That estimate weight also reflects my thoughts on hatchery stock.


    I can not begin to guess at your personal taste preferences. Thin breasts of dual purpose birds is a huge turn off for many. The added flavor and texture of older birds is different than the butchered at 6 or 8 week birds you get at supermarket. Age relates to muscle, this adds texture and flavor. The longer the bird walks around on earth the more intense these factors become. Some claim "gamey" flavor. I think the leg meat of year old cockerel is akin to duck which I enjoy. The proportions of the birds will be very different than commercial broilers. More leg than breast.

    Is it worth the effort? Can't say. That is dependant on your goals. If your want meat birds then you should get meat birds. The cornish cross is the apex of feed to meat conversion. Rapid growth and the body proportions will result in the tender bird your used to eating. I breed birds so that means we get a lot of males and that means we eat the culls. Our sole intent is not the meat, it's a bonus harvest to a larger goal.
     
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  3. Rwood5093

    Rwood5093 Out Of The Brooder

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    My goal is to butcher my barred rock cockerel at 20 weeks. They're 9 weeks now and are starting to act a little like jerks and weigh about 2 lbs. I hope we don't end up butchering sooner just to keep the peace. I think a bachelor pad would help, but we don't have one at this point. I have no idea if it's cost effective for us, probably not since it will probably cost us 4 bags of food, and we will end up with 7 birds at 20 weeks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Unless you're dead set on roasting age you should think about culling at 14 weeks of age when they can still be grilled. Grilling age doesn't mean you can't still roast them if you want, it's the tender age any cooking method can be used. It's also your most economical age (feed to meat) on dual purpose birds. The amount of feed intake per day hit's a plateau before that age and that adds up to a lot of extra feed for another 6 plus weeks for what will result in 1 lbs of added meat. Tougher meat at that. People are determined to cull after 20 weeks of age and I still can't figure out why. The only reason I cull roasting age birds is birds need to grow out to determine their breeding value.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  5. Rwood5093

    Rwood5093 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the tip! I only chose 20 weeks because it seemed like the time when most do it. I like the sound of grilling age... For the reasons you mention.


    New date marked on calendar.

    Thanks again.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Yeah, we cull as many as we can at that age. The best are grown longer for further evaluation. The ones culled are rested in garage fridge in large stock pot for two days then brined for third day. Split birds in half for the grill. For a full 24 hour brine use less salt, I've settled on 7 ounces (by weight not volume) salt per gallon of water used for brine.
     
  7. feedman77

    feedman77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Don't know if your farm stores carry the pan fry specials. Those are almost always roosters. But have been lucky I guess once. Wanted 7 roosters. Picked out 6 of 7 turned out to be hens.

    With a little looking in the pen you can usually find the variety you want.
     
  8. 2cylinder

    2cylinder New Egg

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    Imho it is not worth raising DP chickens for meat. The Meat Chickens I order grow fast and I get a "full" chicken that tastes good and I can achieve that in about 9 weeks.
     
  9. gadus

    gadus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Egghead Jr, this is great info. I think we'll try the Austral cockerel route, raise them to 14 weeks and see if we like the taste. I personally like a gamier flavor but not sure how the family will like it. Grilling sounds terrific, perfect time of year for it and I'll keep one or two to start my own flock. Can't lose really. And if the flavor is truly not something that everyone likes, we'll try the meat birds next time around.
    I figure, when you start raising your own birds from egg to adult, the culling is something that will have to be dealt with sooner or later so we might as well get used to it now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017

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