What To Do With Unwanted Cockerels

If you do indeed win (or, rather, lose) the chicken lottery and end up with a cockerel (a male chicken under a year old) on your hands, what do...
By marlyn5 · Feb 23, 2012 · Updated Mar 27, 2012 · ·
  1. marlyn5
    Yikes, one of my chicks is a cockerel! What do I do?

    by Becky Flanagan

    Remember when you bought your chicks from the feed store? They came with a 99% chance of being a hen. And, like most backyard chicken keepers, having hens was all that was in the plan. You imagined a small flock that provided your family with fresh, wholesome eggs each morning. What you probably did not imagine was that of the hundred chicks in the cage, you would go home with the one rooster. If you do indeed win (or, rather, lose) the chicken lottery and end up with a cockerel (a male chicken under a year old) on your hands, what do you do?

    99% chance of being a pullet

    First, decide if keeping a rooster is even an option for you. Many suburban areas allow backyard chickens, but with certain conditions. These conditions often include a ban on roosters. If you can legally keep a rooster, there are some things to consider. Your rooster will be loud, and possibly aggressive, and the eggs your hens lay will be fertile. On the positive side, though, that rooster’s entire mission in life, other than populating your backyard with his offspring, will be to keep his flock safe (so that he can populate your backyard with his offspring). Also, one rooster per flock. If you already have a rooster, in order to keep peace, one has to go.

    Ameraucana cockerel

    If your local ordinances do not allow roosters, or if having a rooster just isn’t for you, you have some decisions to make. Some may say, what decision, as visions of fried chicken dance through their heads. Other, however, cannot imagine eating the chicken they have raised and will want to re-home the cockerel. Be realistic about what is happening to all of those unwanted roosters. Most end up on a dinner plate. Even if you are not comfortable eating your rooster, perhaps you’re okay if someone else does. If your chicks came from a feed store, call the store and see if they know someone who will take your rooster. My local feed store will take back your rooster and will give him to people who humanely kill the animals for food. Finding a home for a rooster becomes more challenging if you are determined that he lives out his life free-ranging on a farm. Ask your friends in more rural settings if they have room for a rooster. The most important thing is to make sure your rooster will not be used for cock fighting. To avoid this, be careful about advertising a free rooster. Some people suggest charging a nominal fee for the rooster to discourage someone from taking the animal for fighting. Ask a lot of questions of before turning the cockerel over and insist on visiting the chicken’s new home.

    Getting rid of a rooster may leave a space in your flock that you’d like to fill with a new bird. Chickens are not solitary birds and are said to do best with at least one other chicken. If you started with two chicks and suddenly find yourself with one, you will need to get a new pullet. Introducing a new chick needs to be done carefully. Do not underestimate the power of chicken pecking order. Only introduce a new bird after carefully planning on how this will be done and after the cockerel has been removed. Your sweet little cockerel will surprise you with his aggressiveness if you throw a new pullet in the coop. Establishing pecking order with pullets isn’t pretty either, but it’s a heck of a lot more gentle than when a rooster is involved. BackYard Chickens has plenty of advice on introducing a new chicken to your flock. Study up before taking the plunge.

    The good news is that there are some things you can do to avoid getting a rooster in the first place. Obviously, buy sexed chicks instead of straight run. Sexed chickens have been inspected and have a high chance of being a hen. With a straight run, you pay less but have a 50% chance of getting a rooster. If even the 99% chance in of getting a hen when buying a sexed chicken isn’t enough for you, buy a sex-linked chicken. Sex-linked chickens are a cross between two breeds. The hens are born one color and the roosters another. So, from the moment they hatch, you know with certainty what you’re getting. An additional bonus, sex-linked chickens are usually hardy, egg-laying machines.

    Black sex-linked pullet

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Anonymous
    "Missing and incorrect info"
    2/5, 2 out of 5, reviewed Apr 11, 2019
    I noticed that this article has a lot of information in it that is just plain wrong. For one, you can definitely keep more than one roo in a flock. There are many people on this forum that keep multiple roosters together successfully, even with a small amount of hens. Secondly, your chance of getting a rooster from sexed female chicks is closer to 10-15%, not 1% (unless the chicks are sex-linked). I also don't see why fertile eggs are a problem. They taste the same as infertile eggs, and will only hatch into chicks if a hen goes broody and stays on them for most of the day for 21 days. I'm also confused about the concern about cockfighting. Roosters used in cockfighting are mostly gamefowl, which are rarely raised in backyard flocks for eggs. Also, not all options were discussed, as a bachelor pad wasn't mentioned at all in this article.
  2. Chick-N-Fun
    "Great advice!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 3, 2019
  3. Hardknockshomestead
    "Good ideas here."
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jan 3, 2019


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  1. CluckYeah8908
    I have 9 roosters in my flock. 2 of them are bantams in a separate flock that doesn’t get to interact with my main flock. Although it’s funny they try and fight my little Batam Cochin rooster through the fence! He thinks he could take them on! All of my boys are family and will remain that way. They all get along (probably because they are all related) and they are gentle with the hens. Luckily my neighbors don’t care about the crowing and even if they did we have a right to unlimited livestock in my town! :)
  2. gimmie birdies
    I currently have 2 adult roosters, one head rooster, and a beta. They do not fight but the head rooster does let the beta know he is beta. Now as far as my neighborhood, after 22 years the hoa sent notices about starting no roosters, people still have them, and they have never enforced the other hoa's. I do have crow collars and put away my roosters at night, rooster night box- (a kitchen cupboard in this case) and don't let them out till 8am.
  3. Splinky01
    Yes I’m having this conundrum at the moment! I currently have 11 of them! Mainly due to one hen hatching 7 out of 10 boys!!
    They are separated from my flock and are residing in a nice new coop in my back garden . However my neighbor is unimpressed and has called environmental health over the noise ( even though they get up at 5 every day!) and I can’t hear them through our double glazing to wake me or my household!
    Although it was never my intention to keep them long term . I have now found someone in the village who is going to share his expertise on preparing them for food. I hope this is successful and this can continue in order to breed a few each year .
      BlueBaby likes this.
  4. Abriana
    I brought home eight chicks one day back in March of 2016, and ended up with one beautiful roo who knows his job. He might be big for his britches at times but he's fought and one more than one fight with hawk, so I guess he's earned his place!
  5. MrSpace
    One of our "all hen" flock just crowed for the first time at 12 weeks old (our first flock). We figured a male had gotten mixed in with our order because, well, it looked like a rooster when it got older, but we were holding out against hope. Kids are very attached so giving him away isn't an option and neither is eating him. We have a consult scheduled with a vet to see if going the capon route would make sense.
      Pak Rat likes this.
  6. HeiHeisMom
    I have three roos that are loved so much by everyone!
    They get along just fine once they establish their "order".
    They have picked their hens and tend to rotate which group is where at what time, sort of like three mini flocks.
    Girls love it and don't mind being shuffled from roo to roo if the guys decide to change things up.
  7. Devonne Short
    I love my rooster too! He so so sweet! I wish there was a good home for him but I cant find one? He is a croad langshan which are great breeds. Im keeping him now until I get a complaint?
      Pak Rat and JennyBChickens like this.
  8. garagegirl
    The circle of life must go on and they make great chicken and noodles on a cold day. I am a city girl who once upon a time wold never eat brown eggs or had a thought of omg how can you eat something that you feed everyday. Five years ago I turned country and now having tasted the yummiest food ( that you have grown yourself ) I find it hard to eat some foods from the store ( not knowing where it came ) I do not doing any of the killing I have not been able to bring myself to it. Good luck on your search . Try putting flyers up at your local Co-op or farm store if there is one close
      muddy75 and luvamyachickens like this.
  9. Buddingwisdom
    Same boat as many of you. Beautiful and talented rooster but the neighbours are complaining. Need to find a new home for him fast but no leads from Craigslist or other posting. How do you crack into the farm communities if you don't know anyone who lives there?
      Eelantha and Peri.S like this.
    1. featherhead007
      Find a new home for your neighbors!!!
    2. MROO
      Contact someone from 4H - the youth Ag organization.
  10. Sswanee48
    Has anyone tried the rooster collar that the Chicken chick sells, at least I think it's her. I would like to know if they work. I would like to have a rooster in my flock.
      Arctic Henn, GreatGranny and Peri.S like this.
    1. Peri.S
      I bought one and put it on my large silkie rooster. I didn't hear him crow for days, then one day I heard him from inside the house. I went outside and the collar was laying on the ground. He had gotten it off. I put it back on and he's been fine. (I'm not allowed to have roosters where I live, but I'm hatching his offspring. Shhhh!)
  11. MelissaZeno
    This is great thank you.
  12. Family Farming
  13. CentralOregon
  14. gypsychicken
    Learn how to humanly butcher, just as our Grandmothers did, and our ancestors for 10,000 years. A skill worth millions.
    1. cfbrod
      Last time we had a rooster - he was really mean & attacked everyone! Into the soup pot he went. We have a beautiful, small but heavy axe that does the job very well. We learned to dispatch our hens quickly & calmly - always with a thank you.
  15. CentralOregon
    Most places will guarantee 90% pullets, so if you get more than 1 cockerel out of 10 chicks, first get a refund for the extra cockerels. Then the extra cockerels can go on the dinner table. For the double-win.
      Delawaremommy likes this.
  16. Nashonii
    I am looking for humane ways of culling roosters. Every time I hatch eggs, 3 out of 5 are male. My husband gets so depressed killing them, that I can't ask him to do it anymore....but what to do? Is there a better way of culling we haven't thought of? (He uses an axe.). Does anyone use anything like dry-ice to dedrease to O2 before culling?
    1. cfbrod
      we use an axe but for a few minutes before gently hold the bird upside down. Makes them really calm so it's easy to quickly slip a noose around legs and neck before the chop.
  17. ochochicas
    We got sexed chicks and ended up with 25% cockerels. One of them was even a black sex-link male that was sold to us as a Barred rock pullet. :( Expecting 99% pullets is a dream but not necessarily the reality. It looks like hatcheries are putting "extras" in their shipments to make up for chicks that don't make it during shipping, but the extras are generally cockerels. The folks at my local feed store don't know the difference.
      BlueBaby likes this.
  18. piggirl19
    i bought 3 chicks and ended up with 3 roosters :/ i don't think the odds were in my favor... now what i won't have any eggs to eat :( at least they are all good good unlike the ducks naughty little things they are...
  19. TeaChick
    I agree with the first comment (from piglet).
    Any chicken that doesn't give me breakfast must become dinner at my house. I can't afford to feed living lawn ornaments.
  20. Zig Man
    I got a bunch of straight run assorted Bantam's and ended up with 6 roosters and ten hens.Having a hard time finding homes for them.Now they all have names,noisy as hell and are hell on my poor little hens.Don't know what to do?The horse farm is already being taken over by Bantams and their coops.I never thought I would be so attached to these little guy's.They follow me all around and make their presents known.I think sometimes attacking me is on their minds when I come walking around a corner or surprise them LOL All 19oz of them!
  21. YahKheena
    Our first little flock of six, ended up being five roo's and one female...yikes! we wanted laying hens. We were blessed to know some folks in the country that had 50 hens and no roos. We sent them the whole lot of them even the little female, and started fresh anew with six red sex-linked, two of them died, one was a roo, so we picked up four black austrolorps. Now we have a nice little flock of seven hens and a roo. Funny, they keep seperated, one red flock and one black?
  22. HalfAChanceFarm
    I have culls that I sell for meat. Breeding Birds go on my website for 2-3 weeks and if they are not sold, they go for meat. I usually find a nice home for them. Show birds NEVER get sold to butcher.
    I had someone pick up 20 roosters yesterday with 150 hens to begin a flock while some people purchase 1 rooster with their 4 hens. Which home is more likely to sell the rooster to meat? That is up to you to decide.
      CatMom likes this.
  23. ironjim
    We have had terrible luck with roosters being aggressive. I killed one and gave another away. We had one that was nice and the dogs got him. I bought some black australorps last spring and one turned out to be a rooster. He is awesome! He keeps a keen eye on the girls and has shown any signs of aggression. He follows me around the yard (hoping I will throw out some scratch). He and the girls circle around my son when he digs in the dirt waiting for bug and grub treats. We live in a small town and in the store today a neighbor was talking about losing most of her flock to a predator. Another neighbor is loaning her an incubator and we can contribute fertile eggs! I say keep him if you can!
      Pak Rat likes this.
  24. daniel74
    i hope i get a few roos out of the new batch i got. but if not the feed store said im first on the list for returned roos
  25. tinamommy727
    I had a horribly aggressive rooster, we couldn't even get inside the coop without having a rake, He pecked my kids one to many times and then he ended up being in a soup, I had a friend of mine "process him" for me. There are to many sweet roosters to keep an aggresive one.
      Curnow likes this.
  26. rekkas peeps
    i swear if i could have a flock of just roosters id be happy...... sometimes i love them more then my girls!
      HeiHeisMom likes this.
    1. HeiHeisMom
      Me too!
      Pak Rat likes this.
  27. Stephnet
    I have a very happy flock with my rooster.....He gives the girls a safe feeling when free ranging and they do not have a problem with "pecking order" as he is the top one, so they all get along and don't pick on just one. He is cautious but not aggresive with me , as I have never challenged him and I go in the coop with food in my hands to show him I am not a threat. Just remember if you do get a rooster and are allowed to keep him, give him the respect he deserves and never fight back with him if he comes after you, he will then see you as someone he must fight with everytime you come into the coop. You can not dominate a rooster like a dog, all roosters know is to fight and protect , so if they see you as none threatening, all will be fine.
      HennyPenny2019 likes this.
  28. A and D Chicks
    First, I'd like to say what an awesome gift to have ya'll at my newbie disposal to help me raise my girls. 1 rir, 2blk Astrolorps, 4 Buffs.
    They have been a real treat. I do have concerns and don't know where to ask these questions but have solved many concerns by just browsing. I look forward to becoming familiar with your website!!!! Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou for being here. Have no plans to eat my 2year olds as they are still producing eggs but not as many and as they used to and i don't understand. Still love the little pigs though.
      HennyPenny2019 likes this.
  29. earlybird10842
    Oh, so that's what sex-linked means!
  30. pollitaroja
    i would like to have a rooster for may 5 hens but my neighbor wont accept the noise
    I decided to have one for a short time to impregnate the girls and then move him or give him away
  31. holyshihtzu
    I purchased a roo at a livestock auction. seasoned farmers though he was a she. I gave him a week to find a new home or I was going to make chicken soup. He found a home on the last day and is living with 8 females and I assume is having a really good time. craigslist came through.
  32. LizaBlue
    I love my chickens, treat them more like pets than livestock, but I'd rather they be swiftly offed than kill each other, be ill taken care of, or auctioned off to strangers with unknown motives. I recently gave 3 cockerals to a Vietnamese family who were so thrilled, I felt like I'd given puppies to a kid at Christmas. I feel my chicken's lives will be honored by the way this family will enjoy them - for dinner. BTW, the old wives tale about pointed eggs vs. round eggs may have some merit: 21 eggs hatched, 4 chicks disappeared, but of those left, only 3 were roos - wouldn't you say that's better than normal? Pointy for boy, round for girl!
  33. ecorso
    Since we've separated the boys from the girls, the boys get along fine. The only time there is pecking is when they are jockying for roost position for night or if they are competing for my attention. As long as they have room to spread out during they day and buddy up as they choose, and obey the pecking order, the roos don't fight. Even if there is a fuss, it is minor and no one gets hurt. If I were to allow the 7 roosters to stay with the 5 hens, I suspect there would be no peace. The hens would be beat up from constant service and the roos would be competing over the hens. Right now I have one young roo in with the hens. He is too young to be with the roos and not mounting yet. The next youngest roo was in the the hens until 2 weeks ago. He grew up and although he is the smallest of the roos does just fine with the bigger boys. He hangs out by the hens run staying near the ones he grew up with, only on the outside now. He doesn't go into the barn until sunset when the olders roos have already chosen their preferred roosting spots and then just goes in quietly. When I moved him from the run with the hens to free-ranging with the roos, I moved him at night. The chickens are all more accepting of new ones at night. I snuck him in so the roos woke up with him and they didn't even make a fuss, a little trick I learned online worked. The roosters and hens will take turns free-ranging, allowing only one or two, (if we get more hens), roosters out free-ranging with the hens at a time. We love our roos. They follow like puppies.
      HeiHeisMom likes this.
  34. XxPandaxX
    Will ALL their eggs be fertile ....?
  35. mdurant
    One of my girls is not a girl...and boy he lets me know it now. I have a 5 month old Road Island and he is sure trying to impress the ladies, but they aren't buying it. He's been real good with me and my husband and the dogs, but he is starting to "practice mounting" the ladies and they sure are raising a fuss about it. Not to sure what to do with him. We have a chicken swap this Saturday...and He maybe swapped for a duck . Well see.
  36. ecorso
    Bought 2 pullet chicks. They matured into 2 cockerels. Bought 3 pullet chicks. They matured into 3 cockerels. Bought 1 sex link pullet chick. Whew - a hen! Bought 3 pullet chicks, which became two pullets and one cockerel. Bought three pullets, which seem to be 2 pullets and 1 cockerel. We now have 7 roosters and 5 hens. Thank goodness we do not live in the city limits!
  37. dixiechix2
    We have 11 chickens, got them all as pullets, now about 5 months old. We think 3 or 4 may be cockerels - 2 of them are silkies and 1 orpington and maybe 1 Rhode Island red. So far, they all get along well with just occasional wing flapping. Haven't gotten any eggs from the hens yet, expecting them around Aug 1. Haven't decided what to do with the roosters.
  38. JD McGee
    We are in the same situation...we have a Rooster in our flock that needs a good home. The feed store will take him...but we know where he will end up...lol! Our city ordinance does not allow Roosters...but our neighbors have one and no one seems to mind. I have talked with our neighbors as well and they kinda like him...but...the law is the law so Roo has to go...sigh!
  39. chickencowranch
    I solved my extra rooster problem. I took 6 of the 7 roos I had to a small animal auction yesterday. I was going to wait until fall, but the 3 sussex and some of the older silkies were chasing the girls around so bad the girls were hiding in the barn with the cows until it was time to roost at night. Plus, the roos were starting to pick on each other. So I decided I liked happy hens over sexually active roos. I did keep 1 silkie roo to keep the one silkie pullet company. They hang out together most of the day while the others, 5 redlinks and 2 sussex, hang out in the barn still. The coop is quieter and the girls all seem t be happier.
  40. Honey Pride12
    I wished I would have found this forum and joined back in October. I purchased 1 dozen Barred Rock, 1 dozen Production Reds, and 1 dozen Ameracunas. I loved them so much I went back and bought the last 10 remaining Ameracuanas. So I end up with 46 chicks(can't remember if they were sold as pullets or straight run) I now have a beautiful collection of Roos. The BR dozen gave me 4 roos, the PR gave me 5 roos, and the AM gave me more than I can remember. Before I isolated the boys from the girls and two roos I already had several met unfortunate circumstances(aka Zeus, Rascal, Elle, Bella, and Jewel--my dogs) They were kenneled and somehow got out and dispatched some of the roos. I now have 15 from the original 46. I would love to give them homes but am finding that difficult. I live in Texas and my town does have ordinances. So far I haven't received any notices. I plan to expand my flock as I do sell the eggs and give some away. If anyone knows someone who wants a BR, PR, or AM roos please let me know. P.S. They do travel well. lol
  41. flowerladykelly
    some off us dont want hens just roosters because they are fancy.
      Fluffy&Cutie likes this.
  42. Solarcooked
    I’m looking for a home for my little Rosie/Ross my 4 month old Rooster who was hand raised since he was a day old. I recently discovered that Rosie/Ross is a little Rooster. I live in the city of Sacramento and we cannot keep Roosters. He is very friendly and likes to eat out of your hand. He was born with Yolk Sac Infection, Omphallitis and was on antibiotics for the first four weeks of his life. He’s very small for his age but he’s full of spunk! This little guy is very special to me and it breaks my heart that I can’t keep him. I would love to find him a good home with a family and or with other chickens. Does anyone have any suggestions?
  43. powellchicks
    We just went through this exact scenario. I was lucky to have put one call in to the farm down the road and had the boy placed to a good home.
  44. Afterburner
    I have taken my unwanted roosters to the County Farmer's Auction. It's less hassle than trying to sell them on Craigslist and usually, I can get between six to eight dollars for a young cockeral, depending on the breed. I have seen really large/exotic roosters sell for ten to fifteen dollars.
    In order to reduce reduce my chances of having roosters, I don't buy chickens from amateur chicken sexers anymore. Out of seven birds I bought for my last flock, I ended up with two roosters. My new flock were all from the feed store and at seven weeks I can tell say for sure that all of them are hens.
      Rt66Kix likes this.
  45. LottieDa
    My sweet little pullet turned out to be a cockerel and so far the rest of the ladies are NOT interested in having him around. Fortunately he seems quieter than some others I've heard of. He crows a few times in the morning and once or twice during the day. He's still young (hatched mid-Feb 2012) so I'm hoping he doesn't get louder.
  46. garagegirl
    I have 26 chickens and 3 of them have become roosters. Can I split the hens up in three different groups? They all get along pretty good so far.I have also thought of just letting them free range 2 of them?
  47. TheMacDonalds
    food is food, if we have a rooster, we will eat it.
  48. junebug6262
    We have a large and thriving Amish community in our area, and they are always more than happy to take the stray cockerel, even bartering for a new hen of the same age in exchange!
  49. Bananikaa
    Sigh . . . . . if only they didn't crow. :)
  50. jlsdss1987
    I have 18 chickens; 7 BO, 3 sex link, 3 BR, 3 australorps and 2 grey leghorns. One of my BO is a roos. So far he is very laid back, not friendly. I am just wondering how much breed has to do with the demeanor of a roo? Since BO are friendly and easy going does that mean the roos would be easier than other roos? Just curious. :)

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