Butchering Meat Chickens

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I bought some Black Giant chicks back in April to be grown and used for meat. At what age do I butcher them? According to what I've read, they grow so large (14 lb males, 10 lb females) that for the first six months, they're nothing but bone because they're still growing. Does this mean I can't use them for fryers? Thanks for any help you can give.

-- Gail (Quadrupets@aol.com), July 13, 2001


I have never had Black Giants get anywhere near that big. They are large, and I would guess they'd dress at 6 lbs or so fully grown, but I've always just had them for egg layers. If you have straight run, why not butcher the roosters and keep the hens? When they begin to look meaty, dress one out and see what the carcass looks like. Next time get the Cornish cross meat birds. They dress at 3 1/2 to 5 lbs at 6 weeks, and I've let some go to 12 weeks when they can reach 9 lbs. GL!

-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), July 13, 2001.

Yes, I sure agree with Brad. My Black Giant pullets laid really good but I don't think they were all that great as a meat bird. Why couldn't you use them as a fryer??? I always look at fryers more by age then weight anyway. As soon as it is obvious that one is a rooster, fry it.

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), July 13, 2001.

Just don't wait too long ... we butchered some roosters (Black Ostralorps) last year that were 3 months old... ooooh were they tough. For what it's worth, the "Cornish cross" type variety we got for meat this year were ready at 8 weeks, and WOW are they tender.

-- Dave in Mn (peasedj@sparc.isl.net), July 13, 2001.

The size that your Jersey Giants reach may depend on if they are from commercial lines or exhibitions lines. We have Jersey Giants and just for kicks I weighed our 1 year old rooster a couple of months ago. He was 11 lbs but he was just starting to put some meat on his frame although he was very large. I'd guess that when he finally fills out that he will weigh more. If yours are well fleshed out at six months great! For fast meat right away, Cornish crosses are very popular, if you are willing to raise a heritage breed and be patient for your dinner, I think you may find that Jersey Giants are a an impressive bird to have around.

-- Trisha-MN (tank@Linkup.net), July 14, 2001.

We have black giants and are butchering them at 15 to 16 weeks. They are great, but not as big as I had imagined either. I plan on keeping a few, to see what they are like as they mature, and maybe to put some eggs in the incubator for next year. Not sure I would order them again, but they got to 6 or 7 lbs, some less.



-- Maylene (bigredbarn@myexcel.com), July 14, 2001.

When I heard about Jersey Giants a few months ago (we don't have them here, although I notice they're listed as a Heritage breed people are trying to resuscitate) it also said they grew bigger than any other breed, but were too slow in reaching maturity to be a commercial proposition. Said they didn't achieve their full growth for anything from twelve to eighteen months, but when they did it was eleven or twelve pounds and up.

-- Don Armstrong (from Australia) (darmst@yahoo.com.au), July 14, 2001.

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