Why Don’t We Eat Roosters? Read This First
Eating rooster meat may be unfamiliar to you. You may have never even heard about people consuming roosters. In actual fact, many people enjoy eating rooster, and some even prefer it to hen meat. So why don’t we eat roosters?
A lot of people actually do eat roosters. It is not common in American homes for people to eat roosters. Unless, of course, they are raising their own meat. But in western countries, people don’t eat rooster meat because they are less economical to raise than hens.
Rooster meat should be cooked slowly on low heat. Moist cooking is advisable as the meat may be tough. Hen meat is softer and easier to eat than rooster meat.
Store-bought chicken that ends up on your dinner table is generally hen meat. This is not because male chickens are not good for human consumption. It is due to the fact that raising female chickens is easier and cheaper. It is more economical for large-scale poultry breeders and poultry farms to produce and sell hen meat than rooster meat.
Most people who raise chickens at home only have one rooster. The rest of the flock are females. Many chicken farmers don’t even need a rooster if they want to sell the eggs.
Does Rooster Meat Taste Different from ‘Normal’ Chicken?
Before diving deeper into why don’t we eat roosters, let’s go over rooster meat. Rooster meat does indeed taste different from hen meat or broiler meat. You may even question whether or not they are both chickens. Most people are used to eating broiler chickens. These are the kind of chickens available to the mass market.
Rooster meat is tough and chewy and requires a longer cooking time to broiler chicken. Broiler chickens are more popular, tender, and easier to cook.
Stewing hens for laying hens that are used for meat or broth are not so different from rooster in taste. You may not even notice the difference in flavor depending on your choice of seasoning. Rooster, however, has a stronger flavor, especially if the bird is older.
Guidelines for Cooking Rooster
It is important to remember that there are different methods of cooking chicken. There are specific best ways to cook traditional chickens, broiler chickens, or laying chickens. It also depends on the preference of flavor and, of course, availability.
Here are some guidelines for coking rooster or laying hens:
- Use moist heat
- Do not roast
- Cook slowly on a low heat
Often rooster meat is cut into pieces or shredded up and served with rice and vegetables. Many traditional cooks will season the chicken and cook it in water along with vegetables and rice as a “one pot meal.”
Most Americans like to have their chicken separate from the vegetable side dishes. They prefer fried or roasted chicken to boiled chicken. If you want to eat American-style chicken, then use a broiler. Using rooster meat for fried chicken will be tough and disappointing.
Traditional Chickens vs Broiler Chickens
Traditional chickens and broiler chickens are very different.
Chickens that are kept for the purpose of egg-laying are called traditional breed chickens. Layer flocks will be made up of chicken breeds such as Barred Rocks or Rhode Island Reds.
Traditional breed chickens are the ones you see on small farms, pecking about in the yard. Roosters are also classified as traditional chickens.
Chicken that is sold in supermarkets for the general public comes from “Broiler” chickens. Any chickens that are bred and raised for the sole purpose of meat production can be referred to as broiler chickens.
Broiler chickens are raised in large numbers in big warehouses all over the world. It is not uncommon for +- 20 000 chickens to live under one roof! There are regulations in place to ensure that chicken farms are kept up to standards. Even so, that is still a considerable amount of chickens!
Broiler chickens are grown very quickly. These white birds only have a 6-week life span from hatching to processing to butchery!
Broiler chickens do not have as much flavor as slower-growing traditional chickens. If you want to eat the best-tasting chicken and be environmentally conscious, consider switching to organic, free-range chicken.
Mixing Hens and Roosters
Female chickens (hens) are way more likely to get along with each other than roosters are. You will know firsthand how aggressive roosters can be if you have ever kept one in your backyard. Imagine keeping thousands!
A backyard chicken raiser will only keep one, maybe two roosters. Even if he has ten chickens, only one rooster is needed. More than that will only cause trouble as roosters are very territorial, and they will fight each other.
It is not a good idea to mix hens and roosters. If you mix hens and roosters under the same roof, there is bound to be war.
For a large-scale farmer, it would be a logistical nightmare to process the meat. Hen and rooster meat is quite different. Rooster meat is tougher and has a different taste to chicken meat.
People who lived in a time before chicken production was so massive would have definitely eaten a fair amount of rooster. Before broiler chickens were available on a large scale, people had to raise their own chickens, traditional style.
Replacement hens would be replaced with chicks hatched by the flock. Out of all the eggs that hatch, half would be hens, the other half roosters.
Even back then, nobody needed as many roosters as female chickens! People would keep one or two of the best roosters for breeding purposes. The rest of the males were cooked and eaten by the family.
What Are Male Chickens Used For?
The RSPCA has reported that the sex of chicks born at a hatchery is determined within a few days of them hatching.
Female chicks that are healthy and strong are relocated to laying facilities to produce eggs. They are moved onto live broiler farms if they are being bred as broiler chickens for consumption.
Male chickens are only kept if needed for breeding. Roosters do not lay eggs and are not popular for general consumption. If they are not specifically needed, they are disposed of as ‘wastage.’ This is called culling.
According to a 2018 Wikipedia write-up, around seven billion male chicks were being culled yearly! That gives you some sort of idea of how massive the poultry industry really is.
What is a Capon?
A rooster that has been neutered or castrated is called a capon. This process is done either physically or chemically before the rooster reaches sexual maturity.
The lack of testosterone (due to castration) improves the meat’s quality for eating and making it more tender. The meat is also more tender because capons are less energetic than other poultry.
Capon chickens are larger than hens but smaller than regular roosters. This is also due to a lack of testosterone. Capons are generally fed a rich diet of milk or porridge. In some countries like Spain, roosters are fattened by force-feeding.
Due to their high-fat content, capon meat is juicy and moist and does not taste gamey. It is flavourful and sometimes preferred to regular chicken.
Capon chickens are not commonly found in America today. In the early 20th century, this type of poultry was considered to be a luxury. Wealthy people in particular would choose capons to serve at the Christmas feast. Capon was quite expensive and only a rare treat to working-class families.
Roosters that have been castrated are less aggressive, which means there will not be that much fighting between the birds. Roosters are usually kept separate from the other birds to avoid any drama. Capons, on the other hand, are usually penned together quite peacefully.
How to Cook Capon
Capon can be prepared in a similar way to other poultry dishes. Most commonly, capons are roasted in the oven. Cooking time may take longer than it would take to roast a regular chicken. This is simply due to the fact that the bird is larger.
Braising is also a good technique for preparing Capon. Traditionally, roosters are braised as their meat is tougher than chicken meat. The classic French dish “coq au vin” consists of a rooster that has been braised in red wine.
If you find Capon in the grocery store and are curious to try it, you can prepare it by following a braised chicken recipe.
Place cut-up capon pieces into an oven dish and add bacon, leeks, onion, garlic, rosemary, tomato paste, chicken stock, and a dash of white wine. Allow it to cook slowly on low heat, bubbling until cooked through. Impress your friends at your next dinner party or holiday and get together with this perfect centerpiece.
Buying and Storing Capon
Capon might be difficult to find, depending on where you live. It is not a commonly bought item that may not be regularly restoked. For this reason, it is important to check the ‘sell-by’ date and freshness of the meat.
If you don’t find Capon in the supermarket, you might be able to find it at a specialty grocery store or online. You could also ask your local butcher if he is able to get a fresh one for you.
Capon can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days if you are not planning on using it immediately. Make sure it is placed securely in a plastic bag to avoid any liquid leaking out. The Capon can last for three to four months in the freezer. But, it will start to lose its flavor after two months.
We hope you enjoyed this article on why don’t we eat roosters.
Fly high friends!