Dealing with "excess" males?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mangobingo, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. mangobingo

    mangobingo In the Brooder

    Aug 18, 2010
    I wasn't sure where to post this question, so apologies if it's not appropriate here. My "problem" is that I've really enjoyed keeping chickens so far and I'm interested in expanding to new breeds and/or species. Trouble is, if I order only females from a hatchery then I suspect the excess males will be gassed or incinerated or whatever on hatching (which I don't think is OK), and if I breed my own chickens then I'll end up with more roosters than I know what to do with. I tend to get really attached to my birds, so I'm having trouble with the idea of killing them myself. As far as I can tell, the options are (1) stick with my current chickens until they die of old age, (2) learn to deal with culling birds, (3) find a market for the boys, or (4) raise a species - geese? - that pairs up to mate, so the cocks don't fight and the 50:50 sex ratio isn't a problem.

    Any advice about option 4? I have 5 acres in the tropics, can let the flock free range all year, and could provide a pond for waterfowl. I'd be open to various species for their eggs, personalities, and help in the garden. Have others had experience with options 2 and 3? It's not that I think it's morally wrong to humanely kill birds that have had a good life, I'm just not sure I personally could do it. Thanks!
  2. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Songster

    Oct 18, 2014
    Well, i butcher my animals for the freezer. i don't mind doing it because i know that they have had a wonderful life free ranging and being chickens :) My family likes meat, i i would much rather use my chickens to feed us rather that buying the chicken at the store. The ones in factory's are packed so tight they can barely move and the dead ones are right there rotting on the floor. I don't want to support that kind of animal cruelty, so that makes killing the males a ton easier. If you can't do it yourself, there are places that do it sometimes, or you could try to find a fellow chicken keeper that can come and do it (You would have to pay of course).

    Finding homes for roosters is really hard, because so many people have extras. you won't sell them if they are expensive, and if the they are free, alot of people will get them to eat.

    another option if you want to keep them as pets (which most can't do, i just wanted to throw this idea out there) you could do a rooster coop. If you keep them out of sight and sound of the girls, most roo's will live together just fine. I had a coop like this where i kept my show and breeding roosters (I would put a boy with a girl in their own modified barn stall when i wanted a certain mix of eggs for hatching) for a long time till we moved. I only had one boy that i had to kill because he was just really mean. All the roosters were different breeds, so it was really pretty, but they were far out...20 roosters all crowing at 6 in the morning would not make my parents happy, lol :).
    1 person likes this.
  3. hiddenflock

    hiddenflock Chirping

    Geese can be good garden birds, but do not lay many eggs, only 20-50 a year. However, the eggs are large, about equal to three chicken eggs. Some ganders may need more than one hen, but our geese are fine as a pair. Processing roosters can be hard, and if you cannot do it, you will likely find someone near you who can. Not all hatcheries kill extra male chicks, they try to sell them in assortments, give them away, or sell them at an auction. If you decide to go the st. run route and process the males, know that it seems so much worse before you do it than after you do.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
  4. sdm111

    sdm111 Free Ranging

    May 21, 2013
    S. louisiana
    If your gonna raise chickens your gonna have to learn to deal with culling or selling or giving to people that are gonna eat them. Sorry it just is what it is
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've picked door number 2, so far. A great life, and one really bad day. I'd rather eat my birds than factory farmed animals any day. Yes, it's hard, but especially once the feathers are gone, it's no longer an animal, but meat.
  6. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    We've picked also door number 2. I also wanted a humane death and the first couple were the hardest, partially because I wasn't confident in my abilities to kill an animal. It's become much easier, though I wouldn't say I take it lightly. There are many methods for killing chickens. We tried several and finally settled on one that seems the most humane to us. There's no getting around it, there is sure to be a short period of pain for an animal being killed and the method we use seems to be the shortest. I've also chosen to focus on my gratitude for the deep nourishment the meat of the animal will provide us, along with the mineral-rich bone broths.

    Something that has helped immensely has been to not get too attached to our birds. We do like them and enjoy them very much. But they're not pets to us...not like our dog is our pet. Our laying hens we are a little more pet-like with, but even still, they will end up in a soup pot in another 2-4 years. I could never fathom eating our dog. But we knew from the get-go that we would be eating the chickens' eggs and eventually them. A friend of mine suggested calling our chickens "soup, salad or sandwich" as a mental reminder that they will be on the dinner table one day. We don't call them by such names, but I do say it once in a while to myself to remind myself.

    I think making that distinction/decision...are they pets or a source of food, can make your decisions on what to do much easier.

    One other option for culling...find a friend who also has chickens who is the same predicament as you are. Swap cull their birds and they cull yours.
  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Mine are pets, every bit as much as any dog I've had. It's hard for them not to be when they can learn their names and simple commands and be trained quite readily. I have no problem with folks processing their extras, just never done it myself. I try to make sure I don't have many extras. I consider them both livestock and pets because they are originally here for our eggs, primarily, but they sure surprised us by their intelligence, after hearing they were dumb as rocks. Not true at all.

    I do not hatch much at all anymore, only with broody hens, so I don't have to deal with too many extra birds. Don't keep hatching if you have no contingency plans for your extras. I've luckily been able to rehome most all the extras over the past nine years, only culled one cockerel for aggression, sold a group of aging-out cockerels I couldn't rehome for $2 each to someone I knew was going to process them (I wasn't prepared to do so at that time).

    There have been times I've had trouble getting rid of even pullets, believe it or not. Yes, I've had to feed birds for longer than I wanted to from time to time, but since I have always bred males for good temperament, it's not been super difficult to rehome them. I use BYC as well as feed store bulletin boards to place ads.
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    You might be over thinking this, if you are running on free range, you probably are going to lose both roosters and hens. I plan and plan and then the predators change the whole idea.

    Personally, it was hard the first time I processed extra roosters. However, immediately my flock calmed down and was considerably more peaceful. They laid better when the flock is peaceful. I like a peaceful, happy flock and sometimes I have to remove birds to do this. That has become my goal, a happy flock. Sometimes birds do not work out in the flock, even if they are raised together. Sometimes one is severely injured or severely sick. I love having a flock, to have that, birds come in and go out.

    I don't know how many you have..... I keep about a dozen....... but not 12 exactly, sometimes during the summer, I get close to 15 with new chicks...... but come fall, those numbers have to come down. If you spend some time with your flock, you will find birds you really don't like for whatever reason, don't feel guilty about that. Extra roosters will really irritate your flock, don't feel guilty about that. They are chickens, they are going to act like chickens, and really they don't act or think like people.

    Mrs K
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Plans sure can change, can't they? I've never lost any to predators even free ranging, but then, the odds are my number will be up at some point.
  10. Amina

    Amina Songster

    Jul 12, 2013
    Raleigh, NC
    I am uncomfortable like you are with the idea that excess males at a hatchery are typically disposed of as day olds by throwing them into a grinder. :( I have no problem with the idea of animals being used for food, but I want them to have a good (even if short) life first, and then a quick, humane death.

    So I have been avoiding hatcheries, and either buying straight run day olds locally, or hatching my own. It took me a long time to work up to processing any chickens. You might find this thread useful like I did:

    It did help matters that the first rooster I needed to process turned into a real jerk... would run up and bite hard and then run away, for no reason. I got a bruised hand from him one day while collecting eggs. He wasn't even in the coop at the time, but when he saw me coming, he ran in the coop so he could be there to bite me when I opened the nest box door.

    My advice is to take your time making your decision. Read as much as you can (like the thread I linked to), watch videos of slaughter to familiarize yourself with it, and do some soul searching.
    1 person likes this.

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