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Four Roosters in the hen house...what do I do?!

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    Four Roosters in the hen house...what do I do?!

    One of​​​ my 5 hens went broody in late August, a few days before we were to go on vacation. I opted to let her do her thing, knowing that my 'farm sitter' (aka my mother, who is not chicken knowledgeable) wasn't going to be able to handle trying to break her. That resulted in 5 little peeps before she evacuated the nest* (more on that below). At about 6 weeks, two of the five got carried off in the wee hours, I assume by the hawk that had been hanging around.

    So that left me with 3. And yes, all 3 have turned out to be pretty little cockerels. Clearly, I already have a rooster - pictured below, who was also supposed to be a hen, but that's feed store chicks for you. He's reasonably well behaved and entertaining enough that I don't mind letting him hang around.

    DH says we shouldn't be feeding useless birds. And I know that soon, having four roos will be a problem for several reasons. But WHAT do I do with them? One can't give these things away, there are excess roos everywhere, and I don't really wish to eat them, nor do I cherish the idea of hand plucking three scrawny layer breed carcasses. Oy vey.

    *All five of my ladies prefer to lay in one box, and at the height of season some of them were giving two a day, so dearest Henny had accumulated 21 (!!) eggs to sit on. After her five hatched and I went to remove the duds for disposal, I heard peeping. I took them into the house under a heat lamp and hatched out NINE more chicks over the course of 5 days. Seven lived on to be healthy and were sent to live with a neighbor who needed new stock.

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    I had pet bantams for years when I was growing up and the roosters paired up with the hens just like wild birds with very little arguments. Crowding can cause fighting.


      Give them away and try not to think about them getting eaten. If they are very pretty, rare, or friendly, people sometimes want a pet rooster to guard their flock. You can also find your nearest livestock auction and drop them off. You'll get a couple bucks, and someone will eat them.


        Your local feed store might take them? Several of mine do, and they're resold.

        I butcher mine. I like to know that they had nice lives, and a good death, and a useful purpose. Skinning is easier than plucking, and they make nice soup, even if scrawny.

        In fact, Christmas dinner this year was coq au vin featuring a very adult cock. It was an absolutely amazing dish, made even better by the maturity of the bird. He was a good boy, who produced nice babies, but it was time for another to take over. It was a nice way to honor him, I thought.


          Original Poster

          Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
          Give them away and try not to think about them getting eaten. If they are very pretty, rare, or friendly, people sometimes want a pet rooster to guard their flock. You can also find your nearest livestock auction and drop them off. You'll get a couple bucks, and someone will eat them.
          Pretty, yes - all of them look much like the guy pictured, irridescent black with red/gold saddle and cape feathers, one is a bit more silvery than gold. Definitely not rare and since they were hen raised, not pet-tame. My hens are all black or gold sex links, so these guys are very much mutts.

          Honestly, the question was a little tongue in cheek I know the only real options are eat them or give them to someone who will likely eat them. There is a poultry auction about 45 minutes from me I've considered sending them to, but I'm not sure the gas to drive there is worth the "profit"


            Theoretically you could caponize them, but I have no idea how to find somebody that knows how to do that; it’s not something most vets are going to be able to do. I’m not even sure husbeast could do it; he’s a poultry specialist but that means he’s really good at figuring out why dead ones are dead and/or were previously sick. Not nearly so hot at doing anything with live ones (that are expected to continue to be live ones afterward).


              Original Poster

              Oh, I did just learn today that there is a poultry processor not TOO far away, for about $4.50 per bird you can drop your live ones off and pick them up fully processed and vacuum bagged on ice a few hours later. That might be an option, if I can make room in the freezer.


                Originally posted by Toblersmom View Post
                Theoretically you could caponize them, but I have no idea how to find somebody that knows how to do that; it’s not something most vets are going to be able to do. I’m not even sure husbeast could do it; he’s a poultry specialist but that means he’s really good at figuring out why dead ones are dead and/or were previously sick. Not nearly so hot at doing anything with live ones (that are expected to continue to be live ones afterward).
                It's my understanding that you have to caponize them before they develop the secondary sexual characteristics for it to be successful and create docile "geldings"? I'd love to have that option, but it's a little intimidating to learn that one from YouTube!


                  The only time I was able to successfully give away grown roosters (past optimal dressing out age) was to put them in an old carrier. Someone took them so they could have the carrier, lol! They didn't mind having extra roosters around because they had a large free roaming flock.

                  Giving away roosters is like giving away rhubarb or zucchini.


                    If you let them be free range roosters they might not last very long. We have foxes here and they take out my neighbors chickens on a yearly basis. She gets new ones every year. You can even hear the foxes at night, but I've never seen them.


                      I sold my Lavender Orpington roo on Craigslist for $20 when he got too aggressive for my kids. No one would pay that to eat him! I would put them up for sale for a reasonable amount and see what happens.

                      i would have given him away, but wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to be used as bait for cock fighting. I will luke have been more Ok with someone eating him than that horrid, painful fate.


                        They're too old to caponize unless you're already quite experienced at it - they'd likely bleed out. I've been learning about caponizing and got a kit, you're supposed to do them when they weigh about a pound.

                        I would take them to the processor. Or skin them. If you choose to skin them, let me know, there's a definite easy way and hard way.
                        It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


                          Originally posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
                          Or skin them. If you choose to skin them, let me know, there's a definite easy way and hard way.
                          I'm curious to hear this!

                          I wound up hanging my last batch for maybe...90 minutes, 2 hours? between butcher and processing, and they were SO much easier to skin out. Quite the surprise, but I've definitely noted for next time!


                            Yeah, if they are a rare breed or especially beautiful, there are sometimes 4H kids who will take them for a county fair show. We had a rare breed chick from a hatchery that turned out to be a rooster, and found a 4Her who did that (But even then, the roo will be in someone's pot at the end of the fair season--it's not as if they'll be a pet).

                            More than one roo in the coop tends to be hell on the hens-- when the roosters aren't actually fighting, they will "fight vicariously" by repetitively covering as many hens as they can--as soon as one gets done, another roo will jump in.

                            There is just no other *plausible* option but to dispatch humanely.


                              Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                              I'm curious to hear this!
                              The first time I tried to skin, I thought I could just peel it off over the back like a coat, that did NOT work out well at all.

                              The best way to skin is to take the legs and the last joint of the wings off. Then take the skin about halfway down the breast, lift it up, and make a cut across it. Then pull that up over the top and down over the legs. Then pull down the back last and I usually cut the tail off. Sometimes, especially on older birds, you need to filet a bit over the hips. Much easier that way. The wings just suck, hard to get ahold of and hard to pull. And you really need to filet the bit where the flight feathers are attached off.
                              It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


                                We butcher ours. The first one was a learning experience but they are super easy once you get one under your belt. I'm quick with plucking and butchering. I like to cook them as a whole bird in the crockpot. Works well for the skinnier birds, the meat falls off the bone and you can use it anything with shredded chicken!


                                  After dealing with really pervasive vent gleet on one of our layers...I have a slightly altered opinion about our birds

                                  But, I do have strong feelings about what happens to animals that come into my care. Generally, they die with me. I have yet to have to rehome any animal I've acquired. So I'd be inclined to give them a nice last few weeks and then either butcher them myself or have them butchered for me.

                                  I agree that giving away roosters is like giving away rhubarb or zucchini - all three tend towards proliferation so you never hear anyone saying "Damn, I wish I had more rhubarb/zucchini/roosters hanging around"
                                  Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.


                                    I wish I had more rhubarb!!! I keep planting it and it keeps not thriving

                                    You can keep the zucchini and roosters
                                    It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


                                      Original Poster

                                      Well, the verdict is in. DH will dispatch them shortly and they will go for dog food (cooked, I don't want to fiddle with raw). One of the youngsters has begun crowing and is starting to abuse the hens, including my sweet little runt hen with a bum leg. If I'd been able to catch him this morning he might have already been in the Crock-Pot.

                                      Darn roosters.


                                        Originally posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
                                        I wish I had more rhubarb!!! I keep planting it and it keeps not thriving

                                        You can keep the zucchini and roosters
                                        Where are you planting rhubarb?
                                        I have 2 plants, one - start from a friend - over 10yrs, the other from a plant smuggled here by a friend's Mom from Belgium - that's around 5yrs
                                        Both are in full sun, planted in composted manure & I do nothing but pick them from the time they start producing until late Summer.
                                        Plenty to share, freeze & make into pie, jam & chutney.

                                        BTW: the roosters we were going to barter your hens for went to auction in December.
                                        Neighbor gave me the 2 hens he got out of the original 6.
                                        I got $20 for the 2 I took. His rooster brought $9.
                                        Third I kept.
                                        He was smallest, the most timid & he's not rough on the hens (older girls ignore his dancing) still shows me respect
                                        Just getting his spurs now, so that may change.

                                        OP, hope your dogs enjoy the treat
                                        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015