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Free Range Cockerel

Red Drumhead Cabbage

Hybrid Cockerels

Chickens on Allotments - Fattening Cockerels for the Table

Unfortunately it is almost impossible to find nice homes for surplus cockerals. Cockerels can be noisy and aggressive. Often they cannot be permanently housed safely in single sex flocks.

Despite being the most important part of any breeding flock cockerels are seen almost as a by-product of hen production. Culling at as early an age as possible is often the most practical thing to do. Why spend money on food, time and effort on housing when the end product cannot be sold to recover the cost?

Another option is fattening the cockerels for the table. If possible separate cockerels from the laying hens in another coop/run to ovoid fighting over the hens. As a bird gets older it obviously eats more. Approximately 6 months old is a good age for culling the cockerels before they get too tough.

In a free-range environment birds will eat almost twice as much as poultry kept indoors. Some people keep cockerels in a restricted space with not a lot of exercise and feed them rearer/growers to get them bigger, then a week before culling put them back on layers or mixed corn.

A much more deserving method is to give them a happy life with free-range space for roaming and eating scraps, greenery, berries, corn, wheat, fallen fruit, etc. Chickens are not vegetarians and enjoy a range of worms, insects, spiders, beetles and other invertebrates.

Fast growing birds from a broiler farm do not go outside, they do not free range and sit down all the time. The key to ensuring welfare and flavour of a chicken is a naturally healthy, slow growing bird. Home grown chickens that have been provided with the very best welfare actually taste like a chicken should taste with a gamey flavour.

Flavour is dependent on the breed, the age of the bird, how long it has been hung, how it is cooked and what the bird has been fed. Providing birds with access to a biologically diverse space will contribute not only to the bird's welfare but also to tasty meat for the table.

Fattening Cockerels
Chickens eating Sweetcorn
Free Range Bantam Cockerel in Blackcurrent Bush
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