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?
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.
With that said, this post will walk you through everything you need to know about what a capon is – and how to caponize your own roosters at home.
What is a Capon?
A capon is a male chicken that has been castrated, or surgically altered to remove the testes. This results in a bird that is significantly larger than a regular chicken, with more tender and flavorful meat.
The best time to caponize is between 6 weeks and 3 months of age, depending on the chicken’s weight and breed.
Why Would You Caponize a Rooster?
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 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.
With that said, below are some steps to follow if you want to make a capon yourself. Again, I recommend involving a vet if you plan on doing this.
Benefits of Caponizing
The benefits of caponizing are worth consideration:
- Delicious, juicy meat
- No more fighting, aggressive 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 survived or died I could get over my squeamishness in favor of a heartier meal.
What Chickens Can Be Used as a Capon?
Chickens come in many different breeds, each with their own unique set of characteristics. While any breed can technically be used as a capon, the traditional choices are Orpingtons, Rocks, and other dual-purpose breeds. These breeds are typically larger and have more meat on their bones than other types of chickens.
Caponizing is a process of castration that involves removing the testicles from the chicken. This makes the chicken less aggressive and more docile, and also causes it to put on weight.
As a result, caponized chickens tend to be larger and more flavorful than their non-caponized counterparts.
Silkies are a breed of chicken that is known for its black skin and bones. Interestingly, the chemical that gives Silkies their black color also contains more vitamins and antioxidants than any other breed of chicken.
For this reason, caponized Silkies are becoming increasingly popular on the health market. If you have Bantam chickens, capping them will also plump them up a bit.
Regardless of which breed you choose, caponizing is a great way to improve the flavor and size of your chicken.
How to Make a Capon
The process of castration involves removing the testicles of the bird, which prevents it from developing testosterone and other hormones. This lack of hormones results in a capon that is less aggressive and has more tender meat. Here’s how to do it.
1. Start With the Right Tools
First, you’ll need to gather the right tools. A bright light will be necessary to help you see the rooster’s anatomy, and a sharp knife will make the surgery quick and clean.
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You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with the process. The best way to do this is to read an educational resource like Caponizing by Loyl Stromberg. This book will walk you through every step of the caponization process, ensuring that you have all the information you need to perform the surgery successfully.
With the right tools and knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to caponize a rooster with ease.
2. Withhold Feed for 36 Hours and Water for 24 Hours
Withhold food from the bird for 36 hours. This will help to reduce the size of its organs. You should also withhold water for 24 hours, which will reduce organ size further and make the caponization process easier.
While the process may seem harsh, it is a quick and humane way to ensure that your rooster produces succulent meat.
3. Immobilize the Bird
To caponize a rooster, the first step is to immobilize the bird. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to use strings and weights to attach the bird to a table, or to use taut line hitches.
4. Pull Skin Under Wing Toward Tail Feathers
To caponize a rooster, you’ll need to clean the area around the incision with an antiseptic like rubbing alcohol. Next, use your fingers to pull the skin underneath the wing towards the tail feathers. This will create an opening in the body cavity skin.
5. Make the Cut
To caponize a rooster, you will need to make a cut between the ribs closest to the hip. This can be done with a sharp knife, and you will need to be careful not to damage any organs. Once the cut is made, have a cotton ball ready to collect any blood that may be released.
6. Insert Forceps to Locate Testicles
Next, forceps are inserted to locate the testicles. Once found, they are carefully removed. These are bean-like glands.
Look for the bean like gland and see if you can find the other gland deeper down, be careful not to nick an artery
7. Remove the Glands With the Forceps
Remove the testicles/glands with the forceps, being careful not to nick an artery.
8. Release the Skin
Finally, release the skin and make sure that the opening and body cavity skin don’t line up. Doing this will eliminate the need for stitches. As a result, your rooster will be unable to mate and will grow significantly larger than an un-caponized rooster.
9. Apply Iodine or Blu Kote to Reduce Infection Risk
After the testes have been removed, the incision should be sealed with Iodine or Blu Kote to reduce the risk of infection.
10. Consider Using Medication if Needed
While caponization does not require anesthesia, you may want to consider using medication to help reduce the rooster’s stress levels. Talk to your vet about options.
11. Check One Week Later for Healing
If you’re considering caponizing a rooster, it’s important to know that the procedure requires some care and attention afterwards. The incision site must be kept clean and dry to prevent infection, and the rooster should be monitored for any signs of discomfort or distress. With proper care, most roosters recover from the procedure without any problems and go on to live happy, healthy lives.
How to Cook Capon
Capon is a type of chicken that is prized for its large size and juicy, tender flesh. While it can be roasted or grilled, one of the best ways to cook a capon is to pot-roast it. This method ensures that the meat stays moist and succulent, and it also allows the skin to become crisp and golden brown.
Here is a step-by-step guide to pot-roasting a capon and an easy recipe for you to follow:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius).
- Season the capon all over with salt and pepper.
- Place the bird in a roasting pan or Dutch oven, breast side up.
- Add any aromatics (such as herbs or garlic) to the pan.
- Cover the pan tightly with foil or a lid.
- Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is cooked through. Check the breast and thigh meat with a thermometer to make sure it’s at least 180 degrees throughout.
- Remove the foil or lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow the skin to brown. I recommend saving the pan juices to make a thick gravy!
- Let the capon rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving. Enjoy!
What Does Capon Taste Like?
Capon tastes like a cross between chicken and turkey. It is more tender than chicken and has a milder flavor. The flesh is also higher in fat, which makes it juicier and more flavorful.
Capon is usually roasted or braised, and the skin is often removed before cooking to prevent it from becoming tough.
While the flavor of capon is similar to chicken, it is generally considered to be a more delicate and nuanced flavor. As such, it is often used in gourmet dishes or served at special occasions.
If you are looking for a bird that has more flavor than chicken but is not as intense as turkey, then capon may be the right choice for you.
So, if you’re looking to keep your flock healthy and productive, consider caponizing your roosters. Not only will it make them more docile and easier to handle, but it’ll also improve the flavor and texture of the meat.
What do you think? Is the idea of raising capons cruel, or cool?
updated 08/18/2022 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.
17 thoughts on “How to Make a Capon From a Rooster”
My maternal grandparents and great grandparents, as well as their siblings all had backyard chickens. One of my grand uncles was properly trained by a vet to caponize. Each family would have a few roosters neutered each year. The capon would be the centerpiece of Easter dinner. Kin who did not have chickens would get theirs from a relative who did.
I do not recall the birds being in great distress.
I’m a town boy, but very much appreciate that for every meal I eat, animals, plants and fungi die that I might live.
Extremely cruel article. Playing veterinarian is just plain silly along with being very irresponsible. Very sad to see this article is online.
Are you opposed to eating chicken entirely? If not what’s the difference?
why so cruel? cant you leave the way they are?………sorry…..you tend to feel thid way when you have a loving rooster as a pet not food…….
Don’t you neuter your cat and dog? Do you have qualms about eating steaks from beef steers or barrow pigs? If so, I’m sorry and withdraw my reply. If not, then this stands.
Thanks so much for that! 👍👏👏
I think this is a fantastic article. Our family has worked very hard to change our impact on the animals who sustain us. To make this possible it is necessary for our farm to pay its keep. This involves selling meat to the public, and the public isn’t interested in our 3-4 lbs bony, dark meat, heritage breed roosters. They want a fat juicy bird for the table and that is something they will pay for.
For anyone who has the remotest sense of compassion for animals, and has raised CornishX you must know how heart wrenching it can be. They live 8 weeks, they are unwell, overweight, under feathered and even given access to free range often won’t choose it. I look at caponizing as a life saving solution. Who here wouldnt undergo surgery to double their life span and allow them the freedom to enjoy the great out doors? It allows our birds quality life, the ability to live naturally, live longer, and serve a greater purpose as the meat itself will be far healthier then any cornishX could hope to be.
I have to agree with Caroline and other commenters who question the humane aspect of this practice. A live bird like a rooster is not an earthworm. They are entitled to either be allowed to live and crow, fight and strut, or be killed quickly and humanely. Farm people must be ready to capitalize on suddenly available foodstuffs, but this crosses the line in my opinion, into needlessly cruel practice. Even a rooster is entitled to humane treatment from his guardians.
This is funny…. Sounds like you would never make it on a real farm.
Humanely raised pastured birds is part of our reason for raising our own. Caponing is far too cruel to even consider on our farm. More fat for more food is not much of a deal compared to spending another dollar to buy another chick. I can’t really understand why anyone would want to “revive the lost art”. Let’s just forget it like other poor animal husbandry practices of the past.
If you dont “buy” your chickens than this is a must. Of your typical hatch rate, cockerels account for 50%. So half of your hatch are roosters who will fight and kill each other. They will be aggressive toward humans and any other animal. The ideal ratio is 1 rooster to 10 hens. so if you have a 50% hatch rate, how do you suggest keeping the peace. Also, caponizing vs euthanasia seem a bit more humane rather than just destroying all cockerels. In addition, once they are caponized, the meat is more tender, less stringy and not pungent. So, i believe the most humane thing is to caponize, allow the roosters to live a happy life until they become food (which in case you didnt know, is a necessity for human existence.)
Very interesting! I never knew that this could be done. Like you, I’m not sure we would do this, but it is great to know that the option is available.
We have 14 chicky-babies that are just now 3 months old. We are hoping to keep several of the hens, butcher some of the chickens and keep a Roo or two. This is the first time that we’ve hatched chicks from fertilized eggs this past summer when a hen went broody, but we are looking forward to doing this more often for meat.
This may seem odd (please remember, we are newbies!), but even after 3 months, I cant tell which are the hens and which are the roo’s. I have a feeling I know which are the roo’s, and if I am correct, we have 4 of them out of 14, but how do you determine which is a hen and which is a roo before maturity?
Don’t feel bad. I still can’t tell the difference between the roos most times until their combs develop or they crow, lol! It can be hard to tell, though sometimes you can figure it out by their behavior. If they act aggressively or want to fight other males, then you know for sure you’ve got a rooster. Good luck to ya!
Check out the tail and posture not to forget the bill too. If the tail seems to grow longer and narrower in shape it’s definitely male. Check out it’s posture while walking. A male has a more erect posture when walking about than a female one. The bill of a male chick on most occasion tend to be bigger.
I’ve seen rooster testicles! They’re on the inside (err, yeah, right where the diagram says to cut). They’re surprisingly big for the size of the animal. Whenever I butcher a rooster, the testicles are a treat for our dog.
Note that opinions vary quite a bit about some of those benefits of capons, like the broodiness and crowing less. Some people don’t see any broodiness or reduction in crowing at all, others swear by it. I think they also eat more (hence the additional fat they put on), which might make them less economical for meat production.
Personally, I think caponising is a lot of effort for very little gain, and I have questions about whether the procedure might be considered cruel. I just raise baby roosters along with their sisters, and kill and butcher them as soon as they start causing trouble.
Excellent information Kendra! May we link this to our website?
Absolutely, Kevin 🙂 Share away!