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Chicken Keeping: Wait......Don't You Need A Rooster?

January 18, 2014

This is often the question I am asked when people find out we no longer have a rooster.

The simple answer is no.  You can have eggs without the presence of a rooster.

The only slightly more complicated answer is yes, if you want fertile eggs.  If you want to hatch your own eggs or, for some other reason, desire fertile eggs, you need a rooster.

If you would like fertile eggs, it's recommended to have one rooster per about every 10 hens.  More than one rooster in this size of a flock will likely result in fighting between the two as they establish who is "top dog".

In addition to fertilizing eggs, roosters are also good for the complexity they add to the flock.  Mr. Clyde, our former {and very handsome as you can see from the photos} rooster, was always the center of attention for the Coop Girls.  They all worked very hard at being his number one or number two girl.  When the girls would fight with each other Clyde would pace and hum.  He seemed very worried. 

When treats were brought to the coop he would use a specific call to tell the girls.  Once they were all eating then he would relax and dig in.  Roosters are also very helpful in alerting the rest of the flock to potential danger.  Whether it be a predator on the ground or in the air, they will use a specific sound to warn the others.

The only downfall we found in our experience with a rooster was the significant feather loss of each of our hens during mating {you can see this two photos above where they are eating dandy greens}.  Feathers may be pulled out of the hens back while the rooster is treading.  Our hens ended up with no feathers on their backs during the times they were not able to free range.  On thing that did help was chicken saddles or aprons {shown above}.  You can find them all over the internet in a range of sizes.

Even though a rooster, for the most part, isn't a necessary part of your flock, they are beautiful, full of character and quite noisy {I think in a good way}, making them a lovely addition.  Because of their vocal nature, however, if you have close neighbors it would be a good idea to poll them on their thoughts prior to adding one to help keep the peace.

Additional Chicken-Keeping Posts:When Will My Chickens Start Laying?
Using Diatomaceous Earth For Chicken Health
Supplementing A Chicken's Diet
Chicken Water
Chicken Coop 101:  13 Lessons We Learned Building Our Coop
The Chicken Coop at Cobble Hill Farm
All You Need To Know About Chicken Roosts
All You Need To Know About Nesting Boxes

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