Last Friday was the day that we harvested the nine extra roosters received when ordering a straight run of 25 chickens from the Welp Hatchery. As I mentioned in my post on the chicken tractor, I was waiting for them to grow into a delicious size.
The harvesting process involved getting in the chicken tractor and catching the roosters. They were then processed by an enterprising 12 year old home schooler and his two younger brothers. The butchering was done humanely and without incident as the boys had prior experience raising 70 meat birds of their own. Next, I let the roosters age in the refrigerator for two days before roasting one and freezing the rest.
Chicken Breeds Raised
Our roosters lived from the 1st of June until the 21st of October making them almost five months old. The roosters were a mixed flock of five different breeds. The breeds included the following.
- Russian Orloff – The smallest roosters. These birds were very adventurous.
- Rhode Island Red – Heritage breed that I fancy.
- Welsummer – A good looking rooster.
- Ameraucana – Hens lay blue-green Easter eggs.
- Cuckoo Maran – The biggest roosters. The hens lay dark brown eggs.
The dressed weight of the roosters ranged from 4 lbs 10 ozs for the largest Cuckoo Maran to 2 lbs 6 ozs for the smallest Russian Orloff with most weighing between 3 lbs 3 ozs and 3lbs 14ozs. The purpose was not to raise the most meat possible, but to produce the finest quality chicken meat possible.
I moved the chicken tractor twice a day, once before leaving for work and again after returning home. The roosters were fed as much organic poultry grower feed as they would eat.
I followed the basic roasting recipe from Nourishing Traditions. I placed fresh parsley from my garden along with fresh thyme from the farmer’s market in the cavity of the chicken. I basted the skin with butter and sprinkled it with salt and pepper before putting it in the oven. I roasted it for an hour and half at 400 degrees along with some onions, garlic, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
The chicken tasted fantastic with a succulent breast, rich drum sticks and crispy skin. The root vegetables made an excellent side dish. The sweet potatoes were especially good.