The Romans are credited with inventing the capon. The Lex Faunia of 162 BC forbade fattening hens to conserve grain rations. To get around this the Romans castrated roosters, which resulted in a doubling of size.1:305 European gastronomic texts of the past dealt largely with capons, as the ordinary chicken of the farmyard was regarded as peasant fare, "popular malice crediting monks with a weakness for capons."1:309
What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes capons and clocks the tongues of bawds and dials the signs of leaping-houses and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.
Caponization is the process of turning a cockerel (young rooster) into a capon. Caponization can be done by surgically removing the rooster's testes, or may also be accomplished through the use of estrogen implants. With either method, the sex hormones normally present in roosters are no longer effective. Caponization must be done before the rooster matures, so that it develops without the influence of sex hormones.
Capons, due to the lack of sex hormones, are not as aggressive as normal roosters. This makes capons easier to handle and allows capons to be kept together with other capons since their reduced aggressiveness prevents them from fighting.
The lack of sex hormones results in meat that is less gamey in taste. Capon meat is also more moist, tender and flavorful than that of a hen or rooster, which is due not only to the hormonal differences during the capon's development but also because capons are not as active as roosters, which makes their meat more tender and fatty.2
Capons are fairly rare in industrial meat production. Chickens raised for meat are bred and raised so that they mature very quickly. Industrial chickens can be sent to market in as little as five weeks. Capons produced under these conditions will taste very similar to conventional meat, making their production unnecessary.
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