Questions about capons...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by sydney13, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. sydney13

    sydney13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2010
    I am thinking of raising some heritage breeds this spring and keeping the pullets for eggs and caponizing the cockerels in order to grow some capon birds.
    Can anyone tell me which breeds are preferred for capons? Are the heavier breeds used more or are the faster growing, lighter breeds used more?
    I was also wondering if the birds still crow when they are caponized?
    Thanks [​IMG]
  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I know that they will grow well when caponized, but as for the rest, no idea.
  3. partsRheavy

    partsRheavy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2011
    Large traditional breeds work well especially if you free-range them to cut down on feed costs. The general concept would be to order (or set) a straight-run batch of chicks from a larger dual-purpose breed like Jersey giants, Brahmas, Langshans, Orpingtons.or maybe Barred Rocks. I think in the old-timey days they used large breeds rather than small fast-growing birds.

    The vent-sexing technique for baby chicks wasn't known until the mid-1930s so before that all orders of chicks were straight-run. There was always the question of what to do about excess roosters. That is where caponizing came in.

    Unless you're a good caponizer already be sure to expect some "foul-ups" with your first attempts at the procedure. This takes a lot of practice. If you can get someone with experience to show you, al the better. (In other words, you will probably wind up with some small broilers on your first caponizing day...) Despite the amazing survival of my first "victiim" I'm still at the "fowl-up" stage regarding caponizing skills. All the references I've seen emphasize the importance of being willing to practice this.

    It's very important to starve them in clean wire cages with no access to food for 24-30 h before doing the caponizing because if their guts are full of food you will have a difficult time finding the testicles. An idea is to put the birds on a clean plastic or metal table that you wash down every few hours so they don't have access to chicken-you-know-what or feathers. It's good to plan the procedure for a day that will have pleasant sunny weather. That way you will have the light to see what you are doing AND the birds won't be under weather-related stress.

    The birds that have been caponized successfully need to recover for about a week or so in a place that's rather quiet away from the main flock so they don't exert themselves too much and rip their wound back open. Chick starter crumbles and water possibly with a bit of electrolyte should work. Be nice and gentle with your newly nice-and-gentle capons!

    Then after that you can put the capons in with a free-range flock and the feed costs and time spent feeding etc. per bird will go down. You may want to mark the capons in some way so you know at a glance which ones they are. They might crow occasionally but unless they're "slips" they should be quieter than roosters.

    They will NOT produce meat as quickly as CornishX but they are a niche specialty meat variety appropriate to someone who is also using larger breeds for egg production/backyard flock.
  4. mountainvieworchards

    mountainvieworchards Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2009
    Corvallis, Oregon
    I have caponized some of my cockerels last year and again this year and know some others out here in the NW who are caponizing. Like was mentioned in the previous reply you want to work with breeds that produce large roosters. These are the cochins, jearsey giants, new hampshires, orpington, sussex, plymouth rocks and various crosses of these. You will be disappointed if you caponize a medium to small breed since they will not get very large. The capons grow large and the meat stays tender. I did 20 last year and five this year. They make a great roasting chicken after about 9 months. Last year I kept two of the Capons and used them as foster moms this spring with great results. They brood them wonderfully. Capons will not carryon like cockerals. They will only fight about as much as hens do to find their place in the pecking order. I have a capon that is about 20 months old and he does not back down from any rooster, but none of the roosters seem up to taking him on and since he doesn't look like a rooster or act like one they probably don't see any point in challenging him. He didn't crow all last year but this fall he learned to crow and maybe once every two weeks he will find a fence post and let rip with one crow.

    My advice is get the best tools you can (not Nasco), read as much of the old literature as you can, take time to make a caponizing table that can hold the birds. Practice on dead cockerels. Timing is important too young and it is hard and too old the testes are too large and slips are more common.

    Good luck it is worth learning caponising if you have lots of cockerels to feed. I taught myself to do it but would have loved to have someone demonstrate it to me.
  5. naillikwj82

    naillikwj82 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 30, 2011
    Olympic Peninsula, WA
    I've made 3 broilers in the past two weeks. I'm hoping to find a teacher in NW Washington.
  6. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    I would love to learn to caponize. I'm fine with surgery, and guts, but a little squeamish about just cutting into a live, un-anaesthetized bird with no practice and only the "book knowledge" of how it's done. About the closest thing I've got practice-wise is spaying a couple of already dead dogs. (I was an animal science major and my anatomy lab partner and I were really bored lol...) I keep hoping to find someone in my area that can teach me. I know one older man who has a degree in poultry science and has been a chicken man for decades, I asked him about it, and he said he'd never done it, but he was pretty sure he could figure it out if I wanted him to's not much more helpful. If I don't find anything more promising, I'll probably buy a set of tools and let him have a go at it, I'm pretty good at hatching roosters anyway. [​IMG]

    I think the dual-purpose type birds like Plymouth Rock and Orpingtons would be a good choice of breed. Obviously there's not much need for caponizing with Cornish Cross, since they get huge before they are sexually mature, and don't have a great survival rate past 3-4 months anyway. Leghorns and similar types might get bigger than normal, but still probably wouldn't be as good as a meatier breed. Sexlink cockerels would be a great choice for a first try, I'd say. They're super cheap, so you wouldn't be out a terrible amount of money if you lose some of them.

    I have heard different things about its effect on crowing and fighting. It probably helps the most if the procedure is done before the bird learns either behavior, because once they've learned how, they're likely to continue. (Kind of like how a tom cat that sprays things usually still sprays things after you neuter him, even though the hormonal stimulant for the behavior is gone, it's become an established behavior.) And if you leave some of the testicle tissue intact by accident, the bird will still produce testosterone and have some masculine features and behavior, even if he is no longer fertile.
  7. chicken farmer 1997

    chicken farmer 1997 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2011
    lewis county ky
    whats capons?
  8. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2011
    Georgetown, KY
    Quote:roosters that have been castrated.
  9. partsRheavy

    partsRheavy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2011
    Just curious - did you have your capons act as foster "moms" to day-old hatchery or incubator chicks or were they older? Did the capons show an interest in the chicks immediately after they were presented to them? Or did it take a while before they showed broodiness?

  10. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    There has already been a lot of good discussion on this topic, you can search the stickies & archives and learn a lot about methods & tools & etc.

    My dilemma is this: the earlier you can do the procedure the better the results will be. But the younger the bird, the more difficult it is to find their tiny tiny testes. If you have good tools, great lighting, and eyes younger than 40 with excellent near-vision, you'll do well caponizing very young cockerels, at 4-5 weeks of age.

    The ones I did at 10-11 weeks still had testes the size of small beans, and I didn't notice much of a difference in their growth or behavior. I only lost one, the first one I ever tried. I used a plastic milk crate for my operating table -- I could zip-tie their wings & legs and bungee-cord them to the crate -- and worked on the kitchen table with a desk lamp for lighting. There is very little blood or mess. The birds stayed very calm, the thing that seemed to bother them the most was having a few feathers plucked from their sides near the incision site.

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