First of all, LindaB I am truly sorry to hear of your loss. I never know what to say, as words seem inadequate.
Now, on to the subject of capons versus fryers versus the Cornish-Rock fatty babies in the grocery. We need to specify which cockerels we are discussing, because the baby chunks in the grocery are a whole different chicken from a 12 week old Wyandotte cockerel (This is my example, so these are my breeds!). I have raised up a few batches of those Cornish-Rock crosses, and I just cannot personally do that anymore. Even when I had the little chubs out on grass, and moving their tractor every day for fresh grass, there was still a difference in taste between them and the other breeds. Don't get me wrong - those nuggets got enough exercise to make some impressive Logan's Runs. I am still grateful the neighbor's kids weren't there with a camera to record the one pullet who ran *just* fast enough to avoid being picked up. Something I noticed about the CR nuggets, and it was particularly obvious on the last two, is that if you don't slaughter them by a reasonable time they start hit all the infamous health problems, even with a good amount of exercise, fresh grass, and whatever bugs they can catch. They do put on an impressive amount of meat, even if it is not overly flavorful.
The Wyandotte cockerels (or your personal dual purpose or meat breed of choice) get quite flavorful by the time they start crowing, but are often still on the lanky/scrawny side when I finally get tired of the normal cockerel attitude, so I will be caponizing during the 8-12 week old window on the smaller 2/3 of each hatch until I get enough weights for that age to establish a "normal range" and a make-or-break point.
So far hubby and I have only ate a couple slips, not a full capon yet. Uno - the hatchery GLW capon hatched in January, and the only full capon for that batch - will be holiday dinner. We just need to co-ordinate with my father-in-law on which holiday he'll be featured on the big china platter. The slip who nannied some chicks, Cappy, was smoked then crock potted until tender, and I recall posting something here about how exquisite he tasted. All he had was a bit of brining and a couple hours' smoking for seasoning, so the rest of the wonderful flavor was him. (NB: Pollux, the other full capon and one of Luann'es Ams, is nannying one chick right now and will be given some more soon. Castor showed a slip, and was also very tasty.)
I figure since I am breeding, then I might as well be caponizing. Perhaps this winter, hubby will make me a screened-in room to do work like caponizing and processing carcasses, away from the mosquitoes and biting yellow flies, and with a roof to keep out the rain, falling acorns, and whatnot. Perhaps, the two people here who expressed interest in learning to caponize will make it out on a morning where 20% chance of rain doesn't mean five hours' downpour. I could use some accomplices.
Desertchic, since you are interested in caponzing, I say keep trying. I say that as someone who has only two full capons out of 17 attempts, and also someone who has not (yet!) eaten a full capon. The slips have been good enough for me to keep trying.
George, if you are wanting to at least try a slip, I need a week's notice for proper resting and brining. Potential couch-surfers are given fair warning about how much my dog loves company. If you want to risk that, bring rain gear.