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Episode 31 Show Notes

Meat Bird Update

After processing The Colonel, our one-year old Light Sussex rooster, he let him rest in the refrigerator for five days and then Suzy used a pressure cooker to prepare him. Despite being a year old, he was very tender and extremely tasty. I sensed a slight aftertaste which I attribute to his age, but Suzy says she couldn’t taste it.

This last weekend, we processed two younger roosters who were 16 weeks old. Being one-third The Colonel’s age, they were much smaller with less meat, but we should be able to cook them by more conventional means without fear of them getting tough. After the podcast, Suzy plans to cook one of them in a rotisserie.

New Amazon Search Box

This week s Thanksgiving, which signals the beginning of the mad rush for deals on Christmas presents in stores and online. We recently added an Amazon search box to the top of our website. If you do any Amazon shopping, you could help support the podcast by visiting Amazon through the link on our page. By doing so, Amazon will give us a small commission and it won’t cost you any more than going directly to Amazon.

Should You Caponize Your Roosters?

One of our listeners, Gino, posted a question on our Facebook page. Gino has had fifteen chickens for the last six months. He has 5 Jersey Giant cockerels, 5 Jersey Giant pullets and 5 Black Star pullets.

Unfortunately, the roosters are starting to get aggressive and are scaring his two young sons and his wife. He wants to know if caponizing them will make them less aggressive.

Caponizing is the process of castrating a cockerel, and it is done for a variety of reasons. The resulting capon (castrated rooster) will develop without testosterone, making him less aggressive and preventing him from crowing. He will also grow larger and more quickly than a rooster, and his meat will not get as tough with age.

There are several drawbacks to caponizing, however. First, it has to be done before the cockerel reaches eight weeks old in order to be effective. Unfortunately, this means that it will not be useful in Gino’s case, as his cockerels are now six months old.

Also, a rooster’s testes are located inside his body, which means surgery is required to remove them. Since most vets will not perform this type of surgery, you will have to perform it yourself at home. Also, without the availability of anesthesia, you will need to tie down the young bird and perform the surgery while he is fully conscious.

Finally, experienced caponizers warn that you will likely lose a lot of birds while you learn how to do the procedure correctly.

For us, caponizing is not an option for our flock. We simply do not want to subject our birds (or ourselves) to that procedure.

Choosing the Right Breed For You

As we mentioned several episodes ago, many first time chicken keepers end up with whatever breed they stumbled upon after deciding they want to raise chickens. This random selection method can lead to disappointment and regret down the road as you discover your breed’s particular idiosyncrasies.

Before selecting a breed, put some thought into what qualities will want from your chickens. Do you want layers, meat birds or ornamental chickens? Maybe a combination of layers and meat (dual-purpose). Maybe a combination of ornamental and layers. It doesn’t matter what you choose, just so long as you think about what you want from your flock ahead of time.

Another thing to consider is egg size. Maybe size doesn’t matter for you. Maybe it matters a lot. If you want giant eggs that will impress your friends, make sure you look for a breed that is know for them.

Egg color is another area of consideration. Everyone knows that eggs come in white and brown, but some breeds also lay light blue, dark chocolate and even green eggs.

If you live in an extreme climate, you should also consider if your breed is tolerant of your local extremes, both hot and cold.

Broodiness, or the likelihood that a hen will want to keep and hatch her eggs, is another factor to consider. If you are only concerned with collecting eggs, you will not want a breed that tends to “go broody.” Otherwise you may have to fight the hen once a while to retrieve those eggs. On the other hand, if you want to hatch some eggs but don’t want to buy an incubator, a broody hen may be exactly what you are looking for.

Breeds that are good foragers will help keep your food down, as these chickens will go looking for tasty grasses and bugs to fill up on so they eat less chicken feed. This could save you up to 40% on your feed bill.

Finally, consider a breed’s temperament. If you don’t particularly care if your birds are flighty or mean, you may do well with the best egg layers. If you have small children, you may wish to sacrifice one or two eggs a week to keep a breed that is more calm, docile and friendly.

With so many factors to consider, it helps to consult a reference like the Henderson Chicken Chart. Armed with the chart, you can compare the qualities of different breeds and make a short list of which ones you might be interested in.

 

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