Should you get a rooster?
Wondering about the benefits of having a rooster in your flock? Chickens will happily lay eggs without a rooster, but a rooster does help keep peace among the hens. A rooster also takes on the task of alerting the hens when a predator its about.
The benefits of having a rooster
First, let's consider the benefits of having a rooster:
- They fertilise eggs which hatch into chicks. No Rooster equals no chicks.
- Roosters protect the flock
- They help keep the peace among the hens
- Can be quite an attractive addition to the coop
If you want chicks, you need a rooster
Chickens lay eggs without roosters. But to grow into a chick, the egg has to be fertilised. The most significant advantage of a rooster is they fertilise chicken eggs. No rooster equals no chicks. If you want more chickens, you will have to get a rooster. Otherwise, you’ll be begging or buying fertilised eggs. Having a rooster is a free way to increase the size of the flock.
Roosters protect the flock
A rooster naturally protects the chickens. He watches for predators and sounds the alarm when there is a danger. If your chickens free range, having a rooster is even more beneficial because he will watch for hawks and other predators, alarming your chickens in time to take cover in the case of danger.
The rooster is also the one who finds nice nesting spots. He may even watch and protect hens while they dust bathe or lay an egg. Roosters also take it upon themselves to let the hens know where a good source of food is.
Now, admittedly, in a backyard flock, hens are just as likely as a rooster to spot the scraps or a handful of mealworms. But the evolutionary instinct is still there and hens like having a rooster as a protector and provider. So much so that their contentment can produce more eggs.
Roosters keep the peace
Chicken flocks have a rigid pecking order. Hens will fight brutally for their place and some hens are just plain bullies. Roosters, on the other hand, usually don't clash with the hens. Nor will they participate in bullying. Also, they frequently break up hen-fights. So while the answer to the question of "Do you need a Rooster to lay eggs?" is no, you can certainly have a happier flock with a rooster.
Although uncrowded hens generally get along with each other, a flock with a rooster is usually more peaceful. There is less fighting for the top spot by the hens. Roosters are the natural leader because their physique is more muscular and substantial. If you watch hens which have a rooster in the flock, they tend to be more relaxed and less likely to indulge in bullying or fights.
Roosters can be lovely
There is something special about watching a proud rooster foraging in the farmyard. His gentlemanly prowess as he woos the hens with dance is beautiful.
Reasons not to have a rooster
When you conjure up the image of a rooster crowing on the apex of a barn, you think of a rooster announcing the first morning light. Now take that image and forget it — Roosters crow at all hours and for almost any reason.
Some things which can get a rooster crowing include:
- Light of the moon
- Passing headlights
- And any other reason they think of
Roosters will crow, no matter what you do. It’s their instinct.
So if you have small children or you don’t sleep well yourself, a rooster might take a bit of getting used to. And if you have neighbours nearby who may not appreciate a midnight recital, a rooster mightn’t be for you.
Some council bylaws don't allow roosters
In urban and suburban areas, there are strict regulations about keeping chickens. These laws often determine how much land you need as well as how many chooks you can have. And in the interest of friendly neighbourhood relations and reducing urban noise pollution, they often restrict the keeping of roosters. Before purchasing a rooster, check with the local council to avoid unnecessary conflict or potential fines.
You don’t have enough hens to keep a rooster
Roosters are happier when they have a flock of hens to share the love. Hens prefer a larger flock if there is a rooster too, because it prevents the rooster playing favourites and stops any one hen from getting too much attention. An unsatisfied rooster can harass the chickens, even causing feather loss or stopping them from eating. For this reason, it is best to have at least 6 hens if you are considering keeping a rooster.
You have a mixed flock
There’s nothing wrong with keeping a rooster in most mixed flocks. But if you have a significant discrepancy in the size of birds, it may cause problems. For example, a big Rhode Island Red rooster could cause serious injury to a bantam hen. If you want to introduce a rooster to a mixed-breed flock, consider getting a smaller breed that is in proportion with the size of your smallest hens
Some roosters are mean
Some customers have said they don’t keep roosters because they are mean to the hens. We agree. Some roosters take what they want without asking.
However, nice roosters generally woo the hens. Once a rooster has chosen a hen, he will dance around her, cluck to her and possibly present her with food. If a hen crouches for the rooster, she is indicating that she accepts the advances. Nice roosters rarely go after a hen that tries to evade them.
While it is unclear why some roosters are more chivalrous than others, it may be genetic. If you have ended up with an unkind rooster, think about replacing him with a Romeo-type for the hens.
Also, in flocks with competing roosters, they are less-gentlemanlike. They are trying to protect their territory as well as mate with as many hens as possible. The same may apply to roosters who are paired with too many hens - they haven't got time for romance!
Roosters can also cause injury to the hens. Usually, they damage the hen’s back when they are treading on her. It may lead to feather loss and also potential skin damage. This may result from:
- a larger rooster
- a small hen
- too much attention due to having too few hens
- the rooster having a favourite hen
The feather loss is uncomfortable for the hen. It may also lead to feather pecking and eventual death. The best treatment for this damage is to remove the affected hen and treat the feather loss. If it continues to be an issue, get a chicken saddle to protect any suffering hen from the rooster’s claws.
Advice for keeping a flock with a rooster happy
Keeping a flock with a rooster happy is pretty simple. Have one rooster and plenty of hens.
Remove chicks that turn out to be roosters before they get big enough to upset the status quo, and ensure your rooster is a lover, not a fighter. If you end up with a rooster that attacks people or is mean to the hens, remove it so it cannot pass its genetics onto the next generation.
Also read: How to solve a broody hen