Few issues are extra disappointing than sitting all the way down to a meal of rooster raised by yourself homestead solely to find the meat is hard.
It’s a threat that comes with consuming any homegrown meat or poultry.
However with somewhat data of fundamental biology and good animal husbandry, your homestead chickens will probably be plump and juicy as a substitute of wanting like a rubber rooster from the joke novelty retailer.
“There are a few ideas right here,” stated Colt Knight, livestock professional with College of Cooperative Extension. “It’s fundamental meat science that’s relevant to all livestock.”
One of many major contributors to powerful rooster meat is the age of the chicken on the time of slaughter, Knight stated.
“Because the [bird] will get older the muscle fibers change into powerful,” he stated. “So a 2-year-old hen or 3-year-old farm rooster goes to be powerful.”
That’s why the Cornish-cross chickens are fashionable for each business growers and homesteaders. They’ve been bred to achieve maturity in a matter of weeks, just about guaranteeing tender, juicy meat when slaughtered.
“They’ll attain full dimension in a few month in a business operation,” Knight stated. “We elevate them right here in Maine on pasture after which it might probably take six weeks to achieve full dimension.”
Different chickens that produce good high quality meat and that may be raised in Maine are Kosher kings and freedom rangers.
These require about 9 weeks to achieve full dimension, Knight stated. Any longer and the muscle fibers will start to toughen up.
Knight suggested in opposition to elevating so-called twin chickens for meat. These are breeds which were bred over time to provide meat and lay eggs. They are going to be edible, however powerful and stringy, and so they aren’t nice laying hens both, he stated.
A rooster’s food regimen can be vital relating to the standard of its meat.
“Animals are likely to style like what they eat,” Knight stated. “It additionally impacts the tenderness as sure feeds placed on fats and others don’t.”
It’s the fats in between the muscle fibers that make meat tender.
It’s additionally not a good suggestion to feed your chickens something with a powerful taste like onions, garlic or fish of their closing weeks. These flavors will switch to the meat.
When it comes time to slaughter and butcher your chickens, you need to do it on a cool day or in an indoor facility that’s air-conditioned. Illness-causing micro organism frequent on chickens similar to salmonella and E. coli can quickly unfold in situations hotter than 45 levels Fahrenheit.
As tempting because it is likely to be to do every thing in a single session, Knight stated it is very important let the rooster “relaxation” after it’s slaughtered.
“That meat wants an opportunity to undergo rigor mortis so the muscular tissues begin to loosen,” he stated. “Clear the chicken and get it into your fridge or anyplace under 45 levels and let it sit for a day.”
Some folks attempt to pace up that course of by dunking a freshly slaughtered rooster into an ice bathtub after which placing it immediately right into a freezer. All that does is go away you with a troublesome, stringy chicken, Knight stated.
There are going to be instances — whether or not it’s slaughtering a retired egg laying hen to not waste the meat or a rooster has gotten above the prime age for slaughter — that you will find yourself with a troublesome chicken.
All shouldn’t be misplaced.
“How did we used to eat them years in the past?” King stated. “Prepare dinner them low and sluggish to interrupt down that muscle fiber.”