Why Do We Not Eat Male Chickens? (The truth behind this)


Do you know that you are mostly eating the meat coming from hens, which are female chickens? The chicken is one of the most widely consumed animals in the world, but why don’t we eat male chickens?

In fact, some people actually do eat male chickens (or roosters) but it is not common to eat them in most Western and American countries. The main reason why roosters aren’t as widely consumed as hens is that it is far less economical to raise roosters for their meat.

The taste is also different, but that’s not the main reason, it’s mostly an economical issue and I will now explain why male chickens are not as economical as hens are when you raise them for their meat.

Why do we not eat roosters?

Why chickens is so widely consumed in the world?

The most widely consumed poultry in the world is chicken, which is also second only to pork in terms of the most widely consumed meat in the entire world. That’s because you can never get enough of chicken when it comes to its overall taste and economic value as far as its price is concerned. Chicken meat is not only a cheap source of protein, but can also be used in many dishes that can all be the star of dinner.

Of course, you also have to consider that chicken is a lot easier to raise as far as time and land area are concerned in comparison to many other animals that are raised and consumed for their meat. That is why chicken is as widely consumed all over the world as it is.

Do we eat roosters or hens?

One thing to know about chicken meat is that the chicken that you eat in your favorite fast-food restaurant as well as at home is actually from the meat of the female chicken or the hen.

In fact, you have probably never eaten male chickens or roosters ever before in your life, especially if you simply rely on fast-food restaurants and grocery stores when it comes to the chicken meat that you eat.

What happens with male chickens then? After all, roosters are simply similar to hens in terms of their species only that they are male. So, why do we not eat roosters?

Can we eat roosters?

We can actually eat male chickens or roosters. These chickens are completely edible and are just as edible as their female counterparts. There are places all over the world that regularly eat chickens, male or female alike because they raise their chickens.

They do not discriminate in terms of whether they are male or female, so long as they were raised properly.

Why do we not eat roosters?

However, in the US and in other parts of the west, it is very rare to see people eating roosters intentionally because most grocery stores and fast-food restaurants only use hens whenever they are selling their chicken. Meanwhile, again, only those who probably raise their backyard chickens are more than willing to eat roosters just as willing as they would eat hens.

In that regard, the issue at hand here is not a question of whether male chickens have meat that is suitable for consumption (because they are completely edible). Instead, it is actually an issue relating to the economic value that roosters have on the poultry industry and whether or not you can get as much value selling rooster meat as you would when you sell hen meat.

Yes, that’s right. The reason why male chickens are not as widely consumed as hens are is that raising roosters for their meat is not economically sound. And that is something that you will understand, as I will try to raise a few points here.

Chicken production reminder

One of the reasons why chicken is widely consumed and quite affordable is that it is easier to raise chickens in terms of space. Chickens are smaller than most animals that are raised for meat. This means that you can grow more chickens under one roof compared to, let’s say, pigs.

In fact, as many as more than 20,000 chickens occupy one barn in most chicken production facilities. But measures are used to make sure that they are raised under healthy standards.

Most of the modern-day chicken houses are, on average, 36,000 square feet in area and are capable of housing more than 20,000 chickens. On the other hand, before standards were put in place regarding the humane way of raising broiler chickens (chickens raised for their meat), chicken houses were only about 16,000 square feet on average.

The issue with roosters

So, with that said, you can raise more chickens in one barn in comparison to other animals precisely because of how chickens don’t need plenty of space (unless you prefer to raise free-range chickens). But what does that have to do with roosters?

In case you have seen roosters engaging in cockfighting or have raised roosters in the past before, something that you would notice about these male chickens is that they are very aggressive.

Roosters are some of the most aggressive birds in the world when it comes to how they compete with one another for territory. It is in the very nature of a rooster to be aggressive because it will defend its territory against other roosters, especially if there are hens in the area.

Roosters aren’t even forgiving animals when it comes to their territorial nature. They are so aggressive that they often fight to the death whenever they encounter other roosters that are encroaching on their territory. This is the exact reason why roosters are used for cockfights in many places all over the world.

Going back to our point where tens of thousands of chickens are raised together in one single chicken house, try to imagine putting thousands of roosters under one roof. They would all be fighting for supremacy and for territory in that one small space. And even if you do mix roosters and hens in one roof, the effect would be the same because the roosters will have more reasons to be aggressive in an attempt to win the alpha male rights in front of the hens.

As a whole, it becomes an economical nightmare for you to raise thousands of roosters in one single space because of how they would end up fighting one another when they are kept so close to one another. And tying up your roosters and putting enough space between them is also not an economically sound idea because it would take more time, effort, resources, and space for you to do so.

All that said, this points to the very fact that hens are simply easier and much more economical to raise in comparison to male chickens. This is why roosters are often considered to have no economic value whatsoever when it comes to the poultry industry, as it is difficult to raise them for their meat and due to how they don’t lay eggs, which are also valuable in the chicken industry.

What about capons?

A few roosters are actually specifically raised for their meat because they end up becoming bigger and meatier compared to hens. These are the capons, which are male chickens that were castrated at a very young age.

The capons grow up to be docile and bigger and fatter than regular roosters and hens alike. Then again, capons are rare to come by, even though you can still see their meat being sold in a few supermarkets.

So, in short, regardless of whether you are talking about roosters or capons, they are very much not as economical to raise compared to hens. That’s why you probably have never eaten rooster meat in your entire life, especially if you only eat the chicken you can get from grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.

Does a rooster taste different from a hen?

As a whole, the hen meat is tender and quite fatty while the rooster mind is quite tough, as they are more muscular compared to hens. The rooster meat flavor is also much more intense.

While it is not as widely talked about as the economic value of roosters, the taste of rooster meat can also be one of the reasons why hens are much more preferred than roosters as far as the poultry industry is concerned. That’s because roosters and hens do have many differences in terms of their meat.

The first difference can be noticed in the texture of the meat. Hen meat is the usual chicken that you eat regularly. It is tender and quite fatty due to how broiler chickens are fattened up and how their lack of testosterone prevents them from developing plenty of muscle fibers.

Coq au vin: French recipe with braised rooster meat

Meanwhile, rooster meat is kind of tough because of the very fact that roosters are more muscular compared to hens. They also don’t carry a lot of fat in them, and that is the exact reason why there is a bit of difference in the way rooster meat tastes.

Due to the lower fat content and the abundance of muscle fibers in rooster meat, the flavor is much more intense, which isn’t always a good thing for those who are already so used to the flavor of the regular broiler meat that you eat. 

All that said, hen meat is simply the preferable meat, even when you take out the lack of economic value of rooster meat. That’s because hen meat comes with a milder and fattier flavor that is tender and more palatable for most people who have already gotten used to the usual chicken meat that they eat.

However, this doesn’t mean that roosters are not delicious. There are some cultures or even some chefs who prefer to use rooster meat in their dishes due to how it is rich in flavor. As such, rooster meat is often cooked in stews.

Stewing rooster meat in a slow and steady flame for a long time allows the meat to tenderize, all while its flavor infuses the stew. So, if you are after the flavor of chicken in your stew, rooster meat should be the better option due to how it is richer in flavor and how stewing it will allow it to have the same tender consistency that hen meat usually has.

Is most chicken meat male or female?

Ideally speaking, when chicken eggs hatch, the probability should be 50:50 for both male and female chicks. But there are some instances where the probability is skewed a bit in favor of the male chicks, as there are times when the eggs hatch to be male chicks 55% of the time. However, the ratio is still roughly 50:50 most of the time.

But the thing you need to know when it comes to big chicken producers and not those who sell farm-raised chickens is that male chicks are usually culled at an early age the moment they have been sexed. That means that they are separated from the females and are culled due to their lack of economic value.

As a general rule, most of the chicken meat found in the supermarkets is from female chickens or hens. You will hardly ever find male chicken or rooster meat being sold in supermarkets.

Probably the only time when rooster meat is sold in supermarkets is when it came from Cornish/rock crossbreeds that are meant to grow so fast in only a few weeks before they are butchered. 

Because these crossbreeds grow so fast, even the male chickens are actually butchered and sold because they actually grow so fast that they won’t end up developing the aggressive nature that roosters are known to have. Cornish/rock crossbreeds are also quite fatty and tender to the point that you won’t be able to tell the roosters and the hen apart. That’s why, when butchered, they are usually mixed together.

Still, it would be rare for you to find rooster meat because broiler chickens are still the most economical to raise. That’s why the only possible time you might end up eating rooster meat is if you actually buy rooster meat or if you stay on a farm where roosters are butchered and eaten just as regularly as hens are.

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Patrick FROMAGET

I want to share everything I know about chickens to help you take better care of yours! I grew up raising chickens at home and have learned a lot over the years. I hope you'll find my articles useful and learn something from them.

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