Originally Posted by OrionDarkwood
To follow up on your answers. We (me and my wife) currently have 8 roosters and 6 hens. Our plan is to keep 2 roosters one as backup. If we have two we can keep the roosters separate but we are hoping the pen is large enough that they can stay out of each other's way. Worse case is one ends up in the stew pot.
Regarding the answer to #3 - They have started fighting but so far without spurs its little more than chest bumping, however a couple have fiqured out that grabbing the other's comb and pulling them to the ground works. Also a couple have started doing the mating dance (for lack of a better term) with the hens and their has been some almost comical unsuccessful attempts at mounting the hens. Only 2 of the hens are starting to get red combs.
About the answer to #5 - Any type you recommend? We where thinking a small sharp pocket knife, maybe a gut hook knife or a box cutter. Assuming we do know take the route of chopping thier heads off.
Lastly what auto-plucker do you use or is there a brand you or the BYC group recommends?
I agree with the last posters, 2 roosters and 6 hens is a recipe for disaster. At one point I had 2 cockerels with 16 pullets and it was still too rough on them. If your goal is to hatch out chicks, save 3 roosters to keep in their own bachelor pad. Without the hens around to distract them, they'll all get along fine. Once they're over 1 year old, you can try integrating one in. If he turns out to be too rough, to the soup pot with him and try the next until the girls have one they like. You'll know it when they do. If you're not breeding them there's really no need to keep any roosters unless you think they would benefit from a flock keeper. If the girls are in a predator proof coop/run, even that's not really necessary.
If they're already starting to mount, I would separate them now. In a normal established flock, the older birds will thump proper manners into the youngins. Here, the boys are figuring out that they can be bullies and no one will stop them. They'll start mating the hens way too soon, cause feather damage, bald spots, possible injury and even disrupt their laying cycles before they can get started.
Next year if you hatch out some more with a broody, you won't need to separate them before processing. Your mature flock will flog out most early aggression. But if you decide to raise a batch of hybrid meaties, I wouldn't put them together at all.
I like to use either filet knife or an old steak knife to slit the throat. I find that with a longer blade, I can let the knife do more of the work. I hate to admit it, but the harder I have to press down, the more of the "ookies" I get over what I'm doing. If you just want to take the head off, the old fashioned pair of nails in a stump and a sharp hatchet still works just fine.
I will mention a blade that I've been considering investing in because of the good things people have said on this site. It's a replaceable scalpel blade made by Havalon. The blades themselves are about 30 to 40 cents each and there are plenty of handles to choose from between really cheap and really nice.
As others have said, unless you plan to really start providing your own meat, you probably will never need a plucker. But I'm a gadget person, and this thing just makes life easy. I process around 50 birds a year for my own freezer as well as help out family and friends with theirs. I bought the cheapest plucker I could get shipped to the house which turned out to be the CCOnly.com SP-1 starpluck. With shipping I think we still paid more than $700. There are cheaper alternatives like drill attachments and build yourself kits (Whizbang). I've had it for 2 growing seasons now and it works like a beast. I'll probably replace all my rubber fingers before my next batch in spring.
Edited by Nupe - 12/9/15 at 7:17am