Why Castrate a Rooster

You ask why you would castrate a rooster?

Castrating a rooster sounds like an unusual practice if you're not used to keeping chickens, but it used to be extremely common.


Once it has been castrated, the rooster is referred to as a capon, and becomes more docile and much fatter, making it a better bird for eating.

Capons are still available in poultry markets, but they're fairly hard to find. The flesh tastes much better, and is preferred by people who really love chickens.


Caponization is done when the rooster is quite young. It causes the capon not to develop the traits we commonly associate with roosters. The comb and wattles stay small, leaving the capon with a smaller head than most roosters.

The back and tail feathers are also somewhat shorter. The effects of caponization also show up in behavior. The capon loses its aggression, and can be kept in groups, or even with hens. There's no danger of these animals fighting amongst themselves and causing injury.

The energy the rooster would have expended in defending its territory against real and imagined threats is turned to becoming bigger and fatter. Roasted capons are high in fat, juicy and moist, and easily basted in their own juices.

This is why they're so prized as meat chickens. However, they're not as common anymore, since the advent of breeds raised specifically for meat. It's important to keep this in mind.

If you breed your own chickens, you'll quickly discover that you have more roosters than you need. Most farmers simply slaughter their roosters at a young age and eat them, but some choose to caponize, instead.

Keep in mind that this is much more difficult than castrating a mammal, since birds carry their testes inside the body cavity, and that it may be illegal where you live. Check local animal welfare laws before you try to castrate a rooster.


Any variety of chicken can be caponized, with most birds being castrated between two and four weeks of age. Before the procedure, the bird may be dosed with antibiotics, and it will be taken off food and water for up to twenty-four hours before the surgery.

The bird will weigh about a pound at this point, and will then be raised to be anywhere from six to eleven pounds before it's killed.

No farmer should think about trying to castrate a rooster until they have lots of experience slaughtering their own chickens.

Then, practice by performing the procedure on dead birds so that you'll be able to do the job quickly, easily, and without harm. When you move to live birds, do it with young cockerels you're already planning to slaughter.

This will allow you to quickly dispatch the rooster if you make an error. If you leave behind any tissue, the bird might not be a full capon. If you make a bigger error, it could be in a lot of pain and will need to be killed right away.

It's easier to find the testes in an older bird. You'll need to use a professional caponizing kit, and make sure you're working on a clean area with disinfected tools.

A small incision is made between the two lowest ribs, and the testicles removed. The incision isn't sewn up, and should heal on its own.

When caponized by someone who knows what they're doing, the bird appears to feel little pain and returns to normal quickly. It is possible to castrate a rooster quickly and effectively, but make sure you know what you're doing first!



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