*Roosters ONLY!* (Rooster Management)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Amos-Moses, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. Amos-Moses

    Amos-Moses Songster

    Nov 14, 2017
    My wife and I have started hatching about 10-20 eggs per month, keeping 1 or 2 from each hatch for our own flock and selling the rest to cover feed costs. We are at the point of having to decide what to do with all of the extra roosters. We keep 2 with the flock for breeding and protection, and have capped it at 2 for breeding purposes.

    We discussed this months ago and decided we would try to sell/give away the extra roosters, but now that it is time to actually deal with them we are looking for alternatives.

    First off, we have found that roosters just don't sell that well (at least in my area).

    Second, I would rather not give them away because lately I have heard stories of people's free roosters being used as bait-birds to train illegal cock-fighting roosters in my area. I am not okay with hatching and raising roosters only to give them away and possibly have them mauled to death by trained fighting birds.

    So since I don't want to give them away but am not able to sell them as fast I hatch them, I am playing with the idea of keeping them in a separate all-rooster flock on the other side of my property until they are large enough to harvest for meat (not to sell but for personal consumption). We have an empty turkey coop in the middle of a blackberry thicket over there, and have kept chickens in it before with minimal predator issues. Although many of the breeds we hatch are known more for laying than for meat (Ameraucana, Orpington, Welsummer, Barnevelder, Legbar, Marans, Australorp to name a few), I figured that if I can get them to about 1-year old they just might have enough size on them to be worth the trouble of harvesting.

    As I think more about it though, more questions pop into my mind:
    • Would it be financially feasible to feed them efficiently and still get a decent amount of meet off of each bird?
      • They would be free ranging in an area with lots of berries, grasses, broad leafed weeds, insects, frogs, mice, and lizards (at least in the warm months [most of the year in Alabama])
      • If so what feed would be most economical to supplement their free-range diet and still get a harvestable bird at 12 months?
    • Would a flock of free-ranging roosters return to the coop each night, or would they turn feral & force me to hunt them down in the surrounding thicket at harvest time?
      • Not a huge deal, but I like to harvest all of my animals as humanely and stress-free as possible (to get best meat quality and respect the animal). Hunting them down in the thicket would not be ideal.
    • Would they get along well enough to keep them like this?
      • There would be no hens around for them to compete for, but I've never kept a flock consisting of only roosters before.
    • Since they will have free-range of my property (7acres), will they end up just finding their way back to the hens?
      • The property is 7 acres, and the 2 coops are located 430ft away from each other with trees, thicket, a large pasture, and our house between them. The sight-line is blocked by a hill and the house, so it's not like the roosters will see the hens (though they will likely hear our breeding roosters crowing).
    • Lastly, how does rooster meat compare to that from hens?
      • I'll eat it either way, just curious.
    Another option I have considered is taking them to auction, but I would prefer not to (just don't feel like trouble would be worth the reward). However if taking them to auction is a more financially-sound plan than raising/harvesting them for meat, I'd be more likely to go that route.

    Any opinions, advice, or shared experience would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    If your roosters and hens all free range at the same time, the boys will find the girls. If you had enough pen space, you could alternate days that they are out. If you have enough room to keep the cockerels locked up for several days to a week in a specific place, they will get used to sleeping there and will likely return at night to roost.

    Personally, I'd rather eat my excess cockerels than move them along. I know the life they have here, and that death will be swift. They'll have lots of good days and one bad moment. Besides the fact that I have put in time, effort and money to feed them and grow them out. I'm not about to give that away or sell them for little or nothing. I doubt you'd get back what you put into them if you take them to auction or swap meet.
    Cbarr00, puffypoo22, Erba and 11 others like this.
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Apr 9, 2016
    California's Redwood Coast
    I will probably go back and read some more... made it half way... :pop

    Yes separate your boys. Most those are dual purpose and will give you plenty of meat by 24 weeks. Harvesting for your family is a hugely rewarding and honorable goal! We harvest by attitude first before carcass size. So much better than giving away, they don't grow up OR even hatch for free. No growing them out an extra 6 months passed that will not give you enough more meat to make up for the time and energy or feed to care for them.

    Free range, wouldn't surprise me if they find their way back. :confused:

    They should return to the coop at night if you train them to go there. But if they find better roost, not sure what there incentive would be. I still lock my roosters up every night.

    They *can* get along well enough... or not. Each is an individual and is dealt with as such here. I do keep a stag pen, in sight of my hens, fence bordering, coop has wire wall separating. Antics happen as boys will be boys and chickens ARE chickens. Completely free range, your dynamics may be much different than mine.

    That indeed was the decision I had to make when deciding to hatch. That I must be responsible in my choices and not think every rooster will find a happily ever after home. Some do, but most go to freezer camp.

    Different breeds actually differ in many ways. The amount of breast meat you get and even flavor and where their fat deposits are. The Wyandottes are tasty as are Marans, which are known for their meat in France. To be honest... we even harvest our extra Silkie boys, and they present quite nicely on the table. Plus I raise breeds I love and one is White Faced Black Spanish. Sure they aren't AS meaty as Marans or Orps, but they still serve up well for my family. :)

    Good luck, you can do this! :thumbsup
  4. Amos-Moses

    Amos-Moses Songster

    Nov 14, 2017
    Thank yall so much for your replies, I really appreciate the advice! I think that settles it, we will be harvesting our extra roosters that are not able to be sold to good homes
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Didn't read it all either......I hatch every year and sell, give away, or eat the cockerels by 14-16 weeks old. I may have sold 3 to a fighter, not sure tho, oops. Gave 3 to someone I know will eat them and slaughtered 3 myself, just grilled one the other day, man it was good and BCM sure make for meatier cockerels.

    They are tender enough for the grill at 14 weeks, nope not much meat(and most layer breeds don't gain that much by letting them get older) but that crispy skinned deliciousness makes up for it in my book, and the grilled bones makes excellent tasting stock/soup.
  6. Amos-Moses

    Amos-Moses Songster

    Nov 14, 2017
    Yeah, sorry for the lengthy post. Brevity is not a strength of mine. Thanks for your insight though!

    Definitely looking forward to this project/solution, and to the grilled chicken!
    Farmgirl1878 and puffypoo22 like this.
  7. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Songster

    Aug 16, 2013
    As a gamefowl fancier, I have done a lot of research into gamefowl, the people that have kept gamefowl, and the history of gamefowl, including their original purposes. The concept of a "bait rooster" is erroneous, bordering on myth. Think of it from a logical perspective. What you are suggesting would be like going to a preschool or nursing home to pick up sparring partners for a heavyweight boxer. Sell your extra cockerels, if what you view as seedy looking foreigners buy them, it is most likely that they are intending to slaughter them for food. If they do possess gamefowl, either as a reminder of their homelands, for the birds superior pet qualities (having been bred for ease of human handling for thousands of years, unlike most of the degenerate breeds gracing the hatchery catalogs), or if they keep them for nefarious reasons, they have little need or interest in your barnyard bred birds for anything outside of their protein contribution. They certainly are not needed to cause roosters to do what comes quite naturally to all breeds of rooster. Any attempt at housing large numbers of mature roosters together is likely to end much the same as the illegal activities that you fear them being used for.
  8. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Songster

    Aug 16, 2013
    Find people that raw feed their dogs in your area. Kill them at 8 to 16 weeks. Cut the breast meat off the carcass and throw the rest in a freezer. A raw feeder would be happy to have what is left, possibly even pay you, and you will have some very good eating without a lot of hassle, feed expenditure, or housing difficulty. As their testosterone levels peak, they will hear hens and go to them. Fights through a fence can inflict more damage than face to face confrontation. The fence prevents a clear victor, and is an unyielding opponent itself. Much better to harvest them before their urge to mate hits it's peak. With a mixed age operation, your younger cockerels won't be having much fun around a bunch of 20 plus week old birds. Many people harvest as they start becoming jerks, which works well, but serves to promote very late sexual maturity in any potential breeding stock, which is not ideal if you are interested in any benefit from egg production in your birds.
  9. penny1960

    penny1960 Going back to La La Land

    Dec 29, 2015
    Mossyrock, WA
    slaughter at like 16 at the most weeks or only good for stew
    Chick-N-Fun and Amos-Moses like this.
  10. Amos-Moses

    Amos-Moses Songster

    Nov 14, 2017
    Thank you for your input varidge, i am glad to hear that ‘bait roosters’ are just an urban legend! And I appreciate your idea to sell the carcasses to raw feeders, i had not considered it yet but like the idea
    Chick-N-Fun and sourland like this.

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