What to do with the boys? The Scoop on Roosters

So, you want eggs. You have hens. Do you need a rooster to have eggs? The answer is no.

In fact, the animal control and bird rescue folks would prefer you didn’t keep roosters.

Why? Well, we’ve been seeing a lot of homeless roosters lately, and they are very hard to place. Most people who find roosters want them to go to no-kill homes, and honestly, it’s hard to fit that bill.

If you’re an urban chicken owner, think ahead to the question of “What if I get a rooster?” Help us keep down the rooster population in urban areas:

  • Purchase sex-linked chicks. These breeds result in chicks whose coloration is slightly different, depending on gender. Only certain breed are sex-linked.
  • Purchase sexed chicks. For those non-sex-linked breeds, it is possible to sex chicks after hatching. Not all hatcheries sex chicks, so be careful.
  • Do not purchase straight-run chicks – unless you know what you are going to do with the boys. Half of them will most likely be roosters.
  • DO NOT HATCH CHICKS – unless you know what you are going to do with the boys. Fifty percent of the hatch will be male.
  • Turn them into dinner. You can take roosters to a licensed slaughtering facility. If you are amenable to this option, you can go from live bird to dressed bird for about $4.
  • If you do have a rooster, please do not release him! Find a more humane alternative. Contact local farms and rescue agencies. Check with other chicken owners to see if they would like a rooster.
  • Keep him. Roosters make a lovely, protective addition to a flock. If you can get past the crowing, the rooster will keep a protective eye on your girls. And there is no harm in eating fertilized (unincubated) eggs!

Remember, these are live creatures and should be treated as such.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cathie on January 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    We love our rooster. He always has a watchful eye on our hens, scratches for worms and bugs for them in the yard, and warns of any potential danger (dogs, etc). He chases pigeons away, too! And our neighbors (luckily) all love his crowing. It’s such an awesome contrast to hear a rooster crowing against bus, car, truck, ambulance, and train noises. Highly recommend ONE.


  2. Agreed, roosters can be great pets. They’re full of personality.
    We house ours indoors at night, and put them out to free-range after he is done with his morning crowing. If you were walking outside near our house you could hear him, but the peopel still sleeping in their homes can’t, so no one complains. And just as with a dog, if he starts making noise in the day and won’t stop after a few minutes, he comes back inside until he has calmed down.

    While I am glad to see more towns allowing chickens when they previous banned them… many are restricting it to just hens, and that is upsetting. All chickens should be allowed, and roosters dealt with the same as with loud dogs- owners must be responsible and courteous and if not, they get fines etc. Don’t punish the roosters and the people before any offense is committed.


  3. I have two flocks of chickens (16 & 19) and each have one rooster (Mr Friendly and Blue). I have started having a problem with the rooster in the larger flock (Blue). He kicks four hens out of the coop when they go to roost – he does this every evening consistently. When the hens are retrieved and put back in the coop, he tries to chase them out again and pecks at them relentlessly. Now, one of the hens has started roosting elsewhere (where it may not be safe and where she cannot be reached to return to the coop). What can be done?


    • Richard –
      That’s a good question. The key is to figure out why he does this. It could be the hens are sick, or he simply may not like them, for some reason related to pecking order. As for the hen roosting in the trees, yes, you should find a place where she can safely sleep at night. If you like, I can have a look at your birds and the set-up (a Healthy Hens Consultation).


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