Do Roosters Lay Eggs? No, But They Do These 10 Important Jobs
Are you considering adding a rooster to your flock? You might be wondering how useful they can be. Do roosters lay eggs? What is a rooster’s job within the flock?
Roosters don’t lay eggs, but they do have their place in many flocks. Roosters have several important jobs including protecting the flock, fertilizing eggs so that chicks are born, and caring for the hens. They may break up fights between hens or encourage them to stay close so that the flock is safer.
They also have the job of waking you up bright and early in the morning to release the chickens from their coop!
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 important jobs that roosters have and whether you should add one to your coop.
#1: They Protect the Hens
Roosters will typically try to protect their flock, both by crowing in warning when a predator is near and by fighting the other animal.
Though this isn’t true of all roosters, many will fight to the death for their hens. They may be even more protective if there are chicks in the flock.
The downside to this is that a rooster who sees you as a threat may try to fight you in the same way, but this is less common in roosters raised from chicks or if you spend plenty of time socializing with your flock.
You can also protect your flock by keeping them in a large but well-enclosed area rather than free-roaming them. Be sure to account for all predators in your area–those who may dig below ground or attack from the skies, those who are strong enough to break through chicken wire (hardware cloth is sturdier), and raccoons who can use their little hands to open latches!
Will Roosters Protect Hens from Snakes?
Roosters and hens will both sometimes eat small snakes they find in their environment. As for larger snakes that can eat chickens, your rooster will likely try to protect the hens.
Be careful if you have venomous snakes in the area as they could poison your flock, including your rooster.
Another way to keep snakes away from your chickens is to use hardware cloth to cover any gaps in the coop, add underground fencing, and use a skirt around the coop to prevent them from digging their way in. Controlling for mice can also make your coop less desirable to a snake!
Will Roosters Protect Hens from Foxes?
Roosters may try to protect hens from foxes but are likely to die in the process. They may give your hens time to get to safety, but won’t stop an eager fox entirely.
Once the fox knows where to find food, they’re likely to return to your yard until you block their access.
Fox-proof fencing around your property or a secure coop and run will do a better job at protecting your flock as well as your rooster.
#2: Roosters Care for their Flocks
Some roosters aren’t gentlemanly, but many will care for their flocks. They’ll dig for bugs to feed the hens, break up arguments between the ladies, protect the flock, and encourage the hens to stay near which keeps them safer.
This can lead to a healthier flock dynamic. It can also be fascinating to watch your rooster develop relationships within the flock and fulfill their role as the caretaker.
#3: You Need a Rooster to Hatch Chicks
Chickens can have eggs without a rooster, but they’ll never be fertilized–meaning no chicks will hatch from them. You need a rooster if you want to hatch your own chicks.
Having a rooster can save you money that you’d otherwise spend whenever you adopt new chicks. However, it also makes it possible for your broody chickens to hide and hatch eggs, leaving you with a larger flock than you planned for!
Can You Eat Fertilized Chicken Eggs?
Yes, you can eat fertilized eggs! So long as you’re collecting the eggs each day, chicks won’t develop inside and they’ll be just like any unfertilized egg.
#3: They Act as an Alarm Clock
Roosters crow loudly in the early hours of the morning. This can get you up and moving to let the chickens from their coop, but it can also annoy you and your neighbors if you dislike the noise.
On larger properties, you might not hear the roosters crow in the morning–or at least the distance won’t make it sound as loud as it would otherwise. But if your coop is near your house–or neighboring homes–the noise is something to consider before adopting a rooster.
Why do Roosters Crow?
Roosters crow to communicate with their flock. They might be indicating whether it’s safe or unsafe outside of the coop, to show dominance, or out of excitement (such as around feeding time).
Research shows that the most dominant rooster tends to crow first in the mornings, perhaps explaining their early wake-up calls.
Your rooster might crow throughout the day, not only in the morning. Some roosters are more boisterous than others, depending on their breed and personality.
#4: They Add Beauty to the Flock
Roosters are often flashier in appearance than hens. They’re more colorful and have longer tail feathers. They also have larger combs.
If you like a breed for their appearance, you might prefer how the roosters look compared to the hens and want one in your flock!
#5: They Dance for the Hens
Roosters have a “shuffle dance,” which is how they capture the attention of their mates. To woo hens, your rooster will lower one of his wings and shuffle their feet. They might also do this dance to assert dominance.
#6: Roosters Raised from Chicks Can be Very Human-Friendly
Many people are afraid to add roosters to the flock because they have a reputation for meanness. However, not all roosters are aggressive!
Raising roosters from chicks, or buying roosters that have been well-socialized from a young age, can make them friendlier toward people.
You can also opt for breeds known for being docile to decrease your risk of adopting a mean rooster!
#7: They Lead the Flock
Roosters will try to keep the hens nearby and discourage them from wandering off. This can keep your flock safer and makes training them to return to the coop easier. Just train your rooster, and his hens will follow!
As the leader of the flock, your rooster may also make integrating new hens to the coop easier. He’ll break up disputes between the current hens and the new ones.
#8: Hens are Often Happier with Roosters Around
In nature, flocks consist of one rooster and many hens. Replicating this dynamic in a coop can make for a more peaceful environment.
Your hens may squabble for dominance less and bond with one another more easily. This can increase their quality of life.
#9: Your Hens Might be Healthier
With less stress in the coop, less squabbling, and less wandering off, your hens might end up healthier by having a rooster around. His tendency to feed them bugs can also add nutrients to their diet.
Of course, this isn’t a guarantee. Flocks with roosters can still get sick, and flocks without roosters can still be perfectly healthy.
#10: Healthy Hens Produce More Eggs
Hens made happier and healthier by the addition of a rooster will produce more eggs, and you may see a difference in quality as well.
Again, this isn’t a guarantee–just something that some chicken owners have noticed. Many people don’t see a difference in egg laying after adding a rooster.
Is a Rooster Right for You?
Now that we’ve discussed a rooster’s jobs for the flock, let’s figure out if one is right for you. Here are some reasons not to add a rooster to your coop:
- Your local laws may ban or limit roosters. This is typically due to their crowing, which can disturb the neighbors.
- He might make the neighbors unhappy. Speaking of neighbors, they might become a nuisance if they don’t want to live near a crowing rooster. Discussing the idea in advance can give you a good idea of how your neighbors will react to the new addition.
- Do you want to hear him crow? Putting aside noise ordinances and neighbors, it’s important to think about whether you want to hear a rooster crow each day. Some people love the sound while others hate it!
- Some roosters are aggressive. If you don’t want to deal with this, it may be better not to add one to your flock. But, as we discussed above, hand-raised chicks tend to be more people-friendly than unsocialized birds.
- They might hurt your hens. Roosters can injure hens while mating, especially if they choose a favorite hen and overdo things. They may leave wounds on her neck or back. Some people cover their hens with saddles to prevent this.
- Roosters don’t tend to get along with one another. Especially in confined spaces, two or more roosters are likely to fight. If you want more than one, you might consider providing ample space or separating your chickens into multiple flocks.
How to Avoid Roosters (Or Ensure You Get One!)
Has this article made you ready to adopt a rooster right away, or are you now certain that you never, ever want one? Either way, you might be wondering how to know the sex of the chicks you adopt.
Often, baby chicks aren’t accurately sexed. You may try to purchase only females only to have one or multiple of them grow into roosters!
To avoid this, you’ll need to go with an autosexing breed. This means the chicks have different colors or markings based on sex, which makes it easier to know if they’re male or female on sight.
You can also adopt an older bird. This is especially great if you want a rooster, as you’re likely to find many up for adoption that were incorrectly sexed and adopted by people who couldn’t keep them.
Thank you for reading! If you have feedback on this post, please contact the AZ Animals editorial team.