I can hear you now… WHAT???
Yes friends, it is possible to make a rooster think he’s a broody hen.
It’s crazy, I know! It defies all laws of nature. And I’m not sure how I feel about messing with hormones and all. But for informational purposes I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about “caponizing” chickens. Because it’s fascinating to me.
The term “caponizing”, for those who’ve never heard the word, refers to neutering your roosters. I was a little surprised when I first came across this idea. I guess I never thought of roosters as having testicles!
Have you ever seen a rooster’s testicles? I’ve never seen a rooster’s testicles.
Interestingly, you can find them by making an incision between the chicken’s last two ribs where they are hidden among other internal organs. Here’s a link explaining the entire castration process step-by-step: Caponizing Chickens. The best time to caponize is between 6 weeks and 3 months of age, depending on the chicken’s weight and breed.
But why would one want to do this to a rooster, anyways?
Actually, neutering roosters isn’t really done with the intention of producing surrogate mothers. Broodiness is just a side-effect of the hormonal changes the rooster experiences after losing his testicles. (He will also become less aggressive and will even crow much less often!)
Caponizing became popular thousands of years ago when it was discovered that roosters would grow up to 50% larger when neutered, making this a great way to turn an otherwise scrawny rooster into a large and quite flavorful meal. The downside is that most of that extra weight is fat instead of meat, although some say this makes for a delicious and juicy bird unlike any commercially grown chicken. This practice has fallen out of favor as larger meat breeds which have been engineered to mature in as little as five weeks have been introduced to the market.
(If you are interested in raising your own meat birds, but don’t like the idea of using Cornish Cross hybrids, you might consider raising capons!)
There are several methods of caponizing, ranging from buying a professional kit to diy improvisation. According to a fellow homesteader named Gypsy,
An old method of caponizing chickens involves a straw with a horse hair running through it in a loop to lasso the testicle. Other methods of caponizing involve cutting a “V” into your pinkie fingernail and hooking them that way.
Not that I’d recommend either of these methods.
It is a minor surgery which does carry risk, so experts recommend you practice the procedure on an already dead bird before performing the surgery for real.
The benefits of caponizing are worth consideration:
- Delicious, juicy meat
- No more fighting, aggresive roosters
- Save money by ordering straight runs and caponizing any baby roos
- Use a capon as a surrogate to hatch out and adopt chicks while your hens continue laying eggs for you to eat
- Get more meat out of your extra roosters
I’m not so sure I could do minor surgery on an awake chicken, but hey, if it was survive or die I could get over my squeamishness in favor of a heartier meal.
Here’s another very interesting read on the subject: Caponizing: Reviving a Lost Art, if you’re interested in reading more.
What do you think? Is the idea of raising capons cruel, or cool?