A humane way to handle male chicks?


In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 19, 2008
I am new to raising chickens and to BYC, though I've been studying up on both for months.

I just received my shipment of 7 day-old pullets from Ideal Poultry, and though I specifically and repeatedly requested "no males for warmth", I ended up with EIGHT male chicks.

Thankfully, all 15 chicks arrived in good health.

But now I'm stuck with 8 roosters that I absolutely can not raise in my small backyard in Berkeley - not to mention the fact that I'd only planned to raise 7 chickies, not more than a dozen! I would like to handle them in an ethical manner, give them away to a good home if possible, but I don't believe there is much demand for roosters in my urban area.

I also know that even if I go through the hassle of returning them to Ideal, they'll simply be terminated. I feel like I'm now obligated to treat them humanely.

I'd love any advice or tips on what to do.

I agree with speckledhen, best way to do it


edited to add that I just found out that I can't put the chickens on freecycle in my area
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It's a real shame when hatcheries put folks who consider chickens as pets in that position. Eight roos out of 15 as "packing peanuts"? That is excessive. Wow, I'm glad I never deal with the big hatcheries. We have plenty of local chicken farmers thankfully and a few folks who live close to me on BYC.

I agree, Craigslist is the place to put them if your locale doesn't include a large population of chicken owners, although this day and age you'd be surprised. But there is no guarantee anybody who takes them will not process them, if that's what you're trying to avoid.

Good luck!
Well, hatcheries don't really know who they are sending too and most have the option to request no packing peanuts in exchange for insurance or the like. Sending off a hand full of boys here and there at least gives them a chance at a life, even if their purpose is a meal, vs being destroyed as a day old.
You have options.

1. There is nothing unethical about eating them. Feed them, let them grow to about 12 weeks, then eat them. If you have room for 7 hens, you have room for 15 chicks. This would be a perfectly responsible and humane thing to do. Excess cockerels have always been eaten.

2. Try and give them away. To me, this is option 1 but somebody else does it. Perfectly ethical and humane too. The earlier you do this the cheaper for you. It is possible that somebody needs a roo, but doubt you will find homes for 8. You can only try though, and this can be combined with 1.

3. Straight cull them now. Maybe PETA would disagree, for what that is worth, but you didn't ask for them, they were superfluous to the hatchery, it is ethical to simply kill them. Whether it is humane to do it is in how you do it.

To me, as long as you keep them away from cockfighters, you are being ethical and humane in any choice you make. The other no-no is releasing them into some wilderness.
I think they were mostly asking how to do option 3. Which I wouldn't know. I listed my extra roo on craigslist. No takers yet but I plan to also put some flyers at the feedstore. The difference in my situation though is that I can keep roos for however long I need to. My guess would be the op has limited brooder space and if the roos start crowing early before being old enough to butcher there might be trouble. Most places in city limits have laws against roosters for that reason.
Thank you all so much for your great suggestions and compassion.

I'm going to call around to rural feed stores and also see if I can find any interest on craigslist. I hope to find a home for them as pets.

PKeeler, I really appreciate your perspective on the alternatives (particularly 1 and 2). I agree that eating them would be ethical, particularly when raised humanely. It's something I've considered a lot since deciding to raise layers - whether it's in fact the most honorable way to end their lives when that time comes. I just don't know if I have the stomach for it...

After spending the morning reading about the horrible things that the large hatcheries do to male chicks, I do feel sort of honored that I get to give these 8 guys a chance at a better life.

I'll post photos of all the cuties later.

thanks again.
sadly the male roosters really go get screwed in this game...

But many you could find one. Craigslist.com is a good place, as well a Bestfarmbuy.com, or Hoobly.com
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