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How Old Are Roosters When They Start to Mate?

rooster and hen

If you’re raising chickens intending to breed them, then knowing when they enter sexual maturity is information you need. Having hens and roosters running around the farmyard with no idea of what to do—or more importantly—when to do it, could leave you missing out on the opportunity to bring baby chicks into the world.

If you’re curious about the answer to the question of how old are roosters when they start to mate, then we have the answer for you. While a rooster and his sperm aren’t required for a hen to lay eggs, for the laying of hatchable eggs, the rooster needs to be involved. Luckily, roosters reach sexual maturity around 4 to 5 months of age. Read on below to learn more about roosters, their mating habits, and their sexual maturity. This information should help you understand these tiny creatures better and make raising them more viable and interesting.new chicken divider

When Are Roosters Sexually Mature?

As we mentioned above, roosters reach sexual maturity when they are around 4 to 5 months old. This is when sperm becomes viable inside their bean-sized testicles. Unlike humans, a rooster’s testicles are kept safely inside the body. The sperm inside these testicles is fresh at the rooster’s normal body temperature, unlike human sperm that must be kept cooler than the body.

Unfortunately for roosters, they do not have a penis. This means penetration isn’t possible when they mate with a hen. Instead, they use their cloaca to deposit the sperm by pressing it against the hen’s cloaca when she is willing. While the fertilization process may not be fun for the hens and roosters, it gets the job done in only a few seconds.

rooster and hen
Image Credit: klimkin, Pixabay

The Art of the Dance

While the fertilization process for hens and roosters isn’t as exciting or enjoyable as the sex we humans enjoy, these birds do get to have a little foreplay before they mate. Like most birds, when a rooster is ready to mate, a courtship dance takes place. These dances are done in hopes of the rooster using his beauty to catch the attention of his potential mate and make her willing to rub cloacas with him.

During the seductive dance of the rooster, they will fan out their wings in a romantic gesture. This is known as wing flicking or wing drag. While displaying how handsome he is and showing off his wing skills, the rooster will also offer his hen a bit of croaking as he approaches her.

Once close to his feathered beauty, the rooster will then circle his lady with his wing held stiffly to his side. As he continues to circle his stiffened wing will quiver and shake in hopes of attracting his lady’s attention. If his quivering wing, croaking serenade, and beauty dance are enough, his hen will welcome his advances instead of running for a place to hide from his display.

The Mating Process

After all the dancing and croaking, if the hen in question likes what she sees, she’ll raise her shoulders, flattening herself out, to announce her readiness for love. This is when the rooster’s true dance takes place. He leaps onto his female’s back, not so graciously balancing with one foot on the sides of her shoulders. This odd perch is called Threading.

Once the threading is done, the rooster gets another step closer to mating by using his beak to grab the hen’s neck and pull her neck back. This is when he lowers himself and slides his tail under his lady friend. The accepting hen then pushes her cloaca against that of her male. When the cloacas meet, without penetration, the sperm is deposited onto the female’s cloaca opening. The hen takes the sperm in so the process of fertilization can begin.  After all the dancing and touching of cloacas both the hen and rooster go on about their business while the sperm does its business.

rooster with open wings
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

The Off-Season

It may sound a bit strange, but roosters take an off-season when it comes to mating. Whether it’s due to the constant dancing and cloaca touching that goes on during the warmer parts of the year, winter is when both hens and roosters take a bit of a rest. Hens stop laying eggs when it’s cold weather and the roosters, respectfully, don’t chase them or show off their beautiful dance during this time.

How Long Does Sexual Maturity Last?

Roosters may not get to enjoy sex as other creatures do, they do have bragging rights when it comes to fertility. A rooster’s fertility lasts for years. During this time, the quantity of their sperm may decrease, but they can still get the job done. The older they get, the quality of the sperm may also change. Luckily, the dancing roosters are good to go for several years before they present with issues.

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In Conclusion

While the age when roosters mate may not be the subject you enjoy discussing over dinner, it’s still important information to know. If you raise hens and roosters, knowing when you should prepare for mating can make your life easier. You can prepare your hens by giving them a comfortable place to roost. You can help prune your rooster’s feathers and have him looking his best before the time to do his mating dance arrives. In the end, you’ll have a yard full of precious chicks thanks to your handsome rooster’s ability to shake it for the girl of his dreams.


Featured Image Credit: Ihor Berkyta, Shutterstock

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