Unfortunately, when ordering chickens or buying chicks it is very common to receive not just hens, but one or more roosters as well. Even when ordering from businesses that offer to sell chicks based on their sex, mistakes still get made- frequently- and you may not even know it until a few months have passed and the rooster is older. The end result? An early morning wake up call for you, your family, and your neighbors every day.
While hens absolutely do not need roosters to produce eggs (contrary to the myth), there are a few reasons you may want to keep a rooster in your flock:
* Roosters can help protect the flock from predators.
* If you are hoping to breed chicks of your own a rooster is definitely necessary in your flock. Before you allow your chickens to breed, be aware that chances are 50/50 that a new chick will be another rooster that you will need to either keep or remove.
* Roosters are often very vigilant and will spot trouble and alert the other hens before they even notice a problem.
However, there are many reasons why a rooster may be an unwelcome addition to your backyard flock:
* Most roosters crow loudly every day and cannot be trained not to crow. Some roosters crow loudly throughout the day from pre-dawn hours into the evening. Neighbors may be understanding about some chicken noises, but a rooster calling out all day and night can get on anyone's nerves.
* It is the nature of roosters to become more aggressive as they get older. While being protective may be beneficial to a flock of hens, a rooster who claims his territory and defends it against people, pets, and anything else that enters it can be dangerous.
* Many roosters grow large spikes on their legs called spurs. They can be used to attack other chickens, pets, or even people if the rooster becomes aggressive. Spurs can cause significant damage and aggressive birds can be dangerous, especially to children.
* Some roosters become overly aggressive when mating and may kill or injure the hens.
* Some towns have restrictions against keeping roosters in backyard flocks.
The Bottom Line
The chances are high that at some point you will get an unwanted rooster if you buy chicks, so you need to be prepared for what you will do when you get one before that happens. As you plan, you need to know that most farms, agricultural stores, outdoor organizations, and many animal shelters will not take chickens, and specifically will not take roosters. Few farms or businesses want or need an additional animal to feed that doesn't produce eggs and can be a behavioral problem, too.
If you unintentionally end up with a rooster in your flock you will have difficulty finding another home for it. As is the case with most male farm animals, the majority of roosters are processed for food. If this is not a task that you are prepared for yourself, it can be very difficult to find someone who is interested in taking your bird. Ultimately, you need to be prepared to give the animal to someone else for free if they are willing to take it, whether for food, breeding, or to live as part of a flock.
If you are having trouble removing your rooster from your backyard flock, here are some things to try:
* Place an ad at local agricultural, feed, or garden supply stores in your area advertising a free rooster. Someone may want a new breeding animal or meat bird. In your ad include the breed and approximate age of the bird.
* If there is an agricultural auction in your area, ask them if they know of anyone who will accept a free donated bird. Most auctions will not let people sell an individual rooster.
* If there is a veterinarian in your area who handles farmyard animals, contact them to see if they can recommend someone who may take your bird or give you other ideas for removing it from your flock.
* Put the word out on your own social media pages.
* Take out an ad in the local paper advertising a free rooster. As with any public advertisement in print or online, use good judgement and caution if meeting people you don't know.
* Contact your local 4H club or agricultural high school. There may be a participant or student who would be interested in raising a rooster as a project.
There are huge numbers of unwanted roosters that come out of backyard flocks each year. For the welfare of both the animal and other people, never let a rooster (or any other animal) loose at a park, farm, school, zoo, or other open space area. Chickens and all domestic animals rely on people for food and shelter. Animals that are released into inappropriate locations can be injured, may starve, or can die of exposure to weather. Although it can be a long process, be tenacious until an appropriate new home can be found.