You may not need a rooster for eggs, but adding a handsome cockerel to your flock may bring some advantages to your homestead you haven’t considered.
I believe that keeping a rooster has many more pros than cons. Here are just a few of the most useful advantages.
1. Happier Hens
I’ve had flocks of just hens before, and I can say that my hens truly seem happier with one or two good roosters around. The dynamics between hens and a rooster seem to be very important for the girls. Roosters will look after the hens, alert them to food and even help find them good spots to lay eggs.
Another benefit for the hens is having a dominant bird to run the flock. When a flock consists of only hens, typically one hen will take over and run the flock. This can lead to aggression issues. Some hens even take this position so seriously they will begin to crow. Having a rooster eliminates this problem. (Read: The 8 Best Egg-Laying Breeds Of Backyard Chickens.)
2. Fertile Eggs for Hatching
One of the main reason people end up getting a rooster is because they want fertile eggs. This is a huge benefit for homesteaders, as they will be able to replace their own flock without having to buy new stock. Heritage and dual-purpose breeds of hens are more apt to brood their own eggs, but you probably should invest in an incubator as a backup.
3. Watchdog for Flock
A beautiful, natural alarm clock can be beneficial for some people wanting a rooster. Others find that roosters are invaluable as guardians for their hens. While the average rooster probably won’t attack a large predator threatening his flock, he is far more alert than hens which means he will warn the flock of danger. Sometimes this early alert system to a dog or a hawk can mean all the difference for the hens to have the time to hide or run.
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Of course, there are disadvantages to having a rooster. Here are some:
Though I enjoy hearing my flock and the roosters, even I’ll admit that sometimes when they get into a cacophony of noise I wonder why I chose to have roosters in the first place!
If you have neighbors close by, they probably won’t appreciate hearing your rooster crowing early in the morning and throughout the day. This is one reason why they are banned in most urban areas. There isn’t much you can do to control the noise of roosters aside. Generally, heavier breeds known for their docility are less noisy as well as some bantams like Silkies.
2. Aggression towards People
There is a long held belief that all roosters are vicious, aggressive animals. I, and many others, have found that this really isn’t true. But just like any intact male livestock, there is a possibility for aggression. Some roosters just have a very defensive attitude when it comes to their flock and they may see people as a threat.
To avoid this, I recommend buying a rooster of a breed known to be docile, such as an Orpington variety. Raise this rooster from a chick as young as possible but don’t baby him. While you may cuddle up with your pullets, don’t allow this kind of contact with the rooster. He should see you as head rooster and treat you with respect. This method doesn’t always work and while I’ve raised many roosters with success using it, the only human-aggressive roosters I’ve dealt with also were raised from chicks.
A truly aggressive rooster should be dealt with immediately, especially if you have children. Unfortunately these types of roosters may be best used for the soup pot.
3. Rough on Hens
Just like the previous disadvantage, some roosters may be overly aggressive with hens, just because they have that type of temperament. This is fairly rare, however. There are two common reasons why a rooster may be beating up on his hens.
First off, it isn’t a good idea to get a rooster if you only have a few hens. He’ll very possibly overbreed them, which can lead to back and head injuries for the girls. This doesn’t mean he is a bad rooster. It is a good idea to hold off on getting a rooster until you have a minimum of five hens.
The second reason why a rooster acts rough with his flock is because he is sharing the hens with another rooster. Even though some roosters will peacefully coexist in a large flock of hens after their initial hierarchy dispute, I have found that competing roosters are often more aggressive with hens.
I really enjoy keeping roosters and I think any chicken lover would greatly enjoy watching a well-behaved “roo” interacting with his flock. If you haven’t yet bought chickens or if you already have an established flock of hens, a rooster could really take your chicken keeping to the next level.
Do you agree or disagree? Do you think that flocks are better off with a rooster? Share your thoughts in the section below: