Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chicken Evaluation: Meat Birds

Yes it had to come.  We have started to butcher the extra Roosters. 70% of the Buckeyes seem to be roosters, closer to 60% of the Australorps and about 55% of the Buff's.
We butchered 7 roosters two weeks ago to work our new system and it went well. I canned 5 Buckeyes and the 2 Australorpe's went into the deep freeze as roasters. It was experimental all around as I had not canned chicken before.
This post will give you a better evaluation of the bird quality. No Buff's yet, they are just a bit too gangly yet but today's results are a good mix of Buckeye and Australorp.

-Easy to pluck
-White Skin
-Very good breast meat for a Heritage breed.
-Nice sized carcass
-Overall a good bird.

-Not so easy to pluck, More tightly feathered- I had to rescald a couple of them and two had wing feathers that simply refused to come out.
-Nice color to the skin but more orange than white.
-Longer leg bones than the Australorp and a more immature carcass.[ We know they mature physically slower than the Australorp but they mature hormonally about the same]
- More muscle over the back than the Australorp but not quite as balanced a carcass.
- Decent size but the Buckeyes we butchered were the smaller misfits and bad footed roosters.
- Overall decent birds but they do need more time to grow into their legs and bone structure.

These birds have not been pushed with confinement and heavy feed, they run around all over the place and supplement their diet with grass and all sorts of things. We feed them squash and table scraps. Both breeds had a good amount of fat, not globs but enough to show they were healthy and doing well despite not being fed commercial finishing ration. The leg meat is quite dark as they are very active and this may not suit everyone's taste. I do know they are good dual purpose farm chickens but they do NOT look like store chicken with the body builder heavy breast meat.

3 of the Australorp are going to the deep freeze for roasting chicken. The rest of the 15 birds we did have been hot packed into 12 pints of meat. There is a lot of broth/stock in process with the bones. [ I suspect in excess of 12 quarts] and we will have chicken soup for supper.

So the evaluations continue. At this point we still have to butcher some of the Buff roosters, I suspect this will come about  next week. In my honest opinion of these two breeds at this point in time the Australorp are the better farm chicken if you want to butcher them with lower inputs on a quicker time frame.

I am canning and making both bone broth and stock as I write this and the chicken looks good and the smell of stock fills the house.

Oh I also saved the feet, I have never used them for broth but I have read so much about how good broth  made from feet is I have got to try it. I will say the Buckeye have the biggest feet and heaviest legs. They are a bright yellow, the Australorp feet look like they were the inspiration for Dinosaur coloration in Jurassic park....a very interesting black legs with creamy white soles.

Has anyone out there made broth with feet before?

Take care everyone and God Bless you all.


  1. When I was a kid, my mother would go to the butcher shop and get a whole chicken with the legs attached. I remember she peeled the legs...or maybe scaled them? Also, in those days, the chickens were not gutted. Yep, I am older than dirt. I wish I could buy one of your buff roosters as we have all hens and now that I have seen the beautiful eggs they lay and how big and boisterous they are, I would love some buff chicks. The Lorphs mature somewhat slowly, too. Is there a difference in the taste and/or texture of meat between the Buckeyes and Lorphs that you can determine?

    1. If you were closer you sure could have a Buff Rooster. They are growth lovely boys and we have several that are banded to watch as potential keepers. We have not noticed a taste difference in the meat but the Buckeyes leg meat is darker than the Australorpes.

  2. Next time you have trouble plucking, skin them like a game bird. I know the skin has lots of flavor but it would save you some time.

    Thank you for the evaluation on the breeds. It was a good commentary.

    1. Thank you for the tip...I had been wondering but skinning, Since our Buckeye seem to be more suited to canning it really would help. I did wonder if the ones that were hard to pluck had been the ones that got picked badly when they were chicks?

  3. chicken feet=jelly ,as in calves' foot jelly.
    used for soup, if i remember.
    scale the feet first.
    have a chinese friend who loves to eat feet, so you might cook one and share it. report back on the taste, please.
    when we eat with her there is the tinkling of lots of little bones hitting her plate.

  4. Oh dear lord.... I could never be a farm girl
    But I do love eating chicken
    But I think I'd starve before killing anything. Vegan

    1. I have to admit it is not as easy as it used to be, we really like our chickens. The thing is we give them as good a life as possible and using them to produce food give a reason to have them. I do understand though and it is the harder part of raising our own healthy food.

  5. I've made broth with feet- mixed in with necks and skins and roasted chicken carcasses. I scrub the feet really good and take off as many scales as I can. The broth turns out beautiful!

    1. Do you scald them to take the scales off or just the wash?

  6. Free range chickens cost a bomb over here. You’d make a fortune if you raised and butchered enough to start a farm shop.

    1. We are finding that chickens will range and roam over a LOT of land. It surprises us where they go. They look so pretty out in a pasture it makes me realize how industrial agriculture has taken such simple things away from raising our own healthy food. City people do not get the chance to see how chickens really were made to live.

  7. Fiona, I've been loving these evaluation posts. We just roasted and ate our lone Austrlorp rooster last week and were really pleased with the meat and flavor.

    When I ordered the lorps as chicks, I did it by phone and the gal suggested I order sexed chicks instead of straight run. She said the straight run are never 50/50 and always favor the roosters. Your stats confirm that. I ordered 5 cockerels, but lost several due to rat attacks. Fortunately the rats got the roo chicks instead of the pullets.

    I have to add that our lorp roo is the best rooster we've ever had.

  8. Thank you Leigh, It means a lot that your enjoying these posts. We want to give people a basic, hands on kind of viewpoint of how these breeds are doing under our management. In retrospect doing the chicken project like we have has been a good way to do it, no not the easiest, but a way that has really given us enough chicks from each breed to get a true idea of how they perform as pasture chickens, meat birds and new laying hens (next evaluation). One last point, we have put leg bands on Roosters of all three breeds that catch our eye for structure and disposition, the ABC has outstanding information on how to select top birds. There are 6 Australorps with bands, 4 Buckeye and 4 Buff banded. We have butchered lower quality birds and will keep culling for quality.
    Take care and God Bless.

  9. A wonderful and informative post, as always, Fiona. I have only one Buckeye and she is a reliable egg-layer. I'm going to be in the market for a new rooster, so I am following your reports on temperament, etc., very closely.

    1. I wish I could send you one! Currently we like the Australorps the best for Rooster disposition but they have matured past the teenage hormonal wacko-ness....its the only way to describe the others right now!