I have a lot of roosters. I think originally there must have been more than 30. I don't really like roosters all that much but when you hatch your own eggs, or buy straight run from a hatchery, you don't get to choose what you get. So I have a lot of roosters.
I call them the "neighbor kids." Not the nice, polite kids that come over when they are invited and leave when it is time to go--I have nothing against them. These guys are the kind that come over and never leave, that play in your yard when you aren't home, that stand outside and yell for your kids to come out, that open your refridgerator and rummage around . . . you know, the Bad Neighbor Kids. Of course, the roosters don't do those things, but it is close. They come into my yard uninvited and scratch around, they steal the pigs' food, they fight amongst themselves, and they make their immature crowing noises all day long.
From the start my plan was to butcher all of the crossbreed roosters because I don't want to use them to breed with the hens. Then I would keep the ones purchased from the hatchery--the Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps, Old English Game Bantams, Houdans, andGolden Laced Wyandottes. But out of the 25 chickens of those breeds, I think there are at least 12 roosters. Twelve too many, in my opinion. So now I am going to keep one of each breed. That's easy when it comes to the Old English, because there is only one rooster. Also, he is quite small, so he wouldn't make much of a meal.
I think six out of nine Buff Orpingtons are roosters, and three out of 4 Black Australorps. It doesn't matter how many Houdans are roosters because they are too darn cute to butcher. I think, though, that there is only one.
Last Saturday I decided I was going to do something about the plethora of roosters. I cleared out the chicken house and then shooed a rooster inside. He went in nicely so I thought "Hey, this will be easy." I wanted about 8-10 roosters confined to the chicken house for the day to get ready for butchering. The next rooster I grabbed started squawking loudly. I looked down at my feet and there were FIVE! roosters getting ready to attack me for disturbing one of their flock. So I dropped that rooster quick and let the other one out to live another day. I went back that night with my husband and got the 8 biggest roosters to butcher in the morning.
Since then I have done 2 batches of roosters. On Sunday morning, I finally did away with our two Big Mean Roosters, Iaggo and Waddles. These guys were BIG and MEAN! No one should keep mean roosters. They are dangerous. They do not hesitate to attack small children and so before they were penned up I was always worried about my little ones when they went outside.
I am getting much better at the processing process. I did 10 chickens in 3 1/2 hours Sunday morning (before church, we were just a little bit late), and then last night I did 7 more. I had help this time and it only took a little over an hour from start to finish. I have finally come to the conclusion that things go much better with help. Next time I have a large batch to do I am recruiting help. Lots of help. What are all these kids around here for, anyway? I need one to do the cutting and scalding (16 years old), one to man the plucker (my husband along with the 9 year old), and one to pick off the feathers that the plucker missed, cut off the feet, and a few other things (13 years old). I will finish up the rest. As my daughter, the 13 year old, gets better at her job then she can move on to finishing up the chicken and the 10 year old can do her previous job. When I mentioned this to said 10 year old she wrinkled her nose and exclaimed, "Uh-uh, I'm not doing that!"
Now, I know I mentioned that I would not make my kids participate in the butchering if they didn't want to, but I don't consider picking off a few feathers to be butchering. Rather, it is in the category of "being helpful to your mother." Something the aforementioned 10 year old has a bit of a hard time with, whether it is cutting up chickens or weeding the garden. Bear that in mind when I ask what you thought my response to her was.
Was it: A)"Excuse me, you will do it if I tell you to!" B)"Okay, honey, I forgot you don't like touching chickens," or C)"I wasn't asking if you wanted to help, and I think it is important for you to know where the food comes from and how it gets there."
Yes, the answer is C. I also may have added a little something about how picking a few feathers off a chicken won't kill you.
Goodbye, Bad Neighbor Roosters, no more hanging out under the shelf swearing and smoking and whistling at the hens.