When to butcher chickens

cymraes(8)July 28, 2007

This is our first year raising chickens and I'm not sure when to butcher them. They range in age from about 2 1/2 months to 3 months old right now. Some of the roosters are getting their combs. They don't really seem big enough yet to me, but I was reading to butcher them by the time they start getting combs. We had chickens when I was a kid on the farm, but that was a few years ago!

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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

What kind of chickens are they? that will make a difference. We started around 12 weeks old and on from there. I believe most large fowl chickens are close to full size around 18-20 weeks.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 1:12PM
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Thanks for your reply. They are Buff Orpingtons and Wyandottes.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 2:57PM
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Never heard of a relationship between comb size and butchering age.

Am now butchering 6 week old SR cornish cross. The males have significant combs already-though no crowing.

The same age Buff Orpintgton cockerels are tiny in comparison. Some have very large combs already. Am hoping they will be fryer size by 18 weeks. Last week, I read that Buff Os are not full gorwn til one year old-sure hope that is not true as I was hoping these would be our holiday roasters. My first time with Buffs.

Would like to find detailed info on the growth rates of various breeds of poultry. Anyone have a source?

No experience with Wyandottes, though am tempted to try some.
cella jane

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 9:57PM
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shellyinmi(zone 5)

hey I've raised both the meat breeds (cornish x's) and buff O's and Wyandottes. you should be doing the deed now. You don't want those birds much older as they start getting a little tuff. There are ways to cook them to diminish it. They won't end up looking like the chicken you buy from the store. your bird will have less meant and more bone. That's ok though. They make great soup and roasted birds. Not great on the grill unless merinaded 1st with something to tenderize them. The chickens in the store are special cornish x's that are butchered by 6 weeks old. . I Like large multipurpose breeds best because they are hardier, you don't get the death rates you get with cornish x's. Here is my current favorite breed. Delewares, which I ordered from Ideal hatcheries. These really clean well (white feathers) and have a good amount of meat by about 12 weeks old. They were used at market meat birds in the 50's before the current hybrids became popular. Of my last year chick order I dressed almost all of the Delewares and only kept like 2 hens and a roo. Both are gentle and non-agressive. I also have speckled sussex (never again-they are wild and have speckled pin feathers) and Rode Isl. Reds that lay like crazy. I am getting 15 eggs a day.

Best of luck with the butchering.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ideal

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 9:29AM
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We've raised those breeds and the cornish x. The cornish were slaughtered between and 8 weeks dressing out at a 4 3/4# average. The standards took 16 weeks to get a carcass around 4#. Their flavor is wonderful but they're just too expensive to raise those extra weeks. Tom

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 10:59AM
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I don't think they are near big enough to butcher yet. I don't mind keeping them around for awhile longer - they are keeping the grasshoppers out of my garden. I think they biggest ones would maybe dress out around 2# right now.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 6:13PM
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