raising happy, healthy chickens Roosters

Best Way to Cull a Rooster

One of my recent posts was on when to cull roosters. But now you might be wondering about the best way to cull a rooster. I’ve read of many ways, from wringing their heads off to shooting them. However, if your birds are your pets, you want something more humane. Or perhaps you just don’t like to see an animal suffer. I’ll cover both the best way to cull and process roosters.

Although this is the best method to cull a rooster, you will likely still feel remorse. Especially if this is your first time. My husband still feels bad every time a roo needs to go. But it can’t be helped, because the hens come first. However we’ve tried many ways to cull our chickens. And none of them were as humane as this one.

Supplies Needed to Cull and Process a Rooster

sharp fillet knife

Boning knives or fillet knives are great for killing and processing chickens due to their size and sturdiness.

  • Re-purposed milk jug or a metal cone

If you only cull birds once in a blue moon, then you can just use that milk jug you were about to toss out. But, if instead, you regularly process birds, then you need something more permanent.

  • Paper towels
set of paper towels on wooden background
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

You’ll need plenty of paper towels to clean up as you go. And to clean up afterwards.

  • Bleach spray

You have to disinfect your work area when you’re finished. So you can use Clorox Clean-up Disinfecting or make your own.

  • Work bench or table

Having a work bench or table to process the bird, after it’s properly culled, is a must.

  • Bucket to collect blood

Rather than letting the blood drain onto the ground, and possibly attract predators, the bucket will collect the blood. And you’ll dispose of it later.

  • 2 Stainless steel bowls to collect the meat; a second one for after cleaning the meat

One bowl is for collecting the meat as you process the chicken, while the second bowl is for after you’ve cleaned/washed the meat.

  • Rope or straps to hang bird from tree branch

The rope or straps go around the bird’s legs to suspend him.

  • Rooster

You can’t actually process a rooster without the, ahem, rooster.

Instructions for Culling a Rooster

girl outside holding a white chicken
  • First, you choose your rooster.

After you have him, do your deed in a private spot where the other birds can’t see. However they will likely still know when Joe or Frank don’t return.

  • Next, put your bird upside down, in the metal cone or milk jug.
  • Tie the rope or straps around his feet and hang him from the tree.

The blood will rush to his head and will make him calmer. Perhaps even a little tired.

  • Push back his neck feathers and find the carotid artery by his pulse. Using a fillet or boning knife, gently slice a large enough slit to let the blood drain out.

Or you can cut the head off with pruning shears or an axe. However if you’re culling several birds, you will need either several sharp knives for the job, because they’ll soon go dull before you finish.

  • Keep the bird in the cone, because the blood will take 2-5 minutes to drain out. Also, it takes time for the nervous system to calm down, ~ 2-10 minutes.

Best Way to Process a Rooster

Now it’s time to process the meat. If you are so inclined to keep the skin on your chicken, you can visit this site for instructions. But we’ve never processed our birds that way. We’ve never taken the time to de-feather them just to keep the skin. It sounded like way too much work for only a couple of birds.

Rather we de-skinned them, and it was the easiest thing ever. Of course I say that like I had any part in it, other than cheering from the sidelines. Maybe, after all the butchering, Paul was just ready to be done with the whole thing. And so he decided to skin them. But maybe not. Perhaps it was his intention the whole time to skin them. I really don’t know, I never asked.

I did have some friends, who have backyard birds, and they culled some. They tried the boiling method, in order to de-feather them, so they could have skin on their chicken. And they promptly told me that they were never doing that again.

Instructions for Processing Roosters

culling and processing a chicken
  • Leave the bird hanging from the tree

This is in order to process the bird. You don’t want to cut into the intestines or anus, contaminate your knife, and then the rest of the bird. Think of this as surgery.

  • Skin the legs and body

Using a sharp knife, start skinning from the legs. The skin will start to separate from the meat, but you will need to be careful around the rump, lower back, and where the wings attach to the abdomen.

  • Separate parts

Sever the elbow joints, because there isn’t enough meat there anyway. Then, cut through the neck. All that’s left is the meat and legs. Dispose of the neck, tail and oil gland, wings tips, and skin with feathers.

Remove the carcass from the tree and cut off the legs. Next, cut open the bottom cavity to pull out the intestines. Then wash the carcass in a bowl of fresh cold water.

If you like chicken giblets, keep the liver, heart, and gizzard.

  • Clean the bird

This is best done with running water. And be sure to cut away lungs, trachea, testes, and unwanted fat. Also, remove any remaining feathers around the legs and wings.

  • Cut up the bird

Depending on the bird, you might not get much meat except breasts. In which case, you just put the breast down on the cutting board and cut on both sides of the cartilage. Then you slide your fingers along the breast bone until it peels out.

So now you know how to cull and process a rooster. You don’t have to worry about freezing a whole bird, because it’s perfectly cut up, and will fit nicely into your freezer. And you don’t have to worry about all the feathers, or about how inhumane killing chickens can be. Although you still might feel bad.

raising happy, healthy chickens Roosters

When to Cull Roosters

We are officially in fall, when typical chicken owners cull their flocks. But at our chicken haven we don’t slaughter our hens, because they are the egg producers. If you have chickens, like we do, maybe you incubate eggs occasionally. Or a hen will go broody and hatch a clutch of eggs, in which case you end up with some surplus roosters. On the other hand, you could be new to backyard chicken keeping and just want to know when to cull roosters.

girl outside holding white chicken

What does ‘culling‘ mean anyway? Well, for the purpose of this post, it means to slaughter or process an animal. However if you don’t want to do that, because it can be difficult emotionally, then you can try to find an animal sanctuary. But if you have a lot of roosters compared to your hens, then you absolutely are going to have to do something. Because, unless you keep them separated, the roosters will end up abusing the hens.

When to Cull Roosters

red leaf trees near the road
Photo by Pixabay on

So when is the best time to cull a rooster? Well, I already mentioned that most chicken caretakers prefer doing this task in the fall. And that’s because they don’t want to spend the money on feed, taking care of them. They know the birds are destined for cooking. With that being said, if you have a troublesome bird, you don’t have to wait until fall to cull it. And that includes bullies and/or sickly birds.

But what is the best age to process a rooster? If you plan on putting your bird in a meal, then the older the bird gets, the gamier and tougher it gets. But if you slaughter too soon, there will hardly be any meat on them. So what do you do? Many sites suggest waiting till they start crowing. However I don’t think that’s the best method. We’ve had roos who started crowing after they were only a month old. And we’ve had roos that only crowed when the last rooster died, and they were about a year old!

4 roosters and 1 hen roosting in a coop

The tried and true method of knowing when to cull roosters is by their age, not necessarily by crowing. We’ve generally culled our excess roosters when they were around 4 months old. But you can wait even until they’re 6 months old before processing them. The same is true for egg laying hens too. Hens will live anywhere from 6-8 years, but they don’t lay eggs that long. And so, some chicken people cull their hens when they stop laying.

All of our birds are dual purpose, which means they can be used for meat and eggs. Although roosters have no purpose except meat production, unless you fancy him to be the boss of the flock. If after a couple of years, your rooster hasn’t mended his ways and you need to process him, you won’t be able to use his meat. And that’s because it will be too tough. He’s an old bird. You could try though; just don’t get your hopes up.

Thanks for stopping by, and as always, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or ask a question!