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White Chantecler Meat Flock

More and more farm and acreage owners are interested in a self-sustainable alternative to buying hatchery broiler chicks each year. Keeping your own dual purpose chickens to keep your family supplied with both eggs and meat is a rewarding experience, as well as practical.  Plus, your meat flock will consist of active, healthy, attractive chickens you'll actually enjoy raising, as opposed to just another farm chore!
Anyone who has a dream of true self-sufficiency, and who is willing to hatch and grow their chicks will find the rewards of keeping a White Chantecler flock will far surpass the effort.

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People are often surprised to learn that the cockerels they have raised so patiently really have very little in common with a cornish cross chicken when it comes to cooking. In comparison to commercial meat chickens, your 7 month old cockerels have lived a long, full life, and only a gentle cooking approach will coax them to tenderness.  Using a 'low and slow’ cooking method is key to breaking down connective tissues, retaining moisture and bringing those exquisite, complex flavours out of hiding.  
Roasting:  A slow-roasted heritage chicken is a worthy centerpiece for even the most special occasions.  To reach its fullest potential, allow the birds to thaw completely before cooking.  This is a traditional meal that cannot be hurried along, so be sure to plan ahead.  Roast the chicken slowly at a lower temperature (no more than 300 degrees) preferably using a Dutch oven with heavy lid.  (Enamel or cast-iron cookware is excellent!)  Keeping it covered is important to retain juices and keep the meat from becoming dry. Plan for 3.5 hours cooking time, or until the leg joints are loose.  Avoid piercing the skin while cooking to keep the moisture in the meat, and do baste it from time to time.  If the skin does not brown nicely while covered, the lid can be left off for the last 20 -30 minutes.

The more intense flavour of heritage chicken means there is nothing better for braising, stewing or for delicious soups.  Most regular chicken recipes can be adapted for heritage chicken by incorporating moist heat and extending the cooking time.  Heritage chickens should be prepared for the table in the same manner as they are raised - with care and patience. But when prepared and cooked properly the result is a special and memorable dining experience.   


When you make the decision to start raising your own meat chickens it's important to understand the many differences between dual-purpose (heritage) chickens and the commercial broilers you might be more familiar with. 

Be prepared to grow your Chantecler cockerels for around 7 months. They need to build a solid frame first before fleshing out.  I prefer to hatch my chicks in February or March so they are ready for processing in September.

Be sure to keep back your biggest, meatiest Chanteclers each year to produce the best offspring for the next season. Don't be discouraged that your average freezer-ready cockerel doesn't look much like a typical meat chicken. They'll have longer legs, less breast meat and more bone, and that's completely normal.

But they will taste amazing. As with everything that is worthwhile in life, we need to have realistic expectations and be willing to invest the time.

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