When to cull males?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Country Parson, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. Country Parson

    Country Parson Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Previously I've limited myself strictly to hens, so Roosters is a fairly new experience for me. This Spring I will be getting a few types of birds as Straight Run (mainly birds that will be for meat). As an advocate of slow-food, I'm avoiding the Cornish cross meat varieties. I plan on keeping some of the stock for breeding.

    So here is the question, when will young males start become sexually active (or, when will they start fighting with other males)? At what age will this occur? The only Roosters I'd had previously were given to me full grown. I've never had more than one Roo before, and certainly never raised them from day-olds.

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    Well for one, they won't start fighting each other as you'd fear. If roosters grow up together from a young age, they will first establish a pecking order, the same as hens do, then they all get along pretty well. (unless they're gamefowl) So really, there's no worries there.

    I have a "bachelor pad" filled with over 20 roosters, and they all get along. [​IMG] If I have problems, I cull the problematic one.

    Otherwise, to answer your question, I cull at 5-11 months old. Any younger and you're not getting much meat, any older and it will get tough. I've got a lot of culls in my bachelor pad right now, some who are nearing 9 months, some who are just at 5. When they reach sexual maturity (crowing, mating) is before their cull date over here.
     
  3. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    Do you have a place to build a pen just for the cockerels? If so, then that is ideal.

    I hatch and raise my own cockerels for the table. I run the chicks (broody hatched or incubator) in with my main coop when they are old enough. I let them adjust into the main flock until the cockerels are generally 12/14 weeks old (just before they start to notice the hens are girls – at least in my flock) and then remove them to a bachelor pad. There they stay until I am ready to process them, generally between 5/6 months of age or weather permitting.

    My bachelor pad is not as large as I would like, yet – it is approx. 40 feet by 12/15 feet and I can run 9 cockerels in it at 6 months of age comfortably – they roost in a 4x4 “coop”. There are some squabbles, but no all out fighting – but I do keep an eye on them and any who even seem like they might cause trouble are “next” to go (my trouble makers are the cockerels who jump out of the pen).

    I do have a pasture with 2 adult roos. They are buddies and have no troubles between the two.



    Couple pictures of the current boys – the youngest of this group were hatched July 7th:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I probably agree with Illia about 95%. In my experience, if roosters grow up in the same flock, and that can be either as "brothers" or in a father-son relationship, they normally work out their major differences with little fighting. Sometimes you will get some that fight to the death, but that is fairly rare. Illia made a good point. Certain breeds, like Games, are more likely to fight to the death. So my disagreement is not that there are no worries, it is that there are usually no worries. I am also speaking of my set-up. Mine normally free range (no fences) so they have plenty of room to get out of each others way. I think that makes a lot of difference. There are times I leave them locked in the coop and run and they still get along OK, but they do usually have room to get their pecking order worked out.

    I have seen roosters square off with their neck feathers stuck out when they are about 5 weeks old. I have seen pullets square off with roosters the same way at five weeks or so. I've seen 12 week old roosters square off that way with a mature hen. It is all about pecking order. They will establish that pecking order, usually without much fighting but not totally without fighting. I have yet to have any chicken seriously hurt in either a pecking order or dominance fight. Again, I usually give them a lot of room. I do not keep a bachelor pad either. They all run together, males and females.

    You can get another round of fighting when the boys hit sexual maturity, but I usually don't see much of that. They just seem to work that out when they are pretty young. And when the boys get mature enough to challenge Dad, it cam sometimes get pretty serious, but again, I have not seen it all that bad. They usually figure out pretty quickly which one is going to win and the other runs away.

    When do they get sexually active? It varies. I've seen some try to get active around 12 weeks, which is before they are ready to be processed. I've seen some not start until around 19 to 20 weeks, but I'd say most are interested by 15 weeks.

    If they don't have room to work out their differences and run away, that might be different. I don't have experience with that.

    Good luck! Hope this helps a bit.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    We raised a bunch of roos in with the rest of the flock for the freezer. There was never any serious fighting, mostly chest bumping, chasing, pecking that did not draw blood. My reading at the time said 14-18 weeks was the best time for processing. I think a few were up to 22 weeks before we got around to all the processing. Crowing and first attempts at mating were just starting then. The 14 weekers were nice and tender but weighed 2 pounds at best. We felt the 18 weekers were beginning to get just a little tough, though they certainly had a lot more meat on them. The testosterone also affects the flavor a bit. A lot of people don't mind this at all. There's a classic French recipe, coq au vin, or chicken in wine, that calls for a 2 year old rooster, and an entire bottle of red wine.

    So it depends on your preferences and taste. If you are a chicken and dumplings fan, you might prefer to wait. If you want to fry or charcoal grill them, I suggest you pick one or a few at 14 weeks and try them out.

    My 3+ week olds seem to be 4 roos and a girl, which is OK because they are for the freezer. I've been seeing a little flapping and chest bumping for a few days already.
     
  6. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    Any time from between when they first begin to pester the girls and the arrival of the first eggs from their sisters.

    I keep a separate rooster pen for the boys. The girls seem to like it much better that way.
     

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