How to Castrate a Rooster?
There are more poultry farmers worldwide as more people take steps to grow their food to guarantee its safety and look for ways of generating extra income.
When you order chicks to raise for meat and eggs, most people want hens since these guarantee high egg production.
Nonetheless, sexing very young chicks is quite challenging and only 90-95% accurate. As such, it is almost inevitable that some of your chicks are roosters. Thankfully, you can neuter or castrate roosters.
The process of castrating or neutering roosters is known as caponizing. It entails removing the birds’ testicles before they reach puberty. When this is done, your rooster no longer produces testosterone. Understandably, there are many questions surrounding this practice.
The following article will answer questions on the castration of roosters and guide you on how it is done.
The Process of Removing a Rooster’s Testicles
Castration is generally done when your bird is 6-8 weeks old. Doing it past eight weeks old means the wound will have to be sutured to keep your bird from bleeding to death.
Either way, the process is done before a rooster reaches puberty, so that male sex hormones do not influence its development. Castration is usually done by surgically removing the rooster’s testicles or using estrogen.
Here are tidbits on these two main methods of castrating roosters.
– Surgical Castration
This is the more common option for caponizing roosters. It entails cutting into a bird’s groin area to remove its testes. The testicles are high in the bird’s body, somewhat near its back and under the rib cage.
Their surgical removal is a minor procedure generally handled without anesthesia. After cutting the testes, you should monitor the bird for any signs of infection. Confine the rooster for about two days and feed it soft, light food to help it heal.
– Chemical Castration
This involves inserting an estrogen implant under the skin of your rooster to suppress its testosterone production and render it infertile.
Though the method is more humane compared to surgical castration, there is some debate on how the hormones can affect the safety of the meat for human consumption.
Moreover, before settling on chemical castration, you should check your local laws because some jurisdictions do not allow the use of the required drugs on animals.
Tools and Materials Needed For Neutering
Here are the main tools and materials you will need when surgically castrating your rooster:
- Suture needles and thread
- Restraining devices like nets, confinement hooks, cords
- Spray bottles for your prepping solutions
- Slice bars
- Capon support
Techniques to Perform the Castration Safely and Effectively
Below are the steps for surgically castrating a rooster:
- Tie your bird down by the legs and wing to immobilize it.
- Clean the area between its two lowest ribs with soap and water, then rinse thoroughly to ensure no soap residue remains.
- Make an incision, about an inch long, between the two ribs using a scalpel. You can then use a spreader to hold this incision open.
- Locate the testicle that is an oval small yellowish gland. Use tweezers to move the tissues around the testicle and gently tear the testicle away from its connected tissue using a slotted spoon.
- Clean the incision you have made with iodine.
- If your bird is more than eight weeks old, close its wound using a sterile dissolving thread so that you do not have to remove it later. Ensure there are no foreign objects or feathers entering the wound when suturing.
- Isolate your bird so that the incision will not get dirty or be harmed by other birds. Check the incision at least twice daily to ensure it is clean and has no sign of infection like redness or pus. You should notice signs of healing a day or two after the surgery, and your rooster can move around within 3-4 days, depending on its healing.
The above is the most common technique of surgical castration. Nonetheless, there is now also modern caponization that is handled laparoscopically under anesthesia. This sounds more like what you would envision when you hear of surgical castration.
Chemical castration of roosters is easier than surgical castration. With this alternative, you will simply inject a vet-only implant called Suprelorin into the subcutaneous area.
The drug is also used in dogs, ferrets, and drakes for neutering. It releases deslorelin, which acts like the natural GnRH (gonadotrophin-releasing hormone). It controls the secretion of hormones that support fertility. This includes blocking luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.
The blockage of luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones causes the circulation of less testosterone in a rooster’s blood, stops sperm production, and reduces the bird’s libido. These effects last for a specified period, after which you can get another implant.
Though easy to inject, you need the skill to painlessly inject Suprelorin into your bird’s breast muscle using a large 12g needle.
Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Castrate a Rooster
There are several considerations when you decide to castrate your rooster. Here are a few:
- Age: It is recommended that you castrate your rooster as early as possible. The best age for the procedure is 6-8 weeks when your rooster is used to being handled and when you can safely administer drugs, if necessary. You can castrate older roosters, but this has a high risk of complications.
- Purpose of your flock. If you are rearing birds for meat, neutering is a good choice because it allows the rooster to grow bigger. The meat of neutered birds is also tastier because of higher fat deposition.
- Negative behaviors. Most farmers neuter their roosters believing this will stop their negative behaviors. Generally, capons will not engage in negative behaviors like wing beating. If your rooster crows excessively, neutering will only reduce the behavior rather than stop it altogether.
- Size of your flock. If you have a large flock, castrating roosters can help prevent fights among them and keep them from hassling your hens.
Impact of Castration on Rooster
When you hear of castration, you might assume this is primarily done to stop your rooster from reproducing like in other animals.
However, this is not the main reason because a hen still lays eggs whether or not your rooster is neutered. The difference is that the eggs will be unfertilized, so they will not hatch.
Below are the main changes that inform the castration of roosters:
- A rooster will no longer crow, or its crowing will reduce if it was initially excessive.
- The rooster loses interest in mating with hens.
- The rooster will not be aggressive.
- The rooster will be healthier because of better feeding practices, increased weight, and fewer fights within your flock.
- Your bird’s meat will be soft and tasty because you have removed the male sex hormones that would make it sinewy and tough.
- The rooster will gain weight quickly to reach a good size for slaughter.
Potential Risks or Complications Associated with Castration
The castration of roosters is not fail-safe. Here are a few complications associated with the procedure:
- Pain during the surgery or implant insertion.
- Post-surgery mortality because of infections or hemorrhage because of a severed artery.
- Difficulty getting the procedure right, more so on large birds.
Other than these compilations, pay attention to your rooster before castration. If it has droopy ruffled feathers, paleness, and listlessness, among other signs of illness, postpone the procedure until your bird recovers.
Moreover, get someone well-versed in castration to handle your rooster.
Alternatives to Rooster Castration
If castration does not sound like an option for you, there are other ways of preventing aggression in your rooster and ensuring it gains sufficient weight for slaughter while its meat remains tasty since these are the main reasons for castration.
Some poultry keepers recommend allowing your roosters to free range in a large area and giving them their hens so that they establish a hierarchy within their flock.
When it has grown its flock, it is easier to introduce a rooster to another flock without much conflict between the roosters, provided it does not mate with hens from the other flock.
If you want to castrate your rooster because it is crowing excessively, you can get a crow collar instead.
The Role of a Veterinarian in the Castration Process
Your roosters should be as healthy as possible before castration to ensure there are no adverse effects from the procedure. A vet can ascertain the health of your rooster before castration.
Moreover, the expert is best placed to painlessly inject the implant into your bird or remove its testicle without subjecting it to excruciating pain or placing it at risk of excessive bleeding.
From this article, you are well-placed to decide whether or not castration will solve any issues you are facing with your roosters and know what to expect from the procedure. Even when rearing your birds for meat, keep their well-being in mind.
Unless you are experienced in castration or do so under the guidance of a vet, the procedure is best handled by a vet to avoid complications and guarantee the comfort of your rooster.