Roosters are full of personality, making them interesting additions to any chicken flock. They’re a great idea if you want fertilized eggs to raise new chicks or simply desire a boisterous new feathery family member.
However, there are a few things to remember when adding a rooster to your flock. Read on to learn all the tips and tricks for how to keep a rooster in with laying hens.
Should You Keep Roosters with Laying Hens?
A rooster in your flock has many benefits, from peace to protection to gene diversity. Let’s examine reasons you should keep one with your laying hens.
Improves Flock Behavior
Roosters are natural leaders; they behave like the family head. You can easily tell by how they break fights, guide, and organize the flock, which helps maintain peace, harmony, and order. The presence of a rooster unifies and makes the flock stick together, reducing the risks of being preyed on.
Roosters ensure your hens lay eggs that are fertile. So, if you want to hatch your own chicks and increase your flock, keeping a rooster with laying hens is your golden opportunity. Typically, a rooster helps you maintain a self-sustaining flock.
Roosters add a layer of interaction, which develops social hierarchy. Their courtship displays and amazing dancing moves bring a sense of belonging to the flocks. Eventually, improved interaction leads to better social behavior, engagement, comfort, and pleasure. Roosters also create a natural environment for the flock.
Protection and Security
It’s incredible how roosters protect the flock, especially when they see predators. They’re always vigilant and aware of their surroundings, and if they sense any danger, they alert the hens. Roosters have defensive skills; they can sound an alarm, ward off predators, and even fight to keep the hens safe.
Keep the Flock Happy
Roosters bring happiness to the flock. Like humans, the hens feel happy being social, safe, and peaceful. A happy hen means more eggs, resulting in lots of chicks. It also makes raising chickens a lot easier.
One good thing about having a rooster is that you can control your chicken’s breed. Having different breeds of roosters contributes to gene diversity. Genetic diversity will improve your flock’s vigor and overall health. It can also boost egg production and disease resistance. The rooster you choose can improve your flock’s aesthetics, giving you a sense of satisfaction.
How to Keep Roosters With Laying Hens
Here are a few steps to help you keep a rooster with laying hens.
Reinforce Your Coop
Roosters are generally more aggressive than hens, especially if they think their flocks are in danger. If your rooster suspects an animal or other intruder is wandering outside the coop, he’ll try to escape to follow it. Before adding a rooster to your flock, take extra care to reinforce your coop. Repair any gaps or holes in the coop and the surrounding fence. Make sure you fill in any holes beneath the fence as well so that your rooster can’t escape underneath.
Give Him a Perch
Just like hens, roosters like to sleep off the ground. Give your bird his own perch by installing a new roost. Roosters are usually larger and heavier than hens, so make sure the new roost is sturdy enough to handle the extra weight. Adding a roost specifically for your rooster will give him a safe place to perch while preventing squabbling with other members of the flock.
Introduce the Flock Carefully
Once your coop is ready, the next step of how to keep a rooster in with laying hens is a successful introduction. One way to help your birds get used to each other is to place your rooster in a wire cage within the coop. This will let your hens meet him without starting any unnecessary squabbles.
Open the cage and let your rooster come out at his own pace. Keep an eye on your birds. You should expect some bickering and pecking, but you want to be able to stop them if someone draws blood. If the initial introduction doesn’t go well, remove your rooster and try again the next day. Once your rooster makes himself at home, he’ll likely take charge of the rest of the flock.
Your hens will naturally cluster around and follow him as they eat, explore, and enjoy their days around the coop together.
Monitor Rooster Behavior
Keep an eye on your rooster’s behavior even after a successful introduction. Some roosters are more aggressive in nature than others. Be on the lookout for any signs of aggression. Address the aggression by showing the rooster calmness and talking to him calmly and lovingly.
What to Consider When Keeping a Rooster With Laying Hens
Before keeping a rooster with laying hens, it’s important to make some considerations.
- Space availability: Ensure you have enough space to hold your hens and roosters. The chicken coop and run should accommodate your entire flock comfortably, giving them a place to move, roost, and nest.
- Rooster-to-hen ratio: It’s important to use the right rooster-to-hen ratio. Too many roosters in one chicken coop can lead to aggression issues. One rooster to 10 hens is a reasonable ratio.
- Rooster aggression management: While a rooster is an excellent addition to your backyard hens, it can also be a source of endless fighting, especially if they encounter other aggressive roosters. Aggression management can go a long way toward maintaining peace among the roosters, mainly during the introduction phase. Ample space, a proper rooster-to-hen ratio, and different feeding and watering stations help minimize aggression.
- Breeding goals: Think of your breeding goals. Do you want to change the current breed? Or do you want to maintain it? It’s crucial to add a rooster to your laying hens, depending on the breeding you want, as this is the only way to control your flock genes, other than buying new chicks or hens. It’s good to note that inbreeding can decrease egg production and the quality of your flock.
The Signs of an Aggressive Rooster
While being aggressive is the natural way roosters protect the flock, their aggressiveness is sometimes directed at other roosters or hens. Being overly aggressive can cause harm to your chickens or damage to your eggs. Here are signs of an aggressive rooster:
- Crows aggressively
- raised hackles and erected neck feathers
- Flap wings aggressively and thumps chest
- Excessive aggression during mating
- Intensive staring
General Tips for Keeping Roosters With Laying Hens
- Introduce roosters and laying hens gradually to reduce the risk of aggression
- Provide enough space to make your birds comfortable. Overcrowding can cause stress, aggression, and sometimes injuries.
- Use multiple resources, such as feeding and watering stations, to prevent competition and overcrowding.
- Closely observe your flock and adapt management strategies where needed.
- Keep them happy and satisfied by providing clean water, food, and environmental enrichment.
- Remember the 10:1 hens to rooster ratio; avoid having several roosters in a smaller coop to prevent bloody fights.
- To avoid excessive aggression, choose docile roosters, especially if you have more than one rooster in the same coop.
- You can separate aggressive roosters from non-aggressive ones if you have both breeds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some questions veterans and new chicken keepers ask us often:
Can a rooster eat eggs?
Yes. A rooster can eat eggs. However, this is not a natural behavior. It may indicate a nutrient deficiency, boredom, or aggressiveness. Giving your birds a nutritious and balanced diet, providing environmental enrichment, and managing aggression can prevent roosters and hens from eating eggs. Collect your eggs promptly and clean broken shells to discourage egg pecking and eating. You can consider debeaking your rooster if these solutions don’t work.
What’s the best ratio of hens to roosters?
The general consensus is that having one rooster for ten hens is great. Studies also show a 1:8 to 1:9 rooster-to-hen ratio is excellent for egg production and reproduction rates.
Is it good to keep a rooster with laying hens?
Yes. Many benefits come with keeping a rooster with laying hens. While a hen can lay eggs without a rooster, the eggs are infertile, meaning your flock cannot hatch chicks. Other reasons for having a rooster in your backyard flock include protection, flock diversity, improved flock behavior, and happy and healthy birds.
Do roosters stress out hens?
It depends. If you have non-aggressive roosters, your laying hens will be much more peaceful and happy, which reduces stress. However, overly aggressive roosters can stress out your flock. Studies show environmental stress can reduce egg production and compromise their health and welfare.
What happens if my rooster becomes too aggressive toward my flock?
If your rooster is too aggressive, it can cause flock disruption, injury to your laying hens, or a safety risk to you and your family (especially the kids). You can separate it from the chickens and address the aggressiveness through behavioral modification. If this fails, you can consider rehoming your rooster to a more experienced person or culling it as a last resort.
Are you ready to keep your own rooster with your hens? Ensure your coop is ready to go with the right chicken wire, chicken feeder troughs, and other essential equipment from Stromberg’s Chickens. For more information, call us at 1 (800) 720-1134 or contact us online today.