When raising chickens, the question of “Is a rooster needed?” often gets asked. If you live in a suburban area, you should first check with your city ordinances to make sure having a rooster is allowed. If you live in the country, having a rooster would ultimately be your decision.
The first benefit would be to have fertilized eggs. If you are looking to have fertilized eggs to hatch into chicks, then a rooster is a must! Fertilized eggs are also safe for eating if they are harvested in a timely matter. If the hen has her eggs for too long, the growing process of a chick might start in the egg. Collecting eggs once a day is the safest practice to ensure fertilized eggs are safe to eat.
As a surprise to some people, hens are capable of laying eggs without the presence of a rooster. The eggs laid by the hen would be unfertilized eggs. These eggs are perfect for filling your fridge for eating and selling to your family and friends.
Another benefit of having a rooster in your flock is for protection. Roosters are gentlemen in a strange way, they protect their ladies from prey! If a fox, eagle, or other predator were to approach his ladies, he would alert them and gather in a group. In a group setting, there is more protection from their prey than if they were off foraging by them self.
A flock with a rooster will also help them remain in a group setting. He acts as the master of the flock and keeps everyone in order. In a free-range setting, a rooster will keep your hens in one general area. Without, you will find hens scattered throughout your yard, sometimes wandering into dangerous areas.
A rooster will also intervene when one of the hens gets too ‘clucky’ with another. He acts as the referee to keep peace within his flock. A hen with a stress-free life equals more eggs.
The last factor to consider is a roosters crowing. Your rooster will crow at the drop of a hat! Anything from a car driving by, to mating with a hen, to the break of dawn will cause your rooster to crow. The early dawn crowing typically happens 2 hours before dawn! On the longest day of the year, that would mean crowing at 3:30 AM.
New flock owners can weigh out these pros and cons when making the decision to raise roosters with their flock. While there's nothing wrong with having only a group of lovely ladies, you may find the addition of a rooster to be quite beneficial!