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.
Right…but are roosters good to eat?
Yes! roosters are good to eat in English cuisine. Rooster meat is lean and flavorful, often used in stews, soups, and roasts. Its texture is slightly firmer than that of a chicken, making it a popular choice for certain dishes. However, it is important to ensure proper cooking to eliminate any health risks associated with poultry consumption.
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.
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.
What age to butcher roosters?
The ideal age to butcher roosters in English breeds is usually between 14 and 20 weeks. At this stage, roosters typically weigh around 4 to 6 pounds and have achieved optimal flavor and tenderness. It’s best to consult local regulations and guidelines as age recommendations can vary.
Is rooster meat good to eat?
Rooster meat is good to eat as many farmers still consume it, and it is completely safe. The flavor of rooster meat is often described as richer and more intense compared to hen chicken meat. However, it may require slow cooking as the texture can be tough or stringy.
Why don’t we eat roosters?
We don’t eat roosters because they are not commonly available in the marketplace. Unlike broilers or fryers, roosters are not bred to grow fast and heavy, making their meat more challenging to cook. However, if you find rooster meat appealing, it is recommended to cook them slowly at a low temperature for optimal results.
Why is rooster meat so dark?
Rooster meat appears dark due to the higher concentration of myoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein, found in this type of meat. The richness of nutrients in the meat increases as the myoglobin content increases, resulting in its darker coloration.
Do we eat roosters or just chickens?
We eat both roosters and chickens. The consumption of chicken meat includes both male and female chickens, and this is a common practice worldwide.
What does rooster meat taste like?
Rooster meat tastes similar to chicken, but it is often described as more robust and flavorful compared to hen meat. The denser muscle fibers in roosters contribute to this intensified taste, which some people liken to the richness of dark meat turkey.
Is rooster meat tougher than chicken?
Rooster meat is indeed tougher than chicken meat. Roosters, being male chickens, have meat that is slightly tougher and more fibrous compared to meat from hens. However, when cooked slowly on low heat in stews or other dishes, it becomes delicious and flavorful.
How old should a rooster be to butcher?
The ideal age to butcher a rooster is when it has recently reached maturity. Typically, this occurs at around five months old for most breeds, although the specific timing may vary depending on the species. However, for the increasingly favored Jumbo Cornish X Rocks (also known as cornish cross broiler), the recommended age for butchering is only six to eight weeks.
Why do chicken farmers have roosters?
Chicken farmers have roosters because roosters play a crucial role in protecting their hens from predators. They ensure the safety of the flock by keeping the hens together and alerting them if a predator approaches. Additionally, roosters are willing to physically defend the hens against any potential attackers. Furthermore, having roosters in the flock helps maintain the natural order and balance within the group.
Does cockerel taste different to chicken?
Cockerel does taste different from chicken. Its meat is characterized by a richer and more intense flavor profile, with a firm yet silky texture. Additionally, cockerel has a slightly gamey taste. This distinction in taste can be attributed to the higher bone density in cockerels, which contributes to a stronger structure and flavor during the cooking process.
Can rooster be sold as chicken?
Roosters can be sold as chicken in the meat industry, as both male and female chickens are raised and valued equally for their meat. Unlike the egg industry, which only requires hens to lay eggs for human consumption, the chicken meat industry utilizes both genders for meat production.
What age can you eat a rooster?
The appropriate age to consume a rooster is when it has reached maturity. Generally, this occurs at around five months for most breeds, although it may vary depending on the species. However, for the Jumbo Cornish X Rocks (also known as cornish cross broiler), which is becoming more popular, it only takes six to eight weeks for them to reach maturity and be ready for butchering.
What is the benefit of having a rooster?
The benefit of having a rooster is that it acts as a guardian or protector for the flock, ensuring their security and safety. The presence of a rooster provides insurance that the flock is well-protected, as they are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend against potential predators. Additionally, if there are any chicks in the flock, roosters will work even harder to safeguard them.
Can you buy a cockerel to eat?
You can buy a cockerel to eat as a great alternative for a delicious meal. Our cockerels, reared between 3kg and 7kg, are full of flavor and can be a wonderful substitute for a traditional turkey dinner. Check out our recipes section for helpful tips on how to cook up a storm with this bird!
Do all male chickens become roosters?
Not all male chickens become roosters. A male chicken is known as a cockerel before reaching one year of age, and after one year, he is referred to as a rooster. Similarly, a female chicken is called a pullet before one year of age, and after one year, she is known as a hen.
What is cockerel meat called?
Cockerel meat is called capon, which refers to a rooster that has been castrated before reaching sexual maturity. This process enhances the tenderness and reduces the gaminess of the meat. Additionally, capons are typically fed a nourishing diet consisting of milk or porridge to further improve the quality of the meat.