We all know the advantages of having hens- you get plenty of good-tasting eggs and high-quality meat! However, have you ever thought about roosters and their purpose?
Yes, the rooster is the breeder in the flock, and they are known as nature’s organic alarm or clock due to their crowing. However, there is a whole list of advantages and disadvantages of having a rooster in your flock!
So, what are roosters good for? If you are new to chicken keeping, this is probably an interesting topic for you, as it was for me when I first started chicken keeping!
Advantages of Having a Rooster in Your Flock
1. Breeder of the Flock
The most prominent and important role of a rooster in your flock is to facilitate flock reproduction.
Interestingly, although hens lay eggs without the presence of a rooster, they have to be there if you want your hens to lay fertile eggs that they can later incubate. This mainly concerns those that want to hatch baby chicks.
Roosters generally achieve sexual maturity at the age between 5 and 6 months, and that is when they start fertilizing their eggs. The fertility of the rooster is dependent on several factors, such as health, diet, and even environmental conditions.
If you want your baby chicks to be in excellent health and your rooster a good father, you must take care of them. This means that a rooster, to produce high-quality sperm, must be in great condition.
The average life span for roosters is between 5 and 10 years, depending on their living conditions. A well-taken care of and fed roster can remain fertile for many years, although generally fertile between three and four years.
Keep in mind that the quality of sperm will decrease with age.
2. Flock’s Bodyguard
First, having a rooster in the coop is natural for chickens, as males and females naturally cohabit in each other’s spaces. Secondly, roosters are known to break up hens’ fights, which are also common.
However, their second most important role is to protect the flock. If you have ever lived on a farm, you know that roosters are very hardy and tough and that messing with their flock is never a good idea because they have a strong instinct to protect the hens.
Also, you need to start socializing the rooster with the hens at a young age so that they can get accustomed to his presence and ‘rule.’ Roosters are very dominant and territorial. Therefore, they need to be in charge.
Given that chickens, whether free-range or in the coop, can be a target for numerous predators, having a rooster is vital. Not only will they try to protect and guard the flock, but they will also make a lot of noise, which may attract your attention and alert you.
Also, when a coop or a flock is attacked, the roosters are usually the only ones to survive, and that is a situation that recently happened to my neighbor. That is also your clue to build your coop closer to your house so you can monitor what is happening and protect them.
3. They Are Vital For Flock Dynamics
The role of a rooster is much more than the breeder and protector of the flock. Did you know that when a rooster finds food or treats, such as an area swarming with insects or scarp foods, they will call the females and tell them there is a food producing a clucking sound?
In addition to fertilizing the eggs, roosters also keep the chickens at ease because they protect the flock. Chickens generally feel more relaxed with him present in the coop because they know he will defend them.
You have probably heard about the pecking order! The pecking order or hierarchy of status is present within every flock, and it is vital for the flock’s unity and harmony.
One hen is usually the ‘boss’ or head hen among other hens who follow her lead. The less dominant hens are usually at the bottom of the pecking order. Interestingly, the rooster is above or outside the pecking order.
That makes them the perfect mediator to restore the peace within the flock in case hens start to fight.
4. They Bring Diversity, Entertainment and Help With Flock Training
Have you ever seen a rooster dance? That is a unique experience! Also known as a “cockerel waltz,” is a specific type of movement where a cockerel struts in front of a hen and walks in a half circle with one wing extended to the ground.
Although this dance may appear romantic or entertaining to the bystanders and visitors, it is a very aggressive move on the rooster’s part to assert dominance. Interestingly, the rooster will perform this dance only once.
After the rooster has “waltzed,” the dominance is established, and there is no reason for it to happen again. However, if you have more than one rooster, that is a different story.
In addition, having a rooster can help you train your chickens. Considering that hens follow the rooster’s lead because they feel safe around him, they will follow his other movements.
That way, if you need to coop-train your chickens, a rooster can be of great help. Ultimately, the rooster will add some diversity to your flock. They are bigger and have very colorful and exotic plumage and personality.
Disadvantages of Having a Rooster in Your Flock
1. Rooster’s Crowing
This may be an advantage for some people, and it is often seen as a natural alarm clock. Contrary to the popular belief that roosters only crow in the down, they do it all the time.
That is why roosters are illegal in certain cities in the US, such as New York City. Besides their noisiness, they also tend to display aggressive behavior. Interestingly, keeping a rooster in the city or area where it is illegal can cost you up to a $1,000 fine.
2. They Tend to Fight
Although there are different breeds of roosters, and they do not necessarily behave the same way, generally, roosters are known as aggressive and dominant. On the other hand, let’s be honest, what dominant and territorial animal does not display aggression? Not many!
Therefore, you are not recommended to have more than one rooster in the flock because you will inadvertently get a rooster “fight club,” just like in the movie, that will not be very pretty. You can have multiple roosters, but they must be properly socialized.
Roosters raised together will learn how to co-exist, but if you bring two adults, the chances are that it will result in constant fights. The best ratio for chickens and roosters is 10 hens for each rooster.
Remember, roosters were previously kept for cockfighting, which speaks volumes about their nature. On the other hand, there are always exceptions and roosters that break the “aggression” mold.
3. Mating is Rough on the Hens
Have you ever seen a rooster and a hen mating? Not a very nice sight! The process involves the rooster mounting the hen and standing on her back. In order to do this, he (male) has to grab her head feathers and hold onto them to keep balance.
Then he “treads” or moves to and fro. The mating is rough for the hens and usually results in feather loss. During the mating process, the rooster will ‘pluck’ their feathers, resulting in bare skin patches, which makes the hens prone to various infections.
If a rooster has a favorite hen for mating, that will be very evident, especially on her back and head. That is why many chicken keepers buy or make saddles or vests for their hens to protect them from roosters’ claws and spurs, which do the most damage.
4. They Can Attack Baby Chicks
It is important to note that this is a very rare occurrence in the poultry world. However, roosters can be aggressive toward baby chicks if they notice that the hen is paying more attention to them and does not have time for mating.
In the animal kingdom, this is nothing unusual, and if you watch Animal Planet, maybe you have seen that lions tend to kill cubs because females are nursing them and are not interested in mating.
Roosters have several advantages, including being flock breeders and protectors. They are vital for the flock’s dynamics and can help you coop-train your hens.
On the other hand, there are some cons to having a rooster, such as their aggressive behavior and mating, which results in hens’ feather loss. Ultimately the decision is yours, and you must weigh whether you need the rooster!
What are roosters good for in your opinion? If you have any comments or want to share your experience with roosters, do not hesitate to share them!