Dealing with surplus Cockerels

I am no nonsense and I am going to say something that is a bit of tough love and will probably offend a few people: - If you can’t deal with surplus males then don’t get into the situation where you have to. If you raise chicks from hatching eggs the law of averages says you get 50% males. There is no way you need that many unless you show birds and need to select from full grow chickens.

 I recently visited a flock that had more cockerels than hens because the owner couldn’t deal with them and the result was a considerable amount of fighting and battered half bald hens that had literally had the feathers shagged off them. This isn’t fair on the birds and causes stress and fighting and it’s not fair on the neighbours who have to listen to 7 cockerels in full voice. Not to mention the wasted feed and the loss of egg from stressed hens.

First, decide if keeping a rooster is even an option for you. Many urban areas allow backyard chickens in limited numbers, but with certain conditions. These conditions often include a ban on roosters. If you can legally keep a rooster, there are some things to consider. Your rooster will be loud, and possibly aggressive, and the eggs your hens lay will be fertile.

So how to deal with the surplus Roosters:

1- Eat them, my Barnevelder cockerel make a lovely roast lunch at 6 to 8 months of age. Or give them to someone who wants them for food. Be realistic about what is happening to all of those unwanted roosters.  Most end up on a dinner plate. Even if you are not comfortable eating your rooster, perhaps you’re okay if someone else does

2- Find someone who keep ferrets.  I get a £1 or £2 for each bird given for food.

3- Rehome. Advertise them on websites or through bulletin boards. Finding a home for a rooster becomes more challenging if you are determined that he lives out his life free-ranging on a farm.  Ask your friends in more rural settings if they have room for a rooster.

4- Birds of prey – Falconers have the need for fresh food from day old to well grown.

5- Avoid getting 1 in the first place. Ask the right questions of the breeder or supplier and only buy older sexed stock or sex linked birds so you can definitely see what you are getting.

Surplus bresse roosters.JPG

The advantage of Le bresse is that they make excellent table birds.

That rooster’s entire mission in life will be to keep his flock safe so that he can populate your backyard with his offspring and let everyone know what he is up to, also only one rooster per flock, if you already have a rooster, in order to keep peace, one has to go as in the confines of a garden or backyard they will eventually come to blows.

The most important thing is to make sure your rooster will not be used for the illegal practise of cock fighting. To avoid this, be careful about advertising a free rooster. Some people suggest charging a nominal fee for the rooster to discourage someone from taking the animal for fighting.

Getting rid of a rooster may leave a space in your flock that you’d like to fill with a new bird. Chickens are not solitary birds and are said to do best with at least one other chicken. If you started with two chicks and suddenly find yourself with one, you will need to get a new pullet. Introducing a new chick needs to be done carefully. Do not underestimate the pecking order.

Only introduce a new bird after carefully planning on how this will be done and after the cockerel has been removed. Your sweet little cockerel will surprise you with his aggressiveness if you throw a new pullet in the coop. establishing pecking order with pullets often isn’t pretty either, but it’s a heck of a lot more gentle than when a rooster is involved.

 The good news is that there are some things you can do to avoid getting a rooster in the first place. Obviously, buy sexed chicks instead of straight run. Sexed chickens have been inspected and have a high chance of being a hen. With a straight run, you pay less but have a 50% chance of getting a rooster. If even the 99% chance in of getting a hen when buying a sexed chicken isn’t enough for you, buy a sex-linked chicken. Sex-linked chickens are a cross between two breeds. The hens are hatched one colour and the roosters another. So, from the moment they hatch, you know with certainty what you’re getting. As an additional bonus, sex-linked chickens are usually hardy, egg-laying machines.

Remember when you bought your chicks from the supplier?  They came with a 99% chance of being a hen. And, like most backyard chicken keepers, having hens was all that was in the plan. You imagined a small flock that provided your family with fresh, wholesome eggs each morning. What you probably did not imagine was that of the hundred chicks in the cage, you would go home with the one rooster.  Hatchery sexed birds generally have a 99% chance of being a pullet, check to see if you supplier guarantees the sex of the birds they sell.

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