If you own a flock of chickens, the first big question you probably faced was “rooster, or no rooster”? It’s no easy. On one hand, roosters can protect your hens from predators and intruders.
On the other hand, they’re incredibly loud, and can be aggressive towards both people and other chickens.
Nice perks to be sure, but do you want to deal with a brash and aggressive rooster? And do you want to risk him fertilizing your chickens’ eggs?
But could neutering the big bird solve both of these issues? Can you even neuter a rooster?
Yes, you can neuter a rooster. The process, called caponization, involves removing the testicles, but you shouldn’t do it yourself.
This will not only reduce aggression, but also result in a bird that is quieter and more docile. The rooster will still be larger than a hen and have his comb and wattles so he’ll still look like a rooster.
It turns out you can neuter a rooster, and doing so will have much the same effect that it has on other male animals.
But this is not something you can likely do yourself, and you should understand all the relevant factors before submitting your bird to it. Keep reading to learn more.
Can You Really Neuter a Rooster?
Yes, you can. Roosters can be neutered, or caponized, by having their testicles removed.
Roosters’ Testes are Internal
However, a rooster’s testicles are not external like a dog’s, for example. They are actually internal, and the process to remove them is more complicated than just a simple snip.
Because of this, only skilled and trained personnel should attempt the procedure, and it isn’t risk-free.
At What Age Can You Neuter a Rooster?
Roosters are typically caponized at around 6 weeks months old, but it can be done on birds as old as three months.
After a rooster has properly matured sexually the process will have less impact and is likely to have harmful effects on the bird. If you cannot caponize a rooster early in life, you should forget about it.
What is a Neutered Rooster Called?
A neutered rooster is called a capon. Intact roosters are called cockerels when they are young, and after the neutering process are called capons. You’ll see them referred to as such commonly.
How Do You Neuter a Rooster?
The procedure is relatively simple and involves restraining the chicken before cutting through the skin and flesh on the side of the rooster near its ribs.
Once the testicles are exposed, which look like small, yellowish beans, they are removed and the incision closed.
The entire operation takes less than 30 minutes when done by a skilled practitioner and the bird can be returned to his normal activities within a day, usually.
While caponization does sterilize the bird, it can also fail or one of the testes is missed, or even part of a testicle.
For this reason, caponization is often performed on roosters that will be used for meat production.
However, the procedure is also sometimes performed on pet roosters in order to make them more suitable for living with humans.
What Physical Changes Happen to a Neutered Rooster?
The most obvious change you’ll see in a neutered rooster is a reduction in his overall aggression and activity levels. This will lead to some interesting changes.
The first is that the rooster’s comb and wattles will usually develop smaller and feathers less vibrant as the circulating levels of testosterone drop.
You may also notice that the rooster becomes more docile and less aggressive overall, especially towards other chickens and also toward interloper humans.
This is perhaps the most common reason why people neuter their roosters, as an unneutered rooster can be quite a handful, as any experienced keeper will tell you!
What are the Benefits of Neutering a Rooster?
Another physical change that occurs is that the bird’s meat will become far tenderer and increase in flavor.
This is because when testosterone levels are high and activity levels correspondingly high, rooster meat is often gamey or tangy tasting, and has a distinct stringy texture that is decidedly unlike the chicken you get from the grocery!
In contrast, the meat from a capon is said to be especially delicious, both in texture and flavor. The bird’s overall physique will also be plumper due to the lack of testosterone-driven muscle development and activity.
Capon meat has been prized since medieval times for these reasons, and until the 20th century capons were commonly served at Christmas and other special occasions in Europe.
Lastly, capons typically live longer lives compared to intact roosters, so you can get a better return on your bird if you want him around as “meat on the hoof,” as a guard or as a pet.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Neutering a Rooster?
While there are some clear advantages to having a neutered rooster around, there are also some potential disadvantages that you should be aware of before making the decision to go ahead with the procedure.
The first is that it is an irreversible process, so if you change your mind later on down the line you will not be able to reverse it.
It can be a costly procedure, especially if you need to have it done by a professional.
You should also consider that depriving a rooster of his testosterone-supercharging nads is going to make him weaker and less ferocious overall; not ideal if you actually want him to be better capable of protecting the flock!
And finally, there is always the potential for complications during or after the surgery, which could lead to prolonged pain or even death for your bird.
Death from shock or a botched operation is always a possibility, as other organs and major arteries are located near the testes.
So while neutering a rooster certainly has some advantages, be sure to weigh up all the pros and
How Much Does it Cost to Neuter a Rooster?
The cost of neutering a rooster can vary depending on a number of factors, such as whether you do it yourself or have it done by a professional, and also where you live.
In general, however, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 to have the procedure done.
If you are having it done by a professional veterinarian, the cost will be on the higher end of that spectrum, and cost overruns from post-op care could be even higher.
If you want to do the operation yourself, you can get all the tools you need for between $25 and $60.
If you are planning to do it there are a number of guides available online and in print that can show you how.
However, it is important to note that this is not a procedure for the faint of heart; if you are not absolutely confident in your ability to do it, then it is probably best to leave it to the professionals!
What Happens if You Don’t Neuter a Rooster?
If you don’t neuter a rooster, he will grow up to be just another normal rooster. The main thing you can expect is that he will be much noisier and more aggressive than a neutered bird.
Again, this is because of the high levels of testosterone that coursing through his veins. It is possible for neutered roosters to get along with other chickens and with humans, but you’ll have to work a lot harder at it throughout their life, and especially while they are chicks!
Who Can Perform the Operation on a Rooster?
Technically anyone can perform the operation on a chicken that cares to attempt it and avoid unduly traumatizing the bird, but it is best to leave it to skilled hands.
That being said, an increasing number of owners are choosing to neuter their own roosters these days, thanks in part to the availability of information and detailed video guides online.
If you do decide to take on the task yourself, be sure to do your research first and make sure you are fully prepared for the task at hand.
Prepping your work area, restraining the bird and sterilizing your tools is absolutely essential for success, as is having a spot where the bird can recover safely by itself.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.