Episode 18 – In this episode, we discuss whether you should include a rooster in your backyard flock.
The Colonel Has Finally Delivered!
If you have been listening to the show, you know that have been trying to hatch eggs from the Colonel, our Light Sussex rooster and his four ladies. We have set batch after batch of eggs with not one chick hatching. We finally determined their was something wrong with the Colonel and decided it was time for him to leave the ranch.
Three weeks ago, I set forty eggs in the incubator from various mating trios, and debated whether to waste space with six Light Sussex eggs I had gathered. I decided to include them.
This morning, we awoke to find four of the six Light Sussex eggs had hatched!
No More Pox!
Another piece of good news is that Lieutenant Tso, Sprinkles and M&M, one of our Golden Laced Wyandotte trios are done with the fowl pox. It took about one week to clear up on its own.
The Colonel and his ladies had the pox the week before and took about two weeks to clear up. None of the other birds on our little ranch show any symptoms, so it looks like we may be done for this year!
Should Your Backyard Flock Include a Rooster?
Today we are discussing the benefits and drawbacks of keeping a rooster in your backyard flock. When we acquired our first flock, we decided we wanted six laying hens and no roosters. The breeder we purchased the chicks from assured us that he was very good at feather sexing the birds and said we would likely have mostly hens.
Long story short, he wasn’t very good at feather sexing and we ended up with four roosters! By flipping a coin we could have accomplished three hens and three roosters! So right from the start, roosters have been part of our flock.
Personality & Style
Chickens in general have a lot of personality. Roosters have it in spades. They add something to the already odd dynamic of a flock that amps up the entertainment value of having chickens.
In the chicken world, roosters are the more flamboyant and dressed to impress. They have a style and attitude that would be missed if they weren’t there.
Roosters as Protectors
Roosters are the head of the flock, and they take that role very seriously. While the hens are pecking around for food, the rooster is always looking out for danger. When he sees it, he will alert the flock and rush them to safety before addressing the threat.
If you free range your hens, having a rooster to keep a lookout isn’t a bad idea. That being said, a rooster is no match for a raccoon, fox, or coyote. Just because you have a rooster doesn’t mean you can be lax on other predator prevention measures.
Hatching Baby Chicks
You do not need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs. You do need a rooster if you want them to lay fertilized eggs that you can incubate to hatch baby chicks.
Roosters are Meatier
If you are raising birds for meat, roosters will grow bigger and will be meatier than hens will.
The biggest down side to having a rooster is the crowing. Roosters will crow… often. And at hours that will not make you happy.
Some people actually like the sound of roosters calling out to the world. It makes a place feel more ‘country.’ If your neighbors don’t feel that way, you may be in for some bad times. Life is easier when your neighbors don’t hate you.
Crowing is the reason that roosters are not allowed on many residential-zoned properties, even if they allow hens. If your zoning laws do not allow you to have roosters, please don’t. You cannot hide a rooster. They spend all day trying to tell teh world where they are.
Another downside of roosters ties in to their protective nature. Most roosters, if not handled a lot as they grow, will turn out mean. Some will even if they are handled.
An aggressive rooster can be a safety hazard, especially if you have small children. If your rooster shows signs of aggression that you can’t control, get rid of him and try another one.
Should you have a rooster in your flock? It depends. You need to evaluate for yourself and decide if a rooster will fit into your life.
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