Roosters, the often brightly colored male counterpart of the hen. Although roosters do not lay eggs like hens and tend to make loud crowing noises, these male chickens are actually very important additions to a healthy flock. What do roosters do and why are they necessary? It happens to be more than just fertilizing eggs so you can hatch little chicks! Today we are going to discuss the different ways to make use of a rooster or two around the yard. Let’s begin.
What Do Roosters Do?
Roosters are male chickens, also known as cocks or cockerels in some places, like the UK. However, in the US and some other regions, cockerel refers to male chickens that are under a year old.
Roosters are known for their distinctive appearance, with brightly colored feathers and a prominent comb on their head. Most people think of roosters as the male who fertilizes the egg, and that’s it. The truth is that these male chickens are an important part of the flock hierarchy, also known as the pecking order, and they play a variety of roles in the lives of chickens.
Why Should You Keep a Rooster or Two With Your Flock?
Let’s take a look at all the beneficial roles a rooster will play among the flock.
Crowing and Other Communication
When you think of a rooster, you probably recall the crowing sound they make. Roosters use their crowing a number of ways — it’s not just to serve as an alarm. Roosters crow to say that they have a territory and a flock. They will crow throughout the day, especially if another rooster is near, as a means of establishing a line in the sand.
Like other chickens, roosters also make several sounds to communicate with the rest of the flock. They may cluck or purr when foraging, let out a sharp siren call when danger is near, or they will growl when establishing dominance.
Protector of the Hens
Any time you have chickens, you are going to have natural predators wandering around, searching for a way to either snag a hen or their eggs. Roosters make that a little less easy. How? Because roosters are fierce. If you have ever watched a rooster among the rest of the flock, you will notice that he rarely engages in the same behavior as the hens. In other words, he is vigilant, rarely ever looking down at the ground. The rooster is constantly scanning the surroundings for raccoons, snakes, hawks, and any other predator that may attack.
Should a predator come too close, the rooster will either sound the alarm, causing the chickens to run and hide, or he will attack. Roosters may not be the strongest of creatures, but they know how to defend the flock with their beaks, spurs, and talons. In some cases, roosters have even been known to sacrifice themselves to protect their hens from danger.
Establishment of a Pecking Order
Aside from being the protectors of the flock, the rooster also helps to establish a pecking order within the flock. This hierarchy is based on dominance, with the most dominant rooster at the top. The rooster will assert his dominance by pecking at the other chickens and by engaging in other aggressive behaviors. This helps to maintain order within the flock, and it can prevent fighting among the chickens.
If you want to keep your chicken population going strong for years to come, the best way is to have a rooster who can help fertilize the eggs your hens lay. You can’t get chicks any other way. The good news is that you do not need to have one rooster per hen. Roosters will typically mate with multiple hens, ensuring a diverse genetic pool for the flock. If you choose to have a rooster who mates with the hens, make sure you are choosing a breed who does not get too feisty during breeding season. You do not want the rooster getting territorial, especially if you have children or small animals roaming about.
The Ultimate Forager
Roosters also play a role in foraging for food and water. You could say that roosters are the hard working breadwinners of the chicken family. They will often lead their hens on foraging expeditions, searching for insects, seeds, and other sources of food. Being that roosters are far more vocal than hens, they will often make a distinctive clucking noise when they find food or something of interest. This helps to alert the other chickens to the presence of food, and it can help to ensure that everyone in the flock gets enough to eat.
Watch how a caring rooster literally gives his own treats to other hens:
Roosters bolster flock morale by simply being. The hens thrive when there is a rooster nearby, because the male chicken is the beckon of safety and serenity. Without him there, your ladies are going to be a bit more stressed. There is no denying that happy hens lay a lot more eggs. Unfortunately, when there is no rooster to take the lead of the flock and maintain the calm, the angriest, most aggressive hen often takes control. Hens at the top of the pecking order tend to be bullies, and that can hurt the harmony of the flock, leading to less egg production and more injuries.
Let’s face it: You can raise male chicks into plump roosters that feed your family well. Roosters are often used for their meat, alongside hens, and they are known for being delicious. Many backyard chicken keepers will raise their male chickens up until they are matured then use them for a meal or two. Since you are always going to get a mixture of male and female chicks from whatever eggs you hatch, you will always have a steady supply of fresh meat.
Color and Diversity in the Flock
There is no denying that having a colorful rooster in your flock adds to the overall diversity. For roosters, however, the colors of their feathers are for more than aesthetics. The feathers of a rooster are often brightly colored and iridescent, with shades of red, green, blue, and purple. These colors are produced by microscopic structures within the feathers that reflect and scatter light, creating a shimmering effect. The bright colors of a rooster’s feathers are thought to be a visual cue to hens, signaling that the rooster is healthy, strong, and genetically diverse. Alongside wattles and combs that become enlarged during mating season, it is believed that the feathers help hens choose a mate.
While seeing a brightly colored rooster can tell you a lot about their health, it also is nice to see some iridescent feathers amid the whites, blacks, grays, and browns of hens.
Final Thoughts on What Roosters Do
What do roosters do? A lot of things. Overall, roosters are an important part of the social and reproductive behavior of chickens. They help to establish a pecking order, protect the flock from danger, and ensure that the flock is able to reproduce and thrive. Roosters are also a symbol of rural life, and they are often associated with the dawn and the beginning of a new day. Whether you’re raising chickens on a farm or simply enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, roosters are an integral part of the ecosystem and the natural world.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.