Tag Archives: meat chickens

Chickens and eggs

We’ve made a start on culling the Year 1 cockerels. Last year we were fortunate in getting 9 hens and 5 cockerels. This year, out of our dozen, we had only 4 girls and 8 boys.

Although we left the hatch until fairly late, because of the unseasonably cold wet spring, they’ve matured quite early. The cockerels are fighting, crowing, and pressing their attentions on the hens. And much to our surprise, this morning we found a small brown egg, nicely formed and with a firm shell. We haven’t even put them on layers’ rations yet!

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Organoleptic testing of the Ixworths

We culled a couple of the cockerels at the end of August, leaving the one that looked as though it conformed best to Ixworth breed standards.

I know that this is a subject that can upset people, but we chose the Ixworths because they are a utility breed, and so they’re for meat as well as eggs.

We’d been on a course so that we understood how to despatch the birds humanely, and how to pluck and draw them properly. Thanks to Alison Wilson at Hook Farm.

Here’s the end product:

Because this was the first one that we’d cooked, we roasted it very plainly, with just a little rub of olive oil. It was absolutely delicious – chicken as it used to be. Some people think that home-produced chicken can be tough, but thanks to Alison’s instructions on letting the bird rest before drawing it, this was just firm, but not at all chewy.

A real success, and a real treat. Next year I might try raising some special purpose meat birds. We’ll have plenty of laying hens by then.

Meat chickens training course

We went on a course today. The title says it all, really. “Kill, Pluck, Gut, and Bone”.

If we’re going to breed our own chickens next year, then all the boys and some of the girls will be destined for the freezer. Ixworths are, after all, dual purpose birds, and the meat is reputedly delicious. But if we’re going to raise birds for the table, then we need to be able to cull them humanely and efficiently.
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