Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thinning the Flock

Since we purchased our first incubator last year and started hatching chicks from eggs we were faced with the dilemma (if you want to call it that) of what to do with extra roosters we hatch. Do you give them away? Do you slaughter them? Do you collect them and go broke feeding them?

Well, if you give them away most likely your a giving someone a free chicken dinner. There's nothing wrong with this if you don't mind all the food and expense that went into the birds doing down the drain. Sometimes you know the person and you know they really want a rooster to be a companion (or stud!) for their hens. I gave away a cuckoo maran rooster to a family last year to live with the 20 Rhode Island Red pullets they had raised. They are still enjoying this rooster and their four kids just adore him. The rooster I gave away made a friend's life happier so it did not seem like money down the drain to me.

This week I had to cull a few spare roosters. I try putting it off because it does make me a little sad and the laying breed roosters are a little more difficult to process than the meat birds are. They are much more heavily feathered and because they are not broad-breasted like the Cornish crosses, they a have a narrow cavity which I find getting my big hands into a bit more difficult.

I've cleaned birds that I have hunted like waterfowl and wild turkeys dressing out a bird is not totally new to me. I do scald the chickens before I pluck them in 140F water for about a minute which makes them very easy to pluck.
The meat on these roosters is darker than your average meat chicken because of their maturity, more varied diet and the exercise they receive free-ranging. These birds are too tough for roasting or baking so I use them for stewing and make chicken with dumplings with them. They are way more flavorful than the average store-bought chicken.

So, even though it's a little bit of a pain to process them, I am rewarded with the wonder food they provide for us and my hens are grateful that they aren't being chased around by a bunch of roosters all day long.


  1. Extra roos. . . We either sell them or eat them. Usually eat them. Those have some awfully long, scrawny legs though! My last roo had HUGE drumsticks!

  2. We're going to be facing the same thing later this summer. I figure that the meat is much better quality in terms of nutritional value. I appreciate the tips, they'll come in handy.

  3. Carolyn, Ive awarded you a Kreativ Blogging award on my blog. lol If you get the time, check it out. :)

    Love your blog!
    jeanie (cowgirl)

  4. Thanks Jeanie!
    I'm checking it out :)
    You're such a sweetie!

  5. Thanks so much for all the chicks! They were absolutely beautiful. The kids are very appreciative. I was going to post to your backyard chicken ad, but I dont have a membership. So I seen your web blog! Thanks so much again! Jami