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Tough Questions for Tender Birds

I have the reputation of being “that rooster lady.” People with extra roosters or old hens can bring them to me. I give the birds a swift and appreciative end.

As I told one flockster, “Your rooster will be the guest of honor at our table.”

Then someone showed up with 16 rooster chicks, just days old. Now what? They were not even as big as a chicken nugget apiece—and that’s with the fuzz on.

I decided to dip back into the age-old art of caponizing. My great-grandmother used to do it, and Ray gave me a set of surgical tools his grandfather used for the procedure back in the early 1900s.

Caponizing is the avian term for castration, as is done for the steer who becomes your steak. Since rooster testicles are inside instead of dangling out where they can be snipped with ease, the process involves major body-cavity-opening surgery.

Don’t worry, no gory pictures of the operation. Just these three brave pioneers.

I have tried caponizing before, with no survivors, on birds already slated for slaughter. But when I practiced on some freshly dead birds recently, I said, “Hey, if they hadn’t been dead already, I don’t think the surgery would have killed them!”

My first successful patient is up and moving around, bright-eyed after a few days resting in a cool crate and getting fed soft treats. He will grow without the crow, without fighting, without pouncing on the hens.

He suffered an invasive surgery without anesthetic, but I will let him live up to a year longer than I would have otherwise. Lifespan for an intact rooster around here is about 3 months. With the surgery, he could live for 12. It sounds like the kind of medical decision that humans face all the time, barring the murderous overlord (me).

What would you choose?

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