Info Overload - Question on Caponizing and Roos

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by LilRedRoo, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I read as much as my mind would allow and I think I over-indulged in data. We are trying meat birds for our first time with a baker's dozen red broilers (RIR/Cornish cross). They mature just a hair slower than the typical white broiler, so now I'm intruiged by the topic of caponizing. THe process seems a bit much for just a few, but I can't remember the "why" regarding the topic. What it the main reason someone would caponize? And if I choose NOT to caponize, what considerations will I be dealing with when it comes time to process the males? We plan to do half at week 8, and the rest week 9 (that may change base on how they grow this month).
     
  2. forgetful

    forgetful Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There's a very good thread somewhere on the forum on caponizing and the results from successive attempts. I believe the reasoning behind it is that a capon has the opportunity to grow longer and develop a better taste. Plus, they are more docile. I think the thread mentioned that good equipment is hard to come by, and you have to practice on already culled birds before attempting. If you don't capon, you'll simply have an extra organ to remove upon processing. I'm not sure how much earlier you'd have to process if you left the roosters intact.
     
  3. ChickenManTN

    ChickenManTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is not based on personal experience. According to what I have read, if roosters are not killed before they reach sexual maturity (when they develop spurs and start crowing) then they will have a strong "gamey" flavor. They aren't fully filled out at this age. Caponizing allows them to grow to full size without compromising flavor quality.
     
  4. BCMaraniac

    BCMaraniac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Be prepared for more overload, but I will try to describe the caponization rationale as best I can. There are definite advantages.

    First, let me say that a Cornish cross is not really a candidate for caponization. They grow so fast that they don't mature sexually by the time they are butchered. In addition, they are difficult to caponize because of the body shape and fat under the skin. The RIR and other dual purpose cockerels are more appropriate candidates

    The performance of caponization goes back thousands of years, particularly in China.

    Caponization of a cockerel removes sex hormones from the bird, resulting in a docile bird.

    Caponization prevents all of the secondary sex characteristics of the bird.....large combs and wattles, tough stringy meat, almost all crowing, aggressive behavior toward other cockerels, and sexual aggression toward pullets and hens.

    An intact cockerel, as it develops sexual maturity focuses his energy on running around, fighting with other cockerels, chasing hens, and breeding. A capon focuses all of its energy on eating, growing, and accumulating muscle and fat within the muscle.

    An intact cockerel must be butchered by 20 weeks of age generally to preserve the quality of the meat. After that time the meat becomes tough and stringy because of the effects of the hormones. Many young roosters at this age have achieved bone growth, but have not put on a lot of flesh on those bones(think teenage boy who grows 6 inches in a summer and is skinny as a rail)

    A capon grows more slowly, maintains and continues to accumulate muscle and fat, and can actually be kept up to a year or longer if desired, with the ideal time of butchering 8-10 months. The end result is a larger meatier bird that has tender succulent flesh. A 16 week old capon may actually weigh less than a young rooster of the same age, but by the time they are 32-36 weeks old, the capon will most likely weigh more than the intact rooster, and the flesh will be more tender and succulent.

    Depending on the breed of the bird, a capon can end up being the size of a small turkey. There are reports of a Jersey giant capon that weighed upwards of 20 pounds.....I can't even imagine! Capons are very popular at Thanksgiving/Christmas and are usually quite expensive. There is only one commercial capon grower in the US.

    Capons can be housed together in closer quarters if need be. They can also be butchered as needed, rather than at a specific age. This is great in the event of some major catastrophe that results in no freezers available, or if you just want a large fresh chicken that will feed your family and guests.

    I began caponizing this year, and though I have had slips(incompletely removed testicles, which regenerate and cause the birds to begin developing sexual characteristics, albeit at an older age. The quality of their meat is somewhere between that of a rooster and a capon. So those get butchered when the testicular regeneration becomes apparent.

    I have capons that are 23 weeks old, have small pale combs, very docile and sweet. They are growing, eating, and doing great. I will most likely butcher them when they are 8-9 months old.

    Here is a link to a caponization thread that gives a lot of information:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/675898/graphic-pics-of-my-day-learning-to-caponize

    I hope this answers a few questions.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. LilRedRoo

    LilRedRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much for the concise version of the rationale. I happen to have a teenage son, so I laughed when I read your comparison! I get the picture loud and clear :)

    This was definitely a great help. While Melinda and I are going to have Cornish X once in a while, we also let our broody layers hatch out replacement chicks, which are 50-75% RIR depending on the hen. And the times we've culled a little roo I can see what you mean about the bone development before the meat development in an intact male.

    Thanks so much!

    Darren
     
  6. BCMaraniac

    BCMaraniac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Darren,

    You are most welcome.

    One thing I forgot to mention about the Cornish X birds. They are the bird used to make capons commercially, and I think they are harvested at 16-18 weeks if I remember correctly, but they are caponized VERY young by very experienced caponizers. I don't think we would feel comfortable caponizing a 2-week-old CX....Could we even sex them at that age? I would think they would have to vent sex or feather sex to be sure, and I don't know how difficult feather sexing would be.....I've got look into that and separate mine out early.

    Donna
     
  7. ChickenManTN

    ChickenManTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm pretty sure that I've seen many testes in mechanically eviscerated Cornish X fryers. I don't believe that any commercial birds are caponized. They mature so rapidly that there would be no reason to do so.

    Please forgive me if I'm wrong, but that is my understanding of how they raise the commercial Cornish X.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  8. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are planning to slaughter at 8 or 9 weeks, caponizing is totally pointless and unnecessary--they won't even have begun to sexually mature at that point, so it won't make the slightest difference. You'll just put them through a lot of stress and probably lose a few, all for nothing. Makes no sense whatsoever. If anything, I'd think the stress of the surgery and recovery would retard their growth, giving you a smaller slaughter weight at the same age.

    Caponizing is rather used on cockerels that you intend to grow out to roaster age, which is usually well over six months (https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ats-from-historic-chicken-breeds#post_3473262). Cockerels mature at six months or so, but caponizing prevents them from developing the normal secondary sex characteristics at that age, thereby allowing them to grow bigger, fatter, and stay tender longer--and also act more hen-like, which would be very helpful from a management standpoint as well, as anyone who has tried to keep a coop full of roosters can understand. I've heard that results are more satisfactory using the large, old-fashioned dual-purpose breeds than egg breeds or modern breeds.

    With your modern meat birds caponizing is unnecessary because they reach similar weights in a fraction of that time (though they don't have time to develop much flavor).

    That's the gist of it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  9. BCMaraniac

    BCMaraniac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is a copy and paste regarding commercial capons in an article from the University of Kentucky:

    Capon production
    Males from any breed of chicken can be caponized though there are some that have gained favor. These include Jersey Giants, Brahmas, Orpingtons, Cornish, Plymouth Rocks and Cochins. Today, however, commercially grown capons a typically produced using the Cornish x Plymouth Rock cross typically used by the commercial chicken meat industry.

    Here is the link if you are interested:


    www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/factsheets/capons.pdf
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  10. ChickenManTN

    ChickenManTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That must be the reason for those freakishly huge chicken strips some restaurants are selling now, and the short-lived KFC "mega leg".
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013

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