If you have jumped on the bandwagon of having some backyard or pasture raised chickens, you may have considered taking some of those feathered critters and turning them into rooster meat for the table.
Of course, if your ladies are laying eggs pretty well, they are providing a good service to your family and are safe from the literal chopping block.
However, if you bought a batch of straight run chicks, and you’ve raised them to adulthood, statistics say that you likely have half roosters in your flock.
Having one or even two roosters in a flock of chickens isn’t a bad thing. For many breeds of chickens, the roosters provide a valuable service, keeping the hens safe from dogs or hawks and allowing the hens to lay fertile eggs that may hatch out into a new generation of chicks.
However, enough is enough. What on earth can you do with the extra roosters in your flock?
Old timers in past generations kept extra roosters simply as a source of meat in the flock. In fact, rooster meat tastes pretty much exactly the same as any other chicken meat. In commercial meat chicken farms, the birds are not divided by sex.
Both males and females are raised in huge flocks and butchered when they reach the appropriate size.
In fact, it is quite likely that you have eaten rooster meat before in the poultry that you have purchased at the grocery store.
Why Raise Roosters for Meat?
Roosters may be cheaper to buy.
If you buy chicks at the farm store in the spring, you will notice that the chicks that are sexed as all female are more expensive than the chicks that are unsexed.
If you are willing to raise the roosters for meat, you can get less expensive birds. Additionally, you may be able to buy all male chicks from a hatchery for much less money than buying hens.
Roosters grow faster than hens.
You may have in mind to just buy hens and eat some of them. However, this plan doesn’t take Mother Nature into account.
Male birds grow bigger more quickly than female birds. You can get more meat more quickly by buying roosters and letting them grow for meat.
Roosters will grow to be heavier than hens.
Not only do roosters grow more quickly than hens, but they also get much larger than hens, For certain breeds, the male animals may weigh up to five pounds more than the hens. This means that the roosters will put more meat on the table.
4 Ways to Get More From Your Roosters
If you have several roosters, you can get more from your backyard flock than just fresh, delicious eggs. You can use these birds to provide homegrown, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken for your family.
Butcher Your Roosters Young for Frying Chickens
You can’t just butcher any old rooster and get a good carcass for grilling, frying, or baking. Younger chickens have more tender meat. If you allow the roosters to get very old, the meat will get tougher and stringier.
Older roosters might only be suitable for broth making. However, if you have young birds, you can grow them out as fryers.
If you are raising Cornish Crosses or a similar meat breed of chicken, you will probably want to butcher them at the age of 6 to 10 weeks. If you allow them to get too much larger, they may outgrow their bones and risk leg fractures or heart failure.
Other breeds of chickens will take much longer to reach maturity. Heritage breeds like the Rhode Island Red or Orpington make good-sized meat carcasses.
However, they take four or five months to reach butchering weight. Despite this, they have a richer flavor and darker meat color than the Cornish Cross chickens.
Most people have heard of a capon but have no idea what it actually is. A capon is a male chicken that has had his testes removed. This makes the rooster grow differently than intact roosters or even hens.
Because of hormone changes, a capon distributes fat differently than roosters or hens. The fat is deposited under the skin or in the muscles, lending more tenderness and flavor to the meat.
Making a rooster into a capon is a bit dicey. While castration of a bull, goat, or pig is not terribly invasive, it is a bit different for a chicken. Roosters do not have testicles on the outside of their body like mammals.
To castrate a rooster, you have to do a minor surgery, cutting between the two lowest ribs on the chicken. The testes are tiny glands the size of a grain of rice and there are vital organs close to them. It’s easy to kill the rooster as you do this operation. Because of this, it is best to learn this procedure from an expert.
Use the Older Roosters for Stewing Chicken
If time has gotten away from you and your roosters are a bit older than the 5 to 6 month window, you can still use them for meat. However, the texture of the meat may be less than ideal for frying. No worries.
You can stew that chicken, and it will still make a wonderful meal for your family. In fact, you may be able to get multiple meals from the chicken when you cook it long and low.
An older rooster should be stewed low and slow. This means that you should take several hours to cook it on the stovetop and cook it until the meat literally falls off of the bones.
Add chopped veggies like carrots, celery and onion to the pot, along with herbs and seasonings like basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. This will increase the flavor and nutrition of the broth.
After you remove the chicken from the pot and take the meat from the bones, strain the broth to get rid of the overcooked vegetables and any bits of skin or bone.
Now you can return the meat to the pot and create a flavorful and nutritious chicken soup by adding additional veggies, noodles, or rice. Another option is to make dumplings and create a pot of Southern style chicken and dumplings.
Create Your Own Homemade Chicken Broth
If your rooster is really old, the meat may remain tough and stringy no matter how long you cook it. However, all is not lost. You can stew that chicken for hours.
The remaining meat and the bones will still yield a delicious and healthy chicken broth. You can store this broth in the freezer for future use, or you can use a pressure canner to preserve it.
The broth from a homegrown chicken will add flavor and nourishment to your soups and casseroles. You can use homemade broth in any recipe that uses chicken broth.
Side note – we also love other birds like quail and pheasant in a good broth.
FAQs About Rooster Meat
Here are a few FAQs about Rooster Meat.
What is rooster meat called?
Rooster meat is also commonly referred to as “chicken” in some parts of the world. There is no special term, just like both bull & cow meat is “beef.”
Do we eat roosters or just chickens?
We eat both roosters and chickens. Roosters are a meat bird just like hens.
Are capons illegal?
No, capons are not illegal in the United States. Capons are illegal in the United Kingdom and many other countries around the world.
Why are male chickens not suitable for meat?
Male chickens are very suitable for meat production, including as broiler chickens. However, they are not suitable for egg production. Mosy all male chickens are sexed and killed in the egg industry instead of being raised, since they will not be a laying hen.
Are roosters good for meat?
Yes, roosters make good meat birds. Roosters will often grow faster and heavier than hens.
What is the best age to eat a rooster?
Young roosters have the best, most tender meat. The exact age depends on the chicken breed. Cornish hens are best at 6 to 10 weeks. Rhode Island Reds need until 4 to 5 months. An older bird will have a poorer taste and will make for tough chicken meat. They are best in the slow cooker for a stew.
Can You Eat A Rooster?
Yes, you can eat a rooster, but it is not recommended. Roosters are generally tough and taste gamey.