12 Fascinating Facts About Roosters

A Rooster's Comb Does Serve a Useful Purpose

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As the year of the rooster winds down, let’s take a look at 12 fascinating facts about roosters that may just have you considering adding these beauties to your backyard flock.

1. Roosters Lead to Self-Sufficiency

Most backyard flock owners are looking for some level of control over the quality of their food whether it be eggs, meat, or both. A rooster gives you control over the destiny of your flock and ultimately your food. No longer are you dependent on ordering day-old chicks or hatching eggs. If you’ve got an incubator, or even better, a broody hen, then you can expand your flock as it suits your needs. Remember that about half of the eggs you hatch will be roosters, so each hatch can bring some new layers along with meat for the freezer.

2. Rooster Combs, Wattles, and Feathers are Pretty with a Purpose

When we humans look for a mate, there are qualities we tend to look for. It’s different for every person; arms, abs, you name it. But at the root of this, is our base instinct to find a mate that will provide strong offspring. Looks help to guide us and it’s the same with chickens. Hens tend to favor roosters with a large red comb with tall points. Evenly formed wattles and long spurs are also must-haves. Long, shiny, and colorful hackle and saddle feathers are used as a rooster puffs up and displays for a hen. These are all outward signs that a rooster is healthy and will provide healthy offspring. It’s all about genetic destiny for both hens and roosters. Outward appearance provides that glimpse into the future.

3. Roosters are Protectors

If you have a flock that free ranges, a rooster can be the ticket to safety for your hens. Remember genetic destiny. That comes into play here too. A rooster wants to live on through his offspring. You don’t have offspring if you don’t have a group of hens that are safe. A good rooster will take this duty seriously and keep an eye out at all times for trouble. It’s not unusual to observe a rooster busily pecking while tilting an eye up to the sky or scanning the perimeter. If he spots something, a rooster warns the flock with a series of low noises. This tells the rest to stay close to him and remain vigilant. If the danger doesn’t pass, he will quickly sound the alarm by squawking loudly and gathering his flock in a safe area to hold them there until the danger passes. If needed, a rooster will attack a predator to keep it away. This is appropriate aggressive rooster behavior. But sadly, there are stories of roosters being injured and even losing their lives as they’ve defended their flocks.

Rooster Facts

4. You Can Have More Than One Rooster

Yes, roosters can live with other roosters. In fact, some people set up bachelor pad coops devoted entirely to their roosters. It is easier to keep more than one rooster if they are all raised together from a young age or you introduce new roosters while you introduce new hens. Some folks also have success introducing adult roosters. Just remember, roosters will establish a pecking order as they learn how to get along and be prepared because some may never get along.

5. Roosters Have Hardy Sperm

The normal body temperature of a chicken is between 105 degrees and 107 degrees. Roosters do not have a penis. A rooster’s sperm is produced and carried inside his body and stays viable at body temperature. Once a rooster has mated, his sperm can stay viable inside a hen’s body for up to two weeks.

6. Rooster Reproduction is Driven by the Sun

We all know that light influences a hen’s laying cycle, but did you know that it also influences a rooster’s fertility? A rooster’s sperm and testosterone are produced in his testes. These testes shrink and grow seasonally.

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7. Roosters Will Help Find Food for the Flock

Of course, we chicken keepers are ultimately in charge of what our roosters eat. Part of that feeding routine should include free ranging. Roosters can often be seen taking advantage of foraging during this time, but they won’t always be seen eating the food they find. Instead, they will inspect the food and then let the hens know it’s there by tidbitting. This is a behavior where the rooster clucks softly and moves his head up and down while picking up bits of food and dropping them. A rooster’s long wattles are said to be helpful gaining a hen’s attention while he’s tidbitting. The hens will then eat first and the rooster will eat anything that’s left over. This ensures the hens stay healthy to raise a rooster’s offspring.

8. Roosters Will Keep Order Among the Hens

A rooster is fully aware of the pecking order established in his flock and he will help to keep hen squabbling to a minimum. If there is no rooster in a flock, a dominant hen will usually take this role.

9. Roosters Aren’t Always in Charge

Roosters and hens don’t live in exclusive pairs. A rooster will mate with all the hens in a flock. If you have more than one rooster, then a hen may mate with different males. But this is where the hen takes a lead role. If she doesn’t want offspring from a particular rooster, usually the less-dominant rooster, then she can “dump” his sperm.

10. Rooster Spurs Continuously Grow

A rooster’s spurs grow throughout his life. Some roosters are good at keeping their spurs maintained at a reasonable length; others are not. If that’s the case, human intervention may be needed. Spurs that are too long can cause damage when mating with hens. They can also interfere with a rooster’s gait as his spurs hit the opposite legs.

11. Rooster is a Relatively Recent Term

The term rooster refers to an adult male chicken. This term didn’t appear until 1772. Before that, an adult male chicken was called a cock. When that term became considered rude, it generally fell out of favor, however in some countries and in poultry shows today, that term is still used. A young male chicken under a year old is called a cockerel.

12. Roosters Have Zodiac Rock Star Status

It’s only fair to point out that the rooster is the only bird in the Chinese Zodiac Calendar. The Year of the Rooster (2017) will rack up 384 days and actually 13 lunar months.

Bonus 13th Fact! This may seem trivial to chicken keepers, but it’s actually the most asked question people have about chickens. You do not need a rooster to have chicken eggs. Hens will lay eggs regardless of whether a rooster is around or not. A rooster’s job is the fertilization of those eggs.

Do you keep a rooster, or two, in your flock? What are your experiences? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Comments
  • I have been successful with a 1/4 ratio of roosters to hens, with little fighting and full feathered hens (no protective vests needed for my girls). If a fellow misbehaves I simply isolate him for a few days where he can see but not touch other birds and he settles down. I believe if you treat the cocks respectfully they do not become aggressive toward people. My Sumatra roo (described in the Henderson chart as ‘pugnacious’) hops upon my feed bin and eats scratch out of my hand before I scatter treats each morning. My contented hens lay 2-3 dozen eggs each day and, when not sub-zero here in MT, my birds enjoy free range, co-existing with 6 ducks, our cat as well as visiting rabbits and deer. ROOSTERS ROCK !!!!!!!

    Reply
  • I have 2 chickens who reside together. I also have 5 Roos all except 2 live alone due to aggression between them. They were all raised together but have started to fight. They have separate pens and coops but still spar between the bars but at least they aren’t hurting themselves or each other. The 2 that reside together have a dominant one and a sweet one. They are friendly to me but not to strangers. My one roo will put the wing down and jump me but if I start to pet him or pick him up he coos to me go figure. To own Roos though you have to be roo crazy. A roo will be a roo.

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  • Actually, I have 12 roosters in total. 1 is a cockerel with his own pullet, they hatched 3 days apart (11/1 & 11/4/17) in their own coop. My banty/duck pen has 2 roosters (3 yr old Silkie mix and a 8 month old Modern Game mix, each has their own hens they were raised with, boys don’t ever fight. My largest coop has 4 roosters (2 – 11 month old RIR raised together and 2 – 9 month old black Australorps raised together) with 23 hens. The RIR boys were 6 months when I added the other boys to the pen. Then I have a pen with 5 roosters (1 black Australorp (was originally in with the other 4 boys n hens but got injured and had to be separated), 2 Barred Rocks and 2 buff Orpington’s) who rarely squabble. I have 20 pullet chicks coming March 1st or 2nd that will be divided between my 5 boys. I have more squabbles between my hens than my roosters

    Reply
  • Maggie S.

    We now have two roosters. The second was hatched to a hen last summer. The only hatched egg out of 10 she sat on. Now that Roo-purt is mature (7 months) he and our first rooster Raven seem to try to out crow one another. There is constant crowing. Starting to worry about the neighbors even though we are in a very rural area.

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  • Can Chickens [with Roosters] live / get along with Guineas, or do I need to have separate runs living arranges for them?

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  • Hi, I have 23 chickens. I ordered 24 female, day old, vaccinated chicks. I ended up with 7 Roosters and 17 hens. One chick died. One developed Mareks and one had a scissor beak. The scissor beak was because the upper beak grew much faster and more of a hook shaped. I filed the upper beak of Edward Scissor Beak and that seems to have corrected the beak issue. Gregory Peck has Mareks. For four months he was the healthiest most beautiful rooster, then one day he was limping and within a couple of days the other roosters beat the stuffing out of him. He has been hanging out in my kitchen ever since. He has difficulty walking and flying. He almost died and I hand fed him with a syringe for two months. I did not know it was Mareks. I can’t kill him. All the articles I’ve read said that every chicken I have is now a carrier, and I can’t give or sell any chickens, so whether or not Gregory Peck is part of the flock doesn’t matter. I will make a bachelor’s pad for him. He seems too comfortable in my kitchen. The supplement i gave him that actually made a marked difference was Juven. It is made by boost. I only had one packet of that. The other supplements that made a difference were calcium and omega 3 with phospholipids. Both the calcium and the omega 3 with phospholipids are by Nordic Naturals. Gregory Peck is eating on his own now but comes to me twice a day for his yogurt egg and supplements. All of his feathers have grown back and have a beautiful iridescent glow. He hobble and so far his flight is about 4 feet long at approximately 6 inches off the ground.
    I am an amature in the chicken department and trying to do my best for the flock. I lost my job so money is tight as far as vet visits, but flock has a very good diet and part free range. They just reached 7 months and recently started laying eggs. The eggs are small but the shell is very firm. Aside from their regular diet they receive shredded carrots, cooked rice, alfalfa, also calcium and daily vitamin supplements. I checked on the collidal silver, for Gregory Peck, but could not afford it. If it would truly make a difference I would find a way, but I can’t justify the expense based on one article. Has anyone tried it?

    Reply

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