You’re happy with your just-bought chicks. But a few weeks in, you start to notice that what you originally thought was an egg-laying hen is actually a crowing rooster. What do you do, keep the rooster as a pet or give it back to the farm? What are the advantages and disadvantages of keeping a rooster in your flock? Are there any benefits? And most importantly, is it worth the trouble? Read on to find if you should keep a rooster in your backyard chicken flock.
Chicken Keeping 101
Keeping chickens is both an art and a full-time job. From feeding them the right type of chicken feed to even building your own chicken coop from scratch, no chicken owner will tell you it’s an easy endeavor. They all will say the same thing, though: it’s worth it (even if it’s just for the delicious eggs).
But there’s one thing where chicken backyard farmers’ opinions differ. And that’s on whether or not you should keep a rooster in your flock. Let’s discuss a bit more.
Hens vs. Roosters
The main difference between hens and roosters is obviously their gender. Hens are female, roosters are male. This means that hens focus on ranging, having a good time, and laying eggs, while roosters focus on protecting the flock, fertilizing the eggs, and seducing the chicks. Hens tend to be more gentle while roosters are famed for their protective and oftentimes, aggressive, stances. So what should you do? Keep a rooster or send him back to the farm? Here are our pros and cons when it comes to keeping a rooster in your flock:
Pros of Keeping a Rooster
They Can Aid In Sustainability
Keeping a rooster in your flock is a more sustainable approach to keeping chickens. This is because you can hatch your own chicks instead of having to purchase chicks from a hatchery. Also, if you plan on selling your eggs you can make a good profit if you can claim that they’re fertilized.
They Can Be Fun To Watch
They’re beautiful and flamboyant. If you keep more than one rooster, you may see them as young cockerels trying to crow and chest-bumping each other to try to establish their authority as the main alpha bird of the flock. They also strut and dance, dropping to one wing and jigging around a prospective mate. It’s a bit like watching an intense breakdancing routine.
They Help Keep The Peace
A flock of hens with no rooster can suffer girly disagreements and discord. A rooster can help break up fights, protecting the weaker hens from the more dominant ones. This is because, without a rooster, a hen will try to assume the boss role, which will undoubtedly lead to fights and challenges from other hens. A rooster won’t allow for any vicious pecking to go down during his watch.
Roosters keep watch while your – meaning, his – hens forage and range freely. If there’s anything amiss, he will sound the alarm. And should the flock be attacked, the rooster will go full Jackie Chan on the predator in order to protect his girls. Although keep in mind, you may be seen as the aggressor in the rooster’s eyes… so there is that.
Cons of Keeping a Rooster
They Can Be Aggressive
As mentioned above, roosters have protective personalities. And if at any given moment they think you are a threat to the flock, they will charge and attack. They are also very territorial, which means that they want their own ladies, their own space in the coop, their very own feeder and water station. Repeat after us – roosters do not share. So if you plan on keeping more than one rooster, get ready to give each bad boy his very own space and toys.
They Are Noisy
Roosters don’t crow at the crack of dawn. Or rather, they don’t only crow at the crack of dawn. They crow before dawn, after dawn, and throughout the entire day. It’s not about greeting the new day, but more of tooting their own horn and announcing to the world “I am a rooster and I am here”. Very present-day zen, but very noisy too.
They Can Be Rough
When mating, roosters believe in tough love. They can even leave bald spots in your girls’ backs. To avoid this, you can get some “chicken saddles” that may help keep your girls protected. We have a mating chicken saddle designed to offer maximum protection, safety, and comfort.
So If You Do Want To Keep Roosters…
If you’ve read through this article and decided that you do want to keep a rooster chicken in your flock, here are a few pointers:
- Keep one rooster for about every ten hens
- If possible separate their housing when more than one rooster is in the flock
- Be sure you have enough room
- Avoid handling your hens if the rooster is nearby
- When working in an enclosed pen, move slowly and deliberately
Having a rooster in your flock can present many advantages. Just be sure to follow the pointers we listed above and to guarantee that you have enough space and you should be good to go!
Check out our online store and find the best products for your flock, whether it’s rooster-led or not!.