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What to do with a Rooster you can’t keep

Our first experiences with roosters was a tad on the shocking side. You see, we didn’t know a thing about roosters, except what we’d seen on cartoons as kids.

These cartoons taught us that roosters only crow once per day, in the early morning. They showed us that all roosters are excessively aggressive toward every living thing. They led us to believe that roosters had to be around in order for hens to lay eggs. For better or worse, all of these myths are completely untrue.

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Let’s start with the good news. Hens don’t need a rooster around in order to lay an egg. Hens go through the reproductive cycle of producing an egg almost every day, whether a male is around or not.

The rooster is only necessary if the eggs need to be fertilized to produce chicks. If you’re raising hens in order to eat their eggs, you certainly won’t need fertile eggs.

If you’re raising chickens in the city…

The vast majority of cities don’t allow roosters, but even if your city does allow roosters, I don’t suggest getting one. To do so would put a big rift between you and your neighbors that may not be easy to mend.

You see, that myth that roosters only crow with the rising sun is utterly untrue.

Roosters crow all day long, from sun up to sun down. Imagine how annoying it would be if your neighbor got a dog that barked outside all day long.

Even though you may love dogs, and your neighbors may love chickens, no one wants to hear endless annoying sounds every single day.

During our first year of raising chickens a friend gave us three of her young chickens to raise over the winter. We called them our foster birds.

After several months with our new foster birds, we noticed one of them, named Francesca, was beginning to look a bit on the masculine side. She was growing much larger than her sisters, with big thick legs and an extra large comb.

We were in denial for a long time.

“Hmm, maybe she’s just big boned!

“Perhaps she was bred with an exceptionally large breed!”

Could it be she’s just a little different?”

One day I caught Francesca in the act of mounting her own sister and performing unspeakable acts upon her. I looked on in horror.

A few days later, Francesca started crowing. I was unable to deny the truth any longer. Francesca had turned into Frank.

We were unexpectedly strapped with a rooster and had to very quickly deal with the situation. Just in case this happens to you, we’ll give you some options to deal with it.

What if I end up with a rooster?

There are a lot of reasons you may accidentally end up with a rooster. When you purchase chicks from a hatchery or a farm store, there are two options for chicks. You can buy them straight run or sexed.

Straight run chicks haven’t been separated by gender and you’ll end up with hens and roosters in your flock. Sexed means that employees have separated the chicks by gender and you can choose to purchase females only.

Unfortunately, the sexing system isn’t completely error proof and there is a chance you’ll get a rooster anyway.

Like us, it may take you a long time to realize there’s a rooster in your midst. Most chickens reach sexual maturity at six to eight months old, this is when hens start laying eggs and roosters start crowing.

If, like us, you happen to end up with a rooster, there are a few options to consider.

Return it:

Some farms and farm stores will buy back or take back roosters if you end up with one, especially if they’re the ones who improperly sexed them.

Our local chick supplier will buy back roosters for $7, butcher them, and sell the meat. Some feed stores will do the same, but don’t count on it as your only option if you end up with a rooster.

Sell or trade it:

This is another reason it’s a good idea to join a local chicken community. If you have a bird you don’t want, someone else might, and they’re really easy to find through chicken groups.

Putting up a flier at the local farm store might garner some interest as well.

Another option for selling roosters is to post them to an online sales site such as Craigslist.

We know of many friends who have successfully found a good home for their rooster through Craigslist. One of our family members had to give up his rooster and managed to trade him on Craigslist for a couple of adorable ducklings!

Find a new home:

If you can’t manage to sell or trade the rooster, you may have some luck with giving him away. You may find a nice family that is just dying to add a beautiful rooster to their flock.

Butcher it:

Your last option is to butcher the bird and have yourself a chicken dinner. Some may find this option horrifying, especially if raising the chickens as purely pets. Even so, culling and butchering is a good skill to know, and comes in handy if a bird gets sick or injured and needs to be put down.

You can either do it yourself, or hire it out.

There are many butchers and farmers who will charge a fee to cull birds for you. If you choose to do it yourself, we recommend reading lots of books, watching YouTube videos, and/or calling in an experienced chicken raiser to help you with this process.

There’s nothing like having the help of a calm and qualified person on a job such as this.

No matter which option you choose, saying goodbye to a rooster can be tough, especially if you’ve raised the little guy from a tiny chick.

We’ve found roosters to be especially loving and cuddly. It’s sad that we can’t keep them in the city, but we’re so glad that we can keep a flock of hens!

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