You and me both. I'm in North Florida. I have some chicks I just hatched. Some of the boys will be my first attempt at capons. I bought all the tools though I think my spreader may not be strong enough. My oldest chicks are 1 week old. I will be weighing and trying to determine best age soon. I'm thinking 3-4 weeks old that should put them at about 12 oz. I'm willing to lose a few learning but I'd like to lose the least amount possible and do it the most humane way. I have practiced on some of the older boys I processed (after death). to get a better feel for what it looks like and using the fishing line tools and such. I haven't had the opportunity to practice on small chickens though and I cheated on my first one. I took out all the other inards and just practiced the incision and removal of testies. It isn't that hard with no other guts LOL.
You can find several links to at least watch it. This link is part 3. You will also need to watch 3 other links by the same person doing the surgery. Most of the videos you find are in different languages. Good luck!
Thanks Delisha. I have watched several plus read the two threads here that seem very helpful. I would love though to watch in person. There is something about being there. Also if you have a question you can get an answer. But good or bad. Ready or not. I'm going to try it in a few weeks when my birds get a little bigger. I think I'm going to try 2-3 on the young age and then try 2-3 each week or two to find what age I do best with. I have hatched out some of my own broiler chicks. I also have a few sex links where i can be sure they are boys.
The surgery really is not that difficult. I have done almost 100 birds at this point and learned a few things. I was unable to to find anyone to teach me so I ended up doing just as you have - read EVERYTHING I could find then took the plunge. I can offer you a few tips most of which you will see repeated on the other caponizing threads.
The part about practicing 1st on a dead bird is helpful primarily to get used to the anatomy - the same reason you want to see the procedure live is the reason this is helpful - its one thing to look a pics and another to cut the bird and see for yourself (although everything is right where everyone says).
I went to a friend who had some 28 day old CX's that were already on the way to process and purchased 6 from him. This was the smartest thing I did during my education. Since my capons are all heritage breeds and space was limited I wanted something that I had really no vested interest in to work on. Also CX's are very large (compared with the pure breeds) at this age which is helpful in building ones confidence. I highly recommend trying to procure some to start on and to my great surprise I only lost 2 of the 1st birds.
Confidence is key - for myself and the other people I have now worked with and taught I noticed that they as I were very timid about making the incisions at 1st. If you watch the videos you will notice that ALL the experienced caponizers make quick incisions once they find the spot between the last 2 ribs. You need to apply firm pressure and not be afraid - much easier said than done - but again like almost all the books say once you do it a few times you will understand and get the hang of it - the key is to stay at it and try to not be timid.
The right tools - the NASCO set is junk IMHO. I purchased several vintage sets from ebay and assembled my own. the vintage sets have all you need and good cheap scalpels are available from Amazon they make things much easier. I haven't bought hte Chinese spreader, but a 3.5" Gelpi retractor (just do a google search) is fantastic and also very reasonable. I chose to suture although most say it is not required and it certainly takes more time - I think it just feels right for me at this time - suture kits are also available on Amazon cheaply (look for expired or vet sets if you choose to use and get a larger size needle)
I make 2 cuts - most of the books, phamplets and videos show both testicles being removed through 1 cut. I have removed both this way too, but almost all my losses (as they say you will have a few) occurred when I hit the artery you will have read about next to the lower organ. Tearing the second membrane is also difficult and time consuming, I just find it easier to put 3-5 quick stitches and flip the bird over. Also the birds I have done with a single cut had a much higher slip percentage.
Make sure to take out ALL of the organ(s) and the thread like vein that is attached - otherwise just as they say that little bit of material will indeed regrow into a slip (which do taste just fine by the way, but its frustrating to feed them until you can spot the "rooster" development) and again you'll understand all this very quickly once you get started. Also some testes look different than others - I have now seen black, grey, off white in addition to the more common yellowish ones. Some are a little bigger than others or not as close to the spine as others even on the same breeds. Different breeds mature at different rates size and weight is better to use than age for the when to do question 1-1.5 lbs is where I found to be the easiest for my birds ( Naked Necks, Delawares, La Fleche, Dark Cornish).
Like many others have said it is much easier than you might think. You will have some losses, but probably much less than you think if you simply follow the instructions from any of the old material. Chickens are much tougher than I ever thought. I think 97% of the difficulty is really just working up the nerve to cut into a living thing and to do so forcefully without overdoing it at the same time (just firm pressure like a good handshake and a sharp instrument).
I'm harvesting my spring birds now (just had a bad day when I tore the breast skin while plucking one of the Delawares) and am very glad I took the leap. The birds just keep getting tastier as they mature (now at 7 months). I have been harvesting progressively and am now about to try the first ones that have been on a milk/ corn diet for 3 weeks now - YUM
I plan to take the plunge myself. Everyone, localy that I have mentined it to has asked if I knew how to do it. My responce has been, I will in about 3 weeks. My birds are 2 days old and I have my antique kit from e-bay.
I like the idea of purchasing some practice roosters.