Cockerels are the young cock or the young roaster.

Hatchery Practice on cockerels:

Before the emergency of the modern broiler, cockerels were the meat producers while the hen lays eggs for chicks or table. However, once the industry bred separate meat and egg-producing hybrids, there was no reason to keep males of the egg-producing hybrid. Hence once, the chicks are hatched, they are sexed and the Pullet kept for egg production as Commercial Layers and the Cockerels crushed or given out at a much cheaper price.

Reasons for Rejecting the cockerels.

  1. Slow growth rate
  2. Low feed conversion rate
  3. Non tender meat at maturity.

Exploitable features of the Cockerels over Broilers (Advantages)

  1. Cockerels are hardy, hence easier to raise
  2. Cost of chicks very low, translating to profit
  3. Meat from cocks are of peculiar and better taste due to their age at maturity
  4. Many consumers have preference for tougher meat at home
  5. Cockerels can easily be raised on free range.

Based on the above we will discuss the economy of raising cockerels to either juveniles or Roasters.

  1. Cockerels to Juveniles

This involves getting Day old Chicks (cockerels) from the hatchery, brooding and raising them to four weeks of age when we can refer to them as juvenile or growers. Within this period they would consume about 600 gram of chick feed and gain about 290 gram of body weight. From this age, they can be sold out to persons that will further market them to buyers that often will keep them in few number as backyard roasters.

The Economics of raising Cockerels to Juveniles.

Preferably, the young chicks should be feed broilers starter. At the present price of a Starter feed (N2,800/25kg bag), 600 gram would cost N67.2. With cost of day old cockerels at N20, total cost of production will be N87.2. Often these growers are sold for N150. Profit is often between N50 to N60/bird.

  1. Raising Cockerels to Cock (Roaster)

This will involve caring for the birds for about 25 to 30 weeks or even more. We will assume that the bird would be sold at 25th weeks of age to make our calculations. There are three ways the birds can be kept.

  1. Free Range.

The juveniles are allowed to freely move within a secluded place where the birds can forage and feed on insects etc. the farmer supplement their feed with maize offal, grain, hydroponic, or food left over. He also provide medication, vaccinations and housing. Cost of feeding would be highly reduced and with the new technology of hydroponics, balanced feeding would be achieved. Challenges would be space requirement, biosecurity and limits in number. Under this system, cost of production often will not exceed N600/bird by the 25th week. Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral solution only, or in an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel.

  1. Deep litter system.

The birds can be kept from day old to maturity on the deep litters. Hydroponic fodders can also be utilized, feed requirement must be balance because the birds are restricted. By the 25th week, the cocks would have consumed about 12kg of feed. At N2400/25kg of feed(Average), approximately about N1,152/bird will be expended. By extrapolation, cost of production could sum up to about N1,222. The birds at this age under proper feeding and management should weigh about 2.3kg(Average) and can be sold between N1500 to N2,500. Note the wide variation in price; it depends on who is buying and season.

  • Cage system of management.

Cockerels can be kept in cages . Cages could be locally constructed, wooden or galvernised battery cages. If galvernised cages are to be used, the bird would have to attain a minimum of 12 weeks before they are introduced. They will hence be feed compounded feed or the readily available commercial feed. It is preferable to feed cocks on more nutritious feed than growers to obtain better weight gain. The cocks raised on the cage system will be more uniform in growth and attain better weight gain earlier than those raised on the floor. Cost calculation is similar to those raised on the floor.

Routine Vaccination.

  6. WEEK 6————–FOWL POX

Routine Medication,

  1. Anti coccidioses. Whenever you noticed chocolate brown feaces, confirm from your veterinarian and treat for coccidioses. Prevention include removal of wet litters
  2. Deworm with Piperazine or Ivermectine frequently if birds are on free range or floor. At least every 12 weeks.
  3. Treat with antibiotic only with the advice of a veterinarian to minimize abuse which could lead to intoxication, resistance or liver failure.

Handling cocks

Cocks have powerful beak and could peck or even scratch. To avoid injury, wear hand glove when attempting to handle them.