When people first get into raising chickens, one of the first questions they usually have is whether they have to keep a rooster (male chicken) with their flock or not. Many farmers insist on keeping a rooster with their hens for a variety of reasons, but there are downsides to having a male in the mix too.
So can you raise chickens without a rooster? Raising chickens without a rooster is easy, and in the case of backyard chickens in the suburbs, raising hens with no rooster is the only way to prevent crowing. However, there are downsides such as lack of protection for the hens and some hierarchy issues that can crop up without a male in charge.
In the growing trend of backyard chicken keeping, a rooster is not usually an option due to noise ordinance laws. Even as some cities begin to allow people to keep chickens in their backyard, they still want to restrict roosters because of the noise associated with them. Read on to find out more about the best ways for you to keep a flock of hens without a rooster in charge.
Can You Raise Chickens Without a Rooster?
Of course! In fact, many people deliberately choose to raise a flock of hens with no rooster involved. Here are some of the reasons that people choose to raise chickens without roosters:
- Roosters lead to fertilized eggs. This means that if you don’t collect the eggs every day while fresh, they will begin to incubate and you run into the chance of cracking into half-formed or fertilized eggs. Most people don’t want to find blood spots or partially-formed eggs when they’re making their breakfast in the morning.
- Roosters are loud. Some roosters are only moderately loud. Others are loud enough that your neighbor may put out on a hit on him. But even small bantam roosters crow, and there is no such thing as a rooster who doesn’t. While some people use rooster collars to try and soften the volume of a rooster’s crow, crowing is too loud to be tolerated in most suburbs. To hear just how loud roosters can be, check out this YouTube video.
- Roosters can be aggressive. A major downside to keeping a rooster is that the rooster sees himself as the protector of the hens. Many roosters will attack their caretakers if not trained early to be civil, and even then the instinct is hard to break.
- Roosters can be dangerous. Outside of aggression, rooster attacks can lead to severe cuts, puncture wounds, and eye injuries. Roosters are particularly bad about going after small children and dogs, slashing out at them with their sharp spurs, which means a mean rooster in the yard is a huge liability.
- Roosters lead to baby chickens. If you’re trying to hold your flock population steady due to suburban regulations or just because you don’t want to take care of fifty chickens, keeping a rooster out of your flock will prevent your hens from setting chicks. Many people do not want to take the time to care for or re-home chicks.
There are many different reasons why you might not want to keep a rooster with your hens, and for homesteaders in the city or suburbs, having a rooster not only a complication, it is often also illegal due to the associated noise.
Advantages of Not Having a Rooster Infographic
Can You Still Hatch Baby Chickens with No Rooster?
The answer is yes! – but you will need to obtain fertilized eggs. Often many hens will go “broody”, a condition where they sit on a nest and refuse to leave it out of their instinct to try and incubate a clutch of eggs.
While there are some methods for breaking a broody hen that don’t involve letting the broody hatch out chicks (such as “broody jail” or making sure no eggs remain in the nest for a hen to sit on) many chicken keepers believe that one of the most humane ways to break a perpetually broody hen is to allow her to hatch out a clutch of eggs.
If you don’t have a rooster, none of the eggs that your hens have laid will be fertilized or capable of hatching out a chick. But there are plenty of options for buying fertilized eggs online that you can slip underneath your broody hen and have her hatch out for you.
This can be advantageous for several reasons if you’re planning on expanding your flock at all:
- Chicks raised within the flock are more likely to be accepted by other chickens. When you raise day-old chicks from a farm supply store or online outlet and try to introduce them to the flock as adolescents, there is usually a period of fighting and squabbling while they establish their “pecking order”. This can result in injuries or stress for every bird involved.
- Letting a broody hen hatch out purchased fertilized eggs gives you options. If you let a hen hatch out her own rooster fertilized eggs, you’ll only get chickens of the breeds you own. But if you buy fertilized eggs to place under a broody hen, you can get eggs from all sorts of rare and colorful heritage breeds. This allows you to add some variety and color to your flock.
- Mother hens are often more apt at taking care of chicks than humans are. It is not uncommon for day-old chicks being raised by humans to die from fairly minor complications like malnutrition or temperature regulation issues. A mother hen is much more easily able to manage these kinds of problems.
Hatching fertilized eggs within the flock is a great way to get more chickens and there’s plenty of ways to get fertilized eggs that don’t involve keeping a rooster, from online poultry farms to Facebook chicken groups.
How many chickens you actually need depends on the several factors such as number of people in your family that eat eggs and whether you want to give away or sell extras. Here’s a video that might help:
Advantages of Having a Rooster
While it is possible to raise chickens without a rooster, there are also some distinct advantages to having one in your flock hierarchy. Following are some of the benefits of keeping a rooster with your flock:
- Roosters protect their flock. If you live in a more rural or open area, free-ranging hens can be susceptible to predation from local wildlife such as foxes, coyotes, hawks, and eagles. Roosters stand guard over the flock while they forage and will raise an alert if any danger is spotted, allowing the hens time to run to safety. A rooster will also fight for its hens if pressed. Even with a rooster, protecting your chickens from predators is very important. This article gives some additional tips.
- Roosters help prevent flock hierarchy problems. When a group of hens is raised alone, there can sometimes be some squabbling amongst them over hierarchy since, in a typical chicken social group, the rooster would be the one keeping everyone in line and making sure everyone is adhering to their “rank” in the flock. In flocks without a rooster, a more dominant hen will often take up this role, however.
- Roosters are interesting to watch. Some of the most entertaining interactions you can see in your flock are courtship situations between a rooster and his hens, as he will often try to court her through elaborate gestures and gifts.
- Roosters are beautiful. Let’s face it, most of the roosters of purebred chickens are much more colorful and vividly patterned than the hens of the same variety, and there’s nothing quite so idyllic as laying in bed at the crack of dawn and hearing a rooster crow from the barnyard. (At least unless you live in the suburbs.)
- Roosters can be friendly too. While some roosters have a reputation of a nasty disposition, there are many roosters that are also quite outgoing and friendly to their human caretakers. That is, if they are hand-raised to be accustomed to human interaction and are put-in-their-place in adolescence via training.
It is easy enough to raise a flock of chickens without a rooster if noise control laws or housing zones don’t allow for one, but there are plenty of good things about roosters too.
Rooster Advantages Infographic
Does Having a Rooster Increase Egg Production?
No, having a rooster does not increase egg production. Most breeds of female chickens will lay an egg every one to three days once they reach sexual maturity around six months of age, and will continue to lay for the rest of their adult lives barring disease or old age (hen-opause, if you will).
That means that if you want hens but don’t want to have to put up with a rooster, you’re in luck! Your hens will produce plenty of eggs with or without a fellow around, and in fact, your chickens might actually even lay better. Being repeatedly mated by a forceful or ungentlemanly rooster can cause some hens to actually decrease in egg production over time due to stress or injury.
Roosters have no effect on how many eggs a hen will lay, but they are required if you want fertilized eggs from your own flock bloodline. However, for many backyard chicken keepers and homesteaders who are only trying to keep enough eggs around for eating purposes rather than to replenish the flock, a rooster is not necessary.
Roosters are also an advantage for those people who are raising chickens for meat and eggs rather than just eggs, as they allow the chicken keeper to perpetuate his own stock of sustainable meat. Without a rooster, it can still be done, but the eggs will have to be sourced elsewhere so it isn’t a good option for a survivalist situation where access to fertilized eggs on the market may be scarce.
How to Increase Egg Production Without a Rooster
The only way a rooster will increase egg production within your flock is by allowing a broody hen to hatch a clutch of fertilized eggs and raise the chicks. In doing so, the flock numbers grows, which in turn, will increase the amount of eggs. To maximize egg production in your current flock [without a rooster], follow the tips below.
- Make sure that you’re serving up a high-quality feed. While the bulk of a chicken’s feed can come from their pellet or mash, it’s also important to incorporate healthy greens, sources of protein such as meal worms, and other supplemental foods such as fruits and vegetables to ensure that hens are happy and get all of the nutrition they need for laying eggs.
- There are some food scraps that are not recommended for chicken consumption–some of which can be poisonous. Below are a few examples of foods that should not be fed to chickens.
- dried or raw beans
- apple seeds
- moldy foods
- There are some food scraps that are not recommended for chicken consumption–some of which can be poisonous. Below are a few examples of foods that should not be fed to chickens.
- Check your chickens’ calcium levels. Lack of calcium can lead to decreased egg production or the production of eggs with malformed shells, so providing plenty of calcium in the form of oyster shell or some other supplement can help prevent egg production issues related to calcium deficiency.
- Make sure your chickens have plenty of clean water daily. Clean water is vital to produce healthy eggs, and chickens can be vulnerable to a variety of health problems without it.
- Give your chickens as much room to move around as you can. The happier your hens are, the more eggs they’ll produce, and hens love to forage. While not all backyard chicken keepers can allow their hens to free range, giving them a run that is as large as possible can not only increase egg production, it can also help prevent serious squabbles between the hens due to overcrowding.
- Keep nest boxes clean. If you don’t provide chickens a good place to lay their eggs, they might lay them in the muck of the chicken run instead. Eggs that are laid in mud or moist environments aren’t as safe to eat since the bloom (the protective membrane on the exterior of the eggshell) can be breached, allowing contamination from bacteria. To prevent having to throw out questionable eggs, encourage your girls to lay in clean, bedding-lined nest boxes.
- Make sure your flock is free of injuries, illness, and parasites. If you don’t inspect your hens regularly, you may miss health problems that could be causing them to drop in egg production. Checking over your hens often is a good way to catch sickness while it is still treatable or injuries before they become infected, both of which will put a laying hen out of commission while she’s on antibiotics.
Be sure your chickens are getting enough calcium to maximize egg laying potential. This Purina Oyster Shell Poultry Supplement from Amazon is a great choice.
If you take a few measures to improve the health and happiness of your flock, they should produce plenty of eggs for you whether you have a rooster or not.
Are Roosters Dangerous to Hens?
One of the unfortunate facts of having a rooster in a flock is that some roosters can be quite violent towards hens during the mating process. Not only can roosters be bad about tearing up the necks and shoulders of hens from riding them too much, but they have also even been known to scalp them in the process.
Obviously these kinds of injuries are not only dangerous for the hens and leave them open to bacterial infections that have to be cleaned and monitored, but they also end up damaging the hen’s feathers along her back and a rooster can even mate a hen bald if she isn’t given some respite.
It’s important when picking a rooster for a flock of chickens that you choose a rooster with a good temperament who is gentle around the hens. Many adolescent roosters (also known as cockerels) are notoriously bad-mannered when it comes to courting hens, but hens can often police this behavior themselves if left to their own devices.
However, if you end up with a rooster who is aggressive to the hens, breeds with them to the point that they become stressed or injured, or is aggressive towards humans, the best course of action is to get rid of the rooster and find one that has a better temperament. With roosters, it’s easy to find a replacement, and you don’t want to keep a nasty rooster around when there are plenty of friendly ones out there.
Roosters Aren’t a Necessity for Raising Chickens
If you want to raise your own flock of chickens for eggs, it’s simple to do without a rooster. While roosters provide a lot of benefits to your flock, they also have several disadvantages that can make keeping chickens more complicated, especially for first-time owners or people who live in a town or city.
Six Reasons Chickens Attack Each Other and How to Stop It
So while the answer to the question of "Do you need a Rooster to lay eggs?" is no, you can certainly have a happier flock with a rooster. Although uncrowded hens generally get along with each other, a flock with a rooster is usually more peaceful. There is less fighting for the top spot by the hens.Can you have a flock of chickens without a rooster? ›
A small flock will get along just fine without a rooster. The eggs will still be plentiful, the hens will still be content and you'll spend less on feed. But with coop space, an OK from the city and HOA, and plenty of distance from the neighbors, a rooster can be a valued addition to the backyard flock.How many chickens should you have on a homestead? ›
When it comes to homestead chickens, you'll want to consider what's best for your family's needs. (Pro Tip: Estimating two chickens per person will provide your homestead roughly seven eggs per week, while you'll need about 18 meat chickens per person.)How many hens can you have without a rooster? ›
A rooster is needed, however, if your goal is to produce chicks. Roosters needs to mate with a hen two or three times a week in order for the hen to lay fertile eggs. You can then incubate the eggs to hatch out chicks. You typically need one rooster for every ten hens.Do roosters protect hens from foxes? ›
They Will Protect Your Hens
This is especially helpful if you have free-range chickens. Roosters will alert the hens when there is a predator nearby, try to herd all the hens into one area, and they will even fight off threats like foxes or dogs.
A hen to rooster transformation is most definitely possible no matter how impossible it may seem. This occurrence usually occurs due to a genetic condition where the chickens only functioning ovary is damaged. The non-functioning ovary can then start to develop into a structure known as an avo-testis.Does a rooster fertilize every egg? ›
Does a rooster fertilize every egg? Not always. If a hen is frequently mating with only one rooster, he will fertilize most of her eggs. However, it is still possible that the occasional non-fertile egg will slip through.How many roosters should you have in a flock of chickens? ›
As a general rule you should only keep one rooster in each flock. However the exact answer will depend on your breed of rooster and the relationship of other roosters to him. With more docile breeds my favorite ratio is 20 hens per 2 roosters.Can a rooster live with one hen? ›
The absolute minimum number of hens for one rooster should be three or four and even this can be problematic depending on your breed of rooster. Several people have noted that Rhode Island Reds, Easter Eggers, and Ameraucana roosters can be more aggressive with other roosters and a bit rough with the hens.How many chickens can you keep in a 10x10 coop? ›
Just how much room does a chicken need? A chicken needs about 4 square-feet per bird inside the coop. That means a 10x10 coop would comfortably hold 25 birds.
Free-range chickens will use their coop to lay eggs and roost at night but should ideally have about 8-10 square feet per chicken of outdoor space to forage and roam freely. Regular-sized chickens in enclosures need about three to five square feet of space per chicken inside a chicken coop.How long do fresh eggs last? ›
A general rule, unwashed eggs will last around two weeks unrefrigerated and about three months or more in your refrigerator. If you're experiencing an egg boom, it's smart to refrigerate any unwashed fresh eggs you aren't planning to eat immediately. This will help them last longer.Can 2 roosters live together with hens? ›
Correct ratio of hens to roosters:
A good ratio is 10 hens for every 1 rooster. Roosters are very protective of “their” hens, and if there are too many roosters in your flock this can cause fighting over another rooster mounting a hen that is not “his” hen.
Ideally you should have at least 10 hens for each rooster in your flock. Having a proper hen to rooster ratio in your flock will prevent rooster fights and keep the hens from becoming stressed out by too much rooster attention.Do roosters have favorite hens? ›
A rooster often has his favorite girl, with whom he spends most of his time. She is not necessarily at the top of the pecking order, but he will treat her like a queen. It's possible that other hens might be envious of her role, because when the rooster is removed, his favorite hen is sometimes picked on by the others.Do roosters protect hens from raccoons? ›
Benefits: First and foremost, a rooster offers protection for hens that are vulnerable to the innumerable predators lurking around them. To keep hens safe, roosters will often herd their flock into the same general area and will sound the alarm when danger is near.What is the best animal to guard chickens? ›
Livestock guardian dogs are probably the most popular and well-known animal used to protect chickens. Dogs are intelligent, trainable, good companions, and quite frightening to a lot of different kinds of wildlife.Do chickens recognize their owners? ›
Chickens can recognise up to 100 faces
These faces included those of humans! Chickens even remember positive or negative experiences with the faces they recognise and pass that information on to members of their flocks.
Crowing and the pecking order
Many studies on roosters confirm that one main reason a rooster crows is to assert dominance and territory. When a hen crows, the most common reason is because they are on a power trip. This crowing behaviour may also be accompanied by bullying behaviour in the chicken coop.
Roosters: Larger & redder combs and wattles (noticeable around 8 weeks of age), thicker legs, and a stockier build. Hens: Shorter & thinner legs and rounded feathers (look at the hackle and rump feathers).
Did you know you can determine if an egg is fertile or not by looking at the germ spot? The germ spot is the white spot on the yolk. The non-fertile germ spot contains only the female's cells and looks like a solid white spot. In a fertile egg the germ spot contains both the female and male cells.How long does a hen stay fertile after mating? ›
It takes that long for the sperm to reach the oviduct where eggs are made. What is this? But it's worth the wait: her eggs will remain fertile (even if she does not mate again) for around two to three weeks after mating, although fertility will drop after 2 weeks.How long is a rooster fertile? ›
Fertility increased rapidly in young roosters to a peak of 96.2 +/- 3.9% at 37 weeks of age. Thereafter, fertility declined and by 72 weeks of age was significantly lower than at 37 weeks.How many times a day does a rooster mate? ›
A rooster may mate from 10 to 30 or more times per day, depending on the availability of hens and competition from other roosters. However, the number of sperm per ejaculate is seldom less than 100 million which is the minimum required to maintain high fertility.Can you have 2 roosters with 7 hens? ›
Have plenty of hens for each rooster. If you only have a flock of five or seven birds, you don't want two (or more!) of them to be roosters. Generally---and especially when you want to keep multiple roosters---there should be 10 or 12 hens for each male in your flock.How long does it take for a rooster to mate with a hen? ›
How long does a rooster need to be with a hen for fertilisation to happen? It can range from a once off meeting to around 3-7 days on average.Can a rooster mate with any hen? ›
Yes, they can! There are no problems associated with hatching mixed breed chickens. If you have a rooster in your flock, he will try to breed ALL your hens, nevermind if he is a different breed or even if the hens are different sizes, bantam and large fowl.Do hens lay less eggs with a rooster? ›
You don't need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs, as hens will lay just as many eggs whether there's a rooster around or not. However, a rooster is needed to fertilize the eggs to hatch them into baby chicks.Which direction should my chicken coop face? ›
Build your chicken coop facing the south so that the coop will receive sunlight throughout the day. For the winter months when the days are shorter and there is less sunlight, it is important to install a light in the coop. This is not difficult.Is a 4x4 coop big enough for 8 chickens? ›
Ideal for 8-10 Chickens
The 4×4 A-Frame chicken coop is a classic style, available in rustic cedar stained board & batten and beige Duratemp siding.
As we mention in our Chicken Coop Buyer's Guide, you need somewhere between 2 and 4 square feet per standard size chicken in order for them to live comfortable, healthy and happy lives. So, your coop needs the following amount of square feet: 20 Chickens: 40-80 square feet.Should chickens free range all day? ›
Backyard chickens don't need to free range to be happy, healthy and productive. There are plenty of situations in which free ranging isn't practical. Predators, limited space or intolerant landscaping are all good reasons to keep the birds in their enclosed run.How high off the ground should a chicken coop be? ›
To ensure that snakes and other predators cannot break into a coop from underneath, it's important that the coop is raised off the ground 8 to 12 inches—enough to allow the chickens to walk beneath.How many nesting boxes do I need for 6 chickens? ›
A good rule of thumb is a ratio of one nesting box for every four chickens. Constructing boxes from found materials can save on costs and give character to the backyard coop. Boxes need not be square, but should be roomy enough to contain a laying hen, yet small enough to feel secure.Should you wash farm fresh eggs? ›
Eggs have small pores which harmful bacteria can enter. Even shells that appear clean can carry germs. Even so, eggs do not need to be washed. If not washed, they can keep without spoiling for weeks without refrigeration.Can you eat fresh laid eggs? ›
Never eat raw eggs. Outbreaks for Salmonella illnesses have been associated with undercooked egg whites and yolks. To avoid illness, cook eggs until yolks are firm. Cook foods containing eggs to 160 degrees F as measured by a food thermometer.How long do fresh washed chicken eggs last? ›
It's not necessary to use any soaps or detergents. Unwashed eggs will last at least two weeks unrefrigerated, and three months if refrigerated. Washed eggs should be refrigerated, and will last at least two months, but won't taste as fresh as an unwashed egg of the same age.What breed of rooster is the most docile? ›
Orpingtons. Orpingtons can be the sweetest chickens! This is generally true for both the hens and roosters! This heavy, docile, breed has friendly personalities.How do I stop my rooster from mounting my hens? ›
You have a few options to protect your hens. You can buy chicken saddles, which are pieces of cloth, generally made from a durable, waterproof canvas, that is strapped to the hen's back. If you use chicken saddles, be sure to regularly check underneath the saddle for external parasites.Can you keep a flock of just roosters? ›
Depending on your setup and how many roosters you would like to provide a home for, you may want to consider creating an all rooster flock. Some people raise concerns over this being “unnatural,” but in the wild it's been reported that roosters voluntarily spend time in rooster flocks.
Many roosters can co-exsist peacefully in one pen as long as there are no hens to fight over. Don't separate the boys from each other or they might forget that they know each other and start fighting when they are re-introduced. That would guarantee you would need to re-home one of them.How many hens can one rooster impregnate? ›
One rooster will easily keep eight to a dozen hens fertile. Mammals produce liquid urine which leaves the body through the urethra. Urine contains urea. In contrast birds have no need for a urethra since they don't urinate.Do roosters and chickens attract rats? ›
It is a common misconception that chickens attract rats and mice, but they aren't actually interested in chickens. Plenty of food and a comfortable place to eat it will attract rats in no time.Do chickens get attached to you? ›
Just as dogs are devoted and loyal, chickens show their affection for example by following you around. They can even run to you when you call them or eat treats out of your hand. They may even sit on your hand or shoulder or become lap chickens.What is the point of having a rooster? ›
One of the biggest benefits to having a rooster in your flock is the protection it provides against predators and danger. A rooster will serve as a primary defender against danger by restlessly watching over the hens in his flock.Are hens loyal to a rooster? ›
Hens will remain faithful to their rooster, even if he becomes infertile, lame or ill and is unable to mate with her. Breeders must be vigilant in spotting inactive roosters and remove them so the hens find a fertile mate.Are roosters friendlier than hens? ›
Chickens are fun to watch, and even though roosters tend to be less people-friendly than hens, some of them can be docile and friendly. This is especially true if they have been handled and picked up, starting when they are young chicks. This applies mostly to hens.Will roosters protect hens from hawks? ›
Add a Rooster to Your Flock
Chickens are ill-equipped to fend off a hawk, but roosters are built to protect the flock. If you don't already have a rooster and you don't live in an area that prohibits them, it's a natural way to safeguard your birds.
Roosters fight with each other - and with you.
But it's not only males bred for fighting who are aggressive. Once those male hormones kick in at about 12 months old, backyard roosters can also become a menace. Why does it happen? Because they instinctively protect their flock.
In the wild roosters are not very aggressive, they tend to avoid conflict with another male unless it is a direct challenge to their authority. However lots of modern rooster breeds are well known for being aggressive. All of these breeds have one thing in common: they have all been bred by humans for cockfighting.
Chickens can bond with humans just like any other pet, especially if you're actively showing them how much you care!What breed has the nicest rooster? ›
Orpingtons. Orpingtons can be the sweetest chickens! This is generally true for both the hens and roosters! This heavy, docile, breed has friendly personalities.What is the lifespan of a chicken? ›
The wild form of our domestic chicken can live around ten years on average. It is assumed that a domestic chicken can live up to 15 years if it is well kept. The oldest chicken in the world was 22 years old according to some news reports.