Should I keep a rooster? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We just "rescued" some leftover chickens from a broiler farm. Still can't tell for sure, but I think I have at least one rooster. We are planning to keep the chickens for eggs, so is there any difference in taste or storage (or anything else) between fertile and infertile eggs? Would the rooster create any problems or offer any benefits to my flock? For the moment, I'm feeding my chickens scraps and scratch. Is there any particular scraps I should avoid? They seem to like anything! They practically attack me when I show up with a bowl in my hand! Thanks for the input... Diane in TX

-- Diane W. (, February 19, 2001


Hello from NM, Diane. Your chickens will lay eggs whether the rooster is there or not. Fertilized eggs will sometimes have a little blood spot in them. If you sell eggs to neighbors, some may prefer one or the other, but they taste the same and are much richer than the ones you get in the store. As for creating any problems in your flock, no. For you? Well, roosters can be aggrevating and are a good personal stress-release for me to drop-kick across the pasture every once in a while! Once they start feeling their cheerios in the spring, they'll probably try and spur you when you come into the pen. It doesn't hurt, but wear long pants if this is a common occurrence. I used to have Arauchana roosters; they are BIG and hefty and can cause some skin breakage. Found homes for them and now have a Bantam rooster... he's fairly easy to buffalo.

I buy day-old bread and give mine (small flock of 17) about 4 slices, broken up, whenever I go in to feed. I toss it in the pen and they RUN over to it. It also keeps them away from the door and I don't have any great escapes. I feed scratch and free choice laying crumbles and all the grocery store throw-aways I can get: lettuce, toms, cantaloupe, tofu, beans.. yes, chickens will eat CHICKEN. They do need protein. Plenty of useful threads under the Chicken heading here on this website. Good luck & happy eating! Enjoy your birds, they are a great source of entertainment. dh in nm

-- debra in nm (, February 19, 2001.

Diane, if those rescued birds are indeed broilers, as in Cornish crosses, I think you'll be disappointed in the egg production. They are meat birds, and although they will lay eggs, they will get huge and feed conversion will be dreadful. Try to find out the breed and let us know. GL!

-- Brad (, February 19, 2001.

I agree with Brad, that if they are broilers you won't be real happy with them as a laying flock. We raised a Cornish cross type of broiler here in NW Minn. last summer and they are Wonderful to eat, though! They have voracious apetites and if you give them all they will eat, they may have leg problems(can't support weight). We had one die of heat stroke and it wasn't even close to hot; just was so fat from growing so fast. As far as keeping a rooster in general with layers, though. I have read that fertilized eggs have less bad cholesterol than unfertilized. Anybody else heard that? Cynthia

-- Cynthia Speer (, February 19, 2001.

I agree with Brad too. As a general answer, we find it helps to keep a rooster or two around, as they really take care of the hen flock. They are the first to raise the alarm when danger threatens and they chase the hens to their roosts in the evening. They are kind of sacrificial too - we've lost two to predators at night (our fault for forgetting to close up the coop, but probably prevented one of the good layers getting taken instead). When/if they get mean, we butcher them and we try to have a succession of replacements at various ages. The only one to ever survive 2 years is our Danish Leghorn.

-- David C (, February 19, 2001.

Don't get discouraged about egg production. Broilers are not "Cornish Cross", but a highly specialized hybrid of several different breeds. Their mothers were egg-laying machines. I know, because I used to have a commercial laying house that produced fertile eggs that were hatched into broilers. They have been adapted to your climate, type of feed available, etc. The hens we got were expected to lay at 80% (8 eggs every 10 days) and that's about as good as you can hope for over a long period of time. These broilers you got will have at least 50% of that type of genetics behind them. The rooster's side is expected to supply size, and ours did with gusto. But they were big birds, not just fat or breast-heavy. If you feed them well, treat them like chickens and let them run and forage, they will be just fine. I have 13 hens right now that we rescued out of an abandoned laying house 2 years ago. They had already finished their initial lay and were scheduled for the cannery when we got them. They are still laying, although not at 80% now, and are happy birds. As for roosters, if you want the girls to be happy, keep one. They'll lay anyway, but it's more fun to watch him lead them around, clucking and pointing out goodies. Besides, I love to wake up to the sound of rooster crowing.

-- melina b. (, February 20, 2001.

I just wanted to add that before I brought in a rooster for my hens, they were very bored and seemed more skiddish. The rooster always watched over his "flock" and he had his favorite "girlfriend". I had her for a long time and when she passed on to the chicken heaven in the sky, the rooster mourned. I couldn't believe it. He would stand outside after that and wouldn't roost or get in out of the weather. He died from frostbite. I tried to save him by pinning him up inside but he was so depressed it killed him. The other hens acted down after Rusty passed on also and I got a new rooster this spring. Things are back to normal and egg production is really booming again. No matter what they say, chickens do have feelings. :) Good luck!!

-- Jer in IL (, May 21, 2001.

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