Can You Eat a Rooster? What You Should Know

Chicken Care Taker Eat Rooster 2
Yes, you can certainly eat a rooster. Rooster is commononly consumed in third world countries, although quite rare in the United States. You might actually be eating a rooster/cockerel if you purchase a broiler chicken from the store. This is because they grow fast and are butchered before 2 months old, with their gender hard to determine.

Chicken is a popular meat consumed here in the United States and in many other places around the world. It’s versatile, tender, and delicious, and owning a backyard chicken or three is becoming increasingly popular for both egg and meat production.

But if you’re not raising chickens yet and choose to buy your meat from others, then what type of chicken are you consuming? It depends on where you get your meat and the definition of a rooster. 

What Is a Rooster? 

A rooster is simply an adult male chicken. Males are considered cockerels until they reach sexual maturation at one year old.

a rooster in a park

You can usually tell if a chick is a rooster around six weeks of age because their attitude changes as they become more aggressive. Their wattles and combs also begin to grow, making it easier to determine the sex of the chick. 

So You Can Actually Eat Roosters?

Absolutely! In Asian cultures and in countries such as India and Mexico, eating roosters is rather common.

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It is less common in the United States and countries where meat production is industrialized and confinement agriculture methods are used. 

What Is a Capon?

Capons are roosters who have been castrated before reaching sexual maturation. It makes them less aggressive and their meat more tender.

This is common in France but not in many other countries since the surgery is risky and the cost is high. It economically makes more sense to raise hens or broilers for meat consumption. 

What Is a Traditional Breed Chicken?

Traditional breed chickens are most often bred to lay eggs. Hobby farmers raise these chickens if they want to have eggs for the family. They are also the chickens used in large-scale farming to produce eggs to sell at the grocery stores.

This type of industrialized farm has no need for roosters because they don’t lay eggs. Often the male chicks are discarded as soon as their sex is determined, although measures have been taken in recent years to stop what some activists are calling a cruel and inhumane practice. 

What Is a Broiler Chicken?

Broiler chickens are the most common type of meat sold in grocery stores. Here in the United States, unless they are organic, they are grown using confinement agriculture methods on large, industrialized farms.

The table shows the vast number of broilers consumed when compared to other chickens and roosters:

Broilers Consumed
(per capita 🇺🇸)
Other Chickens Consumed Including Roosters
(per capita 🇺🇸)
202196.51.5
2022
(estimated)
97.21.4
Data based on North America. Source: National Chicken Council

Broilers simply are the bird of choice because they are built to grow plump quickly and are ready for butchering by just six weeks of age.

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If you buy your chicken at the store, chances are you are eating both males and females since they are often too young to tell their genders apart. Mind you, these are technically not a rooster but a cockerel. 

Is a Rooster Necessary For Hobby Farms? 

If you are looking at raising your own chickens, it depends. Back in the day, before we bought chicken at the store or ordered chicks to raise through the mail, people relied on a rooster to keep producing babies.

If you want to do it the old-fashioned way, you need a rooster to fertilize the eggs, so chicks hatch. Otherwise, you can simply rely on other breeders to grow your flock.

What Is The Downside?

The downside to the old-style reproduction method is several of the chicks born will end up being males. You definitely don’t want too many roosters as they will fight with one another for dominance, causing problems with each other and the hens.

If this is the way you are farming, then just like in the old days, you’ll want to keep one or two good roosters (depending on the size of your flock and future plans) and simply butcher the others. 

Do I Need a Rooster If I Just Want Eggs?

No, you do not need a rooster for laying hens. Chicks for personal hobby farms are often ordered through the mail these days. When you order traditional breed layers, they send you females since they are the ones who lay eggs.

That said, you can get a rooster by accident since it’s near impossible to determine sex when first born. If you do end up with a rooster, remember they can be useful to have as protection for the hens, and in the evening, they help herd them into the coop. 

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What If I Want Meat Chickens?

If you are ordering broiler chickens to raise for your own meat, roosters won’t be a concern since they are butchered before adulthood. You can also order what is called a dual-purpose breed.

These chickens are bred to be used for either egg-laying or meat and are raised for a longer time than the six-week broilers. They don’t grow as plump or have as much meat, but can be eaten as well. 

What Does Rooster Taste Like?

Rooster meat tastes different than broiler chickens or laying hens. They are more gamey and chewy, like a turkey or goose, and their meat tough and stringy in comparison.

The younger the rooster is when butchered, the more tender the meat and the better the flavor. This is why most roosters are slaughtered when they’re simply cockerels, and their taste is near-identical to chickens.

Is Eating Rooster Healthy?

Yes, while less popular, roosters are just as nutritious as other chickens. Of course, the healthiest option is buying organic and locally grown chicken or simply raising it yourself.

How Should I Cook Rooster?

Rooster is best cooked using a traditional slow cooker or in stews. They are also good if used for shredded meat. Some people actually prefer roosters for their stronger flavor, which is much like a slice of rich and dark meat. Coq Au Vin is a popular French dish that is traditionally made with rooster meat simmered in a red wine sauce

Christina

A longtime resident of Southern California, Christina recently moved across the globe to Austria, where she bought land specifically to build a small house with room for a backyard chicken coop. Christina spent her childhood summers on a farm, raising and caring for a flock of hens owned by her grandparents, which prompted a lifelong love of chickens, and other farm animals. Christina is passionate about writing, having written hundreds of articles for well-known websites, and uses her English degree in service of her love for animal welfare, most recently taking on a writing position at Chicken Care Taker in 2022.

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