Should You Get a Rooster? Pros and Cons
Last April, we purchased twelve egg layer chicks from our local feed store. One of our Welsummers turned out to be a rooster. This was a stroke of luck for us, because we’d wanted to try out having a rooster, due to a lot of problems with predators. Now that we’ve had the rooster for about six months, I have a good idea of the pros and cons to rooster ownership to help you decide if you, too, want to get a rooster!
In case you don’t know, sellers try and figure out which chicks are males and which females, but because it’s hard to tell when they’re chicks, it’s not always 100% accurate. Here he is as a chick …
And here he is with another chick of his same breed! He’s in front.
So even though we hadn’t asked for any males (poor roosters! No one really ever ASKS for a rooster, you just end up with one), we got one.
Here he is as a pullet teenager, when we were finally able to tell that he was a boy – his comb was much larger than the others and before you knew it he was cock-a-doodle-dooing constantly.
He’s grew into a pretty one, for sure. Check out these tail feathers!
Okay, pros and cons …
PRO: DEFENSE FROM PREDATORS
Today marks the third time I’ve seen Ser Rooster fend off a red tail hawk. Today was his coolest moment – he made a very loud cry, the ladies all ran under a bush, and he squawked and puffed up at the hawk, who hovered for a minute and then took off. We lost three of our previous batch of chickens to red tails over the course of last summer, so his track record in protecting them this year is very impressive. Three attacks so far would have almost inevitably meant three or more dead hens saved. Given the time and money invested in raising these chickens, that is no small feat. No test on how he may do with a coyote or a fox (we lost one of our older chickens to a coyote before the rooster arrived), but my understanding is that a rooster will at least attempt to fight them and ultimately may end up sacrificing himself for the sake of the hens.
CON: AGGRESSIVE TOWARD PEOPLE
Mr. Rooster takes his defense job protecting the hens very seriously. Too seriously. He puts himself between any person approaching and the girls, and sometimes when someone walks past him he chases them down and tries to jump at them. Now, the vast, vast majority of the time he doesn’t bug anyone. And luckily, he’s a terrible flier, so when he does attack it means putting his claws out while jumping in the air toward his victim’s legs. He has sharp talons and spurs, so can absolutely scratch and hurt someone. So far, he hasn’t actually inflicted a scratch, due to the previously-mentioned lack of flying coordination.
Now, recall that we have a two year old and a four year old and suddenly this ‘con’ becomes a CON. When he wasn’t yet full grown, the rooster jumped on my two year old’s back. This was the first time he’d ever been aggressive with anyone, so we were taken by surprise. My husband instantly booted him off and the rooster didn’t hurt her at all, but given that he could reach my kids eyes now that he’s full grown, this is a major, major issue. As my daughter says, “No like Mister Rooster.”
Our kids are too little to be outside alone, or outside at all without us right there next to them. Now that we’re aware the rooster can be aggressive, he hasn’t made any moves on the kids, simply because we shoo him away. This is easiest for me than for anyone else. Maybe it’s because I was the one who raised him from a chick, but he loves/is terrified of me (it’s hard to tell which, but he runs when I shoo him and follows me when I give him food). I’m the only one he hasn’t puffed up his feathers at, or taken a run at. And he certainly has never dared to jump at me. He doesn’t even care if I get between him and the ladies, or pet the hens when he’s right there.
I did everything the internet tells you to do to make him docile. When he was a chick, I handled him, just like all the other chicks, several times a day. Same when they grew into their awkward pullet stage. Once it became clear he was a boy, I gave him extra affection in hopes of making him kinder toward humans. Apparently, it only worked with regard to this particular human, since I’m the only person he respects at all.
Strange side note, he seems to particularly dislike men. I don’t know if this is because guys feel the urge to prove their mettle by getting close to him (whereas women tend to avoid him) once they hear that he can be aggressive, or if he finds them more threatening or what. But he’s only puffed up his feathers at, chased or jumped at two girls – and one of those was a two year old who is basically his same height. In contrast, he’s run at every single male who has directly approached him, except for my four year old son, who knows to stick close to a grownup when Master Rooster shows up.
The fact remains that he’s had one strike with the kids. Two strikes, and he’s dinner, sorry to say, but I like my kids a lot more than the dumb-as-rocks rooster (seriously, he’s so dumb, he can’t figure out that I’m throwing him treats half the time).
Having a rooster is, obviously, the only way you can have a self-perpetuating flock of chickens. If you want to keep from having to purchase chicks from time to time or don’t want to deal with integrating new chickens with your old chickens and instead have your own chickens raise them, this is the way to go
CON: BOY BABIES …
Of course, once you have chicks, you will end up with about 50% boys. You cannot have more than one rooster in the flock, so this won’t end well. Once it’s clear you have a boy you’ll have to kill it (or let the rooster kill it). Not great if you’ve gotten chickens because you’re an animal lover!
That’s the summary, really. Yes, in my experience the rooster is a huge asset to preserving your flock. But you also have to remember to tell the house painter not to get between the rooster and his ladies.
Anything any of you have done to solve rooster problems?