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Topic of the Week - Roosters, Yes or No?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sumi, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    This week I'd like to hear you all thoughts on keeping roosters. Many new chicken owners, if they are allowed to keep roosters where they live, debate the pros and cons of having a male member or two in their flocks and wonder what the pros and cons of having them are. I would like to hear your thoughts on keeping roosters, specifically:

    - Is a rooster beneficial to the flock?
    - How big should the flock be if you consider keeping one? (I.e. how many hens minimum)
    - What should a flock keeper look for when adding, or keeping a rooster? (For example, when choosing which rooster to keep from a hatch, if not for breeding purposes, but as a pet)
    - Beside noise, what are the possible cons of keeping a rooster and what should be kept in mind. (For new chicken owners)



    For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  2. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    You really don't need a rooster to keep hens happy. Although roosters are beautiful to look at one must be aware of the aggression issues common among the male chickens. If a backyard chicken owner has small children there is no reason to house a rooster. For the backyard chicken owner who wants to breed be sure to pick out a rooster who is a good representative of the breed and has a good temperament.
     
  3. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Roosters are fun to keep,but can be a challenge,especially aggressive ones or ones who cannot gt along with one another.Ever since I first started chickens,I had a rooster.Supposedly protection but some are actually quite terrible at it.

    Roosters can be good use to a flock,that is if he is a good rooster.A good rooster to me is a rooster who will fight a predator if it is seriously needed (Not attack me or see me as a threat when I have a hen.)My first roo was I think a Buff Orpington. He was a terrible rooster,quite dumb too, although me and him would have crowing competitions.On the other hand,the hens liked him (Our first batch took any and every rooster they could get),but that is the only bright side to that guy.Than Joe the 2nd,he attacked quite often almost pecking my eye out actually.

    I have actually only ever had one rooster ever wanting to actually hurt me and I never did anything about it,eventually we gave him away.Not saying that is what anyone else should do,you should defiantly take action.I turn around flap my arms,even at times kick him if he is beginning to hurt me.

    I have also kept young roosters.From the start i let them know not to cross me,friends stays friends.If they are in a battle position I chase them or I even take it to the water hose.

    There are also other things you should provide,like a bachelor pad.These come in handy when you have too many roosters who wanna keep,or cannot get rid of,also helps when two roo's are trying to kill another.
    Bachelor Pad is just a rooster pen,you could use it for breeding or broody hens as well.

    Also you should always have at least a good ratio to rooster going on.Lots of people say 10 hens for every roo,that is if you have roosters who do more breeding than the average.I had about 22 hens to one roo and he had them bare back or very raggedy
    Some roosters can manage only a few hens while some can cover nearly 30 on their very own..

    You should also consider how many roosters you keep,too many can cause lots of tussling or killing.I like to keep two so far,and they both have their place,so far.The younger subordinate cockerel trails behind the flock when free ranging,while the Alpha may mate and go where ever he feels,usually making the cockerel having to make transitions to other spots and sometimes he runs him completely off,just how it goes sometimes

    Mine are pets,but have lots of respect for me.One is a Black Sex-link cockerel and his dad is a New Hampshire red.

    There are cons.Some roosters no matter if the ratio of hens is high,they still manage to stress your hens a ton.Some crows are crazy loud,and some literally never stop crowing,some crows are ugly.Some roosters can turn out aggressive and be very dangerous.
     
    2 people like this.
  4. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    The only thing I don't like about having a rooster is uncontrollable chicken multiplication since chicks are so cute and irresistible to brood, netting a 50% cockerel rate and possibly overrunning yourself with little annoying teenager cockerels.

    Yes, I learned my lesson lol :D
     
  5. Wyatt0224

    Wyatt0224 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To me a rooster is beneficial to my flock. I free range a lot and there lots of predators since I live in a rural area. I keep two actually because of the predator abundance. My hens will not walk very far while free ranging if one of the roosters isn't with them. My roosters are always looking for predators or findings treats for their hens. The hens will often follow them around just waiting for treats.

    The best minimum ratio is probably 4-5 hens for a rooster. If you keep two or more roosters it's probably best to have 8-10 hens for each rooster.

    For me the things to look for is his attitude towards people. I had two Silkies roosters and 10 weeks old they were polar opposites. One would always fly up onto my arm and let me pet him while the other would dance at me and go out of his way to peck me. When you have chicks most of the time a rooster will start to develop a con earlier then hens. If possible try and hold him more and give him more attention so he gets to learn that you aren't a threat. However, once he hits his hormonal time, give him some space and its best not to try and pet him anymore.

    The only possible con for having a rooster other then noise to me is the fact he might turn aggressive. Some people might have a really sweet rooster when he's really young and then one day he might have an attitude switch and try and flog you.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I personally do not think that roosters are beneficial to the flock
    Unless you want to breed the hens.

    I think the size of the flock per rooster depends on breed and size etc.
    Most of my breeding sets are around 4-5 hens per rooster, and they work well.
    Even though it's recommended that you need 10 hens per rooster.

    If you are looking to keep a rooster as a pet and not breeding purposes
    I would look for a calm and friendly rooster.
    Most importantly it's attitude towards you and other people
    You don't want an aggressive rooster!

    I can't really think of any cons other than
    A rooster being aggressive towards you or the hens.
     
  7. exoticpoultry

    exoticpoultry Out Of The Brooder

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    Many people just throw a rooster in to the mix but they don't realize that roosters pass on egg laying qualities to their daughters. Even if they are really dominate I don't care I like them in spite of it.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    - Is a rooster beneficial to the flock?

    Why do you want a rooster? What are your goals? The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs. Everything else is personal choice. A rooster does not increase or decrease the amount or quality of the eggs. I’m talking about a mature rooster, not an immature cockerel. They are not the same thing.

    While on occasional rooster may take on a predator, mine are better known to lead the flock to safety once a danger has been identified instead of putting themselves between the flock and the predator. A good rooster, and not all roosters are good, will go check out something suspicious before sounding an alarm which makes him more of an early warning system. In the two serious dog attacks with multiple casualties I’ve experienced, the rooster was not harmed.

    Often the dominant hen will take over a lot of the rooster’s flock management duties, keeping order and such as that, if there is no mature rooster in the flock. Other than breeding purposes I don’t see any real benefit to the flock by having a mature rooster. The human may have personal preferences but don’t keep one for the benefit of the hens.

    - How big should the flock be if you consider keeping one? (I.e. how many hens minimum)

    I don’t believe in magic numbers here. I’ve had fewer problems with bad hen-rooster ratios than with good hen-rooster ratios. Breeders often keep one rooster with one or two hens isolated together for the entire breeding season without problems. If you read through the posts on this forum you’ll see that people with over 20 hens per rooster sometimes have barebacked problems and hens “stressed” by a rooster, while people with very few hens per rooster often have none of these problems.

    When there are problems I don’t always blame the rooster. The hens have some responsibilities in these things too. Again, there is a big difference between adult hens and roosters compared to immature pullets and cockerels. I believe most of the problems reported on this forum are about cockerels and pullets, not mature chickens.

    - What should a flock keeper look for when adding, or keeping a rooster? (For example, when choosing which rooster to keep from a hatch, if not for breeding purposes, but as a pet)

    I don’t keep them for pets so I won’t comment. I have no experience with this.


    - Beside noise, what are the possible cons of keeping a rooster and what should be kept in mind. (For new chicken owners)


    From hatch, male chicks are often more curious and have more of a personality than the females. It’s very easy to really fall in love with a cockerel because they have more of a personality. They are normally prettier too. That can make it hard to get rid of one later if you need to.

    Immature cockerels that have hit puberty can have hormones running wild with no self-control. Their hormones are telling them to dominate all the other chickens, which they do by fighting other males and mating the females. Having immature cockerels in the flock can be very hard for some people to watch. It’s a normal part of chicken behavior but it looks and often is pretty violent. Watching that can really distress some people. It’s a lot worse when room is tight. The more room you can give them the better, but it is still hard for some people to watch. It’s normally worse if the females are immature pullets. They aren’t mature enough to know how to play their part in flock dynamics either.

    Some males, cockerels as well as adult roosters, can be human aggressive. Not all are, people have been free ranging flocks with roosters on small farms with small children for thousands of years. But it can certainly happen. Roosters are armed with beaks that can cut flesh and claws and spurs that can also cut and draw blood. If they can reach them, like they can with a small child, they have an instinct to go for the head, including the eyes. That’s where they can do a lot of damage so it is a good fighting tactic. I grew up on one of those farms and never had one of those problems, but it can happen. How much room you have and how close proximity the flock spends with humans can be a big factor.

    Roosters don’t lay eggs but they eat. Do you want to spend money feeding a non-productive chicken?
     
    7 people like this.
  9. SD Bird Lady

    SD Bird Lady Chillin' With My Peeps

    I kept a rooster for a few years actually had 3 or 4 different roosters. When our last one was too aggressive we processed him and I had plans to get another but the flock is so much calmer without a man so I have yet to replace him. I will probably try again some day but for now I'm enjoying the peace and quiet. For what it is worth, my favorite roosters are EE. I've also seen many people who've had the same experience.
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

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    - Is a rooster beneficial to the flock?

    Yes, a rooster certainly adds balance and entertainment value. While a young cockerel can be extremely annoying due to wild hormones out of his control, over time, he can grow into his role. Besides fertilizing eggs, he can act as flock leader, keeping order in the flock as well as keeping watch and alerting to danger. How well he fulfills this role depends on breed and temperament. But hens really do not need a rooster to be content and lay eggs.

    - How big should the flock be if you consider keeping one? (I.e. how many hens minimum)

    This is pretty important. Having a rooster in a flock of less than ten hens may result in over-mating, depending on temperament and age. It will be an individual judgement as to whether a rooster will be a problem when he has only a hand-full of hens. Many times, it won't be a problem. But if the hens start looking worn out, back feathers becoming worn and frayed, you know he needs more hens so he can spread the joy around a bit more evenly.

    - What should a flock keeper look for when adding, or keeping a rooster? (For example, when choosing which rooster to keep from a hatch, if not for breeding purposes, but as a pet)

    Recently, I was faced with this issue. I had two cockerels emerge out of a couple batches of mail order chicks that were supposed to be all pullets. One was a Cuckoo Marans and the other was a Cream Legbar. They were as different in temperament and behavior as night and day.

    When the hormones began to flow around age six months, the Marans was a little jet engine. He was a crazed machine when it came to trying to mate the hens. He would select his "target" and launch. Like a torpedo he flung himself at the hen, landing on her back like a falling pallet of bricks. There was a lot of screeching involved, and some of it was from the chickens. He was also very touchy when I was doing anything in his immediate vicinity. He lunged and snapped at my hand if I moved it near him.

    The Legbar was the opposite. He began to anticipate my movements and he removed himself from my path. When he felt the urge to mate, he would slide himself smoothly onto the hen, and then smoothly slide back off. He was so unobtrusive, I was barely aware he was doing anything.

    I chose the Legbar to keep and re-homed the Marans. It was a good choice. He has become a wonderful flock protector and leader and never once has he been aggressive towards me.

    - Beside noise, what are the possible cons of keeping a rooster and what should be kept in mind. (For new chicken owners)

    I've already touched on a few of the issues a flock owner faces if they choose to keep a rooster. Over-mating can be a serious problem. Noise is another con. If there are small children around, there's a risk a rooster might feel threatened by them since they are small, and he can hurt them seriously if he attacks. Aggressive roosters can send an adult to the ER, and can be a real, if not impossible, challenge to discipline out of this bad behavior, requiring a lot of time and commitment.

    On the other hand, a rooster is one of the most entertaining facets of chicken keeping. After a cockerel grows into his role after a couple of years, the girls will look up to him and respond to his attempts to keep the peace and to alert for danger. A rooster's antics are almost always a source of a lot of mirth, always making you smile, even if you're down. And they are terrific alarm clocks.
     
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