Do I Need a Rooster or Can the Hens Take Care of Themselves?
Cock-A-Doodle-Do!!! Yes, that is the sound the rooster makes, and it’s not just when the sun rises. Roosters have several positive attributes that make them worth putting up with the 4 am wake up calls. But they also have some negative attributes that you should consider before you decide to raise one.
Pros of raising a rooster
- They are a great alarm – Not a morning alarm, a DANGER IS COMING ALARM. Roosters will spend their time watching the sky and surrounding area for predators. This allows your hens to scratch the ground and hunt for bugs.
- Protection – If a predator does make it near your flock the rooster will fight to the death if necessary to protect the hens. Read more about how I failed my flock by not protecting them from predators.
- They are fascinating to look at – Roosters are beautiful and can add an element of entertainment to your backyard outings.
- Fertilization – If you plan to grow your flock by hatching eggs then you will need a rooster to fertilize your eggs.
Cons of raising a rooster
- They are loud – You can’t control what time they decide to belt out their infamous crow.
- Roosters fight with other roosters – If you are hatching your own eggs then you could end up with multiple roosters. They don’t always fight but there is that possibility so you should be prepared for what you will do with the extras if that happens.
- They are mean – The reason you want one is for protection from predators. Sometimes they might think you, your family or your guests are predators.
- They may beat up on your hens – The fertilization process can be rough on your hens. You should keep a good balance of rooster to hen so that the ladies can get a break. 8-10 hens for every rooster is a good balance.
The 2 hours we had a rooster
After we raised our first batch of Cinnamon Red hens we decided that we wanted some Buff Orpingtons. We found someone selling 4 hens and 1 rooster on Craigslist in a nearby town. When we went to pick them up the girl selling them was holding the rooster. She put it down at one point and it jumped right back up into her arms. They were all so pretty and we had read that Buff Orpingtons were some of the friendliest chickens you could have. So we loaded them up and brought them home.
We opened the box and let them jump out to get acclimated to their new home. The rooster immediately chased my husband out of the run. OK, he was doing his job so we can’t fault him yet. Things seemed to be going well so we let them in with the Cinnamon Reds. He chased all of them away too. We watched for about 2 hours before calling to find out if we could return him. She was understanding and agreed to take him back. We probably should have given him longer to adjust but we really didn’t want him in the first place.
So my recommendation is to raise some hens first to get your feet wet before you decide to get a rooster. If you provide adequate protection through fencing, netting and a good coop you should be all the protection that your flock needs. If you later decide to get a rooster I would order him with a few hens from a hatchery while they are babies. Then he will be raised by you and won’t view you as a predator (hopefully). This is the approach we will take if we decide to try out being rooster owners in the future.