I started breeding several rare breeds this year and had a wonderful experience. The not so wonderful part was winding up with so many surplus males. Many I sold as chicks at swaps, but I still had a few more than needed. Part of what makes it so difficult is I raise them very closely, and spend a lot of time with them. Not just because I enjoy them, but because I favor birds with good temperaments who are able to be picked up and handled and who take stresses well.
I had a few young ones this year, one of which was born with several crooked toes. He was the sweetest thing, would limp up to me, but he had a hard time dusting (and so had lice) and was getting picked on by the rest. Obviously he was not fit for breeding and even to rehome him would have been hard because of his immobility. So he was culled with a heavy heart.
The other two were perfect good cockerels, beautiful feathering, were good boys. We just didn't have breeding plans for them and I tried for months to advertise them for sale to no avail. Tonight my husband and I dispatched two and, as I don't eat chicken, we buried them in our garden. My husband said they will come back as pumpkins, and I admit I shed some tears over their fate.
The whole experience, killing perfectly good animals, made me think of my desires. Do I still want to continue raising chickens to breed? Part of me truly does, that they should be preserved as a whole, which often means the sacrifice of some individuals. My husband said he could have done it on a day I was at work, but I felt I owed it to them in some way to deal with my decisions 100%, even if they weren't happy ones. I feel a bit sappy about it, but felt responsible for the chicks I'd hatched and helped grow, held, and showed the world to. In some ways, it felt like a betrayal of the trust they obviously had in me.
So to all those thinking of breeding, please remember the consequences of roosters, and to treat them kindly. Next year if I have several, I've identified someone who would process them for meat and they could keep them if they wish.
To all those who also do this with a heavy heart, I understand and salute you.
Edited by altair - 12/5/15 at 7:25pm