The first chickens we had were given to us by a friend. Included in that group was a hen with chicks, several of which grew up to be roosters. Since then, we’ve always had a rooster around, and each year several of the hens sit on their nests and hatch out a brood. (Because the mother hens are so protective, though, I would still buy chicks from the feed store that the children could hold.)
This spring, we have five grown roosters. One of them is clearly the dominant bird, and most of the ladies follow him around. And again, this spring, we have a familiar problem – what to do with the extra roosters?
We can’t keep all the birds, even though there’s plenty of room for them to roam; they’ll eventually start attacking each other. I could give them to a farm or another homeschooling family that needs a rooster, but so far I haven’t found one. All of our other options, though, mean a sad fate for the birds. The possiblities, then:
- We could eat them since they’re not quite a year old. A friend told me that if they get much older, the meat is just too tough. But neither my husband nor I are the pioneering type, and neither of us wants to do the deed to prepare them for cooking.
- We could give them to someone else to eat — I just have to find that person. Not as easy as one might think.
- We could sell them at the flea market or our local weekly livestock auction. This is tempting, as it would give us cash in our pocket, but I’d wonder if the new owners would use them for cock fights.
What makes the choices harder this year is that all of these birds are very sweet – at least, as much as a rooster can be. They come to eat when I call them and follow us around the yard like pets. We’ll have to do something soon, though — that many roosters can wear a hen out!