Do You Need a Rooster?

The answer is no.

And yes.

Confused yet? Let me explain.

There are a lot of myths about raising chickens, shared by well meaning people. I’ve heard many of them, including the one about needing to have a rooster in order for your hens to lay eggs.

This, of course, isn’t true.

Technically, the only reason you need to have a rooster is if you want to have fertilized eggs. Your hens will lay unfertilized eggs all on their own just fine.

But there are many reasons why adding a rooster to your flock can be beneficial.

We actually have 5 roosters. Not necessarily on purpose. But each of our roosters has earned their place on the homestead, and so we let them do their thing.

Through the experience of being accidental rooster keepers, we’ve learned a thing or two about them. There are pros and there are certainly cons, and there are no guarantees. In the end, I think its up to each homesteader to decide if having a rooster is the right decision for them.

Waylon watches over his girls as they work the compost pile

Let’s start with the pros

They protect the flock – Outside of fertilizing eggs, the other primary function of a rooster is to protect his flock. This is wired in the rooster’s dna, and a good rooster will take this job seriously. From alerting the flock of danger to actually fighting off predators, will earn their food in this measure alone. Because most of our birds are free ranged, this is a huge benefit for us.

They act as a guide – A good rooster is always alert to the needs of his flock. For a free ranged flock, this means guiding them to various sources of forage and shelter.

They fertilize eggs – This goes without saying. If you want to increase your flock on your own, or if you want to make a little money selling fertilized eggs, roosters are essential.

They are beautiful – I may be weird in this, but roosters have always inspired me with their regal beauty. Even the worst tempered rooster casts a majestic image. From their iconic crow to their colorful plumage, the rooster is a quintessential icon for any farm or homestead.

Foghorn the Non Leghorn waits for the hens to come out

Now for the cons

They can be mean – Most roosters will become a little aggressive when going through their adolescent period. A lot of them pull out of it and become really good roosters. Some don’t. Those are the roosters that don’t have a place on our homestead, and we’ve had a few.

They can be too aggressive with the hens -Roosters are pretty aggressive when they mate, and sometimes this can be a problem for your hens. They can pull out feathers as they force the hen to submit, and in some cases this will encourage picking from the other hens.

They are loud – Roosters will crow all day long, not just with the rising sun. If you’re in a place where this might bother neighbors, or a sleeping baby, then beware.

Hercules stands proud and always on guard

So…do you need a rooster? Well, that’s up to what your goals are on the homestead.

However, I’ll tell you this. We may have “accidentally” inherited our roosters, but our homestead wouldn’t be complete without them. Even our ornery rooster Hercules has earned his space in the coop (as long as he behaves himself).

So while you may not need a rooster, you might find yourself wanting one. And that’s just fine, my friend.

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