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Do I Need a Rooster?

Rooster Picture

Do I Need a Rooster?

So here’s the deal: You want to start your own backyard flock so you can have fresh eggs and meat on the table whenever you want to. And why shouldn’t you start your own flock when you have the space for it? Modern chicken data tells us that laying hens can produce an average of 200 eggs per year. Some breeds of chicken for eggssuch as theLeghorn chicken can produce a whopping 300 eggs per chicken!

The best chickens for meat, meanwhile, can weigh as much as 13 pounds. The Cornish and Cornish crosses, for example, are well-known for their muscular bodies, making them the most sought after breed for backyard meat poultry production.

And if you desire your backyard chickens to give you the best that a chicken can offer, then you can always raise the dual-purpose varieties. The Rhode Island Reds and the Wyandottes are examples of breeds that can be categorized as best chickens for eggs and meat.

But one question that eternally haunts the minds of novice chicken breeders is the necessity of keeping a rooster in their flock. You probably know that chickens lay eggs and they can be butchered for meat as well. So, where do the roosters come in? In other words, how needed are they in your backyard flock? Read on to find out!

Profile of a Rooster

Before you can decide if you need a rooster in your backyard flock, you first need to get to know the rooster. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the rooster.

A male chicken will always stand out from a hen because of its ostentatious feathering and bright colors. It is usually bigger in size and also carries on its head a bigger comb or wattle. Roosters are very territorial. They do not allow other male chickens to conquer their territory which they announce through crowing—the whole area reached by their voice they claim as theirs. However, if other male chickens allow themselves to be dominated, then they can co-exist peacefully with the alpha rooster.

Inherently, a rooster’s job is to protect the flock. They are always on the lookout for hawks and other large predators that can threaten their hens and especially their chicks. It is also instinctive in a rooster to find food for his family. If you’re observant enough, you will notice that roosters will not eat the grains until the hen has finished her share. Of course, like most males, they are needed to fertilize eggs and propagate the species.

Do You Need a Rooster for Your Backyard Flock?

So now we get back to the most important question we seek to answer here: Do you need a rooster for your backyard flock if you want to harvest eggs? Technically, the answer is “No.” Roosters are not an important part of your laying hen program. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Roosters are not needed for egg production. Don’t be surprised. A laying hen will always lay eggs whether a rooster is present or not. Now, if you plan to hatch the eggs, that’s a different story. You need a rooster to fertilize the eggs. If you’re only planning a backyard flock designed for egg production alone, roosters can be dispensed with.

 

  1. Roosters are not needed to protect the flock. Again, do not raise your eyebrows. While a rooster is inherently designed to protect a flock, a hen can perfectly do the same job. Try to observe a hen towing chicks when you get the chance. You’ll notice that at the slightest hint of danger, her protective maternal instincts come to the fore. She can either hide them under her wings or when push comes to shove, she will put them in a safe place and face the predator. A hen can take the role of a rooster anytime. She can protect her chicks, feed them and care for them. She is the epitome of a Superwoman in the chicken world.

 

  1. Roosters make your backyard noisy. Roosters don’t just crow at dawn every morning. They crow anytime of the day or night. When they notice predators, they make noise. When something is amiss, they make noise. Granted, the noise they make is done with good intentions, but the fact remains, they make noise. And unless you like to listen to all the cacophony everyday, you’re better off not having a rooster in your backyard.

 

So When Do You Need a Rooster?

Lest you start thinking that roosters are utterly useless, they’re not. Aside from the color they add to your backyard, roosters are absolutely necessary in egg fertilization. If you are going to be dedicating your backyard to the production of meat and you want to raise your own table chickens, then you’ll want to hatch fertile eggs.

That means that a rooster has to actually mate with your hen. The mating process takes only a few seconds. The ritual usually starts with the rooster strutting in front of the hen offering food, leaves or colored pebbles. When the hen agrees, she will extend her wings so that the rooster will not slide when he tops her. The rooster will then top the hen and hold her nape with his beak so that he can securely attach himself to her as he inserts his organ into the hen. Unwelcome advances from other males can happen anytime as well, even if the alpha rooster is around.

Aside from fertilization, you might also want to keep a rooster if you want bigger meat. This is because in chickens, the males are larger than females and are more muscular as well. As such, they provide heftier portions.

Finally, if you are just a chicken lover, you’ll want to keep roosters because the characteristics and colors of chickens are better seen in them than in hens. Nothing is more relaxing than seeing the burst of color that roosters give to your backyard. Their strutting rituals, as they try to chase the hens around the yard, make for a relaxing and interesting spectacle to watch.

In the end, the decision to keep roosters or not depends on your purpose and use for them. Based on what you have read above, you are now in a better position to decide.

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