Can you eat a rooster?

The short answer is Yes. But to get a broader view of barnyard basics, we need to define a few terms. Here are some key definitions:

Rooster: A male chicken that's spared a date with the plate because he's kept around for breeding purposes.

Capon: A castrated guy chicken that's valued for his good taste (and not in clothes or cars).

Hen: A girl chicken that's over a year old.

Broiler: Domesticated chickens raised for meat production.

"Caponised" males don't grow as quickly as roosters, so they manage to pack on more body fat in their short lives. Fat = tender and juicy, a sure-fire recipe for winning favor on the menu.

Each year, the United States produces about 10 billion broilers — according to the National Chicken Council. In a country with a population of nearly 296 million people, that's right around 34 chickens per person per year! Of course, some of the meat ships outside the U.S. (Foreign customers account for one-third of sales of legs and thighs alone.)

By the way, male chickens are the cock of the walk when it comes to table manners. When a rooster locates something yummy, he calls the hens in his flock to have first dibs on the food. He also attracts the girls' attention by picking up and dropping a piece of food, just like mother hens do when they're teaching their chicks to scrounge around for food.