So, you are going to raise hens, but you need a clutch of chicks or hatching eggs to get started. After carefully sourcing the perfect place to get them, you set your plan into action. However, after they have reached eight weeks old, you begin to notice some chicks are larger and look different than the others.
Then it hits you; you’ve got yourself some cockerels!
Many of us have learned the hard way that buying a straight run of chicks (unsexed, hatched “as is”) isn’t the ideal way to acquire hens. There inevitably seem to be roosters mixed in with the clutch. The same goes for hatching eggs. There’s no guarantee you will get hens.
If you are looking for a good video on sexing a chick at home, check out the one below.
There’s quite a bit of debate in the chicken world that temperature during incubation as well as the shape of the eggs determines the sex of a chick. Many perceive either of these two theories as “old wives tales.” However, a scientific evidence-based method to presexing hatching eggs is in use in Germany to prevent the unnecessary culling of male chicks.
A joint venture between HatchTech, REWE (a German supermarket franchise,) and the University of Leipzig developed the technology to sex hatching eggs. This technology is known as SELEGGT.
SELEGGT uses a laser to take samples of the egg to test it for a sex-specific hormone, “estrone sulfate” (which indicates it is a hen.) If this hormone is not present in the egg, the egg is sent to be processed into animal feed.
Unfortunately, this technology isn’t available here in the U.S., leaving us facing the fact that hatching eggs will always have cockerels. Here in the U.S., billions of male chicks culled every year in the egg industry because they hold no value.
As responsible and loving chicken owners, we aren’t keen at all about culling chicks just because they turn out to be male. So, how do we get rid of cockerels that we end up with?
Unlike the commercial chicken egg industry, we don’t view male chicks as indispensable just because they happen to be male. It’s quite disturbing to know that male chicks are discarded (culled) with total disregard for their life. The various methods hatcheries use to cull male chicks is horrific and disturbing.
We have a few humane options for dealing with unwanted roosters-to-be.
There are numerous chicken owners who are looking for a rooster to either look over their flock or to mate for hatching eggs. It’s finding those people that may require a bit of creativity. We have listed several places and sources that may prove highly beneficial.
Sell or Donate Your Roosters
- Craigslist – can sell or give away
- Facebook Marketplace – sell or give away
- Facebook Groups (chicken-related) – there are hundreds of different pages; find local groups..
- Local Farmers – They may want those roosters or know of someone who does
- Local 4-H Club
- Online chicken forums
- Feed store – many feed stores have bulletin boards where local folks can buy or sell items. Give it a look and add your listing.
There are thousands of various animal rescue organizations that rehome or adopt unwanted roosters. You can find one in your local area by searching online for “rooster rescue near me.”
You might be surprised to know there’s a lot of rooster lovers out there who adopt these unwanted yard birds to keep as pets.
Sometimes we give in and decide to keep the unexpected rooster we’ve ended up with. However, if you already have a rooster, you may want to rethink things.
There’s only room for one rooster in a flock. Any more than that, and you’ll end up with a “blood bath” on your hands because of the fighting and pecking that occurs between roosters.
If you happen to have backyard chickens in an urban area, be sure to find out if you are permitted to have a rooster. Many cities will not allow roosters because of how noisy they are.
Perhaps the two main reasons (and pros) of having a rooster is to protect the flock and for mating so you can have chicks. Hens are going to lay eggs regardless of whether or not a rooster is around. And not all roosters are bad. We discuss what to look for in a good one in this article.
The disadvantages (cons) of having a rooster include their boisterous crowing and aggressive nature. They are not ideal to have around small children or other pets such as small dogs. Roosters are notorious for bullying and hurting chicks.
These things are taken into account by cities that allow backyard chickens. Roosters pose problems that your neighbors may not appreciate.
Do we eat male chickens? The chicken we purchase in the store is typically from a broiler-raised hen. Roosters are not considered broiler-worthy because they are not as plump as hens. The meat texture of a rooster is different from a hen and tends to be tougher.
Unfortunately, roosters hold little value in the egg and broiler industry and as table fare. So, in a situation where there’s no other solution with regard to relocating unwanted roosters, harvesting is an option. Although the meat is not as plump and tender as what we are accustomed to, it does offer a source of food for us or someone less fortunate.
They can also taste great in soups or stews. A quick search for chicken soup recipes in your favorite search engine will pull up hundreds!
If you’re up to the task of butchering it yourself, there are hundreds (probably thousands) of video or step by step tutorials. We found a great article by Backwoods Home illustrating the process.
The article claims it’ll take 20 minutes or less. That may be an ambitious time frame for the first timer, but the task looks doable!
Find someone to help you if you are unable to stomach the task of harvesting a rooster. Local farmers who raise broilers may do it for you for a few dollars.
Or, another option is to call your local butcher. Depending on the butcher, you can often bring them directly there and they take care of the rest. Not all butchers operate the same, however, so call around and find out what they require and the cost of processing before committing to just one.
The advantage of having a butcher take care of it for you is it will be nicely packaged and ready to eat. You can also have them package it whole or in pieces. This is convenient if you don’t plan on cooking the entire chicken at once.
As chicken owners and lovers, we should strive to exhaust all resources before “giving in” to the last resort. It may require a bit of patience on our part.
Regardless of “hen” or “rooster,” a living creature deserves to be treated humanely. Who knows, that unwanted rooster of yours could end up being the pet for a child who will love it for a lifetime!
Happy Chickening to you!