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 Post subject: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:17 am 
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Proud Rooster
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Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:18 am
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Location: Adelaide
I have a bit of a search on the forums in the last day or so, and can't find my answer.

I currently have 14 Wyandotte chicks and my plan is to process any roosters I can't get rid of for our dinner. But I cannot find what age is best to process them at. Most of the info I have found regards meat chickens rather than ordinary chickens.

Is there anything special I have to do to the roosters to prepare them for eating [I mean while they are still alive]?

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:09 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: Outer Western Suburb of Melbourne, Vic
At what age??
I have a pen of cross bred layers that I generate "eaters" and on-sell the layers:
I keep the boys housed away from the pullets where I can throw a blanket over them at night to try to keep the light out for longer so I can keep the noise down until a bit later in the mornings.
I process when I need them, ie Freezer is low, or when they start to become a pain with too much crowing, or fighting.
I have done some as young as 10 weeks (Dressed out to about 800g), the early crowers, and they were fine, not overly meaty but still worth the effort. General age is 12-14 weeks (Dressed out to about 1.1kg) as by then most have found their voices but not properly. (In the last lot I had two that found their voices at about 5 weeks, these guys were culled early and were not worth the effort of dressing so became dog food for a mate, after a quick skinning.)

I have processed Wyandotte culls, and some Plymouth Rock crosses and these were a much later maturing bird so have been more like the 18-20 week age (Dressed out to about 2-2.5kg) and very nice and plenty on them.

As far as diet goes I give mine unlimited access to cracked corn, and commercial pellets. Plenty of greens and try to limit the room they can run around in. Next lot looks like I have far more pullets in this hatching, (About time!!), so the boys guess about 8 will go into a run of about 3m x 3m, for the last 2-3 weeks.

My brother is very macabre/clever and he puts finely chopped herbs (Rosemary, curry leaves, oregano, thyme, etc) mixed in with their mash, so he marinates whilst they are still alive!!

Ron

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:43 pm 
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Flock Master
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Location: suburban Melbourne.
I've had no problem when processing the older birds, but between 10 - 14 weeks old they technically should still be on medicated grower, which mine are. Ron, how long before processing do you withdraw the grower? And do you then have a problem with cocci hitting them before getting a chance to process them?
I have a few 8-10 week olds here, a couple have started crowing, and I'm wanting to take them off grower and onto grain for a couple of weeks (I'm hoping that's enough time to flush the meds) but I've been concerned about them all getting sick.

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:35 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: Outer Western Suburb of Melbourne, Vic
Have had no problems so far (Fingers crossed.) with cocci.

From about 3 weeks of age I introduce greens, usually a few weeds from the lawn or vegie patch, and from about 5 weeks of age I toss in a handful or two of cracked corn, usually after work (My therapy!!), in the afternoon.

As far as the medicated food, I wean them off/ease it out over a week, (I mix the medicated food with layer crumble, same as layer pellets but it is smaller, about 50/50.) and for the last two weeks no medicated food. Layer crumble, plus corn, plus greens only



Keep the pen dry, and clean.



Ron

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:36 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Location: Adelaide
Thanks guys! Because of where I live they'll need to be dispatched once they start crowing.

rotten_66 wrote:
My brother is very macabre/clever and he puts finely chopped herbs (Rosemary, curry leaves, oregano, thyme, etc) mixed in with their mash, so he marinates whilst they are still alive!!

Interesting...does it have an effect on how they taste?

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Superior Bird
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I just did mine at 20 weeks and I think I could have left them 2 more weeks. They dressed out at about 2kg. We have eaten one and it was great. I would have liked a bit more breast meat, but it was very tender. I had been feeding them layer pellets mixed with wheat, corn, sunflower seeds and some lucerne pellets. They were seperated from the girls and in a confined area.


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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:45 pm 
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Golden Robin
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The thing about heavy breeds such as the wyandotte and sussex etc is that they are slow to mature. Both physically and sexually. They grow to their frame size reasonably quickly then at maturity they bulk out.

In the older days when they were a true dual purpose breed for both meat and eggs, they were allowed to fully grow out and fully bulk up before being slaughtered. I think that at twenty weeks they are still a bit too young to slaughter - hence your comment about lack of breast meat.

Havig said that - no heavy breed is ever going to have the amount of breast meat a commercial meat chick does. Thats a product of playing with genetic traits. But...... a heavy breed rooster should have a plump feel about it before being processed.

Toughness ?? You have to get the timing right and that bit is subjective. The old timers used to "hang" meat for a few days to tenderise it but in this day and age of marinades ??

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:01 pm 
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Flock Master
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Location: suburban Melbourne.
chookyinoz wrote:
You have to get the timing right and that bit is subjective.

Exactly. In my case, the timing is subject to the amount of crowing :lol: :bolt:

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:26 pm 
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Golden Robin
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Location: Tuross Head, NSW fsr south east coast
Yes - the old timers didn't have to consider noise and they also could caponise

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:18 pm 
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Flock Master
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Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 10:27 pm
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Location: suburban Melbourne.
Oh for the good old days (except for the caponising- errrkk)

I processed 3 cockerels today, 2 @ 9 weeks old, 1 @ 11 weeks old. I really wished I could have let them grow a bit more, but one of the younger ones has been crowing for several weeks, the other two started about a week ago, they've been so noisy I couldn't put it off any longer.

Dressed weight for Ara/Barnie crosses = 770g & 795g. The older Legbar = 845g. Quite small, but I'll get a couple of meals out of each I guess. But any smaller and it really wouldn't be worthwhile going to all the trouble, they'd be all skin & bone.

I had a similar situation last year, had to dispatch Langshan cockerels far too young, didn't even bother to dress them, they went under fruit trees.

Under the circumstances, I'm re-assessing the feasibility of growing on cockerels for the table. It's an effort to raise them, then keep them separate while they're weened from medicated feed, then process carcasses full of pin feathers, and a small body cavity from which it is hard to extract innards. To end up with barely enough meat on bones. Next hatch I think I'll dispatch cockerels as soon as I'm sure of their gender.

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:33 pm 
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Gallant Game
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How can I tell if the grower pellets are medicated or not?
I just processed 4 leg/ara at 20 weeks old and I have eaten 2 but they were still on grower pellets not the crumble. I have some more to do soon so I best change there food over.

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:39 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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It will depend on the brand of grower pellets. They are labelled has having a coccidiostat in them if they're medicated.

If you bought it unlabelled (ie. small quantity from a stock feed store), contact them to ask if it's medicated.

Winglet


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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:13 pm 
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Flock Master
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Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 10:27 pm
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Location: suburban Melbourne.
Rum pig, if you're using Barastoc pullet grower, then technically there is nil withholding period for meat, according to the label. It doesn't mean there is nil meds in the meat, just that they reckon it's safe to eat. However, I get a bit (yeah, ok, very) paranoid about the amount of meds and pesticides in our food, so I prefer to allow a bit of time for these substances to work their way out of the body. My cockerels had only been off the grower for a week, I'd have preferred longer, but I couldn't allow the noise to go on any more. And I'm still trying to decide whether to eat the livers or not.

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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:01 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:39 am
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Location: Tarago, near Goulburn
I have space and no neighbours and a proscratinating nature, so mine have been done between the 20- 30 week mark. Still tender and flavoursome at that age, but lots of texture and flavour. I finally had a tough rooster and it turned out they were almost 12 months old, which rather bumps up my mental concept of "toughen up quickly when they start crowing" - "quickly" seems very subjective.


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 Post subject: Re: Age to Kill?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:16 pm 
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Newbie
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So, it looks like my 7 chicks are all boys. How unlucky is that...?

They are orpington cross silkie, and around 15 weeks old. They aren't crowing yet, don't seem to be scrapping with each other yet either. Just wondering a few things about "the process".

Is it really that bad?
Is it really difficult?
And what will the meat be like off these birds? (Is it worth it?)

I have let them out to free range for the past few days but will now lock them up and try fatten them up.


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