Early Signs Your Chick Is A Rooster

Early Signs Your Chick Is A Rooster


Main Takeaways:

  • You can try feather sexing as early as 3 days
  • Look for prominent combs at about 4 weeks (breed dependent)
  • Crowing at an early age is a strong sign (rarely alpha hens crow as adults but not as chicks under 16 weeks old)


More reading:

7 Ways To Sex Baby Chicks


How To Stop A Rooster Attack

How To Stop A Rooster Attack

A common question I get from chicken owners is how to stop or retrain a rooster from attacking them or a family member.


Now, I’m not going to lie. This isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world.


When a rooster attacks, it’s called “flogging” (how’s that for a wonderfully descriptive, not-very-much-fun term).


Roosters CAN be retrained (we’ve had to do it a few times) but it takes some time and, dare I say it, gumption on your part. You need to be vigilant and consistent (while also being compassionate – he IS doing his job after all).


Here’s a video where I explain why roosters attack their people and the best way I’ve found to retrain them:


Why is my rooster being such a f@%!er and other nursery rhymes from the farm.

Posted by I Love Backyard Chickens on Monday, January 15, 2018


So, why do roosters attack anyway?

In a nutshell, it boils down to “they’re programmed to do it.”


What does this mean? Well, once upon a time, roosters didn’t have people and coops to protect them. They had their wiles and their limited ability to fly. Meaning, they didn’t have many defenses against hungry carnivores.


So to avoid being dinner for some predator, roosters learned they protected their ladies by attacking whatever invades their territory.


Similarly, they learned that if they wanted to be top dog (and reproduce the most), they needed to ward off potential rivals.


In other words, flogging amounts to a rooster’s version of a bar fight.


Wondering can chickens lay eggs without a rooster? If you keep a rooster and chickens, you'll need to know this backyard chicken for beginners idea!


Your floggin’ rooster is programmed to think of himself as “cock of the walk,” if you will, and you’re competition for top of the flock.


He might get worse if he’s been he only rooster and suddenly there are other, new, faces added to his flock. You might also notice he turns into a jerk when it’s spring and the hens start laying again. In these cases, it might just be a temporary behavior.


And there’s also the possibility that he’s a young rooster just feeling his oats, and when he gets knocked down a peg (figuratively speaking), he’ll realize he’s not at the top of the flock.


Ok, so how to I stop this negative behavior?

I explain it best in the video, but you need to convince Mr. Rooster that you’re the head of the flock. This isn’t a bad thing – animals like to be lead, and by leading them, you’re giving them a sense of security.


With a long stick or broom (one reader says she uses a broom), gently sweep the rooster away as you enter the coop area. You’re entering his domain, but he needs to understand there should be space between you and he, and that you control that space.


Never hit or hurt the rooster – he’s just doing his job. YOUR job is to just make sure he understands he has his space and you have yours.



Don’t be afraid (you are MANY times his size after all), don’t show fear, and definitely never turn your back (he’ll think you’re running away or take a prime opportunity to peck you while you’re not paying attention), which could undo any work you’ve done with him previously).


It’s important to remember that while it’s unnerving having a rooster come at you, he’s not likely to do very much damage (compared to a dog, for example), so even if he makes contact, you won’t be harmed very much.


Understanding this gives you the confidence to help him realize his place.


If your rooster has just started attacking, or he’s young and testing out his place in the flock on you, you can try separating him from the flock for a few hours to see if that helps settle him. He might just need to be put in “the naughty chair” for a time out.


If he’s been attacking for a while or definitely is old enough to know better, then separating him might not be the best solution or work long term.



Can you ALWAYS retrain a rooster?

Honestly, in some cases, it won’t work out. I’m not going to sugar coat it or try to convince you that you should try again and again and again.


I do believe these cases are rare, however, and given enough time, most roosters will come around.


If you don’t have the time, or the rooster is really attacking your family and you feel it’s not a good situation for you or the rooster, you can always rehome the bird. There’s no shame in making that decision, and you have to do what’s best for your unique situation.


We had one rooster on our farm that was just a real pain. He constantly fought with the other roosters, picked fights, and distracted the roosters from eating their food. He was just plain miserable to be around. If this is your situation, then you need to make the best decision for yourself and your flock.


By and large, however, we’ve had roosters who were the attacking kind but with the right training, stopped being such pains in the butt.

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Chicken Wire = Dead Flock?? Confessions from the Coop

Chicken Wire = Dead Flock?? Confessions from the Coop

Someone commented on my latest YouTube video that if you use chicken wire, you’ll definitely lose your backyard chicken flock.


I think it’s funny when people say this or that will DEFINITELY happen – especially if “that thing” runs against the grain of their opinion.


When it comes to chickens and ducks, you should always make the best decision for YOUR flock. That might mean hardware cloth. Or it might mean chicken wire.


It might mean pink powder coated wire.


There ARE some things you should never do with chickens – like feed them apple seeds. They contain trace amounts of cyanide and offer no nutritional value.


But some things have a bit of wiggle room – like chicken wire, what your coop should look like, whether you use wood chips or sand.


These are personal decisions.


If you want to check out the video and read the entire comment and my response, you can right here!


(If you like it, be sure to give a thumbs up or a comment – it tells YouTube people like our videos, which helps other chicken owners find them.)


Latest Hatch

I’ve pulled out about half the eggs from this latest hatch.


They just didn’t develop – but in the flock’s defense, most of the eggs I stuck in were from hens JUST starting to lay – so the eggs might not have been really fertilized.


As of the other day, we have some silver laced polish eggs developing and definitely some duck eggs.


The California Whites have been running with cochin roosters, and I can’t wait to see what chicks hatch!


(California white isn’t really a true breed. I think someone messed up at the hatchery and bred chickens that weren’t meant to be bred, and they decided to make the best of it by creating a designer chicken mutt.

But the hens are nice, quiet chickens, and I like them. So I said why not to hatching a few of their eggs).


In anticipation, I moved some of the ducklings to the main coop, where there’s more room. They have grown SO FAST. They outgrew their pen almost as soon as we had it built.


It’s a good pen, and the new chicks will enjoy it! You can see the completed pen here:



Can Chickens Lay Eggs Without A Rooster?

Can Chickens Lay Eggs Without A Rooster?

A very common question I get about backyard chickens is “Can chickens lay eggs without a rooster?”


Now, if you’ve asked yourself this question (or a similar question about chickens laying eggs), and you are still confused, or if you’ve asked someone else, and they’ve laughed at you mercilessly, don’t worry.


So, can chickens lay eggs without a rooster? And how do chickens lay eggs, anyway? These are very common questions, and it tends to confuse new owners.

Want to know more about eggs? Here’s my article on the anatomy of an egg.


herbs for backyard chickens


Particularly since, it seems, everyone hears wonky backyard chickens advice everywhere you turn once you bring a few hens into your backyard. (By the way, are you confused by abnormal eggs from your chickens? Here’s what you need to know about abnormal eggs).


In fact, I think every old time farmer who lives around our farm has stopped by and told us a few tall tales or two about chickens they raised in their childhood.


We’ve even gotten a few sprinkles of advice that have made me scratch my head and wonder where the hell they picked up that nugget of “knowledge” from (like these Chicken feeding myths…).


One such bit of advice (and you’d think they would know better since they claimed to have raised “over 1,000 chickens in their day”) is that a hen won’t lay eggs unless a rooster is present.


And that’s probably why I have so many folks emailing me asking “can chickens lay eggs without a rooster?”

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So what’s the answer? Can chickens lay eggs without a rooster?


Never fear –  in short, yes, chickens can lay eggs without a rooster being present.


So, if you’ve been putting off getting a backyard flock because your town doesn’t allow cockerels and you think you need one to get eggs, you can breathe a bit easier.


And feel free to make a cute chicken coop (try one of these free chicken coop plans) for those chickens you want.

Wondering can chickens lay eggs without a rooster? If you keep a rooster and chickens, you'll need to know this backyard chicken for beginners idea!


Yes, hens can lay eggs without a rooster, and they’ll might even lay them a bit easier and more regularly. (So feel free to use all your extra eggs in one of these genius ways).


You only need a rooster if you want to HATCH chicken eggs. In that case, the rooster is needed to fertilize the hen’s egg, which is the equivalent to a human woman’s ovum. If you’re wondering “how does a rooster fertilize an egg?” then here’s an article about how chickens mate.

If you have a rooster to fertilize hen eggs, you’ll need to learn how to hatch chicken eggs, too. 


Now if you’re wondering “can male chickens lay eggs,” the answer is an emphatic NO. They don’t have the right…erm….equipment.


herbs for backyard chickens

Why a rooster can make egg laying more difficult

So now that you know that chickens are laying eggs without a rooster, let’s look at why it might even be to your benefit to NOT keep a rooster.


Now, don’t get me wrong. We have more than one rooster on our farm, and they’re fabulous.


Wondering can chickens lay eggs without a rooster? If you keep a rooster and chickens, you'll need to know this backyard chicken for beginners idea!


BUT I’m the first to say that there are times when it’s better to not keep the masculine gender in your flock (or, in the case of husbands, in your home. Just kidding. Not really.)


Roos can be cool guys, but they can also be huge….well, since this is a G rated backyard chickens blog, we’ll just go with “pains in the butt.”


A rooster’s main job is to protect his ladies. And sometimes, he can get a bit too possessive.


herbs for backyard chickens


What do I mean?


Well, you’ve probably read stories on Facebook of a rooster flogging his owner. And it’s not fun.


I’ve even read stories of chicken mamas who have to walk into their yards carrying sticks so they have something to distract the rooster with. Read more here about how to stop rooster attacks.


Now if you want to live your life with a flogging rooster, that’s completely up to you and your personal situation. However, if you just don’t want to live that way, know that it’s completely fine to give that rooster a new home.


No one should ever be abused by a rooster in their own backyard.


So why can a rooster start flogging? It’s usually triggered because the roo doesn’t want ANYONE (anyone meaning YOU or another rooster) messing with his harem.


A second reason they can be difficult to keep around is because they not only get possessive of their hens, but some roos can excessively mate with their hens, to the point that the ladies are suffering bodily damage. Read more about how chickens mate.


Yes. this is a thing, and it can definitely happen. Time for a story.


A few years ago, we decided to produce pasture-raised meat roosters. We figured they would be a better bet than females because they grow larger.


All went well, until the roos were about 6 months. And the hormones started kicking in.


And all hell broke loose.


At the time, our hens were also free ranging, and let’s just say it was a bit like a prison riot in the yard for a quick minute. (Wondering how does a chicken mate?)


In other words, too many roosters per hen leads to a very bad situation. If you’re wondering about the idea hen to rooster ratio, ONE rooster per TEN hens is a good minimum.


Now, we were able to quickly resolve the issue and the ladies came out perfectly fine, but it took another quick minute for their back feathers to regrow.


While this was a situation of too many males per female, any cockerel that has a harem of hens to oversee can feel he has to mate excessively to establish dominance. And that can lead to lost feathers and eventually lower egg production (here are some more reasons why chickens stop laying eggs).


So, in some ways, your hens might produce eggs BETTER than if there was a male present.


Now the next time you see someone ask on Facebook “Can chickens lay eggs without a rooster?” you can point them to this article for the definitive answer!


herbs for backyard chickens

More Backyard Chicken Resources:

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Adding A Rooster To Your Flock: Care & Quirks

Adding A Rooster To Your Flock: Care & Quirks

A good rooster is like gold – seriously.


The purpose of a rooster is, above all, to protect your hens. Their ability to fertilize their eggs is another benefit, albeit a secondary one.


Thinking about adding a rooster to your flock but have some concerns? Here's everything you need to know, from what to feed to dealing with behaviors. From FrugalChicken


In addition to adding beauty to your flock, a good rooster will take care of your hens and provide you with companionship – and they provide hours of entertainment.


Although they tend to have a bad reputation because they can be noisy, you’ll get a lot of satisfaction keeping a good, productive rooster.


Thinking about adding a rooster to your flock but have some concerns? Here's everything you need to know, from what to feed to dealing with behaviors. From FrugalChicken
Here’s the top questions I’m asked about roosters and their answers!

1. Are Roosters Mean?


Most aren’t mean, and in fact, a rooster can make a nice companion. Aside from how pretty they can be, a rooster’s main job is to protect his ladies from predators and sound the alarm when danger strikes.


I’ve heard many stories of chicken owners who keep roosters as pets, and they enjoy a mutual friendship, and the rooster enjoys being a lap pet.


Every so often you will get a mean one, such as one that attacks people or other chickens.


We had one rooster on the farm who would attack any other chicken in sight – we had to keep him isolated, and since he had no real use (we couldn’t breed him or keep him with the other chickens at all, and he wasn’t a pet type rooster), he was removed from the farm.


We had another rooster that was overly rough with the hens when mating, and several ended up with deep wounds on their sides. One even had to be put down.


These two roosters are the exception, however, and every other rooster on the farm is pleasant to be around.


2. Are Roosters Necessary For Eggs?


No, roosters aren’t needed for your hen to produce eggs – she will do that on her own.


If you want to incubate eggs to hatch chicks, however, you will need a rooster.


Thinking about adding a rooster to your flock but have some concerns? Here's everything you need to know, from what to feed to dealing with behaviors. From FrugalChicken


While roosters aren’t necessary for eggs, keeping one around, if your city permits it, is still beneficial. Roosters instinctively protect the flock and, as leaders, search out food and tasty goodies for the girls to eat.


My king rooster will even let the ladies eat first in addition to sounding the alarm whenever a predator appears.


3. How Many Roosters Do You Need


If you want to breed, the rule of thumb is one rooster for every 10 hens.


This is also a good number if your goal is to keep a rooster to protect your hens from predators – there’s only so many hens one rooster can watch.


On a homestead, it makes sense to keep as many roosters as you need unless you’re raising meat chickens because otherwise you will feed livestock that won’t produce anything. 


If you’re keeping chickens for pleasure, there’s no rule of thumb about how many roosters you should keep, except as outlined above.


4. Can I Keep More Than One Rooster?


Of course, as long as they get along. 


When you first introduce a new rooster to the flock, it’s possible the chickens will need to “work it out” while they establish a pecking order.


Sorting out who will be king rooster shouldn’t last too long, however, and in many cases, there isn’t any drama when a new rooster joins the flock. You might have to clean up some messes, but it should end quickly.


If you introduce a rooster that’s overly aggressive, I don’t advise keeping it for the overall health of your flock.


We had one rooster that fought any other chicken – since we had bloody combs for too long, I felt it was inhumane to keep him in the flock and a distraction from my king rooster’s main duties (keeping the hens safe.)


5. What Should I Do If My Rooster Attacks?


Thinking about adding a rooster to your flock but have some concerns? Here's everything you need to know, from what to feed to dealing with behaviors. From FrugalChicken


You have a couple choices if your rooster attacks. It is possible to train it out of them.


If the rooster is just “charging,” (meaning the rush at you but don’t make contact or attack in any other way) I personally don’t worry about it too much.


Your rooster is trying to establish dominance and take care of his flock – he’s doing his job (obnoxiously, but he’s doing it).


If you establish that you’re the boss (I chase them away), after time the charging should dissipate.


When you’re correcting your rooster, don’t turn your back and walk away until he’s a good distance from you. If you do, he will take it as a sign that he’s won, and will try charging again the next time he gets the idea.


We have a rooster that will charge and occasionally “flog” (when they fly up on you without actually doing damage). The rooster is young, and “feeling his oats.”


When it happens, he’s immediately corrected and chased away, and the problem is going away.


While flogging isn’t pleasant, it’s not an immediate grounds for banishment on the farm, especially if the rooster is responding to training and not doing any physical harm.


If your rooster attacks people or other chickens repeatedly, however, and is doing damage, it’s time to consider other options. The overall health of your homestead is most important.


6. Do You Feed Roosters Differently Than Hens?


Yes and no. A rooster can eat the same grain as your laying hens and lead a productive, healthy life.


Thinking about adding a rooster to your flock but have some concerns? Here's everything you need to know, from what to feed to dealing with behaviors. From FrugalChicken


However, if you want to save some money and your roosters don’t always live with your hens, you can transition them to a grower ration.


Because roosters don’t produce eggs, they don’t require a layer feed, which is formulated with a calcium boost for laying hens.


Don’t just feed him corn and scratch however. Neither is formulated to give him the amount of protein he needs to remain healthy. A grower ration will meet his nutritional needs.


You can also feed your rooster an organic homemade feed along side your hens.


If you would like to know more about chicken nutrition, you can download my free ebook Chicken Nutrition: Feeding Your Hen From Chick To Layer.Get Instant Access!


Using these tips, you should be able to successfully integrate a rooster into your flock, and enjoy the benefits for years.



(You can also see this article on the Homestead Blog Hop!)