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Cockerel Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jnbelknap, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. jnbelknap

    jnbelknap Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had two broody hens over the last few months. I hatched four with my first, and it turns out three are cockerels (12 weeks old). My second hatch was with six, and at least two are cockerels that I can tell right now (only 4 weeks old).

    My question is: what do you do with the cockerels? I have tried and tried to find homes, but I only found one a home. I have at least four more. I have put up ads for free Easter Egger cockerels, but I have had no response.

    If I cannot find them homes, I am trying to wrap my head around using them for meat. When I first started with chickens a year ago, I didn't think I'd have a problem, but I have grown very attached to my flock of 20. They are my pets. How did you get over this internal fight to get to using them for meat? I want to be able to, but is it possible? What was your experience?

    Also, is Easter Egger meat any good? At what age should I process should I find the courage?
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    It is a little tricky. Logically you know this is responsible, emotionally you can feel guilty. I start to distance myself mentally from them, saying to myself, these are the ones I am going to cull. I don't pet them, I distance myself from them.

    Secondly, I concentrate on liking the flock, and I like a peaceful flock. Too many roosters and things get tense.

    Thirdly and most importantly, get a friend to to the deed with you. Me and my sister in law did it the first time, we felt like pioneer women, and often had a case of the nervous giggles. We googled it, and followed the directions.

    Truthfully, I like adding new birds, and chickens in my country are not long lived, I can have episodes of intense predator problems. For some reason, the !#@$!%$^% predator ALWAYS gets my favorites. Ugh, but you kind of get hardened up, either that, or you don't keep the birds going.

    I hate it, but I love to hatch under a broody hen. I won't tolerate a mean rooster, and you can get them. Too many roosters are hard on the dynamics of the flock.

    It is either harvest, or just have hens and no chicks. I love having the chicks more than I hate harvesting.

    Mrs K
     
    2 people like this.
  3. jnbelknap

    jnbelknap Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the advice, Mrs. K. I appreciate hearing a veteran approach to this! I need to start distancing myself. When do you cull the cockerels? What age? I have two that are 12 weeks now and at least two more at only 4 weeks.
     
  4. jarvis

    jarvis Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another option is taking them to a nearby swap or small animal auction? Someone at the swap might just impulse buy one or buy them for cheap to butcher themselves? EEs always sell pretty good around here at auction no matter the gender .. ?
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I know that people do go to auctions and swaps, and I am not a big advocate of quarantine because most people only pretend to quarantine and most back yard or hobby poultiers are not set up to quarantine. But I STRONGLY recommend not bring birds home that have been at a auction or swap..... those birds have been exposed to all the birds there.

    As for the op's question, if they are dual purpose birds about 5 to 6 months is optimum or when they start really upsetting your hens, or they get mean.

    Mrs K
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Culling is hard. It's one of the most difficult aspects of keeping poultry. You will find that, although it's never pleasant, once the head is separated from the body, it becomes meat instead of the rooster it once was. Is there maybe a butcher within a reasonable drive who will process your birds for a reasonable fee? I've found that I can get birds processed in my state for $3 - $3.50 each. None of those places are closer than an hour drive. But, given the time it takes me... (I'm incredibly slow) and the mess involved. I just might go that route next time. I find that the mean roosters are the easiest ones to cull!
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    It is hard, even tho going into chickens butchering for table meat was a goal...having the right gear set up ahead of time can help make it go more smoothly.....
    .......but in the long run, it was gratifying to have dealt with the 'problem' responsibly and have food when I was done.

    I looked a dozens of butchering threads and videos for weeks before getting the gumption to do the deed.
    Tho I learned something from most of them, this tutorial was my favorite of the detailed pics of of the jugular cut and gutting.

    I also kind of journaled my harvesting experiences in this thread:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/870865/first-harvest-thank-you
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We just did our final cockerel cull of the year Saturday... We had four EE/Blue orpingtons that were 12 weeks old and two roosters that were a bit older (one was 10 months and the other was 5 months) It is never easy but something we must do because as we increase or replace our flock we will continue to hatch out males. Out of the four only one was hard for me... He was a beauty but I had already made my decision on who stays and who goes. Typically we don't have a problem giving roosters away, There is actually a little Chinese women who will take my excess anytime but why take the time to feed and care for them only to have someone else benefit from my hard work. Like was mentioned before, read and study before you commit to the deed, have everything set up.. I separate them into cages the night before and with hold feed until butchering, we don't take a lot of time feeling bad. The deed is done quickly with reverence for a life taken to sustain us and ours. I am thankful that I am able to raise what we consume. Our animals are loved and cared for and in turn they care for our needs.

    That said, the 5 month old cockerel weighed in at around 4-5 pounds dressed out... the younger ones not so much, maybe around 2+ pounds.. we skinned the littles because for some reason although plucking was easy pin feathers were a bit harder to remove but not with the older one. We decided next round we will let them grow to atleast 16 weeks..
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    At 16 weeks or less, they are still grill, roast, bake worthy...anything older and you might need to just stew them instead.
     
  10. AmericanMom

    AmericanMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agreed, the older the tougher they are, bones are larger etc.... We call them Chicken and noodles, Enchilada's, pot pies... :)
     

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