Dateline: 24 April 2015
The above picture comes from the 1914 booklet, Caponizing, by George P. Pilling. Here is an excerpt from the book:
"A capon is a male bird (cockerel or rooster) from which the testicles have been removed. As in other animals—bull, horse, boar, etc., this operation changes his nature entirely. He has only one function in life, to get fat. The growth is more rapid, the comb and wattles cease to grow, the bird is lazy, his plumage is heavy and very beautiful, the spurs do not develop, neither hen nor rooster has any further use for him, and he seeks the company of the little chickens, brooding over them at night, and leading them about during the day. In France, the capon largely takes the place of the mother, the hen confining herself to laying.
To the poultry producer of today the capon is an absolute necessity, if he intends to stay in the business and make it profitable. He makes quick meat, tender meat, and much of it, and, best of all, he makes the highest priced meat in the market.
The uncaponized rooster runs his flesh off; he is always in trouble. When Mary E. Wilkins made one of her characters say "Chickens allies die in debt," she was, no doubt, thinking of the rooster, for he does usually die in debt; his feed bill is never settled by his carcass; he is a nuisance any way you take him.
Caponize this good for nothing fowl, all legs and appetite, and, presto, he is changed into the quiet Capon; his mission in life is now to convert his owner's food into the delicious and highly profitable meat."
My interest in learning about caponizing is not to produce profitable meat for sale, or even to produce superior tasting chicken (capons are, by all accounts, remarkably flavorful) but to produce meaty birds for my own family, using common breeds of chicken, instead of depending on a far-away hatchery in another state to supply me with the common hybrid Cornish-X chicks (preppers, listen up).
If the idea of being able to raise your own high-quality meat birds, using the cockerels (young male chickens) of standard egg-laying breeds, intrigues you too, I recommend that you first educate yourself in the old, and mostly forgotten, art of caponizing. You can do this by reading articles on the internet, and by downloading the four inexpensive caponizing resources I have just released at Agriphemera.com.
The following pictures show the covers of the four caponizing books. You can click on the title under the pictures to learn more about each...
|Capons and Caponizing|
|Producing Capons in Pennsylvania|
|Beuoy Bow Capon Book|
|The Pilling Caponizing Book|
I have yet to caponize a cockerel, but I am confident that, with the information in the above resources, I'll be able to do the surgery. The confidence comes, not just from the books, but from the fact that I've butchered enough chickens in my life to be familiar with, and comfortable around, the bird's internal organs.
I don't know if I'll caponize some chickens this year, but I'll acquire the tools this year, and, eventually, I'll get around to the task. Sooner or later, I get around to actually pursuing something that interests me, but it begins with learning all I can about a subject first.
With that thought in mind, I'm wondering if anyone reading this has personal or offhand experience with raising or eating capons. If so, please share what you know in the comments section below.