Raising Roosters and Hens

Roosters protect their flock from predators and end fights between hens before serious injury occurs, making them a valuable asset.

  • When a flock is without a rooster, the lead hen will become the protector of the flock
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • The rooster's comb reflects a rooster's health and offers hens an indication of strong or weak genetics.
    Photo by © 2017 Chris Cone
  • “Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics” by Pam Freeman offers a comparison of backyard flock power dynamics and behavior with and without roosters.
    Cover courtesy Voyageur Press

Learn all about raising backyard chickens from small beginnings with chicks and eggs to identifying problems within backyard flocks and how to fix them in Pam Freeman’s Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics (Voyageur Press, 2017).  Freeman’s practical advice makes chicken keeping easier with these guidelines. The following excerpt is from Chapter 3, “Life with a Rooster."

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics.

Flock Dynamics with a Rooster

If you’ve never had a rooster in your flock, you’ll find the dynamics change when a rooster is added. Hens that looked up to you and squatted as you walked in the yard will no longer pay as much attention to you. They now have a rooster instead of a human leader. But it’s not all bad.

People make roosters out to be horrible, yet there are actually pros and cons. Let’s take a look at both.


Protection: When your flock is without a rooster, usually there’s a lead hen that will take over guard duty. However, there’s nothing like a good rooster. You’ll find that a rooster who takes protection seriously will always have an eye or ear on alert for predators. If something is near that a rooster doesn’t like, he will gather his hens in a safe, protected spot. If some of his hens have wandered and he’s not close to them, he will sound an alarm by calling loudly. Once you’ve heard this call, you’ll recognize it every time. If all else fails, he will fight even to the death to protect his hens.

Tip: If you have more than one rooster, make sure the steadfast protector is allowed to lead the flock. Sometimes this means separating roosters, but in the end it’s better for your flock to have good protection. Just don’t always assume  the biggest, prettiest rooster is going  to be your best protector. That’s not always the case.

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