What Can You Do With Unwanted Roosters?
Are you wondering what to do with unwanted roosters? Even if you only order pullets, you could end up with a rooster in your flock. Sexing baby chicks at a hatchery isn’t 100% accurate so sometimes a little boy chicken ends up in your pullet order! It may take a few weeks to be sure if you have a pullet or a cockerel. When it’s obvious that you’ve got a roo in the flock, what can you do?
Before ordering pullets, check with the hatchery to see if they offer a refund or credit for cockerels that are shipped in an all pullet order. Some hatcheries guarantee their chick sexing and you may be compensated for unwanted roosters.
This post was originally published on The New Homesteader’s Almanac.
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Are You Sure You Don’t Want a Rooster?
Some homesteaders choose to keep a cockerel from their batch of chicks. Here are the most common reasons for letting that cockerel grow up and become a handsome rooster:
- To fertilize eggs for hatching
- As the flock guardian
- For a natural ‘alarm clock’
- They may be very entertaining to watch
- A rooster will alert his hens to food sources
You Might Be Into Your Rooster But The Neighbors Aren’t!
Not everyone will agree that your handsome rooster and his early morning crowing is a charming way to wake up! So make sure you are allowed to keep a rooster and that your neighbors won’t be upset about the crowing.
Be aware that roosters crow whenever they like. This could be in the middle of the night or all day long. They will often start crowing when a loud sound startles them or if another rooster in the area is considered a threat.
I enjoy hearing my rooster crow, but he’s pretty well behaved. He’ll start crowing pretty early in the morning…around 3 or 4 am. But it isn’t too obnoxious when he’s still shut in the chicken coop.
I Keep A Rooster in My Flock for Several Reasons
I like having a rooster around to protect the hens. He sounds the alarm when the fox comes around or a hawk flies overhead. I also like knowing that I can put fertile eggs from my hens into an incubator to hatch my own chicks. In addition, our flock of chickens provides entertainment for us while we sit outside. It’s fun to watch the rooster strut his stuff around the ladies!
When You Really Don’t Want Any Roosters
Not everyone wants to deal with a rooster in the flock. They can be noisy and aggressive. Small children and pets might be the object of rooster attacks. Some roosters spend more time harassing their hens instead of protecting them.
If you have an urban or suburban homestead it is unlikely that roosters are allowed in your area. If you are limited to a few hens and no roo, you won’t be able to keep that handsome guy. So what can you do with unwanted roosters?
There aren’t a lot of options since most chicken keepers want hens. Here are some ideas:
- Rehome your rooster to friends or a farm that wants him
- Offer for sale or free on Craigslist under the farm or free section for your area
- Sell with a hen as a breeding pair
- Look for a new home on a local Facebook farm group
- Post a notice at your local feed store, or ask if they know anyone who wants a rooster
- Check for chicken rescue groups in your area
- Find a local 4H group and ask if one of the members would like a rooster
- Process for meat, or give to someone who will
- Have your veterinarian euthanize the rooster
- Do not drop your rooster off on the side of a country road, it would be kinder to kill it
When You Can’t Bear to Have an Unwanted Rooster Killed
Realistically, if you sell or give a chicken away, you can’t be sure if the new owner will keep it or process it for meat. That goes with the territory of being a homesteader. If you really can’t bear to give your unwanted roosters away to someone who might eat them, look for a farm animal sanctuary or chicken rescue group in your area.
It may not be very comforting to know that when you order pullets, the male chicks are often killed and turned into protein for chicken feed. So that rooster that came with your pullets at least had a little bit longer lifespan.
In my area Craigslist there is a lady who offers to take any unwanted hens or roosters free of charge. Maybe you have someone like that in your area too.
Some Tips for Rehoming Your Rooster
- Roosters that are aggressive should only be rehomed with a warning to the potential owners.
- Purebred and fancy breeds are easier to rehome or sell, especially with a hen of the same breed.
- When posting for sale or free to a good home – include a photo and a ‘lonely rooster looking for love’ ad
- Be sure to include any information that will improve his odds of rehoming – gentle nature, beautiful plumage, or other desirable characteristics
It could take some time to find a new home, so be patient and keep posting the ad!
How Nature Deals with Extra Roosters
Undomesticated chickens don’t usually live to a ripe old age. Predators, disease, and lack of proper nutrition are all cause for shorter lifespans. Roosters fight over their flocks and the loser is often ostracized becoming easy prey.
It’s best not to get too attached to your chickens so that dealing with an unwanted rooster (or old laying hens) isn’t as difficult. Make sure children in the family know from the beginning what will happen to chickens you can’t keep.
How do you deal with unwanted roosters? Do you cull them from the flock or give them away?
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In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.
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