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What To Do With Unwanted Cockerels

If you do indeed win (or, rather, lose) the chicken lottery and end up with a cockerel (a male chicken under a year old) on your hands, what do...
  1. marlyn5
    Yikes, one of my chicks is a cockerel! What do I do?

    by Becky Flanagan

    Remember when you bought your chicks from the feed store? They came with a 99% chance of being a hen. And, like most backyard chicken keepers, having hens was all that was in the plan. You imagined a small flock that provided your family with fresh, wholesome eggs each morning. What you probably did not imagine was that of the hundred chicks in the cage, you would go home with the one rooster. If you do indeed win (or, rather, lose) the chicken lottery and end up with a cockerel (a male chicken under a year old) on your hands, what do you do?

    99% chance of being a pullet

    First, decide if keeping a rooster is even an option for you. Many suburban areas allow backyard chickens, but with certain conditions. These conditions often include a ban on roosters. If you can legally keep a rooster, there are some things to consider. Your rooster will be loud, and possibly aggressive, and the eggs your hens lay will be fertile. On the positive side, though, that rooster’s entire mission in life, other than populating your backyard with his offspring, will be to keep his flock safe (so that he can populate your backyard with his offspring). Also, one rooster per flock. If you already have a rooster, in order to keep peace, one has to go.

    Ameraucana cockerel

    If your local ordinances do not allow roosters, or if having a rooster just isn’t for you, you have some decisions to make. Some may say, what decision, as visions of fried chicken dance through their heads. Other, however, cannot imagine eating the chicken they have raised and will want to re-home the cockerel. Be realistic about what is happening to all of those unwanted roosters. Most end up on a dinner plate. Even if you are not comfortable eating your rooster, perhaps you’re okay if someone else does. If your chicks came from a feed store, call the store and see if they know someone who will take your rooster. My local feed store will take back your rooster and will give him to people who humanely kill the animals for food. Finding a home for a rooster becomes more challenging if you are determined that he lives out his life free-ranging on a farm. Ask your friends in more rural settings if they have room for a rooster. The most important thing is to make sure your rooster will not be used for cock fighting. To avoid this, be careful about advertising a free rooster. Some people suggest charging a nominal fee for the rooster to discourage someone from taking the animal for fighting. Ask a lot of questions of before turning the cockerel over and insist on visiting the chicken’s new home.

    Getting rid of a rooster may leave a space in your flock that you’d like to fill with a new bird. Chickens are not solitary birds and are said to do best with at least one other chicken. If you started with two chicks and suddenly find yourself with one, you will need to get a new pullet. Introducing a new chick needs to be done carefully. Do not underestimate the power of chicken pecking order. Only introduce a new bird after carefully planning on how this will be done and after the cockerel has been removed. Your sweet little cockerel will surprise you with his aggressiveness if you throw a new pullet in the coop. Establishing pecking order with pullets isn’t pretty either, but it’s a heck of a lot more gentle than when a rooster is involved. BackYard Chickens has plenty of advice on introducing a new chicken to your flock. Study up before taking the plunge.

    The good news is that there are some things you can do to avoid getting a rooster in the first place. Obviously, buy sexed chicks instead of straight run. Sexed chickens have been inspected and have a high chance of being a hen. With a straight run, you pay less but have a 50% chance of getting a rooster. If even the 99% chance in of getting a hen when buying a sexed chicken isn’t enough for you, buy a sex-linked chicken. Sex-linked chickens are a cross between two breeds. The hens are born one color and the roosters another. So, from the moment they hatch, you know with certainty what you’re getting. An additional bonus, sex-linked chickens are usually hardy, egg-laying machines.

    Black sex-linked pullet

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  1. Devonne Short
    I love my rooster too! He so so sweet! I wish there was a good home for him but I cant find one? He is a croad langshan which are great breeds. Im keeping him now until I get a complaint?
  2. garagegirl
    The circle of life must go on and they make great chicken and noodles on a cold day. I am a city girl who once upon a time wold never eat brown eggs or had a thought of omg how can you eat something that you feed everyday. Five years ago I turned country and now having tasted the yummiest food ( that you have grown yourself ) I find it hard to eat some foods from the store ( not knowing where it came ) I do not doing any of the killing I have not been able to bring myself to it. Good luck on your search . Try putting flyers up at your local Co-op or farm store if there is one close
  3. Buddingwisdom
    Same boat as many of you. Beautiful and talented rooster but the neighbours are complaining. Need to find a new home for him fast but no leads from Craigslist or other posting. How do you crack into the farm communities if you don't know anyone who lives there?
  4. Sswanee48
    Has anyone tried the rooster collar that the Chicken chick sells, at least I think it's her. I would like to know if they work. I would like to have a rooster in my flock.
  5. MelissaZeno
    This is great thank you.
  6. Family Farming
  7. CentralOregon
    @gypsychicken Um, millions?
  8. gypsychicken
    Learn how to humanly butcher, just as our Grandmothers did, and our ancestors for 10,000 years. A skill worth millions.
  9. CentralOregon
    Most places will guarantee 90% pullets, so if you get more than 1 cockerel out of 10 chicks, first get a refund for the extra cockerels. Then the extra cockerels can go on the dinner table. For the double-win.
  10. Nashonii
    I am looking for humane ways of culling roosters. Every time I hatch eggs, 3 out of 5 are male. My husband gets so depressed killing them, that I can't ask him to do it anymore....but what to do? Is there a better way of culling we haven't thought of? (He uses an axe.). Does anyone use anything like dry-ice to dedrease to O2 before culling?

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