Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Bye Bye Buffy Boys

Posted by Rosie

I've had on my list for a while, one of those jobs that I really do not like doing but has to be done if we are to eat our own home-reared roast chicken for dinner. Today was the day I finally could not put it off any longer and I slaughtered our 6 remaining cockerels - 3 white meat birds and 3 Buff Orpingtons. 

Adult Buff Orpingtons
Last summer I had a broody hen who had accidentally let her eggs go cold and not wanting to lose her broodiness I bought 4 day old chicks from the market and popped them under her to rear ... which she did very well. Sadly one later died but the others flourished and all turned out to be cockerels. The Buffies were raised by the same broody hen earlier in the year and from 9 fertile eggs I put under her, she hatched 6; three boys and three girls. (The eggs incidentally were "bought" in exchange for a joint of pork - we do like a bit of bartering here when-ever possible).  That was Easter and we have watched as over the months they have grown from adorably cute chicks to large and very handsome birds. 

Large to look at maybe, but when-ever I have caught them for a weight check their size has been revealed as mostly feathers and not a huge amount of potential roast dinner underneath. Here in Calvados, despite what I wrote yesterday about Spring being in the air, we are in fact still in the middle of Winter with plenty of time for some spells of hard weather when birds use all their food to stay warm and rarely put on too much weight. Even now, with the milder weather we've been having, none of the 6 birds was putting on much weight yet they have still been eating comparatively large amounts of grain. I carried out in my head a cost benefit analysis based on these factors and decided they would be better off in the freezer, what-ever size they killed out at.

As yet I have not weighted them but I can say, just by looking that the Buffies, that they were not big boys. I also found that they had a lot of fat in their body cavities so they were converting grain to fat rather than what we wanted, namely meat for that roast dinner. Despite being almost half the age of the Buffies, the white birds are definitely bigger and much less fatty.

I suppose ultimately, the final test will be in that roast dinner and what the Buffies taste like. Will the meat be much better tasting than the bred-for-meat white birds for sale at every market throughout France? The Buffies are certainly handsome boys but for us as a smallholder they will have to taste MASSIVELY better than the white chickens for us to consider rearing them again for meat.

In the meantime we are not without Buffies and we do have the 3 girls. They may not lay as many eggs as the bred-to-lay-egg girls I get from the market but I can forgive them this as they are such beautiful birds to look at. They may all feathers and few eggs but I reckon we can manage to hang on to these three beauties just for beauties sake, don't you?

No comments :

Post a Comment

I love receiving comments and I do read every one but if you are simply here to spam me with a link, guess what ... I won't publish it.