Should I Keep A Rooster?

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Yes.

Yes you should.

End of story. 😉

Actually, there are a lot of factors you need to consider before you decide “yea” or “nay” on a rooster — and believe me, keeping a rooster definitely isn’t right for everyone!

Here are a few things to be mindful of when you’re making the decision:

Crowing

Probably the first and foremost issue with roosters is the crowing!

People seem to have this vivid mental image of a proud old rooster, climbing his way to the top of the barn and then cock-a-doodle-doo-ing his little heart out, just as the sun peeks over the horizon (waking everyone up in the process). Every. Single. Morning.

Now, if you’re worried about this mental image becoming a reality — if you’re the type of person who hates waking up before your alarm — let me assure you: in real life, roosters are actually much, much worse! 😉

Contrary to popular belief, roosters don’t just crow at sunrise. Our rooster crows whenever the heck he feels like it! Sure, he crows in the morning (usually starting around 4:30am), but he also crows in the afternoon and evening. Shoot, I’ve even heard him crowing between 1am and 2am!

He crows when it’s too quiet. He crows when it’s too noisy. Sometimes he even gets into crowing matches with the wild pheasants up on the hillside — just to show ’em who’s boss!

He crows so much that we decided to name him Quiquiriquí (which is the Spanish equivalent of Cock-a-doodle-doo), but we usually just call him “Ricky” for short.

Personally though, I love it!

I love hearing him crow! It is such a peaceful, “homey” sound to me…

And the fact that I haven’t had to set an alarm for nearly a year — well, that’s just a nice little bonus! (I HATE that stupid buzzing sound my alarm clock makes…)

Fighting

Another problem people often run into with roosters is their aggressive demeanor.

Roosters love their ladies, and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep ’em safe.

I’ll never forget the story Sister Davis told me about her old rooster.

I met Sister Davis when I was serving as a missionary down in Southeast Texas, and she really was the sweetest little old lady — a real Southern Belle.

We had been helping her clear a big ol’ patch of weeds off her property, and during a quick lunch break, she started telling us all about how her rooster had actually killed a rogue possum that was trying to break into the chicken coop!

Sure, the poor rooster had taken a bit of a beating, but he definitely came out on top!

If you’re planning on free-ranging your chickens, it’s nice to know that a chivalrous old rooster will always be there to keep a watchful eye on the flock.

The only problem is, roosters aren’t always the best at distinguishing friend from foe… Hawks, possums, raccoons, cats, dogs, children — you name it. They’re all a fair target if the rooster senses a threat to his ladies. Heck, he might even go after his primary caretaker!

As a matter of fact, Lindsey’s parents once had a rooster (a mean old Rhode Island Red) that was so aggressive that they had to barricade the door to the chicken coop every time they went to collect eggs — just to keep from getting attacked. One day, as luck would have it, he made it past the barricade and actually drew blood with his spurs!

He ended up in the stew pot shortly after that…

But not all roosters are mean — not by a long shot! Some breeds are definitely more prone to aggression than others (I’m looking at you, Rhode Island Reds!), and even if you do end up with a mean rooster, there are some things you can do to help it.

I’ve heard of some people who will simply pick up their rooster and carry him around for 5 to 10 minutes a day, just to remind the rooster that they are in charge. After 2 or 3 days of doing that, the lesson finally sinks in, and the rooster just leaves them alone after that.

Other people seem to have pretty good luck with just a broom or a rake. A good thump or two is sometimes all it takes.

I can’t speak for any of these methods personally — we’ve never had to deal with an aggressive rooster. But if we do run into that problem sometime in the future, I’ll let you know what works and what doesn’t.

At the very least, I’ll post a good recipe for cooked chicken! 😉

Loving

Although we’ve never had a mean rooster, we have run into a problem with him being a bit too… ummm… amorous?

Like I mentioned before, roosters love their ladies — and although that’s great if you want fertilized eggs for hatching, sometimes the rooster loves his ladies a little too much.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that chicken lovin’ can be kinda rough on the hens. Part of the process involves the rooster digging his talons into the hen’s back (to keep his balance, of course), and he’ll also use his beak to grab her by the back of the head.

Now, if that isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is!

As you might expect, this often results in some missing feathers — and sometimes it’ll even draw blood. Therefore, most people suggest keeping at least 10 or 12 hens per rooster, just to keep any one hen from getting too much attention from the rooster. You want to try and spread the love around, I guess.

If you’re like us, however, 10 or 12 hens would be way too many. First of all, they’d eat us out of house and home! But at the same time, they’d also swamp us with eggs! There is no possible way we could eat that many eggs.

We only have 5 hens, which is perfect for our little family — but it’s less than half the number suggested for an active rooster… And our poor girls are getting a little beat up.

In an ideal world, we’d just let our chickens free-range a bit, because that would give them a chance to run away from their little “Pepé Le Pew.” But there are just too many predators roaming around here — too many “Wile E. Coyotes.

So unfortunately, our ladies will just have to wait until we can get the east side of our property fenced.

In the meantime, I’ve made them some little saddles to provide at least a little protection from their loving, slightly over-zealous defender (I’ll tell you more about the “saddles” in a future blog post).

Conclusion

So there you have it — the good, the bad, and the ugly of keeping a rooster.

It all really depends on how you look at it; a rooster can be an annoying old windbag OR a fantastic alarm clock; he can be mean and aggressive and a downright terror wandering around the yard OR a fearless guardian to the flock; he could be a bully to your hens (especially if you don’t have enough of them to “share the load”) OR you can appreciate the fertilized eggs (because let’s face it, raising chicks is the best!) and do your best to keep the ladies protected.

We think keeping a rooster is pretty great.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Should I Keep A Rooster?

  1. When Seth was little, they had a really mean rooster. Randy had to make wooden swords for Seth and James to even be able to go into the chicken coop.

    Like

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