View Full Version : The problems with roosters
27-12-2010, 05:08 AM
I think part of the permaculture journey is experimenting with different ideas and processes, I came up with the great idea of taking a good friends (who breeds chickens) day old roosters as they don't/can't sell them, I would breed them up for meat and butcher them myself. While I have now done quite a lot of roosters now, I still prefer to work with my friend up the road and have a processing morning, problems is when life gets busy and the roosters get older and life keeps getting busy you are left with 14 fully grown roosters that start crowing at 0230 through to 7 or so. my neighbours now hate my roosters and I'm not really their biggest fan either.
I think once I have done this large batch for chicken stock, dog food and maybe some eating meat I will go back to maybe 1 or 2 roosters just for breeding
A couple of problems I have come across.
1. Crowing, a fully grown rooster can be heard for miles and can wake you from the deepest sleep and roosters set themselves off crowing, it's like a competition.
2. If you don't process your roosters at a young age the high levels of testosterone in mature roosters can taint the meat creating a very strong gamey favour.
3. free ranging roosters can also get a tougher meat from ranging all day every day, which is only useful in very slow cooked dishes.
What are your thoughts on breeding roosters for meat?
I will be interested in following this thread. I have 4, 10 week olds, 2 of which are roosters that I am intending to process myself. They have not yet started crowing but my understanding is that they are ready to process as soon as they start crowing. My solution for my current rooster (who is not destined for the pot) is to keep him in a box in the garage at night. This seems to keep him muffled enough to keep the neighbours at bay. This is a fairly practical option for one rooster but not 10! The crowing on the new ones will give me a deadline date for butchering them which I will need otherwise "nexts weekend" will always be D day and it will never get done!
If I can go thru with my first two roosters, I will get some meat birds and then experiment with different breeds - game/sussex cross seems to be a winner from the research I have done - what are your thoughts on this? I really hope I can do this as eaing birds from large scale meat production is not an option for me and this will be my alternative to going vegetarian! extreme but in the name of chook welfare I cant see another option!
27-12-2010, 06:57 AM
the roosters are yours, they are well looked after until you take a feed - so no matter the taste or the toguhness they will always be the best
for gamier birds, or ones you expect to be gamey - try accenting that flavour in the way you cook it (cook like a phesant??) or try to reduce the gaminess - try some rabbit recipes for that
toughness? cook longer or use in casseroles/stews
27-12-2010, 08:50 AM
I agree with paradisi. And thanks for the tip about slow cooking. I have a rooster who is overdue for the chop. I don't think dad is keen on the deed and i certainly am not but would do it if i have to. The thing is i want to do the break the neck method rather than the chop off his head method but i need some training so it will probably have to be the bloody head method.
Being vegetarian is not hard if you like beans and are willing to learn how to cook indian food. (they are the best at cooking beans/lentils) always eat with rice of bread. If you live in a temperate climate you can easily grow all those lentils and pulses yourself if you have the room. Though it sounds like you don't if you are worrying about your neighbours.
I hope your overnight box is a good size.
If the roosters crowing is such a big problem, go with muscovy ducks. They are so quiet and i notice that in a batch, there seem to be more males than females.
Hi Sun burn. I just re-read my post and I did make it sound like being vegetarian is extreme...what I meant to say was that many would think it was extreme not to eat commercial poultry for animal welfare reasons yet take one of my own to the block! Anyway....
I have looked into the method and I think I will use a hessian sack with a hole cut in it, a meat cleaver or small axe and a block. That way I can hold the sack over the bucket. I will also do it in the evening when they are dont get as stressed.
I havnt had a go at lentils and pulses yet but would like to give it a go sometime - from an aesthetic / gardening point of view I dont care what the neighbours think at all but the rooster is fairly close to their bedroom window and I am being courteous to them. I dont think it is fair for them to be woken at 4.30am every morning for my lifestyle choice.
His night box is a very big appliance box with a perch and well ventilated with a deep litter system in the bottom so he is breathing fresh smelling air. He is quite used to the routine and sits on my arm when I carry him to it in the evening and the first thing I do when I get up is let him out and he walks back to the girls with me! If he looked stressed about it I would find another alternative.
28-12-2010, 08:15 AM
"I dont think it is fair for them to be woken at 4.30am every morning for my lifestyle choice."
No I don't either and i don't much like being woken up myself. But if he only did that, i'd be fine. My rooster carries on all day and frankly i'm tired of it so I think we are going to stick with ducks in the freezer and not chickens at all. I'll just keep the chooks for their poo.
Do you know that chickens don't see very well at night, if at all.
28-12-2010, 02:49 PM
It's been a long day, processed 13 roosters this morning, 4 young tender roasters, 3 chooped up for a couple of long cooked meals like curries. Plus 6 tough old roosters chopped up for dog food. my filleting knife hand/arm is sore. I have a large chicken stock cooking up from the 3 frames from the filleted roosters, couple of the old roosters had some mites because of all this wet weather, I really hate chook mites....
I feel like I'm going to get a good nights sleep tonight :) I'm back down to two roosters.
I have found the roosters learn to lean forward and crow at night as I have a special rooster house which is pretty low and they still crowed
I have to go start up a super hot compost too to break down all the bits and bones I didn't use. They tend to break down really well if I get a good hot compost going.
28-12-2010, 03:21 PM
I've culled a few roosters now. I don't enjoy it at all. We are basically a vegetarian family, but will eat the birds we call surplus. The girls don't really like it much, so I end up eating more chicken than I really like too and the girls have risotto made with the stock.
Every cull is as difficult as the last for me, but I get to know what to expect. With Roosters I feel OK because they are surplus in more ways than one, but when it comes to culling old chickens, just because they are laying less and less is, for some reason, more difficult for me. I like the idea of sending them to a retirement house to live out their lives, but really I am likely to end up with a lot of old chooks.
In the end I think if I am really going to do this permaculture/self-sufficient thing then I am going to have to be less sentimental and more brutal...
28-12-2010, 07:20 PM
No Grahame - just hungrier. I think we all still live too well - so we consider it a non-essential to procure our own food. Someone I respect once said something like "Garden as though your life depended on it". I like that.;)
29-12-2010, 05:00 AM
Well said Eco ;)
Hi Bazman. What method do you use for killing your chickens? Do you have a plucking machine?
Hi Sunburn. I am starting to learn when my rooster crows. He is usually fairly quiet but reliably crows when..
1. One of the girls strays to far from the flock. I fence them around my gardens and the areas I want them to weed and move them every two weeks to a different area. They can get out but usually dont bother - when one of the girls gets out he crows.
2. When he is bored. When they are locked in the dome on one of my vege gardens he crows all day.
3. When my husband and my neighbour are chatting within 30m of where they are
4. Mornings before I let him out and at 4.30pm! If I give him some scraps to keep him entertained about this time he usually stays quieter!
29-12-2010, 06:54 AM
Grahame there's nothing wrong with old chooks continue to run around the garden. Their poo is still valuable isn't it? Maybe you can leave them out to forage all their food, if there's enough of it around.
My farmer gave me a seed head of sorghum yesterday. He said the chooks would eat the seed so I am going to try to grow some. It should be nice if there's a stalk here and there around if they would grow scattered out like that. The plant looks like corn. I can't remember how much land you've got but if you had a lot you could dry and store some of the seed.
29-12-2010, 06:59 AM
Interesting JoH, especially this bit.
When he is bored. When they are locked in the dome on one of my vege gardens he crows all day.
Maybe its not boredom. Maybe he's saying "Let me outa here"
Incidentally, how high do these birds fly with clipped wings. I'm going to fence them into my new vegie mandala at some point but i know they are good at getting over fences. I think i've only been lucky with my vegie garden that they haven't tried to fly in because the duck yard was the same height and could fly into that. That was about 1 metre, or a little more.
29-12-2010, 07:39 AM
I move all my birds into boxes the night before as chooks are easy to catch in the dark, plus keeping them in the dark until I'm ready to grab the next bird reduces bird and meat stress.
I use a very sharp axe and chopping block, I place them into a tall bucket for a few minutes until they stop kicking then hang them up, I do all the birds at once then process them. I skin all my birds as it's faster and less messy. You can skin a young bird in a few minutes and I'm happy with cooking without the skin. (old birds are somewhat harder to skin)
29-12-2010, 11:15 AM
I read that its important to let the blood drain down torwards the head straight away. I saw this on the wild food show as well when the killed a rabbit. With the rabbit they also squeezed out the urine straight away. But i think this is not necessary with chickens since they don't wee.
I have not looked into just skinning them. That does sound easier and probably healthier! ..... I might try a few of both to get the all round experience. Will let you know how I go in about 8 weeks time.
Hopefully the link above will take you to a photo of my "good enough is perfect" moveable chook pen. They are currently getting rid of singapore daisy (and doing a good job) from the middle of my "weed tree forest" (soon to become part of my food forest). I did clip their wings. In saying that, they can still fly out if they really want to. I move them every two weeks to a different area of the garden and occasionally they will go back to the previous spot to lay their egg! - they like a particular style of lawnmower catcher, when i move them I usually wash one out and replace it with another clean one (so the other can dry out in the sun) and if I get the style "wrong" they will go looking for it! funny things they are. Anyway...other than finicky egg laying preferences, they stay put. I use tomato stakes and bamboo poles to secure the netting to the ground. They will go under any gaps if there are any and the will fly out from the dome if the door of the dome is facing the fence. If there are any ridgid areas (I used an old flyscreen to make up a door in once) they will perch on the top and jump out. If it is just the plain old chook wire with no rail above they dont seem to like going over it. In answer to your question, I dont know how high they fly but it must be over 1m cos thats how high the wire is. I will let their wings grow out next season and see if they still stay in. I recon they probably will. I hope this answered your question!
30-12-2010, 07:34 AM
As to the question of breeds, I have learnt by accident that Chinese silkie meat is grey in colour especially the legs. As far as I'm concerned it tastes the same but the colour is a little off putting for my family anyway.
Having sex-linked colours helps to know what you've got well ahead of time the theory is a
Barred hen + non-barred rooster = Barred males and Non-Barred females
Gold hen + silver rooster = Silver males and Gold females
Barred rock hen + Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire Red rooster = Black with white spot on head male and solid black female (this is a Black Sex Link or Black Star)
The largest number of roosters I let go on to a full crow was seven and I will never do it again.
30-12-2010, 10:41 AM
30-12-2010, 11:44 AM
I love it
30-12-2010, 04:56 PM
I thought I was at my creative best(!) but haven't managed to get the local paper to print it.
30-12-2010, 07:56 PM
JoH if your chooks get rid of Singapore Daisy can I borrow them for a few months? Mine got rid of the leaves, but they couldn't get rid of the meshwork of stems so it just resprouted. They did at least make it easier to pull it out by denuding it.
I will go down later today and check what is left of the root system and let you know. I dont really pay any close attention to that area at the moment.
I like the idea of the sex linked chicks. I will look into that. Thanks
It's not singapore daisy! No idea what it actually is now....I have thought it was singapore daisy for years! Well there you go. (feeling a little daft)
02-01-2011, 03:11 PM
Well whatever it is I hope your chooks sort it for you. I wouldn't wish SD on you anyway!
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