Caponized cockerels still acting like roosters

Oct 29, 2020
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Hey! This is my first time posting on here so hopefully I'm posting this in the right place.
Some quick background on the situation:
This past summer my family and I started with backyard chickens. We originally got six chicks to try and have the best chance getting a decent amount if pullets. Two turned out to be cockerels but we decided to keep them until they started causing problems. From the start we had accepted any cockerels would most likely have to be sent off to be culled. We didn't want aggressive roosters attacking us or harassing our hens by trying to mate them. There was also quite a possible chance some of the hens were related to the roosters, as where we bought them from had quite a few hens but only two roosters to father the chicks. We didn't want them inbreeding, nor did we want to deal with raising/hatching/selling chicks so soon after starting with chickens. As they got older the cockerels began getting more aggressive to each other and the hens. One of them, the more dominant one, was even getting aggressive towards people. We weren't overly attached to them but did think it was unfair how many male chickens/chicks get culled. Then we found out about caponizing and asked around our area if any vets would be able to do the surgery. One vet said they'd do it but it was they're first time attempting something like this so there was no guarantee they'd make it through. However, they both made it out perfectly fine. They seemed to have settled down, there was less crowing at first but in the past few weeks the less dominant one has started crowing quite often. All still seemed to be well, they still guarded some food and water dishes from the hens and would peck at them, but not overly aggressively, just more in a dominant sort of way like the hens are to each other. They're rooster like aggression had went down quite a bit but they still seemed to be on top of the pecking order.

Until now.
Recently both boys have been starting to bully the hens more as well as have stare downs with each other, something they did often before their surgery. Both of them, especially the dominant one, have been doing a sort of side shuffle tap dancing movement when the hens go near them, especially if they are eating food. The dominant one also does it to me when I put my foot or hand near him. If the hen, or I, don't back off they give a hard peck. This was very common for them before they're surgery but I thought caponization would put a stop to it, and it did, for a few weeks. They've both been crowing about the same amount as they did before the surgery. I've heard from some sources that caponization stops this behaviour but others say it doesn't or depends on the bird. I'm totally fine with the crowing so its not a big issue, just wanted to include that incase it helps with identifying the problem. Then yesterday evening when I was letting them free range the less dominant rooster mounted one of the hens. Currently only two hens are laying, the one that started first (I'll call her the white hen) is nearing her tenth egg and started a few weeks ago. The second one (I'll call her the orange hen, a buff orpington mix) just started a few days ago and has only laid three so far. About maybe a week or two ago the less dominant rooster sort of jumped at the white hen, who was laying eggs frequently at the time. He sort of tried to jump on her back but I dismissed the idea that it was mounting her was intention as he had been caponized and not showed any interest in doing so before. He had grabbed her comb while jumping at her but she got away unharmed. Now back to the other day, he mounted the orange hen who only just started laying. He grabbed her comb with his beak just as he had done earlier to the white hen, which makes me reconsider his intention behind the first attack. I shooed him away before he did much but I was still fairly upset about his actions. So far its only the less dominant one who has attempted mounting the hens, to my knowledge anyway. We don't want chicks, inbreeding, or our roosters injuring or pulling the hens feathers out. We thought all this would be taken care of by caponizing them as well as the aggression towards both the hens, each other and people. They had their surgery just about a month ago, so I'd understand if they need more time to get the testosterone out of their systems but that doesn't explain why they calmed down for almost a month and are just starting to act up again now. Even if something had went wrong in the surgery and a testicle had somehow been missed, I'm not sure that would explain why they are only starting to act like roosters again recently after a month of being pretty chill, for chickens anyway.

Does anyone here have experience with capons and have any idea why this might be happening? If the aggression and mounting keeps up or gets worse we may have to go back to considering culling or rehoming them. I apologize for such a long post but I didn't want to leave out any details that may be useful. We don't intent to have them butchered unless they become a serious issue, as all our chickens are pets. They are around almost five months old, if that helps.
 
Oct 29, 2020
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I'm not experienced in capons, but that seems very likely to me. Also, if a cockerel if crowing before being caponized, they will likely keep doing so after having the surgery done. I hope someone more experienced comes along.
And welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :welcome :welcome
Thank you! We did expect them to keep crowing afterwards but it isn't an issue where we live so it isn't much of a problem.
 
Oct 29, 2020
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:welcome I'm concerned that all testicular tissue may not have been removed. The more mature the bird was when caponizing took place the more 'male' characteristics it will retain.
That's one of the things we were concerned about... As I mentioned, it was the veterinarian's first time performing this type of surgery so its quite possible that is the case. Thanks for the information!
 
Oct 29, 2020
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:welcome I'm concerned that all testicular tissue may not have been removed. The more mature the bird was when caponizing took place the more 'male' characteristics it will retain.
If that were the case would they still be able to reproduce? If some of the tissue was left in would the testicles regrow or is the bit of tissue itself enough to make them act like/be a rooster?
 

sourland

Broody Magician
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If that were the case would they still be able to reproduce? If some of the tissue was left in would the testicles regrow or is the bit of tissue itself enough to make them act like/be a rooster?
I guess it would depend upon whether the tissue and sperm transport structure was intact. I would guess that they would not be able to reproduce, but that is a GUESS.
 

Trisseh

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As @sourland has mentioned, my guess would be that if the cause is residual testicular tissue, then the possibility exists of them being able to still procreate. This would be my assumption based on what you’re describing. Any testicular tissue left behind will produce testosterone, and if enough of the tubules are left intact to create sperm, there’s that possibility.

I have no personal experience with caponized roosters, but there are some things that become learned behaviour that have nothing to do with hormones in other species. Castrated camelids like llamas and alpacas will continue to perform male behaviours and mate with females, which is cause for concern as they can and do cause infections from repeated breeding. Some cats will still spray and fight and engage in other tomcat behaviours after they’re neutered. Stallions that have been used for breeding and are castrated later will sometimes retain behaviours and some will even still attempt to (and sometimes be marginally successful) breed with mares. 🤷🏼‍♀️
 

RoostersAreAwesome

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We don't want chicks, inbreeding, or our roosters injuring or pulling the hens feathers out. We thought all this would be taken care of by caponizing them as well as the aggression towards both the hens, each other and people. They had their surgery just about a month ago, so I'd understand if they need more time to get the testosterone out of their systems but that doesn't explain why they calmed down for almost a month and are just starting to act up again now. Even if something had went wrong in the surgery and a testicle had somehow been missed, I'm not sure that would explain why they are only starting to act like roosters again recently after a month of being pretty chill, for chickens anyway.

Does anyone here have experience with capons and have any idea why this might be happening? If the aggression and mounting keeps up or gets worse we may have to go back to considering culling or rehoming them. I apologize for such a long post but I didn't want to leave out any details that may be useful. We don't intent to have them butchered unless they become a serious issue, as all our chickens are pets. They are around almost five months old, if that helps.
You won’t get chicks just because you have roosters. In order for chicks to hatch without an incubator, a hen has to go broody and sit on the eggs almost all day for 21 days straight. If you just collect the eggs within three days of being laid and identify and prevent broody hens from sitting, then there’s no risk of chicks.
As for inbreeding, most breeders on here use inbreeding (usually called line breeding) to strengthen traits in their birds. Inbreeding doesn’t really negatively affect chickens, though it can cause fertility problems.
I suggest, if you really want to keep your roosters, to separate both of them together away from the hens. You can try to add them back later, once they’ve matured, or keep them together in a rooster-only flock.
 

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