Roosters to hens ratio

cmom

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I want to express a thought, we all do what is best for us. I'm not telling anyone how many males they can have, that's their choice. They can have a whole flock of males if they want. I choose not to. I only keep as many males as I need for breeding. I choose my birds carefully as I want to keep my lines pure so I selectively breed. If anyone wants to buy my males when they are available they are welcome to them. Next time anyone goes to the store to buy chicken for dinner remember they were once viable birds, but were meant to be eaten.
 

Shadrach

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@Shadrach do you know if jungle fowl roosters in a 1:1 ratio breed the hens when they are not in lay? I wonder if that has anything to do with being able to handle a 1:1 ratio that seems fairly difficult to maintain with most modern setups and modern breeds.
I've read that they don't but the study wasn't over a long enough period from what I recall.
But, there are conflicting observations regarding what the roosters do when the hens aren't producing eggs. Some studies state the rooster moves on to another female in lay. Other studies have observed stable pairs. :confused:
Here the roosters don't pester the hens when they are not in lay. The cockerels will jump on anyone who stands still long enough.
 

BigBlueHen53

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In my mind I am comparing chickens to cattle. One bull can service many cows. Therefore most males are extraneous and not needed. The cows are bred back to produce either gender. If the cow throws a heifer, great, she can be bred to produce even more calves and possibly milk if she's of an appropriate breed. If she throws a little bull calf, also great, he can be castrated and raised for beef. Most people don't get upset because the males are butchered simply because they have the "misfortune" to be born male, or lay a guilt trip on the owners for their cruelty. Males are simply considered useful primarily for their meat. Why should it be different for chickens, except that we see them in a more emotional light?

I agree with cmom on this. Everyone should walk in their own light on the matter, doing what works best for their own situation.
 

The Kooky Kiwi

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Dec 23, 2017
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Why should it be different for chickens?
In both chickens and cattle there are different breeds for different purposes.

Cattle bred to maximise milking potential, for example, are considered less desirable for commercial beef production so their bull calves (bobbies) are often sent to the abbatoirs to be processed as veal - I can assure you that people DO lay guilt trips on the dairy farmers over this very practice.

Similarly - chickens bred for maximum egg laying potential are apparently seen as less desired for growing on as meat producers - hence the roosters are not kept.

What I think will be the way of the future for both cattle and chickens alike.. will be the development of "dual purpose" breeds. Current operators will have to accept a hen that lays a bit less reliably in favour of now being able to raise all the roosters for meat production.

Backyard flock keepers already do this to some degree - we mix and match our breeds to suit our own needs. Encouraging commercial operators to do this - I suspect will take some encouragement in the form of regulation.
 

NatJ

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What I think will be the way of the future for both cattle and chickens alike.. will be the development of "dual purpose" breeds. Current operators will have to accept a hen that lays a bit less reliably in favour of now being able to raise all the roosters for meat production.
Rather than change the laying hens, it might be easier to find/make a market for the male chicks that already exist. They already can live, grow, and get eaten: but they will not produce the large, plump carcase that people currently expect.

I was recently reading a century-old chicken book that mentioned "squab broilers." I think it meant tender young chickens that were the size of young pigeons ("squabs.") Maybe reviving a market for them would be all it takes.

Or, if no-one likes the way the carcase looks, they could be turned into chicken salad, or soup, or anything else that involves chopping up the meat.

(I'm not personally convinced that raising them for 6-10 weeks and then butchering them is much of a welfare improvement, but that's a different matter.)
 
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BigBlueHen53

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I just want to take a moment to say that this is an interesting thread and I hope it continues. I appreciate y'all taking my comments seriously and respectfully. I'm learning a lot, especially from those with different perspectives. Thank you.
 

BigBlueHen53

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Rather than change the laying hens, it might be easier to find/make a market for the male chicks that already exist. They already can live, grow, and get eaten: but they will not produce the large, plump carcase that people currently expect.

I was recently reading a century-old chicken book that mentioned "squab broilers." I think it meant tender young chickens that were the size of young pigeons ("squabs.") Maybe reviving a market for them would be all it takes.

Or, if no-one likes the way the carcase looks, they could be turned into chicken salad, or soup, or anything else that involves chopping up the meat.

(I'm not personally convinced that raising them for 6-10 weeks and then butchering them is much of a welfare improvement, but that's a different matter.)
I think my three cockerels were processed at between six and seven months old last summer. Two were EEs, one was a BL. None had a huge amount of meat, all went into the crockpot till falling-off-the-bone tender, then chopped and made into dumplings or a rice casserole. Plenty of meat, tender and delicious. I tried roasting a roo of uncertain age. Let me just say, I'll never do that again! :lau
 

Ridgerunner

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I think my three cockerels were processed at between six and seven months old last summer. Two were EEs, one was a BL. None had a huge amount of meat, all went into the crockpot till falling-off-the-bone tender, then chopped and made into dumplings or a rice casserole. Plenty of meat, tender and delicious. I tried roasting a roo of uncertain age. Let me just say, I'll never do that again! :lau
If you were raising them commercially you would obviously need a lot more than three cockerels to support your family. Assuming you bought most of the food they ate, how much did it cost to raise those three to your butcher age? If you had been raising Cornish X you could have raised three batches to butcher age in that time for approximately the same cost of feed for those three. The carcasses would have been much larger and they would be butchered young enough that you could fry, grill, or cook them any other way, not be restricted in how you can cook them.

If you plan on raising to forage on pasture in the numbers required to support a family how much land would that take? How much would it cost to purchase that land, pay taxes on that land, and provide predator protection. If you keep one rooster for every hen to fertilize those hatching eggs how much extra in feed or housing costs would that take.

The factors are different but the same type of questions could be asked the commercial hybrid laying chickens. How much would you have to charge per pound of meat or dozen eggs to make enough to live on?

Now assume a competitor were willing to raise the Cornish X for meat or the hybrid egg-laying hens instead of dual purpose under the conditions they do today. You can see the prices they charge. You may be able to find a niche market that could support a few people trying to raise them this way, but which prices do you think the majority of consumers would be willing to pay if they have that choice? The meat and eggs sold as free range organic is raised closer to the commercial market than what I described above. While you are thinking about it, think about how many people in the US are hungry today because they don't have enough to buy food. This is the real life dilemma in the world today facing people trying to make a living in the chicken meat or egg industry.

I choose to raise dual purpose for my use but I can afford to. I'm not trying to make a living off of it.
 

jolenesdad

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It’s important to remember the economics of scale. There are quite literally billions of chickens produced commercially every year in the United States alone. Pennies of savings add up to millions of dollars across that many birds, so we won’t likely be rid of the specialized and highly productive corporate hybrids anytime soon.

even if there could be a use for layer-type males, it will always be cheaper to euthanize the layer male, and raise a meat-bred bird instead.
 

Susan Dye

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It’s important to remember the economics of scale. There are quite literally billions of chickens produced commercially every year in the United States alone. Pennies of savings add up to millions of dollars across that many birds, so we won’t likely be rid of the specialized and highly productive corporate hybrids anytime soon.

even if there could be a use for layer-type males, it will always be cheaper to euthanize the layer male, and raise a meat-bred bird instead.
What about the pet food industry? Don't a lot those males and layers, after their prime laying yrs, go into the pet food industry? The pet food market is a multi billion dollar business annually. It's hard to imagine that commercial chickens producers don't find a profitable way to make use of all those birds that are either not laying or not large enough for the meat market.
I do feel that our food production, whether for people or pets, is somewhat of a paradox. On one hand we are told that there is an abundance of food produced that is wasted annually. And, on the other hand, we are told we have to use potentially harmful farming methods because we have to feed the world. And, yet there are still masses of starving people throughout the world, including right here in the USA. Go figure.
 
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