Just how useful is a rooster anyway?

dashman1319

In the Brooder
Jul 31, 2018
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Chapel Hill, NC
Hi all,

I've posted a few times about my back and forth thinking regarding keeping a rooster that showed up in our first order of sexed chicks. We ended up with four hens and a RIR rooster. There were a lot of up and down moments, but in the end our observation seemed to be that our little flock was well enough balanced and we figured the rooster provided some extra protection for our free ranging birds.

Thing is, I've been of the mind lately that our rooster actually doesn't do much protecting. We got a dog about two months ago, and while she is always leashed, she loves to make hopeless runs at the curious hens who always show up around us when we go outside. I couldn't help but notice that the rooster seemed unperturbed and also would turn and scoot when the dog showed anything resembling aggression.

Then this morning, as I sat at the breakfast table shortly after letting the flock out of the coop, I heard an almighty commotion. I turned around just in time to see perhaps the most beautiful fox I've ever seen in the wild gleefully chasing my flock through the yard. Everything happened pretty quickly - the dog was thrown into its pen, I ran barefoot into the yard yelling, and chickens were flying everywhere - but a lasting impression was the rooster, far ahead of his flailing hens, hightailing it behind the house. Luckily, no damage was done besides a few ruffled feathers.

When things had calmed down and I went to reassure the hens that all was well again, I found the rooster, as always, mounting his girls. And I just thought, you useless, cowardly creature. You haven't earned that right.

So does this sound like an inordinately ineffective bird? Or is this just par for the course? We put up with the rooster's noise, the girls put up with his insatiable sex drive, and for what? (For what it's worth, to balance the flock more we are adding an additional 4-5 laying hens in June).
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Or is this just par for the course?
Pretty much.
Tho you'll read some stories where a cockbird sacrificed himself while his girls ran for cover, he's often just a speed bump appetizer on the way to the buffet.
Full disclosure, my birds are confined 24/7....opinion expressed based on copious reading here and on other chicken forums.
My cockbird is very useful for fertilizing eggs for fresh layers hatched every year.
 

Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
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Jan 4, 2017
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There are some roosters that are very good at protecting their hens. However, as far as fighting a predator, it is very rare. My best roosters are more watchful than hens, are good at sounding alarms when trouble comes, and herd the hens towards safety. I find that the roosters that alternate between watching for threats, eating, and tidbitting for their ladies do this best. My Black Cochin, in my avatar photo, once alerted me to an opossum in the coop about a year ago. I was walking from my parents' house next door after dark and I heard him making an alarm call. The coop predator proofing was compromised because of ice damage and the possum found his way in. He got one of my cockerels, but we dealt with the critter before it could do any more damage.
 
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Shadrach

Roosterist
Jul 31, 2018
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What is it exactly you expect from your rooster?
I think your getting behavior you might wish from from a boyfriend, or husband confused with another species.:)
Of course he runs from a fox. He's not stupid!
Did you notice if he gave a warning call to his hens?
Do you think he should fight the fox? Seems like a rather unequal match to me.
Roosters are not equipped to fight predators. they are equipped to fight each other.
Honestly, words fail me.:he
 

ChooksNQuilts

Free Ranging
Nov 26, 2017
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I think the idea of a rooster sacrificing himself for the girls is largely a myth.
I know some have and will do that but I think it’s rare.
In reality his job is to breed more chickens and lead the girls to a safe place when there’s danger.
But these young cockerels we get from hatcheries and breeders are completely inexperienced juveniles who have no mature rooster to observe and learn what they’re supposed to be doing.
It’s not a natural environment where they would have birds of all ages and sexes within the flock.

Ultimately its my job as a keeper of a domestic animal to keep them as safe as I can.
 

ChooksNQuilts

Free Ranging
Nov 26, 2017
2,196
4,614
567
Southwest Idaho
What is it exactly you expect from your rooster?
I think your getting behavior you might wish from from a boyfriend, or husband confused with another species.:)
Of course he runs from a fox. He's not stupid!
Did you notice if he gave a warning call to his hens?
Do you think he should fight the fox? Seems like a rather unequal match to me.
Roosters are not equipped to fight predators. they are equipped to fight each other.
Honestly, words fail me.:he
:goodpost:
 

Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
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Jan 4, 2017
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Braxton County, WV
But these young cockerels we get from hatcheries and breeders are completely inexperienced juveniles who have no mature rooster to observe and learn what they’re supposed to be doing.
YES! 100% this. I've found my best roosters after I raised youngsters with the flock. My percentage of jerks has gone down tremendously once I got a good rooster to school them. Of course, some breeds are better than others. Never had a good rooster that was part Dominique or RIR. The OP is very lucky so far if all her RIR is bad at is protecting hens.
 
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