Common Rooster Myths - Clearing Up Rooster Misinformation

  1. Pyxis

    Keeping a rooster can be fun and rewarding, and they are often great additions to the flock, and beautiful to boot. However, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about them, and several very persistent myths. So, what's true and what's just plain old misinformation?​

    Myth One: Roosters aren't chickens.


    This one may sound silly, but it's a common misconception that hens are chickens and roosters are, well, roosters, and not chickens. Of course people know that the hen and the rooster are the same species, but it is common to see people referring to hens as chickens instead of hens, and roosters as roosters. This is why you'll get people asking if their bird is a chicken or a rooster. Of course, it's a chicken either way, but what they really mean is, is my bird a hen or a rooster? Chicken is the name of the species, and a hen or pullet is the female and a cockerel, cock, or rooster is the male, just as with deer a male is a buck and the female is a doe, but of course both are still deer. So if you want to know if your bird is a male or a female, you want to know if it is a rooster or a hen. Either way, it is still a chicken.

    Myth Two: All roosters will become aggressive to humans.


    Anyone who has a good rooster knows that this isn't true, but you will often see people telling other people that as their cockerel matures, it will definitely become human aggressive and start attacking people. I would have to assume that's because they only have experience with aggressive roosters. I've had many roosters in my days as a chicken breeder, and only one has ever been aggressive, a hatchery stock buff orpington that showed up in my yard one day. The rest, and there have been at least thirty, haven't ever so much as looked at me funny. Roosters are not guaranteed to grow up to be human attack birds, and in my experience with proper raising and stock selection, you rarely get a human aggressive rooster. Aggression can be genetic, so if it all possible when getting a rooster make sure he comes from a non-aggressive father. If you have an aggressive rooster, don't let him breed as he can pass the trait to his sons. And if you have an aggressive rooster who is flogging you and making your life miserable, send him to the chopping block. There are too many nice roosters in need of good homes to put up with that behavior.

    Myth Three: Two roosters can never live together and will kill each other.


    Often I see people telling other people that if they have more than one cockerel in their batch of chicks, they're going to need to give one away because when they mature and their hormones kick in they will fight and one will kill the other. While there may be some scuffling to determine the pecking order, this isn't true either. Even hens fight to establish the pecking order, and cockerels that grow up together figure out the pecking order at the same time that their sisters do, as chicks, and when they reach adulthood they respect this and, in my experience, rarely fight. There will be some chasing to assert dominance, and the dominant rooster will often chase the lower males away from hens if they attempt to mate, but bloody all out fights are rare, and never have I had a rooster kill another rooster. One always backs down before that point. This may not be true of game breeds, some of which were actually bred to fight, but most farm birds are not like this. Even when introducing a new rooster to a flock with an existing rooster that it has never before come into contact with and did not grow up with, after the initial fight to sort the new pecking order, there is almost never any fighting because the pecking order is respected. As long as you have enough hens, you can definitely keep more than one rooster in your flock.

    Myth Four: A rooster is needed for a hen to lay eggs.


    It is commonly believed that a hen needs a rooster present to stimulate her to lay eggs. Actually, a hen will lay eggs whether there is a rooster in the flock or not. Egg production has nothing to do with whether there is a rooster around. A hen can never see a rooster her whole life and will stay lay plenty of eggs.

    Myth Five: The only reason to keep a rooster is if you want fertile eggs and chicks.


    While it is true that the only reason it is absolutely necessary to keep a rooster is if you want fertile eggs and chicks from your own birds, it is far from the only reason! Roosters have many other purposes too. They will protect your hens from danger and will always be on the lookout to alert if they see a predator. They will find food for your hens and call them over so they can eat it. They will even give their lives for their hens, running to fight a predator while the hens run away to find safety and hide.

    Myth Six: A rooster will crow only when the sun comes up.


    While a rooster will crow when the sun comes up, that's not the only time he will crow. He'll crow all day long. The crow isn't to wake the flock up, it's to announce to everyone in the area that he is here, and that this is his flock, and he is big and strong and will defend it, just as lions roar to say that they own their territory and will fight to keep it. So he'll crow in the morning, afternoon, evening, and even in night if something wakes him up in the coop. So if you're getting a rooster, don't expect to get one crow a day! Also, not just roosters will crow. If you have a flock without a rooster, the dominant hen may actually crow, so don't panic if that bird that has been laying you eggs suddenly crows, she's not turning into a rooster! It's uncommon, but it does happen.

    Myth Seven: Roosters will attack chicks.


    While some roosters will attack chicks, just as some hens will, this is also for the most part false. A rooster will usually protect chicks in a flock - chances are that they are his children, and it would be silly of him to kill them, as he wants to pass his genes on. I've never had a rooster attack chicks. Some silkie roosters have even been known to take in and care for orphaned chicks, and in Thai game fowl, it is not uncommon for the rooster to care for the chicks just like the hen does.

    Myth Eight: Only roosters get spurs, and you can tell a chick is a rooster if it has spur bumps.


    Actually, all chicks have spur bumps, even the pullets, and some hens will grow spurs. In the Sumatra breed, almost all hens have spurs, and sometimes they even have more than one spur on each leg! There is no way to tell the gender of a chick by whether it has spur bumps.

    Myth Nine: A rooster always has a big comb and wattles.


    While roosters usually have larger combs and wattles than hens, it all depends on comb type. We are used to seeing roosters with huge single combs, but there are different comb types, and, as you can see from the picture above, a rooster doesn't always have a huge comb and wattles - he can even have no wattles at all! Some roosters are even hen feathered, in the case of sebrights, and don't even have the long flowing hackle and saddle feathers that most people use to identify a rooster.

    Myth Ten: Some breeds of rooster are quieter than others.


    Unfortunately, no one breed of chicken is known to have quieter roosters than another. Of course bantam roosters can't get quite the same volume going as a large fowl rooster can, but they are still loud. There is no breed known to crow less than another, and there is no way to tell if a rooster will be one that seldom crows or one that keeps you up all night by its breed. Each bird is an individual, and you just can't tell how loud or quiet or frequently a rooster will crow by its breed.

    So there you have it, ten common myths about roosters debunked. Roosters are great additions to any flock and if your local laws allow one, there's no reason you shouldn't have one if you'd like one. I couldn't imagine my flock without any roosters. And in case you were wondering, there is a rooster in every picture in this article - yes, even the chick is a cockerel!

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  1. coop410silkies
    Yet another interesting fact about roosters: they don't have penises (peni?).
  2. coop410silkies
    Good article, informative with great pics of examples.

    Here is another fact about roosters that most people don't know: roosters do NOT contribute a sex chromosome in fertilizing eggs; eggs are created either male or female, by the hen. The Roo has nothing to do with sex determination. (BTW, IF rooster behavior is determined on the male chromosome, one can maybe assume that aggressive behavior, as well as good rooster behavior, is inherited from the hen, then?)

    My Silkie Roo raised an abandoned sickly chick, and did a WONDERFUL job. ALL my Roos, both bantam and LF, have been at least tolerant, in most cases protective, of chicks.. Some seem to participate in the rearing of chicks.

    It is not uncommon in my flocks to see a rooster paired in a semi-monogamous relationship with a hen.
  3. Elemes
    Fun read!!!
  4. coop410silkies
    Good article, can't say too much about the myths and mystique surrounding roosters! I have a number of roosters, none of whom I actually planned. Of the dozen or so Light Sussex Roos I keep, not one of them has ever been less than a joy to have around; of the dozen or so Speckled Sussex Roos I've kept, not one has ever been even remotely docile or good mannered. My white Silkies attack humans on sight, the black guys do not. My RIR rooster is not friendly, but he does not attack humans. Some of the "good" guys actually attack a rooster who is attacking me. Bachelor Roos (SS) have ganged up on me. Some of my Roos, notably the SS, are HEN aggressive, and some are aggressive toward only one or two selected hens. Roosters are funny, and even if they are darlings as chicks, they may mature into monsters.

    They DO NOT automatically mate each and every hen; a Rooster may reject a hen and refuse to fertilize her eggs.

    Roosters have favorites, and some of mine seem to have paired up for life with a particular hen or group of hens; this seems a somewhat mutual arrangement, so that the Rooster has to make himself attractive to the hens he is courting. Some will make nests and scratch out dust baths for their hens, in addition to spilling the food out all over for them.

    I was once of the opinion that an only good aggressive rooster was a dead one. This thought lived as a sort of myth, but I've had luck rehabilitating them, so that now you would never know they were once aggressive. I may have to reteach them occasionally, but I am relieved enough to want to let others know that this is possible.

    I think that too many roosters in a flock might suppress a hen's laying. Just a speculation about why one of my flocks isn't laying well.

    My roosters with hens of their own take excellent care of them; they take care of and protect them -AND their chicks. Of all the roosters I have, not one has ever been aggressive toward chicks hatched in the flock.

    Roosters add a whole different dimension to keeping a flock. They are great for people who like challenges and admire the masculinity and mystique of macho, but they are not for everybody. I am not sure I or my flocks would be complete without them, though.
  5. lcertuche
    I laughed out loud when you mentioned the hens fighting. My rooster use to have to step in and make them quit all the time. The girls were always squabbling, usually when they had chicks. Out of three roosters he did make sure the other two boys were kept in their place. He was the only one with long tail feathers and only when we rehomed him to some friends did they finally have beautiful long feathers.
  6. yyz0yyz0
    it's so true about a rooster looking out for the hens. I hung a head of lettuce from the garden in the run, it was high enough that even the roo had to jump to get a bite. We sat and watched as the roo jumped and grabbed bite after bite of lettuce and then dropped each one for the hens to have it without having to make the jump to get their own
    Thanks for the "myth busters". I love my roosters and even though I do have to let a couple out on a roster, mine all have their particular territory and keep their ladies together. I also have a "Batchelor club" but they are all brother D'Uccles and actually crow in a duet or trio. I've noticed how some roosters like to check out new nesting material and really set up a racket when an egg is laid!
  8. ChickenLover200
    I love this article!
  9. foxmfan1
    great article, but just me I would put myth four as number one/ a rooster is needed for a hen to lay eggs. I only say this because, when I got my ladies, all my friends, /family/coworkers who knew i got chicks, the first thing out of their mouths was, oh so do you have a rooster so you can get eggs. or some other variation of the question. and even now when someone new visits my home, and sees my coop, they ask if i have a rooster, and are astonished that I get eggs everyday : ).
  10. Winter1
    Right now I have a silkie rooster , Sunny, who will walk up to me to be petted. Then if you had him in your lap he will fall asaleep! <3
  11. coop410silkies
    Good article, thank you for writing it. I am fairly new to chickens, and I have many roosters at this point. My first rooster was a mis-sexed hatchery RIR, and my second was a mis-sexed hatchery Speckled Sussex. The RIR is an un-assertive genteel gentleman, respectful of both his hens and his owner. The SS turned out to be a psychopathic killer, as were all his male offspring. I subsequently bought 2different lines of Heritage SS; the males of one line are in-my-face aggressive, and those of the second line are less so. All of them needed to be taught some manners. My numerous Light Sussex roosters, on the other hand, are ALL well-mannered, friendly, and respectful, despite their reputation for being a "little aggressive." I can't explain why they are so different; maybe the differences in their dispositions have something to do with the conditions under which they were raised, maybe their genetics, maybe ????

    I have to mention something I read in a forum here on BYC regarding culling one's flock for temperament in Roosters. The poster said that it is NOT enough to cull just the offensive roosters; he said that temperament is governed in the female genes, and that the breeder must also cull the hens who produce bad tempered offspring. Of course I don't have proof that this is true, but, if we are going to dispel myths here, we might consider this argument.

    I cannot imagine not having Roosters around - they create interest (and more work), they're beautiful, and for those people who appreciate diversity, they're the ultimate. Not for everyone, but special nonetheless.
  12. youngchooklover
    Well done!!
    So true!
  13. 21hens-incharge
    This is something I think was needed for a long time. Good job hitting on the facts and getting the truth out there. Hamburg hens can get some pretty big spurs too. At least all of mine sure did. Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
  14. Brookliner
    Great article. Very factual. I have many roosters my main coop has 3. My small coop has 2. And i have a batchelor coop of 7 Ameracuna roosters who all live together and have for several years. I don't have any trouble with any of them.
    That's Beau Copper King on the left. Like Peepsicle's roo, Beau comes up to my knee. His dad was a Brahma - his mom? don't know. We just adopted him last year. He has discovered what hens are for and is now making his way up the social ladder. He is as friendly and sweet as anyone could wish for and comes running every time he sees me in the yard. I find myself defending roosters all the time. Roosters take better care of their wives than a lot of humans do.
  16. fisherlady
    Thank you for setting the record straight!!! As an owner of multiple roosters and a mixed flock of all ages I love seeing the truths put out here in an article form. We have many roosters, broodies and chicks all cohabitating and it is a wonderful way to experience a flock. I have a couple of wonderful pictures of roosters tending the little ones and so many folks just don't get to experience how much joy can be had with having a good rooster in your flock.
  17. squirtsmomma
    Love this article as we have a great boy named Elvis that takes care of everyone.
  18. Peepsicle
    I had the sweetest rooster ever. His head reached my knees, and he weighed like 18 pounds. He was amazing and would jump on my lap and fall asleep in my arms. I couldn't keep him once he started crowing, but we found him a good home.
  19. 45ishChickenMom
    Excellent! This needed to be said, coming from a person with the world's sweetest rooster.
  20. Mountain Peeps
    Very helpful!!
  21. KDOGG331
    Great article! Never heard anyone think a rooster wasn't a chicken though, YET!, though when I first got my chicks, I did have plenty of people ask me if I had a rooster because they thought it was necessary for them to lay eggs. My mom's friend on the bus, my nana, my aunt, just about everybody! And they were all amazed when I explained that no, you do not need a rooster to lay eggs and they will lay just fine without one! LOL even my mom, who doesn't know a lot about animals, knew that you didn't need a rooster, so we got a kick out of all her family and everyone thinking you did I'd love to get a rooster but don't wanna bug the neighbors
  22. applebutter14
    awesome job!!!!! :)
  23. perchie.girl
    I had a silkey who could belt it out with the best of them.... He could fly a little and climb to get on a saw horse for a roost.... I was stunned. He thought he was all that too.
  24. Romochickencrazy
    Great article although myth #10, I have to not completely agree with. My Silkie roosters where much quieter than my turken neck rooster.
  25. Garjzla
    Great job with proving those common rooster myths to be false!
  26. silly4buttons
    Awesome read! I love roosters they are so good to have and I think everyone should have one in their flock. Where I live they aren't allowed here when you get chickens the town comes and I expect and take pictures of your set up and your chickens . I let them know that one of my birds might be a rooster and I was telling then know a month before I loss a hen to a hawk. He just said to me was 'as far as iam concerned it's a hen to me' so MrHandsome got to stay and he very good with his hens I love the look he gives when some of the hens get in a little tiff.
  27. TBirdsTheWord33
    Thank you, Pyxis, for writing this much-needed article. I have some straight-run Isbars on order from a breeder, and after reading this, I feel MUCH more at ease about getting some cockerels in the mix.
  28. myfivegirls
    Great article, well written & right on! I have many roosters, various ages & they all get along together. I have introduced new roosters, and yes, after the initial "pecking order" challenge, all is peaceful again. I, too, couldn't imagine not having a rooster in my flock. In fact, I would be hard pressed to select just one rooster to keep, as they are all so handsome!
  29. sourland
    Well written and factual - enjoyed seeing these 'truths' presented/
  30. Blackberry18
    Thumbs up! I've had many of those questions asked to me as well.
  31. Diannastarr
    wonderful & thanks for sharing your great article :)
  32. drumstick diva
    Two thumbs UP, very good article
  33. perchie.girl
    I too have had multiple roosters they are funny and very serious about their jobs.. when I had a batch of broody chicks that had about six little roos they grew up and became a Bachelor flock that hung around the fringes...
  34. Chicken Girl1
    Lovely article! And so true!I just had a disscusion this morning trying to explain to friend a rooster is a chicken.

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