Considering that hatching eggs is part of the reproductive process for chickens, it’s natural to wonder if hens would even lay eggs if there is no rooster around. It’s the whole idea of, ‘if there is no chance of chicks, then why bother.’
But the reality is, hens don’t have to be in heat to lay eggs. Point of fact, when you take into account how often a hen will lay eggs, I doubt they go into ‘heat’ at all. Hen’s do go broody, meaning they’ll sit endlessly on a nest, wanting to hatch some baby chicks, but that’s not the same thing as having the drive to mate.
So when it comes to chickens, hens will lay eggs without a rooster — and she will do it roughly every 24 to 26 hrs regardless whether is a rooster around to ‘get them in the mood’ or not.
Why Do You Need A Rooster?
The most obvious reason for a rooster is for the fertilization of eggs. And if the eggs aren’t fertilized, then clearly you’re not going to have any baby chicks. But even if propagating the flock isn’t a priority for you, there are still reasons why you should have a rooster.
Roosters will care for the flock. The boys will take it upon themselves to safeguard the well-being of the hens…whether the hens appreciate it or not. Quite often, a rooster will be the first to raise the cry of alarm when something doesn’t look right, as well as, being vocal when it comes to something good comes along – such as a food source.
Also, roosters can be helpful at getting everyone back to the coop at night. Having a small child, we don’t generally keep a rooster around. Consequently, there will be nights when dad has to go out and encourage the girls to go to bed.
Roosters will act to keep the peace. If there is a fight amongst the girls, you’d better believe that your rooster will get in on it. And with roosters being so much bigger, the scuffle should end quickly.
For our flock, scuffles don’t happen very often. Our birds are free-range, so there is lots of space to avoid each other. However, when the weather gets really hot, then everyone gets cranky. And if a big hen gets a hold of someone’s comb, then watch out!
Why Do Roosters Attack?
When roosters attack, it’s generally for one of two reasons. They are either attempting to establish their dominance or feel that the hens are at risk and are protecting them. How you choose to deal with this behavior will depend on which reason the rooster is attacking.
If a rooster is attacking a predator, then by all means, join in and protect the flock (depending on the size of the predator, you might loose the rooster if you don’t help). If the rooster is simply running a bothersome farm cat off, then sit back and let the chicken and cat figure things out for themselves. After all, ask any cat and they’ll tell you just how much fun it is to play with chicks.
However, if your rooster is trying to establish dominance with humans, then you have a much bigger issue. Your rooster is your responsibility. And if it is attacking you, then it will definitely attack someone else.
Are Roosters Dangerous?
The short answer to this is they most certainly can be!
Roosters are prone to use their spurs when attacking. The spurs are located on the lower back section of their feet and they use them by jumping up in the air and thrusting their legs out. FYI, these thorny-like appendages are more than capable of puncturing human skin.
Please take this into account if there are small children around!!! While the rooster might hesitate to act aggressive around an adult, they will be less intimidated by someone smaller – like a toddler. And a rooster’s spur would have no problem gouging out an eye.
I think it’s worth saying that roosters are not inherently malicious. While some have earned the reputation of being so, roosters are simply acting on the instincts that they have. However, it is important to keep it in mind that chickens are not people, they are animals. And as such, they will act as their instincts dictate – regardless of what we expect them to do.
Even with years of established gentle behavior, a rooster will act aggressively, should it feel the need to. For this reason, I emphatically recommend that toddlers and roosters never be together! Even if you’re standing right there, a rooster can attack unexpectedly. And for the record, they move very fast. DO NOT put a child at risk!
Will A Rooster Kill Another Rooster?
As a rooster nears adulthood, it’s instincts will become stronger. And a rooster’s instincts are to be the dominate/alpha male. It doesn’t matter if the boys all come from the same batch or even if they were raised together. When a rooster gets to a certain age, they will work to establish themselves at the top of the pecking order.
And it doesn’t matter if there is a female around or not.
Out first batch of eight birds were purchased as a straight run (not sexed) and as luck would have it, they turned out to be all males. At the end of two months, five of the birds were fighting so bad, that I had to put them down. The other three didn’t seem so aggressive so I left them alone. Those three roosters managed to get along for a summer so I was optimistic.
Then one day I went out to feed them and noticed I was short one rooster. After some looking I found it, bloodied and barely breathing. It was at this point I realized that the biggest rooster had started acting aggressive. He might have matured at a different pace, but ultimately, he came to the same place as the previous five – he had to be the one alpha male.
Will A Rooster Kill A Hen?
While it is in a rooster’s instincts to be the dominate bird of the flock, his other instincts are to protect the hens. Generally speaking, a rooster will not intentionally kill a hen. However, it’s worth noting that his need to dominate rates higher than protecting.
Should your rooster find a hen that doesn’t want to be dominated, you will have problems. His endless drive to subjugate, will keep him coming back. And with roosters being larger, there is a very real possibility that he will hurt the hen in his efforts to subdue her.
Signs that a rooster might be acting a little too aggressive with a hen will be feathers missing around the hen’s nape, a hen that is limping (he injured her as he was trying to mount her), or a hen that avoids the rest of the flock.
If you find a hen that has been injured by a rooster, your best option would be to separate them. Just make sure that the hen is secure in a ‘rooster-proof’ place, as he will work tirelessly to get to her.
Will A Rooster Kill Chicks?
As a general rule, chicks should only ever be left around their mama – no one else. If your mother hen is large enough, she might be able to persuade the other members of the flock, be they male or female, to leave the chicks alone. However, if she is not able to do this, then the chicks are at risk from both the rooster and the other hens.
So to recap, a rooster will most certainly kill a chick, but then so could another hen.
When Should I Get A Rooster?
Your flock could live a very long and happy life without a rooster. While the males can be an insurance against predators, personally, I do not like the idea of an animal challenging me or my family for dominance. I realize that the rooster is just acting on the instinct to protect his flock…but then, so am I.
However, there are two occasions where having a rooster is a good thing; for fertilizing eggs and for filling the freezer.
If you want to have your own baby chicks, then you will need a rooster. Even if you’re only studding him out for the day and then isolating him back into his own pen, you still need him to fertilize the eggs.
When it comes to filling the freezer with meat, then roosters are your best choice as they are generally bigger and heavier than their female counterparts.