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Do Your Hens Need a Rooster to Lay Eggs? What You Need To Know!

Elizabeth Gray

Raising backyard chickens has been a growing trend for years and has become even more popular during the past few years, as many of us spend more time at home. Collecting your own eggs might sound rewarding but hearing a rooster crow at dawn every morning is less fun. So, do your hens need a rooster to lay eggs or will constant cock-a-doodle-doos be the price you pay for fresh omelets? The good news is hens will lay eggs with or without the presence of a rooster.

However, if you have the space, keeping a rooster with your hens does have some advantages which we’ll discuss in this article. If not, rest assured the eggs will keep coming no matter what!

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Why Hens Don’t Need a Rooster To Lay Eggs

A hen’s ovulation, or egg production, is stimulated not by the presence of a rooster but by the light of the sun. Hens usually begin laying eggs between 18-22 weeks of age when they are receiving 14-16 hours of light per day. Hens release a new egg every 24-26 hours no matter whether they live with a rooster or not.

Without a rooster, the hen lays only unfertilized eggs which won’t develop into chicks. If you want to breed and raise your own chicks, obviously you will need a rooster. Besides this, there are a few other reasons why you might want to consider keeping a rooster that we’ll talk about next.

hen laying egg_thieury_Shutterstock
Image Credit: thieury, Shutterstock

Why You Might Want a Rooster Anyway

If you are keeping chickens within city limits or in a neighborhood, owning a rooster may not be an option. Many cities or homeowner’s associations ban roosters due to noise concerns. If you know you’re on the right side of the law, here are some benefits of adding a rooster to your flock.

Finding Food

If your chicken flock is free-range and primarily forage for their food, a rooster can be a big help. Male birds instinctively search out food and water sources for their female companions in the wild. Roosters also follow this instinct and will direct the hens to good food sources as they all forage together.

Rooster pecking food from the ground
Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabay

Protection

If you keep a free-range flock, the chickens are obviously at risk of falling victim to predators such as hawks or wandering dogs. As they forage, the rooster will always keep one eye out for danger. They will sound the alarm if they spot a predator and attack if necessary to keep their hens safe. Roosters have even been known to give up their own lives protecting their hens.

Keeping The Peace

Without a rooster, your hens are left to figure out their places within the flock. More dominant hens will often squabble over who’s in charge and bully the weaker birds. Social unrest can lead to stress in your flock and possibly decrease your egg production.

Adding a rooster to your flock eliminates any question over who’s in charge as the hens instinctively will defer to him. However, some roosters are overly aggressive and may be bullies, so the temperament of the rooster should be a consideration before you introduce him to your hens.

a flock of chickens
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

Baby Chicks

This is the most obvious reason why you’d want to keep a rooster with your hens. Raising baby chicks might sound adorable but it can get complicated especially if you don’t have the space for a large flock. Adding new young roosters to a flock doesn’t always go well, so you’ll need a plan to deal with the male chicks you hatch.

If you want to keep a rooster but avoid hatching any chicks, you’ll need to make sure to collect eggs daily and keep them refrigerated. Fertilized eggs won’t develop into chicks unless they are kept at high temperatures.

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Conclusion

Becoming a backyard chicken keeper can be a fun, eco-friendly pastime. Not only can you take steps to be more self-sufficient, but chickens can also help you reduce food waste by eating many fruit and vegetable scraps. Keeping a rooster with your flock has both advantages and disadvantages. However, the amount and quality of the eggs your hens produce will be the same whether or not they live with a rooster.


Featured Image Credit: Roblan, Shutterstock

Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray is a lifelong lover of all creatures great and small. She got her first cat at 5 years old and at 14, she started working for her local veterinarian. Elizabeth spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally--she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa with her family, including her two fur kids, Linnard, a husky mix and Algernon, the worldʻs most patient cat. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching all sports but especially soccer, and spending time outdoors with her family.