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!