Why Roosters Are Valuable Flock Members

Why Roosters Are Valuable Flock Members

Male chickens are so easy to ignore. It is so easy for society to wash their hands of them. Roosters are important, but for some people, they’re far less important than the females of the species. But why is this? Why are roosters or cockerels be abandoned with a shrug and maybe a wave? 

The simple answer is that roosters cannot lay eggs, and unless they are being raised as broilers, they are not ideal for meat, either. When hatcheries set out to produce the next generation of chickens, they often endure an awkward period of equal love for all freshly hatched chicks. The love of all chicks is palpable, as any chicken owner might tell you, but there does come with this a certain degree of anticipation – of anxiety, as long as the chickens are not sex-linked. 

At some point, this batch of fresh-faced little peepers will be sexed. When this happens, the fates of the birds will reveal their cards.

The hens will go into the egg houses or be shipped to eager new owners. One or two of the roos will find their way into the breeding program. But what if there are an abundance of males? Can all of these roosters find their way into that program? Not usually. Because food is expensive, many of these males find their lives shortened. 

This is a tragic truth of roosters. But if you read my last article about roosters, you’ll discover that they’re wonderful additions to any flock. Today, rather than consider the darkness of their lives, let’s look at what roosters are, and why we should value each and every one.

Are They Roosters Or Cockerels?

It’s good to start with a definition. What are male chickens called? In some circles, they are called “roosters”. In others, they have the name “cockerel.” So, which one is correct? Well, technically, both. A cockerel is a young, immature rooster. A “rooster” is a sexually mature male chicken. Easy! 

Why Keep A Rooster At All?

Roosters serve three significant purposes in your flock of chickens. The most obvious one is reproduction. Hens will lay eggs regardless of the presence of a cockerel. But to fertilize them, a rooster must be present. Farms with hens whose only purpose is to produce eggs might not even need a single rooster around. 

The second purpose of the rooster is that of defense. A single male will stand guard and protect the flock. They are constantly on guard against perceived threats to his hens and chicks. Though they might not look like great fighters, a rooster can hold his own against a number of common threats – attacking with sharp beak, blows from his wings, and scratching with talons and spurs.

Roosters are also good at finding food for the flock. Most people who keep chickens understand the value of a well-planned diet, but traditionally, finding especially tasty vittles fell to the rooster. Once he found something yummy, he would share it with the rest of the crew. 

A fourth reason supersedes the more traditional reasons for chickens in a family – as food, breeding, or eggs – and is far more in line with a modern reason for chickens: vanity. A good rooster just looks good! Many chicken breeds are quite docile, and that coupled with a cheery attitude and generations of good genes, and these males are practically built for showing. This purpose has little to do with the rest of the flock, and everything to do with the individual owner’s motivation for having these birds in their lives. 

Exploring Roosters: How Does Society See Roosters?

They Crow A LOT

This is perhaps one of the most enduring images of a barnyard. You have a rooster on a fencepost, just quietly awaiting the first rays of dawn. The faintest grey coloring slips over the horizon, and the rooster is there, ready, willing and able to greet the sun. Their distinctive call blasts out over the farm. Their crow is the original alarm clock, as it heralds the start of the day. When considering the legacy of a rooster, it is almost impossible to divorce oneself from this cry. It is both an endearing feature of the animal and a damning one. I mean, does anyone really enjoy waking up in the morning?

They’re Cocky

We all know that person. They have a smirk that can kill, and love telling tales of their exceptional lives. These are the ones that have never gone bowling and with their first throw, hit a strike. They have a saunter, a swagger, a sashay; all of these almost demand that attention gravitates towards them, because, after all, they should have their own gravity fields. To themselves, they are stars! Sure, sometimes these attitudes are very much not deserved, but other times, they sure are. These people are cocky. 

As you might have guessed, the adjective “cocky” comes from “cockerel.” Originally, back in Shakespeare’s time, this was a longer “cocksure” – sure of themselves just like a rooster! It’s a good term, one that makes an excellent metaphor for someone. A rooster tends to stand tall and proud, his tail feathers up, his head even higher, perpetually on guard against any threat to the safety and stability of his flock. A truly cocky person takes on the same mannerisms. But rather than protect a flock, a cocky human stands taller and prouder than everyone around them. LOL!

They Fight

Very often, a group of roosters can live together in peace and harmony. There are exceptions, and when a number of roos enter a barnyard, they might become extremely aggressive with one another. These bouts of aggression help the males to figure out dominance. Like with any social grouping, leaders need to be established. This is called establishing a pecking order.

However, when roosters are raised together, they probably won’t fight, because they will have sorted out the pecking order long before they’re mature. The usual rule is keeping 1 rooster per 10 hens, but if you have a docile roo, you can usually keep him with another rooster. Just keep an eye on your hens to make sure they’re not getting hurt.

Roosters are amazing animals. A good one can add so much joy to our lives, and can be trusted to look after the hens in our (short-term) absences. I can’t even begin to describe the value that my own roosters have brought me and my family over the years.

Are My Chicks Hens Or Roosters?

Are My Chicks Hens Or Roosters?

More reading:

7 Tricks To Sex Baby Chicks

How To Sex Ducklings By Quacks

Easter Egger Chickens: Egg Color, Personalities, And More!

Easter Egger Chickens: Egg Color, Personalities, And More!

There’s something about Easter Egger chickens that brings a smile to their owners’ faces. Maybe it’s the surprise of their colored eggs, or their funny personalities. Each one is so different!


If you’re interested to know more about Easter Egger chickens, then you’re in the right place.


Easily confused with Ameraucana and Araucana chicken breeds, these feathered beauties aren’t a breed, but rather types of chickens – designer “mutts” that grow into beautiful layers that give us extra large eggs in colors from blue to green and even pink!


With their black outlined eyes and gentle temperaments, they make an interesting and beneficial addition to any flock.


The Easter Egger chicken temperament is exceptionally friendly and hardy – they love getting treats, and are easily trained to sit in your lap. Since they’re smaller and the roosters are calm, this chicken breed is a great choice for any family flock.


Let’s go through everything you need to know about the Easter Egger chickens and what you can expect from this bird.


Breed History, Personality, And More


What Breed Of Chicken Is An Easter Egger?

Easter Egger aren’t a breed per se. It’s a variety of chicken that carries the blue egg laying gene, and the modern version is descended from the ancient Araucana breed that first evolved in Chile to lay blue eggs. They’re usually a cross between blue egg layers like Ameraucanas (though sometimes Araucanas or Cream Legbars) and any other chicken breed. It’s very easy to be confused; many sellers mistakenly label Easter Egger chickens as Ameraucanas or Araucanas (or vice versa). They’re called Easter Eggers because their “butt nuggets” resemble the eggs many people hunt for during the annual spring festival.


The pigment oocyanin that covers the shell gives blue eggs their characteristic color. Research has revealed that this unique color is actually a genetic anomaly.


Because they’re not an actual breed (meaning there’s no standardization of the breed), two Easter Eggers can look completely different.


Even more, an Easter Egger crossed with dark brown egg layers (like Marans or Welsummers)  might result in an Olive Egger chicken OR it might result in a second generation (F2) Easter Egger!


In our own coop, we have two green egg layers who are Easter Egger/Marans crosses!


Easter Egger bantams are also popular – they’re the result of crossing a blue egg layer (full size or bantam) with a bantam chicken. While Easter Eggers themselves are pretty small (about 4-5 pounds), the bantam sizes are even smaller!


Easter Egger vs. Ameraucana

While both chickens are wonderful, they are definitely two different varieties. Ameraucanas generally always lay blue eggs, while Easter Eggers can lay blue, green, emerald, or even pink eggs. You can discover more about Ameraucanas here. Just remember that Easter Eggers do not conform to a breed standard as defined by the American Poultry Association (APA) or American Bantam Association (ABA), so the cute chicks you get at the farm store can grow up looking completely different from each other!


What Do Easter Egger Chickens Look Like?

Because Easter Eggers are a combination of a blue egg layer and any other breed of chicken, one chicken can look completely different than another – there’s no breed standard. You might find that each fluffy butt as a different comb style. We have Easter Eggers with pea combs and others with a regular style single comb. We also have some with a combination of the two (not quite a pea comb, and not quite a single comb)!


Some Easter Eggers have ear tufts and beards, while some don’t. Some have tails, and others don’t (Araucanas – which are blue egg layers – are rumpless, so they don’t grow tails). Really, anything goes!


Our Easter Eggers each have different color legs (some have dark colored shanks and others have light colored – one even has blue). In fact the only consistent thing is their toes! Easter Eggers generally only have 4 toes.


Their feathers are any combination of colors from grey to gold. Your Easter Eggers might have lovely black “eyeliner” around their eyes (our Easter Egger Cleo did – and she laid pink eggs!), or they might have grey feathers that show off their clear, bright eyes.


One Easter Egger rooster can look quite different from another. We’ve had some that are pure black, and some that are grey and copper with ear tufts and beards.


Like I said, there’s really no consistency!

easter egger chicken baby

Caring For Your Easter Eggers

To make sure your Easter Eggers have a great life, you should feed them a high-quality chick starter (if they’re babies) or a good layer diet, if they’re grown. An ideal layer feed has at least 16% protein. You’ll also want to offer oyster shells so your chickens lay great eggs.


Adding herbs such as calendula will improve the color of their yolks. For treats, hens love black soldier fly larvae and mealworms.


Be sure to house your hens in a well-built coop (you can learn how to build a chicken coop here and what to include in your coop here). Any type of coop is fine, as long as it has at least 10 square feet of space per chicken.


You’ll have to decide whether you want to free range your hens or not – you can read about advantages and disadvantages of free ranging here.


Egg Colors, Laying, And Amount Per Year

What Color Eggs Do Easter Egger Chickens Lay?

Easter Egger egg colors range from light blue, seafoam green, dark green, and pink. Each chicken only lays one color egg though! (So, if your hen lays green eggs, she’ll always lay green eggs). Some owners suggest their hens lay purple eggs, but in most cases, this is likely the bloom tinging the brown egg a different color. Our hens sometimes lay “purple” eggs, but if you wash off the bloom, they’re really just regular brown eggs!

blue easter egger eggs

Are Easter Eggers Good Layers?

Yes! They’re excellent layers who will give you lovely, large eggs. The color of the eggs will depend on the genetics of the individual chicken. They don’t tend to go broody, so you should get a consistent supply of eggs year round.


When Do Easter Egger Chickens Start Laying?

Easter Eggers start laying when they’re about 6 – 7 months, although some can take up to a year. This will depend on a few things, mainly their diet (they should get a 16% layer feed once they start producing eggs), the season (they’re less likely to lay eggs in winter), and their environment (a stressful home can make them stop laying eggs). You can learn about how to troubleshoot egg laying problems here.


How Many Eggs Do Easter Egger Chickens Lay Per Year?

While the amount of eggs laid per year will depend on the individual chicken, her diet, and her environment, you can easily expect about 250 eggs per year from your Easter Egger hen! To keep her laying consistently, offer layer feed with at least 16% protein. We cover the best feeders for backyard chickens in this article. An oyster shell supplement will ensure she lays eggs with strong, healthy shells.


Do The Hens “Go Broody”?

Easter Egger hens don’t tend to go “broody” and want to hatch chicks. Of course, this depends on the individual chicken – some hens hear the call of motherhood more than others. There’s not much you can do to alter this – either they want to hatch eggs or they don’t! If you want to have baby chicks but your hens don’t want to sit on eggs, you can incubate them yourself. We cover the best incubators in this article.


How Long Do Easter Egger Chickens Live?

Most chickens live anywhere from 5-8 years, as long as they’re given a good diet, lots of fresh water, a warm home, and veterinary care as needed. Some of my readers even report they have chickens that are 13 years old! You can read about the oldest chicken in the world here.


Do Easter Eggers Have Feathered Feet?

Not usually, but it’s not unheard of, especially if the parents have feathered feet. They are adorable! Usually, a bantam ameraucana would be crossed with any bird with feathered legs like Silkies, Brahmas, Marans, or Cochins.


Where Can You Buy Easter Eggers?

We’ve purchased our hens and roosters from a variety of places:


  • Cackle Hatchery
  • Meyer Hatchery
  • Tractor Supply


You can also search for a hatchery or breeder near you. Many smaller farm stores carry Easter Egger starting in April and ending in June. Usually, a single chick costs under $5, although this will vary from breeder to breeder. Either way, it’s not a high price for a new best friend!


At smaller farm stores, you can usually get a good deal, especially if the chicks are a week or two old. You also might find breeds that are unusual.


At places like Tractor Supply, you’ll have to buy 6 or more chicks at once. So, it’s best to call ahead to make sure they’ll have chicks, that the breeds you want will be available, and whether there’s any purchase minimums.


Most hatcheries also have minimums. This is for the safety of the chicks. For the first few weeks of their lives, chicks need an external heat source. If a hatchery only shipped one or two chicks in the mail, they likely would be far too cold, and arrive dead.


We’ve had good luck purchasing our Easter Egger chicks from Cackle Hatchery, and we continue to give them our business each year.


Do you own Easter Egger chickens? Leave a comment below!

How to Catch a Rooster with Your Hands

How to Catch a Rooster with Your Hands

Do you need to know how to catch a rooster with your hands but afraid you’ll get hurt?


Read along to discover how I catch the most aggressive rooster in my backyard chicken flock – without getting a scratch on me!

While it’s completely natural for roosters to protect their territory, it’s also a real drag when one tries to beat you up on a daily basis.


As time goes on, you’ll probably need to give your rooster medical treatment – buuuuuutttt…..you might also be taking your life in your hands.


In this article, I’m going to show you how to catch a rooster with your hands….and without getting hurt.



Why do roosters attack?

Chickens don’t have many natural ways to protect themselves. In fact, running away from predators and flogging with their spurs are really all the things chickens can do.


From a survival standpoint, it’s important that chickens exercise any natural defenses they have.


So, from that perspective, it’s easy to understand why roosters attack.


Even though we keep chickens as pets, it’s hard to remove millions of years of survival habits, and in some cases, we don’t WANT our fluffy butts to be defenseless.


On our farm, there’s been many, many instances where predators have tried to take down our backyard chicken flock – and the rooster has saved the day.


In domestic breeds, it’s uncommon for roosters to want to attack humans, although it can definitely happen.


On our farm, we’ve only had 3 roosters (out of hundreds) who really came after humans.


One stopped eventually (and he’s now a sweetheart) but the other 2 just never got over it.


Particularly once they reach maturity (around 7 months old), you might notice your rooster becoming more and more aggressive.


(You can read this article to find out how to train a rooster to stop attacking you)


Now, just for clarification, you should never have to deal with a rooster that hurts people if it’s making life difficult, and it’s okay to find another home for him.


However, if you choose to keep him, you’ll probably need to catch your rooster at some point.


How do roosters attack?

Without getting too deep into this conversation, when roosters attack, they might:

  • Fly up at you
  • Dig their spurs into you
  • Bite you with their beak
  • Hit you with their wings
  • Divebomb you from above (I’ve had this happen, and it’s actually pretty painful)
  • Charge at you or chase you with their feathers ruffled

How to catch a rooster with your hands (without getting hurt)

Do it at night

If you have to catch a rooster, the easiest time possible to nab him is during night time or just after sunset.


Chickens like to roost after sundown. They can’t see the world as well, making them a prime target for nocturnal predators.


So, they evolved to stay still and quiet when it’s dark. Because of this, your rooster is much less likely to run away at night.


They are bedded down and quite sedated – and that makes easy for you.


Be confident

The worst thing you can ever do when dealing with an aggressive rooster is show that you’re scared. He’s already scared of you, and he will take your fear as a reason to attack.


Further, you should also never turn your back to an aggressive rooster – they’ll know you’re scared and take the opportunity to chase you.


If you’re not confident, you also might tip them off that you’re trying to catch them – and once your cover is blown, you might have a harder time nabbing him.  


Which leads us to my next tip – covering yourself so even if you get attacked, it doesn’t hurt.


Gloves are critical

Even though your rooster will be quieter at night, you should still wear gloves or other protection depending on how aggressive he is.


We’ve had some that are very, very aggressive – and gloves give us confidence that if he does attack, we’re less likely to get spurred.


When I wear gloves, I use leather work gloves, which are hard to penetrate.


I’ve used gloves and I’ve used socks – both work. Socks are good because you can layer them, which gives you even more padding.



How to nab him

Make sure you first know what you’ll do with him once you have him.


In our case, we usually need to grab them for medical treatment or to remove an errant string around their feet, so we’ll put him into a large dog crate.


If you’ll also put him into a crate or carrier, have it handy so you can immediately transfer him.


The less time you’re holding him, the more successful you’ll be.


Once you’re confident and invulnerable to getting hurt, grab him (without crushing him) around his middle and over his wings so he can’t flap them hurt you.


Hold him about as tight as you would a child who is trying to run away, and make sure you have the crate ready to pop him straight into.

He’ll probably be mad and cluck at you in self-righteous indignation, but at least both of you are safe!


If he flaps his wings while you’re holding him, don’t worry – just hold him snugly and at arms length away from your face until he’s calm.


If necessary (if he’s going completely berserk for example), you can hold him upside down. This is a last resort, but it works because the blood goes to their heads.


However, as soon as he’s calm, transfer him to the dog crate so he can be upright again.


And that’s it! Catching a rooster is pretty easy as long as you’re confident that you won’t be hurt.


Do you have any tips for how to catch a rooster with your hands? Leave a comment below!

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Fall In Love With Feeding Pumpkins To Your Chickens + Fall Coop Spray Recipe! [Podcast]

Fall In Love With Feeding Pumpkins To Your Chickens + Fall Coop Spray Recipe! [Podcast]

T’is the season for pumpkins…but do you know why they’re so healthy for chickens?


Do you know how to safely feed them? How about how to get them for next to nothing?


Well, get ready and get on the edge of your seat, because you’re about to discover just how beneficial pumpkin can be to your coop AND your wallet this season.


In this podcast, you’ll learn:

  • Why pumpkins are a great addition to your flock’s diet (but why they shouldn’t REPLACE their diet)
  • How to safely feed pumpkin so your flock gets the most benefit
  • Where to find pumpkins for free and how to ask for them
  • My recipe for a fall spray to help keep your coop clean and smelling fresh


Links we discuss:

These are the essential oils I use


Wondering if you can feed pumpkins to your backyard chickens? You can, and here's why you should!