If you are dealing with those smelly white birds, it really doesn't matter. THey are chicken "veal" and any toughening from rigor can only give them some badly needed texture.

That said, we sell them but do not eat them ourselves. Our neighbor and customers swear that our on-farm processed birds are superior to the neighbor's that are processed at a local processor. Apparently, our's are juicier with better texture and flavour. I scratch my head on this because both batches of chicks come from the same place and are fed the same food. The only difference is the processing procedure.

Is it the stress of the car ride that is reducing the meat quality? The killing method? Or is it the difference in refrigeration times? They use an electical stunner and bleedout, I use decapitation. The licenced facility birds flash cool and go in the freezer the same day they were processed. Mine are cooled slower and sit in the fridge (0.5'C) for 24-48 hours before freezing.

I suspect all three factors play a role and there are plenty of meat quality reports out there that support this notion. I do know from first hand experience that heritage birds are palatable when processed as I do, but not worth eating when processed according to the regulations. That is unless you want to give your teeth a workout!
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Omega Blue Farms
http://www3.telus.net/OmegaBlue/

Pictures related to my blue eggers can be viewed at:
http://groups.msn.com/BCsBlueEggers