Finally some results on the Buckeyes as meat birds. Due to the cold weather, these birds were not butchered at 16 weeks as we had hoped. We dressed out eight (7 hens, 1 rooster) cull birds at 24 weeks. The birds were skinned and the wings discarded along with the feathers and skin. Here are the weights sans giblets:
(4) 2 1/2#
(1) 2 3/4#
(1) 3 3/4#
We did not keep weights on the Australorps we used to raise so don’t know how these birds compare. They are obviously smaller than Cornish X, but we expected that.
Our new resolution is to reduce our meat consumption by using it in casseroles and stews. That means fewer birds to raise and feed. This is especially important to us as we try to find or grow alternatives to soy and corn.
I cooked our first Buckeye into Chicken Pie With Biscuits. In this recipe a 4# bird yields enough broth and meat for two dinners. I used the 3# bird and followed the recipe exactly. The first thing I noticed was the richness of the broth. When I stripped the meat from the bones, the carcass was noticeably smaller and finer boned than our Cornish X birds. The meat had a fuller, more developed flavor and a firmer texture. The three of us pronounced it decidedly better than the Cornish X that we raise. It was more chickeny even with a smaller bird. We still have 3 cups of broth and the other 1/2 of the chicken meat in the freezer for chicken tetrazzini this week. I think we can do as well with one of the 2 1/2# birds by adding a few extra vegetables and maybe replacing some of the milk with cream.
We will only need to raise 52 offspring from these birds to have chicken twice/week. The incubator will be gotten down from the barn rafters and cleaned up next week in anticipation of these young hens beginning their laying career.
I kept 2 roosters and 10 hens from the chicks I ordered in September. A small starter flock of 5 birds was sold. One of the roosters will be put with the 3 White Rock hens to see what kind of meat birds they produce. The other will remain with the Buckeye hens.
At what age do you butcher your birds and what weights do you get?
This is the time of year when many of you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of chicks. Please be aware of the danger of using shatter resistant bulbs in your brooder. Our friend, Patti, sent me this hair-raising information about the toxicity of the coating on light bulbs and its effect on chickens. It is rather stunning that it is also used in other household products that involve heat such as irons, self-cleaning ovens, bread pans etc. What are we unknowingly exposing our families to everyday?
Yesterday was the first step on the journey toward growing protein for the birds. I called PetSmart to see what resources are available through them. No duckweed, but they do sell meal worms and super worms. I did not know what a super worm was. The clerk thought they were very large meal worms. Back to the Internet to search for info on this new finding. There are super worms (Zophobas morio) that are a different genus than meal worms (Tenebrio). They are raised a little differently than meal worms and are a lot more expensive. The super worms can reach sizes of 1 1/2 – 2 inches…much bigger than meal worms. There are also giant meal worms that are sometimes referred to as super worms. They are not the same thing at all. Giant meal worms are regular meal worms that have been treated with a hormone to cause superior growth. They are usually sterile. I decided to eliminate pet stores as a resource since it would be hard to determine exactly what I was buying.
Biological supply companies are probably the best resource as far as one-stop-shopping. I contacted Carolina Biological Supply Company and spoke with a knowledgeable rep who helped me with my order. On Thursday, 50 super worms and 300 – 400 duckweed plants should be delivered to the door. It required an investment of just under $50. Not too bad if all goes as planned and they proliferate as expected.
The super worms can be raised in oatmeal with slices of potato, celery or carrots to supply moisture and food. The container with oatmeal is in the utility closet where it is nice and cozy for warmth loving super worms. A pond or fish aquarium is the ideal setup for growing duckweed. We have neither so are using some of the cat litter boxes that are use to start plants. They will be filled with water that contains a little sheep manure tea and set under the lights on the plant stand. Hopefully, the duckweed will be happy there.
Canned and dried meal and super worms can be purchased from Haocheng Meal Worm Inc. They also process meal worm powder as a nutritious addition to baked goods. The canned meal worms are reminiscent of chow mein noodles… Will you be brave enough to sample your own worms?
If you decide to order through Carolina there is a word of caution. The super worm breeding kit does not contain beetles as you might expect from the description. Instead, they are probably mature worms that are ready to pupate.
There is organic feed on the market that uses non-GM corn and soy; it is very expensive. I’m looking for something affordable and easy to obtain and sustain. That means searching for acceptable alternatives to corn and soy that the chickens will eat and that are readily available. This way of feeding chickens will be more labor intensive than opening a bag of feed, but (hopefully) worth the effort. When it comes to protein in … Continue reading
No we haven’t tasted one yet. Hopefully my son will help me butcher a few this week.
This breed truly has higher protein requirements than the other breeds we’ve raised. It wasn’t long after they were moved to a lower protein feed that the feather picking started. I have an overabundance of a special sheep grain I had blended that I’d like to use up by feeding to the chickens. This is probably even lower in protein than average laying mash. I looked in my freezer for a solution. I boil freezer burned meat, cut it up fine and put that and the broth in their feed. I add some melted lard and mix it well. They are gungho for this concoction and the feather picking has stopped. A flake of alfalfa hay provided each day keeps them busy and gives them something to scratch around in. My daughter says these are the prettiest, shiniest chickens we’ve raised.