Chicken consumption is known to reach high numbers each year. Americans alone are believed to eat 9.2 billion chickens yearly!
If you look at the numbers, most of those chickens are hens. It can make you ask where the roosters are in those digits. Eventually, you might ask the age-old question: can you eat roosters?
Let us find out!
Can You Eat Roosters?
Yes, you can eat roosters. They have almost the same nutritional value as the hens. They are safe to eat.
There is almost the same chance an egg would be a male or a female chick. The same is not true when it comes to commercial poultry. Roosters and hens don’t have equal chances in the poultry business.
As you might already know, hens rule the commercial poultry world. You usually see hens on shelves and tables. On the other hand, it’s unusual to see roosters in those places.
With all that, roosters are not the most popular choice, but they are still safe to eat.
Why The Lack of Roosters?
There are several reasons why hens are more popular as table birds than roosters. Let’s talk about those factors one by one:
It’s not what you’re thinking. There are no rules stating people can’t eat roosters. That is as far as we know.
The problem is—roosters could be loud. Because of this, many places don’t allow residents to own one. So, many chicken handlers don’t have a single rooster in their flock.
As you might have guessed, you can’t eat roosters if you don’t have roosters in the first place.
Temperament is an important factor, especially in commercial poultry.
Different breeds have different temperaments. There are chicken breeds that are known to be tame. On the other hand, some species can be too aggressive.
Those statements do not usually apply to the roosters. Roosters, regardless of the breed, tend to be more aggressive. Despite how gentle a breed is, its rooster is still likely to be aggressive.
Many runs only have one or two roosters, if any. That is because roosters are usually not that tolerant of other males.
Sometimes, you can’t introduce a new male to a flock if there is already a rooster. There are some proper steps to be aware of.
Additionally, it often requires a larger area for more than one rooster. Roosters could get territorial.
Generally, roosters don’t do well together. On the other hand, hens are more accepting and tolerant of other hens. With that said, it is not surprising to know that many handlers opt for the hens.
It is the same for the big poultry companies. In commercial poultry, thousands of chickens live together under one roof.
Now, imagine what would happen if you put thousands of roosters together. There would be big trouble. It’s not a pretty sight. With that picture in mind, it’s easy to see why poultry companies opt to nurture and sell hens instead.
Production is another reason small and big poultry companies don’t keep roosters.
One may expect that, given the challenges associated with raising roosters, their meat might offer unique benefits. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Rooster meat is not worth the struggle for many.
Rooster meat is usually leathery and chewy. It takes a long time to tenderize. It’s not the best meat type, especially if you’re looking for something fast and easy to cook.
Additionally, roosters take almost the same time to grow as hens, but they don’t have that much meat to offer. With everything into consideration, rooster meat does not seem to be worth the hassle.
If not in quality, then rooster meat might have something to brag about in taste. Would you agree? So, let’s see.
Some say rooster meat has a more robust taste, unlike the usual chicken meat. Some add that the flavor becomes stronger the older the rooster gets. On the other hand, some say that you won’t be able to taste the difference.
So, is the taste worth it? The chicken community is a little divided on this. It looks like it’s a matter of personal preference.
Why Keep Roosters?
Roosters are not the most productive birds out there. They don’t lay eggs. Also, as you have seen, they are not the best table birds out there.
In addition, they’re usually not tame creatures. It is not common to see a friendly rooster. Many marvels at the sight of it. More often than not, roosters are aggressive, which poses problems on your land.
Of course, we can’t forget that they’re loud birds too!
By now, you might be wondering why chicken handlers and keepers still keep roosters. The little guys could be a little bit challenging. However, they have some good qualities too.
For one, many handlers keep at least one rooster as an added layer of protection. All that fire is (often) because roosters are protective of their flock.
They will sound the alarm if predators are nearby. If you fail to show up and fend off the predator, the rooster will be willing to save the day by sacrificing himself. Hopefully, it doesn’t have to come to that!
If you’re looking forward to hatching and raising some chicks, you would want to keep at least one rooster. They are needed when fertilizing eggs. Hens can lay eggs without a rooster, but those eggs will not become chicks without a rooster.
If you’re into poultry shows, you might also want to consider adding a rooster to your flock. Roosters are flashy and showy, and you want that flair for the show. They make for a great show bird.
Lastly, some handlers like to keep roosters as pets. Not all roosters will become loyal subjects to you. Some will always be wary of you. However, those that (somehow) become tame will make for a great chicken companion.
If you’re up for some challenge, we think taking in one or two roosters would be worthwhile!
Capons: Valued Male Chickens
A capon is also a rooster, a neutered one, that is. As you can imagine, the process could be painful for the chickens. Unfortunately, it is not banned anywhere in the US.
The process is supposed to improve the meat quality of the rooster. However, there is a tradeoff.
Capons will take a longer time to develop. Also, they will be smaller when you compare them to an average-sized rooster.
In addition, they lose some of the characteristics known to most roosters. They are less active and aggressive. Some keepers tend to like this behavior more.
Is the tradeoff worth it? Some say the taste is similar to the meat that hens offer. If that’s the case, it doesn’t seem like the exchange is worth it.
Overall, many value capons for their meat. Given the suffering the chicken will endure, we don’t support it.
When Should You Butcher A Rooster?
The best time is after five months when they are newly matured. But other species, like the Cornish Cross Broiler, only take 6 to 8 weeks. Many poultry farmers butcher broilers once they dominate the flock and fight with each other. The earlier it is, the better taste and flavor you can get from it.
If you plan to butcher a rooster at your home, make sure it is humane as possible. Some standard techniques are chopping block, brain stem, and neck breaking. Others use gas as a less brutal option. But this process may need more precise measurement as it needs CO2. The first part is to anesthetize, followed by administering a lethal dose.
And if you plan to prepare American-style dishes like frying, we suggest not using rooster meat. Cooking methods that give direct heat and high temperatures are not a good choice for this.
Is It Healthy To Eat Roosters?
As we said, roosters don’t differ much from hens. The flavor and nutritional value are somewhat the same except for the fat. Similar to the comparison between different types of meat, rooster meat is leaner than hen meat. The location of the fat also differs from the former, as it lies directly under the skin.
That is why it is easier to separate it from lean meat reducing the calories. But it’s not always on a positive note. Little fat means that it can turn out leathery once cooked.
If you want to try Rooster for your menu, the best method is to use a slow cooker. It will slowly tenderize the fibers while imparting flavors from the spices. You can also try a stew with chicken broth and bones. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can throw in the comb!
Rooster Meat Dishes
Despite not being the best table birds in town, you can still eat roosters. If you have a few too many roosters on your land, then here are some dishes you might want to try:
- Spicy Rooster Gumbo– We hope you like spicy dishes! The spicy rooster gumbo is a recipe you would want to try. Also, you don’t have to keep all that tasty goodness for yourself. This dish is good for up to six servings.
- Coq au Vin– In the mood for something fancy? Maybe you would want to try coq a vin. It means rooster in wine. This dish is good for up to four servings.
- Superfluous Rooster with Dumplings– Maybe you want something different yet something simple. Well, we got you! You might want to try out this dish. It could make up about four to six servings.
Rooster meat is not the easiest to cook, but we think these dishes will make the wait and effort worth it.
There you have it! Can you eat roosters? Absolutely.
Roosters are not a usual meat choice in some places, but it is undoubtedly safe to consume.
There are several reasons why roosters are not naturally on grocery shelves and dining tables. They’re not the best meat around, and the trouble doesn’t seem to be worth it for many.
However, that’s not a reason not to keep one or two roosters on your land!
Most roosters are known to be aggressive, but they still have many redeeming qualities. They’re great to have as an extra layer of protection for your hens. Also, you’ll need them to help hatch and raise your chicks!
Overall, if you’re up for a challenge, a rooster could offer (both) a fun and rewarding experience and dish!
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.