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  #1  
Old 10-30-2006, 02:51 PM
ColdToes ColdToes is offline
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Chicken we eat -- Male or Female?

A coworker just told me that female chickens (hens) taste very different than male chickens. She's not talking about Cornish Game hens or anything-- simply the male and female chicken. She said that in Spain if you order "pollo" you get male chicken and if you order "gallena" you get female chicken. This got me thinking-- when I go to KFC or buy chicken breasts at the grocery store, what is it I'm most likely eating-- male or female chicken?
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  #2  
Old 10-30-2006, 02:55 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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You're almost always going to be eating a male, and a young one at that. Females are kept as layers, and used to be sold as stewers back in the day after they were washed up as layers, but I haven't seen a real old tough hen stewer in years.
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  #3  
Old 10-30-2006, 03:02 PM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
You're almost always going to be eating a male, and a young one at that. Females are kept as layers, and used to be sold as stewers back in the day after they were washed up as layers, but I haven't seen a real old tough hen stewer in years.
Here's one.
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  #4  
Old 10-30-2006, 03:10 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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*waves fist*

Darn you, Contrapuntal! I was sure you were going to link to an on-line order form or something! I got so excited for a minute at the idea of real chicken stew!
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  #5  
Old 10-30-2006, 03:24 PM
Max Torque Max Torque is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdToes
A coworker just told me that female chickens (hens) taste very different than male chickens. She's not talking about Cornish Game hens or anything-- simply the male and female chicken. She said that in Spain if you order "pollo" you get male chicken and if you order "gallena" you get female chicken. This got me thinking-- when I go to KFC or buy chicken breasts at the grocery store, what is it I'm most likely eating-- male or female chicken?
Huh. I remember from my days of high school spanish that "gallina" is the Spanish word for a living chicken, one that is up and walking around, not remotely ready to be eaten (the same way we might say "cow" rather than "beef"). So, I wouldn't try it, unless you want some funny looks and a bundle of angry feathers with your pico de gallo.
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  #6  
Old 10-30-2006, 06:31 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
You're almost always going to be eating a male, and a young one at that. Females are kept as layers,
To be specific, if the females are kept, they are kept as breeders, to produce more fertilized eggs. They are NOT kept as 'layers' to produce the (unfertilized) eggs that you buy in the grocery store.

Currently, chicken breed have specialized to the point that there are separate 'laying' and 'meat' breeds of chickens. (Just like there have long been separate breeds of 'dairy' and 'beef' cattle.)
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  #7  
Old 10-30-2006, 07:13 PM
Kevbo Kevbo is offline
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Intact roosters don't tolerate competition, so are difficult to raise, as they must be isolated from each other. Roosters are thus normally butchered prior to sexual maturity.

Note I said intact. As with bulls vs. Steers, castration solves the aggressive behaviour issue.

A castrated rooster is often denoted as capon on a menu.

While commercial practice has specialized breeds for meat vs. layers, there are plenty of people who keep thier own chickens, and breeds that are suitable for both purposes.
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  #8  
Old 10-30-2006, 07:16 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net
Currently, chicken breed have specialized to the point that there are separate 'laying' and 'meat' breeds of chickens. (Just like there have long been separate breeds of 'dairy' and 'beef' cattle.)
I have been told this by actual chicken-farming people.
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  #9  
Old 10-30-2006, 07:27 PM
gazpacho gazpacho is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net
To be specific, if the females are kept, they are kept as breeders, to produce more fertilized eggs. They are NOT kept as 'layers' to produce the (unfertilized) eggs that you buy in the grocery store.
How many are kept? It should be a somewhat small fraction of the population. How many eggs do you get out of a chicken before it is not producing well enough? 100, 1000? If the male to female chicken ratio if a chicken will produce 100 eggs only on female is needed to replace the breeder that leaves the other 49 females to be sold as meat. So 50 males and 49 females. If the number of eggs that a hen produces goes up the ratio gets even closer.
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  #10  
Old 10-31-2006, 09:53 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Torque
Huh. I remember from my days of high school spanish that "gallina" is the Spanish word for a living chicken, one that is up and walking around, not remotely ready to be eaten (the same way we might say "cow" rather than "beef"). So, I wouldn't try it, unless you want some funny looks and a bundle of angry feathers with your pico de gallo.
A gallina is a hen, and a gallo is a rooster. Pollitos are baby chickens, and pollo is the food. In English I might buy a hen to make chicken, but in my (limited) experience, I've never heard a Spanish-speak say they would buy a gallina or gallo to make pollo. I suppose one who kept chicken might say they're going out to kill the gallina or gallo, though. In one of the chicken chains I've been to, the men's room is labelled "pollos" and the ladies' is labelled "pollas" (but that's not really a word).
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  #11  
Old 10-31-2006, 10:34 AM
lieu lieu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardinal
I have been told this by actual chicken-farming people.
In the absence of context and just out there by itself, this sentence is hilarious. It'd be a great pat answer for a variety of questions.
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  #12  
Old 12-29-2013, 06:42 PM
Jackson5 Jackson5 is offline
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In Germany the male chicken is called "Hahn", while the female is called
Huhn". The female is being used in soups, while the young male ends up in our Rotisseries.
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  #13  
Old 12-29-2013, 09:22 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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I thought that newly hatched male chicks, if they are from a breed specializing in egg laying, are usually (euphemism) destroyed immediately after hatching.
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  #14  
Old 12-29-2013, 09:37 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Quoth gazpacho:

How many eggs do you get out of a chicken before it is not producing well enough? 100, 1000?
Based on my mom's hens, probably somewhere between 500 and 700. Each hen lays close to one egg per day in its prime, and that prime seems to last a bit less than two years.
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  #15  
Old 12-29-2013, 10:48 PM
bump bump is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
*waves fist*

Darn you, Contrapuntal! I was sure you were going to link to an on-line order form or something! I got so excited for a minute at the idea of real chicken stew!
We have some local farmers around here who sell eggs and "stewing hens" which are tough as leather, but make divine broth and chicken soup.
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  #16  
Old 12-30-2013, 12:21 AM
njtt njtt is online now
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Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
I thought that newly hatched male chicks, if they are from a breed specializing in egg laying, are usually (euphemism) destroyed immediately after hatching.
Right. That is why chick sexing is a thing. (Well, in the SFW sense, anyway.)
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  #17  
Old 12-30-2013, 01:14 AM
dasmoocher dasmoocher is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Based on my mom's hens, probably somewhere between 500 and 700. Each hen lays close to one egg per day in its prime, and that prime seems to last a bit less than two years.
That matches up pretty well for Wikipedia's info for laying hens:
Quote:
In 1900, average egg production was 83 eggs per hen per year. In 2000, it was well over 300.

In the United States, laying hens are butchered after their second egg laying season.
Laying hens (selected for egg production) are usually Leghorns. I'd imagine that with a broiler strain selected for rapid, "meaty" growth the egg production is much lower.
Quote:
Leghorns are good layers of white eggs, laying an average of 280 per year and sometimes reaching 300–320.[1] They have a good feed-to-egg conversion ratio, needing around 125 grams per day of feed. Leghorns rarely exhibit broodiness and are thus well suited for uninterrupted egg laying. The Leghorn is a light breed that matures quickly; it is not considered a viable meat producer.

Last edited by dasmoocher; 12-30-2013 at 01:15 AM..
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  #18  
Old 12-30-2013, 03:30 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Based on my mom's hens, probably somewhere between 500 and 700. Each hen lays close to one egg per day in its prime, and that prime seems to last a bit less than two years.
With a little luck, gazpacho may even see that reply.
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  #19  
Old 12-30-2013, 09:41 AM
Lightlystarched Lightlystarched is offline
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Meat birds don't even make it to sexual maturity. Cornish Crosses are butchered at 6 to 8 weeks old. Both males and females are raised, and there is no difference in taste.

Last edited by Lightlystarched; 12-30-2013 at 09:42 AM..
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  #20  
Old 12-30-2013, 10:03 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is online now
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There's a lot of ignorance in this thread. Most mass chicken producers will grow and process both male and female chickens for meat processing. There is not enough demand for layers (non fertilized egg production) /breeders (fertilized egg production for hatcheries) to consume all of the female chickens that are hatched. Layers and breeders will live for about 5 years + or -. In a breeding house there are about 20 hens for every rooster. At the end of the breeder/layers lives they get processed as well as "spent hens".

Chicks raised for meat processing are normally separated by sex at birth before being placed in a grower house. This is because it has been determined that the chickens will put on weight faster when separated by sex than if they are grown together. It takes on average about 7 weeks from hatching to being processed for meat.

The odds of the chicken you buy in the grocery store being male or female, is maybe just slightly higher of being male, due to the just slightly larger number of female chicks that are used to layers and breeders as opposed to roosters.
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  #21  
Old 12-30-2013, 01:46 PM
bob++ bob++ is offline
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As an aside, when I was buying our pheasant for Christmas, I was told that hens are better (tastier? more tender? plumper?) than cocks. I discovered that they are only sold in braces - one of each.
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  #22  
Old 12-30-2013, 01:57 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
I thought that newly hatched male chicks, if they are from a breed specializing in egg laying, are usually (euphemism) destroyed immediately after hatching.
"Macerated" is the actual word.
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  #23  
Old 12-30-2013, 03:41 PM
Schnitte Schnitte is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackson5 View Post
In Germany the male chicken is called "Hahn", while the female is called "Huhn".
Is that so? My impression is that "Huhn" is the gender-neutral term for the animal as such, comprising both males and females; the term which specifically denotes a female is "Henne". That's at least my understanding, but I am neither an ornithologist nor a chicken farmer nor a linguist.
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