What to do with roosters?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PriorySchool, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. PriorySchool

    PriorySchool Just Hatched

    Oct 21, 2016
    Hi all,

    I am part of a class at my high school where we are raising chickens to provide eggs for out cafeteria. We have a flock of 55 birds and one is for sure a rooster and we suspect that two others are. They are around 3 months old now and have just been released into their coop and run. There are two potential problems we have with roosters. 1 It would be very bad PR for the chicken program if a student cracked open a hard boiled egg to find a chick embryo. 2 Our school is located in an area where the surrounding residents do not like noise and roosters make a lot of that. Our coop is sort of in a legal gray area when it comes to needing or not needing a permit and having negative attention drawn to it won't help. So with those constraints in mind what should we do? We all really like the look of the rooster and if possible would like to keep him around. I have researched caponizing but all the tutorials I have found are on birds that are much younger and smaller so I am not confident in trying that on our rooster. Also I have heard that caponizing changes the appearance of a rooster is this true on older birds? If we have no other option we are ok with eating it but would rather not. Do you guys have any solutions that would solve both problems and or have you caponized older roosters?

    Here he is in all his glory. You can see why we'd like to keep him.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  2. N F C

    N F C phooey! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    Nice looking boy, is he friendly?

    If you want to keep him around, you might check out no-crow collars. I have not personally used them (no roosters) but others have...some with success and some not so much.

    You should be able to find posts about the collars using the Search box in the upper left corner.

    Good luck!
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    If you're in an area where the neighbors don't like noise, I'm not sure one rooster (called a "cockerel" at this age) is going to make much difference when you have 55 hens (currently called "pullets" as they are under one year of age) cackling and carrying on... But if you thing his crowing is going to be a problem, either eat him or find him a new home. I would not caponize. Have you read how it's done? If I remember right, by the time you realize you have a cockerel on your hands, it's too late to do it. The death rate of caponized cockerels can be pretty high, too, until a person has had enough practice to know what they're doing. The No-crow collar could be an option, I guess, but I personally am of the opinion that if you can't keep a rooster, then don't. By trying to get around the rules, you take a chance on losing the whole flock.

    Fertilized eggs should not be a problem if you collect eggs daily, and don't let any broody hens set on them. Development does not begin until they have been incubated (naturally or artificially) for about 24 hours.
  4. AllynTal

    AllynTal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 22, 2014
    Mississippi Gulf Coast
    I caponize some of my boys. It is best to do it young, since when they get older, the testes are too big to get out between the ribs. It is something that you need to practice before you attempt it on a live bird and hope to have a reasonable chance of success. The best way to practice is on dead cockerels. You' have to slaughter them, but before you process the carcass, perform the caponization. That way you can take your time and poke around in there and not be under pressure. However, the caponization process is controversial in some areas and you might want to investigate whether it will raise concerns over your school's chicken project.

    My two-cents is eat the cockerels. It'll be a valuable lesson about where your food comes from and what happens to it before it ends up wrapped in saranwrap into neat little packages at the supermarket. Fifty-five hens will be noisy enough (wait 'til they start laying, then you'll hear a ruckus) and adding testosterone-driven roosters to that din may be more than your neighbors will tolerate.
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    It is for the lunch program so why not take him and the other cockerel in photo and make dumplings or stew. Easy to do and a vital learning experience. Other cockerel is the white bird in back with honking legs. Their entire stance and body structure are different than the pullets. Walk through the flock and pick out the ones that don't quite look like the others. Stout, tall legs it your first easy clue. Then you'll see the rest of the body is in upright position opposed to the pullets. Of course the combs will be red too and none of your pullets should have red combs at this age. It's really easy to find cockerels once you start to look at them and then the pullets.

    If the crowing is not a problem then keep them unless they become aggressive. Don't tolerate that and your school's insurance wouldn't either. There is little chance the hatchery layers you have will go broody. It would take a broody bird for a egg to develop an embryo. That or having 97-101 F temperatures in coop and not collecting eggs for a few days. Fertile eggs wont develop unless heat is provided period.
  6. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 16, 2015
    Republic of Ireland
    Hi there.
    You say you have a problem with having roosters
    In case someone opens a boiled egg with an embryo inside.
    This is impossible unless the egg has been incubated by a broody hen for over 24 straight hours.
    You say neigbours don't want noise but there is 55 chickens there
    So what difference would it make.
    If they complain I would suggest trying a no crow collar, giving them away or killing them for meat.
    Goodluck with your school project
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    First I highly recommend your school in allowing a project like this to be done. This can be a life long hobby, and so fun to eat your own eggs! But to get this project really up and running, I think you should start slowly, and build into it. I think you would be best with no roosters at all for this first year.

    If this is a brand new project it is highly likely that no one or only a few people have experience. I think roosters take some experience, and at a school, you have the added liability of a kids NOT familiar with livestock. And I would assume several different people taking care of the birds? In my opinion, it would be best in the beginning of this project to just have pullets turning into hens.

    Some roosters are a nightmare. They often are a crapshoot, and I think that with many people taking care of them, no older birds in the flock, these boys are apt to be more trouble than they are worth. They could cause trouble by attacking someone, by making too much noise, and they can over-mate the pullets, or fight until death amongst themselves.

    So I recommend that you offer them for sale or for free and do not ask questions what the new owners are going to do with them. While my own children and other children that I have been around are very interested in the harvesting process, a lot of people will be highly offended. If you have an established flock for a couple of years, with everyone having more experience with the whole chicken raising aspect, then one can start to harvest on sight. I do agree, that it can be highly educational and add important aspect of where food comes from, but in the beginning, when you are just getting started, it might be better to work it in over time.

    Start with just hens this year, pray for a broody hen next year, slip some chicks under her, then some of those will be a rooster, and then you can start working on harvesting for your own use and breeding projects.

    Mrs K
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Quote: While I think that every school that can legally do so should have such a food program and I applaud your efforts in doing so, I think it's highly irresponsible to not have learned more about the animal and the life of it before undertaking to get them and I also think it's simply reprehensible that your teacher would lead children into a "legally grey area" and then expect them to be law abiding citizens as they reach adulthood. All aspects of this project should have been thoroughly researched and studied long before a single bird touched the ground at that school.

    What a learning opportunity in biology and civics it would have been if this had been gone about this the right way. Now you have a huge number of birds that no one knows how to cull if they need humane killing for illness or injury~and that happens, especially in large flocks and what is the plan?, you know so little about them that you think that fertilized eggs will result in a developed embryo in freshly gathered eggs, and you now have male poultry that have the potential to injure a student and not a one of you have a clue as to what you are doing.

    Now would be a good time to backtrack and realize your teacher has made some huge mistakes and then encourage him/her to go about rectifying them immediately by addressing the "legally grey area" head on and applying for a permit, then doing some massive research about the animal you have under your care and gaining some knowledge in that area. Meanwhile I'd advertise your males for free and please don't even bother to add "to a good home", as that limits the replies you will get. Cockerels are for eating or breeding and you don't want to do either with them, and most other people don't either in a place where chickens are a legal grey area, so targeting those who will utilize them for food is the best way to get rid of them and fast.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2016
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I think the OP is one of the students, not the teacher......that's how I read it, anyway.

    I agree with Mrs K. Roosters are intact male livestock, and not for first timers or the inexperienced. Yep, they're pretty and personable, but as they mature you're likely to have aggression issues, with a bunch of inexperienced folks interacting with the birds. Remove the roosters from the school flock in whatever way you choose--sell, eat, etc. Just stay with hens while it's a school project. All you need is some scared or immature kiddo to set off a hormonal cockerel---it could happen so easily. Then you'd have a "problem bird" and likely an injured kid.
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Duly noted and edited to reflect that aspect. [​IMG]

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