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View Full Version : Cuckoo Marans for dual purpose?



JSwan
Jan. 22, 2009, 10:48 PM
I'm toying with adding these to my home flock. The hatchery catalog says they're a decent dual purpose bird.

Anyone buy straight run and raise the males as broilers/fryers?

Do tell. Thanks.

smokygirl
Jan. 23, 2009, 02:25 AM
I haven't had them.. but I have friends who do. They are the awesomest birds. IF you want to raise a few (so you don't need to buy them every year.. her's are really unbroody, so she uses Partridge Cochins are the "broodmares"... lol...). She also has Barnevelders. Both are dual purpose, and lay very very dark brown eggs. She has a few Wyandottes too, and they are a nice dual purpose breed (she has the Columbian and the Silver somethings). They lay a lighter brown egg. I love them. She also has Heritage turkeys.. they are the coolest. (she got the bourbon reds and the royal palms..).

tikidoc
Jan. 23, 2009, 06:23 AM
Can only tell you about the hens. I have 4 that we bought from a neighbor getting rid of their chickens. They are easy to work around, not terribly skittish. Ours are not as friendly as our other hens but we got them as adults and I suspect they were not handled much (most of our other hens are almost lap chickens). Good production of very large, very dark brown (really pretty!) eggs, and they have been laying well even in winter. They are decent sized birds (just a hair smaller than our Brahma hens, a little bigger than our Orpingtons and Delawares), so I suspect they would be good dual purpose birds.

We are just going to get some straight run Cornish crosses for meat this spring, as I think our flock of hens is complete for the moment, until some get old enough to stop/slow down their egg production.

We have LOTS of heritage breeds, so feel free to PM me if you have questions about other breeds. I just might have some... yea, we have too many chickens!

smokygirl
Jan. 23, 2009, 09:03 AM
http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html ( I had been looking when I posted earlier, and couldn't find this).

Here is a listing of the "rare/heritage" (whichever term you prefer) breeds. My friend got most of her birds from three sources.. www.darkeggs.com, Sandhill Preservation (they have a website), and then a commercial place (starts with an S, and i can't think of it). She wanted to try to get a good assortment of blood lines in their. The best came from darkeggs and sandhill, but the others were good too.

equinelaundry
Jan. 23, 2009, 09:16 AM
I've got a heritage breed - Buckeyes. They are a dual-purpose chicken. However, they are very, very slow maturing birds. If I remember correctly they aren't ready for the freezer until they are well past the 24 week mark. I've got 3 older hens and 4 pullets - and a runt roo. The pullets just turned 14 weeks old and I surely don't see them laying until late spring, early summer at the earliest.

Have ya seen this chart? http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html#m

JSwan
Jan. 23, 2009, 09:17 AM
Thanks!

Are you thinking of Stromberg's perhaps? I used them last year. I received very healthy vigorous chicks.

I'm a big fan of the albc. :)

I'm pretty sure turkeys are going to be on my order this year, too. Just need to set aside a separate area for them and throw together a proper roost.

I'll definitely go with heritage breeds.

EL - I'd forgotten about that chart! Thanks. So you like the Buckeyes even though they are slow maturing? I guess I could extend the insect control by adding a slower maturing breed that would be free ranging when the other birds are put up?

I'm trying to stay with breeds that are really good foragers and can handle temperature extremes. So far my flock has handled high heat and extreme cold very well, though I did do things like fans, add ice to water, and (against my better judgment), heat lamps when it was below 0 degrees. No sickness, no weight loss or heat/cold stress. Whew.

Evalee Hunter
Jan. 23, 2009, 12:27 PM
So how do you prepare your birds for the freezer? I grew up on a small farm; dad chopped their heads off; Mom & I dunked them in boiling water, plucked them, cleaned them & cut them up. I have no desire to do any of that. Is there someone who will do it for you or is there some less messy way that has been invented in the last 40 years? I would love to eat free-range, homegrown chickens if I could sort of catch them & toss them in the automatic chicken processor & have them humanely treated & come out the other end ready to cook or freeze.

JSwan
Jan. 23, 2009, 01:25 PM
You and me both! :lol::lol:

I'm afraid the process is generally the same as it was when you and I were kids. The only thing I did differently was use killing cones. We made them ourselves and it is SO much easier - especially on the bird. We killed only two at a time (at the same time). No stress, no spatter. I'd be happy to describe exactly how we process the birds but I think some folks get really upset. So I won't volunteer details unless asked.

I let our neighbor hunt deer on our farm and in return he gives us apples and stuff like that. He came over, and brought a friend who owed him a favor. So it was kind of a party. Guess that sounds odd! You know the old saying, "Many hands make light work"

Maybe you could find a local that you could pay to come over and process the birds? Or maybe just help your process them?

If you want to take a look at those killing cones - I think hatcheries sell them. Those things really make a tremendous difference.


So how do you prepare your birds for the freezer? I grew up on a small farm; dad chopped their heads off; Mom & I dunked them in boiling water, plucked them, cleaned them & cut them up. I have no desire to do any of that. Is there someone who will do it for you or is there some less messy way that has been invented in the last 40 years? I would love to eat free-range, homegrown chickens if I could sort of catch them & toss them in the automatic chicken processor & have them humanely treated & come out the other end ready to cook or freeze.

pony89
Jan. 23, 2009, 03:52 PM
I would love to hear the details on how you process them. You can PM me if it's too gory. I live in the suburbs, but my friend "boards" my chickens w/her flock. This is our first foray into it, and my 5 meat birds have had their numbers come up, as soon as I can get up the nerve and the temperatures stay above 20 degrees. I actually have 4 cuckoo marans in my little flock, and the two roosters certainly look big enough to be used for meat. It hadn't occurred to me to buy them specifically for that, but if we try to raise them, I'm sure we'll end up eating any roosters that we end up with. My friend does pretty much all of the care of them, but she likes their temperments. They just started laying, and the eggs are definately cool.

I have some barred rocks, and those are the ones that I am really hoping to raise as dual purpose. I also have two of the aracaunas, too, plus the 5 cornish ones. I will probably end up sticking with the barred rocks and the marans, but my friend and I got a little carried away with the chicken catalog :lol: I intended to get 2 or 3 hens...I called my DH later to tell him we got a few extra chickens. He warily asked "How many chickens do we have?" :lol: (umm, 14:cool:)

It has definately been a fun project. It is so neat to go out there and find an actual egg! That didn't even come from the store! My husband just build them a cool "chicken high rise" nest box with 10 nest spots and a couple of roost/perch things.

smokygirl
Jan. 23, 2009, 06:05 PM
Strombergs, that was it. She had also used McMurray in the past, but she went with Strombergs, Sandhill, and Darkeggs last year. The chicks were healthy from all 3, but after they grew up.. the ones from the latter two were just a better quality, vs the standard, which is important when helping to preserve the rarer breeds :)

MSP
Jan. 23, 2009, 06:05 PM
Thanks!

Are you thinking of Stromberg's perhaps? I used them last year. I received very healthy vigorous chicks.

I'm a big fan of the albc. :)

I'm pretty sure turkeys are going to be on my order this year, too. Just need to set aside a separate area for them and throw together a proper roost.

I'll definitely go with heritage breeds.

EL - I'd forgotten about that chart! Thanks. So you like the Buckeyes even though they are slow maturing? I guess I could extend the insect control by adding a slower maturing breed that would be free ranging when the other birds are put up?

I'm trying to stay with breeds that are really good foragers and can handle temperature extremes. So far my flock has handled high heat and extreme cold very well, though I did do things like fans, add ice to water, and (against my better judgment), heat lamps when it was below 0 degrees. No sickness, no weight loss or heat/cold stress. Whew.

I have Wyandottes. They handle the cold well and love to free range. I haven't seen how they do with our extreme heat yet. They have been through high teens to 20s with out a problem and no heat lamp.

mayhew
Jan. 25, 2009, 04:28 PM
So how do you prepare your birds for the freezer? I grew up on a small farm; dad chopped their heads off; Mom & I dunked them in boiling water, plucked them, cleaned them & cut them up. I have no desire to do any of that. Is there someone who will do it for you or is there some less messy way that has been invented in the last 40 years? I would love to eat free-range, homegrown chickens if I could sort of catch them & toss them in the automatic chicken processor & have them humanely treated & come out the other end ready to cook or freeze.


We have several poultry processing plants near us that do people's homegrown chickens. The closest one charges $3 a bird. Having done our own for the first time last year, I will DEFINITELY be springing for the professionals this year.

mayhew
Jan. 25, 2009, 04:38 PM
I would love to hear the details on how you process them.


My husband chopped their heads off, then we hung them on the gate and let them bleed into a bucket. Then we took them up to the house, where I had a large cauldron of hot water going outside, over a propane burner. Dip the chicken in the water, swirl it around, take it out and try pulling some feathers out. If they don't come out easily, dip some more. We hung them on the washing line and plucked them there. A small propane torch passed quickly over the body will get rid of little fuzzy bits. Took a while before I could use that line for laundry again... Hubby took off their heads and feet and handed them to me for gutting. You cut a slit in between their legs, reach your hand in, get a good grip, and pull. Then you sit down for a while and try not to throw up, before moving on to the next bird. Rinse inside and out, and you're done. If you really want them, you can fish out the heart and liver and stuff, but by that time, I had had quite enough of guts. The dog got the lot.

It is important to let them sit in the fridge for at least a day before freezing or eating them. That relaxes the meat.

halo
Jan. 26, 2009, 07:36 AM
You probably wont be very satisfied using a breed like a barred rock or cuckoo maran for dual purpose. They take too long to get to meat size, and get tough. The birds that are bred strictly for meat, such as the cornish crosses, or colored rangers, are ready for processing at 8 to 10 weeks; they will have good size and be tender. They are definitely worth getting if you want to put birds in the freezer. The dual purpose birds really arent, unless you dont mind cooking for a long time in a crock pot. The meat chicks are amazing critters, you can practically watch them grow.

mayhew
Jan. 26, 2009, 08:06 AM
But once you've seen a real chicken, it is incredibly depressing to watch a meat bird struggle through its short, fat, exhausting life. We raised meat birds one year. Yes, they make better eating than the Barred Rocks and RIR that we've raised before, but is it worth it, to know that the bird you are eating could hardly support itself on its own legs? Also, they're prone to falling over dead at random, due to their organs being too small to pump blood to their genetically enhanced gargantuan muscles.

I'll take the tough, scrawny one, thanks.

pony89
Jan. 26, 2009, 08:49 AM
How long does it take you to butcher one? When I helped my friend with one, it took about an hour (we are definate newbies, though!) and I started fantasizing about going to the grocery store and picking up a nice shrink wrapped one for 5 bucks. Will it get better? Is there any cost/effort savings at all besides knowing that your chicken had a happy life before going to the great freezer in the sky?

mayhew
Jan. 26, 2009, 09:04 AM
If you butcher them yourself, there is definitely a cost savings. I've never added it up, but day old chicks of a boring variety are $1-2. Depending on your local feed prices, you'll put about a couple of dollars worth of food into it before you slaughter it. If you're a newbie, and you consider paying yourself for the time that it takes to slaughter them, definitely not worth it. We did five chickens in four hours. My farrier can do five chickens in an hour, so her cost per bird is considerably less!

Our grocery store birds are $9-10, so it probably comes out about even for us to send them out to be slaughtered. The added bonus of knowing what they ate and the conditions in which they were raised makes it worth it to us.

JSwan
Jan. 26, 2009, 09:26 AM
You need to come visit me! An hour?

Lemme tell you about the butchering day at our place.

I got up, did my morning chores, hooked up my trailer, grabbed a horse out of the field, groomed him, tacked up, loaded, went hunting. Hung around at the tailgate, drove home, cleaned up my horse, cleaned tack, finished up barn chores.

Went up to the house and changed clothes.

Prepared for butchering. On one side - the butchering, scalding and plucking area. On the other side - processing. Bleach and bleach spray and sharp knives at the ready.

The night before I had marked which chickens were to be processed. I locked everyone up with only water - so their intestines were empty by processing time. (important safety precaution for us)

The killing cones were hung from the front loader on the tractor. Made out of spare sheet metal - they help ensure a quick kill, no blood spatter, and the bird is also VERY calm when you put them in. Underneath the cones were lined trash cans.

I caught the chickens and handed them to my husband - he put them in the cones. He and a neighbor killed them. (I don't mind doing it but it was faster if I caught them, handed them off, and then wham - done) After they bled out, we scalded them (it was next to the killing cones) then brought them back to where the trash cans were and quickly plucked them. This only took a few seconds per bird.

Put them in a lined trash can with ice water with a bit of bleach added. Repeated until all the birds were done. Didn't take long at all.

Then we prepared to process - of course washing our hands with hot soapy water first. (The table had everything laid out - so that the bodies and contents were never close together. Quickly gutted and the bodies put in another trash can filled with icy water. (it's important to cool the body quickly). Every few birds we did a quick rinse of the table and knives with bleach water. Purely precautionary on our part - it was a warm day for October! Basically two people did the work and two sat around and talked. Then they'd complain and we'd switch then we'd complain and switch back. But basically it was a two person job if you omit the complaining and standing around talking.

I brought the cooled birds into the house and placed them in our fridge and covered them with damped flour sack toweling.

Went back outside and cleaned everything up. Ended up with two small trash bags. Cleanup took about 10 minutes.

I did not keep the heads and legs for soup, nor did I keep the crop. Some people use that for soup, and the crop is evidently good for some recipe. I wasn't interested and my relatives said I'd been wasteful. I agree but everyone has their limits. :lol:

Late that evening we vacuum sealed them. Normally we'd have waited until the next morning but I needed the fridge space.

I think from start to finish it only took a few hours. It's all about having a good process and everything set up logically. Food safety is important but is accomplished (this is only my opinion!) with making sure they have not eaten anything, ensuring the killing and plucking area is a bit separate from the cutting area, making sure the bodies are cooled quickly, and you keep some bleach or other disinfectant around.

The greatest improvement, to me, was the killing cone. It was much less stressful for the bird, and this is important to me. It was a quicker kill, no blood spatter, and processing time was cut significantly.

Hope I haven't grossed anyone out. My poor dogs sat at the processing table the whole time - hoping we'd drop something. Normally I'd have composted the guts and whatnot - but was worried they'd dig it all up.

I will not process anything at our place but poultry. Anything bigger than that is a damn mess and I did that when I was a kid and I'd rather have needles stuck in my eyes thank you very much!:lol:

I can't help you on the cost/effort savings. Certainly if it's taking you that long it's a pretty hard sell.

If you live near me you are welcome to visit us at our next butchering day. Before you get this vision in your head of a quaint farmstead, it's not. It's like an "anti-quaint farmstead". :lol: The animals live better than I do.

Most important factors for me:

Quality of life for the bird. These fellas spent their lives outdoors, put themselves to bed in the coop, lots of sunshine and scratching and dust baths. When I was canning, I'd throw the scraps outside and the entire flock would come running up for their treats. Unfortunately, every time I stepped outside I'd be mobbed by chickens. If I was empty handed - I was thoroughly scolded and lectured by them.

Eggs - Bright orange, tasty, and for cooking - absolutely no comparison to store bought. Especially for pastries and breads.

None of the birds I raised were tough but I may have just gotten lucky? The Australorps are downright mouth watering tasty tasty. But a bit more work to pluck.

Humane death - this factor is arguable. For a vegetarian or vegan, even home raised and butchered is not humane and I respect their opinion. If I screw up - there is no USDA inspector to fine me or shut me down. If I abuse my birds - again - no film crews or jail time.

All I can say is that my personal sense of ethics, my personal morals and sense of responsibility guide me. As does my insistence upon a good education in animal husbandry; including housing, nutrition, behavior, and welfare for the animals in my care.

That may or may not be adequate depending on one's perspective and I don't know how to satisfy those people. Can't please everyone.




How long does it take you to butcher one? When I helped my friend with one, it took about an hour (we are definate newbies, though!) and I started fantasizing about going to the grocery store and picking up a nice shrink wrapped one for 5 bucks. Will it get better? Is there any cost/effort savings at all besides knowing that your chicken had a happy life before going to the great freezer in the sky?

Tom King
Jan. 26, 2009, 05:47 PM
We go in halves with the guys that work for us. We raise 'em, they clean 'em and we split them. Everybody's happy.