To get a rooster or not to is the question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cityturncountry, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. cityturncountry

    cityturncountry Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm having a hard time deciding. I've posted that I want my chickens to free range but I live in the deep woods so predators (mainly hawks during the day) are a huge red flag for me. Several people have suggested getting a rooster. The thought of having fertilized eggs freaks me out, like if I don't get them in time. I had a traumatic experience as a kid when my aunt told me to get rid of all the eggs in her coop because they were spoiled. Well they all had chicks in them and my cousin and I had thrown a few at the fence before we realized. I still get sad every time I think about that day, I felt so horrible I cried for days.
    Those of you with roosters, what do I need to know to help me decide?
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Really if you are new to chickens, I would recommend going with an all hen flock. You will gain some experience with chickens. All hen flocks look a little more to their humans for care. This is the advice I give when asked any new flock owner. There is a learning curve to chickens, and some may die. Some fail to thrive and some are picked off by predators. I suggest that you have a very good fenced run/coop combination. You can free range them, but there is apt to be losses, and for some !!#$!^$%!#@ reason it is always your favorite.

    After you have gained some experience, a rooster is or can be a wonderful addition to the flock. For protection, he needs to be at least a year old. Juvenile roosters are not responsible, and generally just trying to breed. A good rooster is calm, pays attention, lets his ladies eat first, will call them over for treats (sometimes imaginary ;) does the wing dance, and will generally keep between you and the girls.

    I would strongly suggest getting someones 2nd or 3rd rooster, who is so nice, he didn't get culled. Those roosters have generally been raised in a chicken flock, and have good understanding of chicken society. I strongly recommend AGAINST keeping a rooster that has been raised with just flock mates. Those roosters do not have older chickens to enforce behavior, and they get bigger than the pullets more quickly and often times become bullies to hens and people both. Roosters can be very dangerous to small children or smaller women. And there are numerous stories of a darling turning into a nightmare in an instant. Inexperienced people often don't pick up on the cues that he is getting too aggressive until a full blown attack.

    As for the fertilized eggs: when a hen lays a fertilized egg, that egg is in suspension, the possibility of a chick is there, but it has not started to grow. Unlike mammals, where the egg begins to grow and divide immediately upon fertilization, birds are not like that, and this is the reason.
    It takes a bird nearly 25 hours to lay an egg. So if a hen is allowed to do it naturally, she will hide a nest, and lay an egg there for several days. Then when the number of eggs suits her fancy, she will stop laying and begin setting. A setting hen sits flat on the nest, puffs up huge is anything gets too close, and she heats the eggs pretty close to 100 degrees. After 24 hours of being kept at 100 degrees, the egg cells being to divide, and a chick begins to form. This allows all the eggs to be in the same stage of development so that they all hatch on the same day, allowing the broody to stop setting and start taking care of the live chicks.

    So if you collect your eggs each day, there is no chance that there will be partially formed chicks inside. In fact, you need rather a sharp eye to even tell if they are fertilized, which you rather like to keep track of when you get the urge to hatch your own chicks.

    Hope this helps,
    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
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  3. cityturncountry

    cityturncountry Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your response, it definitely helped me understand my dilemma. This will be my first time owning chickens, my husband has experience from when he was living with his parents. So I guess for now we will just have to make a big run and have my chickens confined to that until I get a little more experienced. I want my chickens to be the healthiest they can be and I love the benefits of free ranging but we just have so many predators. Our coop is going to take a lot of planning to be completely predator proof.
     
  4. PirocaKeeper

    PirocaKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Having a rooster is like having an alarm. Most roosters stay on watch most of the day. They will warn your hens of possible predators. That said, very few of them will die for their hens, after all, they protect themselves too. Having them gives the hens a few minutes of lead time to hide, but predators can still get to them. I have 4 roosters and this winter (terrible winter), a pair of redtail hawks killed 3 of my hens. It was very icy and the ice made them easy targets, no matter how much warning they had.

    If I had to do this all over again, I would have roosters. There is something in their beauty, when they stand on watch and warn the hens. Something nice about when you have a good rooster, how the hens behave around him. Very sweet when the rooster calls his girls for morsels he found and he saves for them.

    If you decide to get a rooster, try to get a rooster about the size of the hens or even a little smaller. In this way there is not too much weight on them when he mates them. A good disposition rooster is a must. This is a rooster that watches them is gentle with them and is patient to mate with them. Also an animal that is easy going with people and pets, especially children. Like any other thing in life, somebreeds are more gentle than other, but personality is very unique to each individual. The first time I decided to keep a rooster, I had 7 cockerels (young roosters) and like teenagers they are the devil, chasing the girls to mate with them. Horrible stage in their live (between 5 months and 10 months). I thought for sure I was going to keep one of the pretty color roosters, one by one, I realized, beauty is the last thing to consider.
    First and foremost, they need to be gentle, easygoing and not so sexually aggressive. So needless is to say I kept the one rooster I never thought I was going to keep. 3 years later I am still happy I kept him. I still can pick him up from the ground. He is super gentle with the hens and he is very good with my 2 Chihuahua dogs. He happens to be a White Easter Egger. I know have him, a Black copper marans which is very gently but very big, the black cooper marans son (BCM and orpington mix), and the White Easter Egger son, who happens to be white also. I think you first have to think of the hens you have, what breed are them (size being the big question)?, will they have places to hide, when the rooster warns them? How many hens do you have? Usually you want to keep a good ratio between roosters and hens. Roosters can be very loud, very early in the morning, so be aware, if you have neighbors that may be upset about the rooster noises.

    Once you have answers to all the questions then you can narrow down to a breed you may like or even ask here and we all will give you opinions as to based on our experiences have worked for us.
     
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  5. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    You've already received some excellent advice in the preceding posts. Here's mine.

    No need to go out and GET a rooster. One will surely come your way as you get more baby chicks. There's almost certain to be an "accidental roo" in your future.

    I wish to reinforce what has already been pointed out - there's almost no chance a rooster will fight off a predator, and certainly no guarantee he will protect your hens. He's merely a chicken and can be killed nearly as easily by a predator as the hens.

    The only way to protect your flock is with a secure covered run and predator-proof coop. You can still let them out occasionally, though, as long as you're present to discourage predators. Even then, it's no guarantee. I had a friend who was standing in her yard watching her hens when a bobcat zipped in and nabbed one of them right in front of her. I was out with my hens when a hawk dive-bombed and nearly succeeded in nabbing one of mine. Expect it to happen.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Without a doubt, if you free range you will lose birds.

    However, I have had my losses drastically reduced with a good rooster. Not 100%, but dramatically reduced. That is with a good rooster that is more than a year old.

    Mrs K
     

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