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What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

Did your cute little hen from Tractor Supply turn out to be a Rooster? I know the disappointing feeling. You try to tell yourself, “Some hens can crow right?”

This time I tried to believe my kids were playing a trick on me, and it was their tablets making the Rooster sound.

Nope, BOTH of my LegHorn Chickens I was excited to have eggs from were Roosters. So chances are if your chicken is acting like a rooster- it’s a rooster.

So what should you do in this situation?

Here’s how to decide what to do with your unwanted Rooster and some of the most asked questions about keeping a rooster in your flock.

Regardless, this is a common mistake that many people make.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

Keeping It

If only one of your hens turned out to be a Rooster, consider keeping it. Depending on where you live, the Rooster’s crowing isn’t much different than the squawking the ladies do over nesting boxes.

Also, roosters can not lay eggs; a hen chicken will lay eggs with or without a rooster. Therefore, you will need a rooster if you have chicken breeds that tend to go broody and want them to hatch their eggs.

Then you could grab an incubator down the road and keep your backyard flock going. This is the incubator we bought and used, and I highly recommend it.

what to do with an unwanted rooster

How Many Hens Do You Need for a Rooster?

If you have one Rooster, the minimum should be three or four. Again this depends on the breed because some roosters are rougher on the hens.

If you start noticing a lot of missing feathers near their head and on their backside, you may not have enough hens for a rooster.

It is common for a rooster to have a favorite as well. Therefore, a good rule of thumb for the hens to rooster ratio is 10 for every Rooster.

signs to look for when hens stop laying eggs

Are Hens Happier With a Rooster?

This is a question we see a lot and one you may ponder if you consider keeping a rooster. As long as you have the correct ratio of hens to a Rooster, the hens seem to go either way.

When we lost one of our roosters and our flock of hens, about 15, went without a rooster, I didn’t notice any difference in their behavior.

I was worried about keeping the hens out free-ranging because the Rooster does a fantastic job of alerting the flock of any predators.

If you plan on free-ranging or pasture raise your chickens like we do to save on feed costs– and have the most delicious tasting eggs, then I recommend keeping a rooster.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster
What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

How Do You Tell It’s a Rooster?!

The first difference I notice when raising chicks is the wing feathers. The roosters tend to have more wing feathers and tail feathers. This depends on the breed, of course.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster
meat chickens not raise
The one to the right is a Rooster- its comb is slightly larger.

The comb is another sign. Most of the time, a larger comb means a rooster. That is unless you have a breed like Leghorns, where both males and females have large combs.

Another easy sign to tell you to have a rooster on your farm is the crowing. The crowing will generally start around 6- 8 weeks of age. In our Coronation Sussex, they tend to begin crowing closer to the 8-week mark. Our Australorps were closer to the six-week mark.

I’m so excited about my new lavender Orpingtons! You can check out the Tiktok video below.

Here is a picture of one of our hen leghorns.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

How Do You Keep a Rooster from Crowing?

If you think your Rooster is making too much noise, there are a few reasons. First, he is telling everyone on the farm to rise and shine. That is no joke. Our Rooster starts crowing at the break of dawn and the only time I wake up from it is when the windows are open in the summer.

Other times he is doing his job alerting you and the ladies of a predator. I’m always running outside when I hear a bunch of squawking- the majority of the time, it’s the hens fighting over a nesting box.

YOu may have multiple roosters. If there are other roosters on the farm, they need to claim their dominance, and crowing is how they do it.

Ask a neighbor or friend if they want it.

This is probably the most popular route most backyard chicken farmers choose. Throw up a post on social media asking if anyone wants a Rooster. Maybe you can convince a neighbor to start raising chickens and offer a hen to go along with the Rooster.

It’s a lot harder, as you will find out, to get rid of a Rooster than a hen, but depending on how he looks, you could easily find a taker.

Keep in mind that most people who are going to take a free rooster are going to use it for meat. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s something to keep in mind.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

Put it up on Craigslist/Facebook Groups.

Put it on craigslist if you can’t get a friend to take it. Whether you want to charge or not is entirely up to you. There are Livestock groups on Facebook too. You could offer to sell or give away the Rooster.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster
Above is one of our Coronation Sussex young roosters.

Consider showing it in 4-H.

Hey, there are always those 4-hers! If you aren’t a part of a local 4-H club, you could consider joining. At least it gives you a reason to hang on to the roo.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

Animal Shelter

Check for a local animal shelter if you can’t find anyone around to take the Rooster. In our area, there is a local Lollipop farm that takes livestock. You can also google Farms that take Roosters near me too.

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

Our typical option -Dinner

Dinner. It’s one of the best parts of being a chicken farmer. You can eat them. Yes, it is a bit of work, and it usually isn’t fun to do only one bird. But here is an easy way to consider it.

If you haven’t checked our video on how we butcher our backyard chickens go here.

It may not even be worth heating the turkey fryer as we did in the video for one bird. Our suggestion is to skin the bird. It’s the fastest and easiest. You can grind up the meat if you have a grinder to keep it simple.

The meat may already be a little challenging depending on the chicken breed. It’s better to butcher sooner than later. Unlike birds raised for meat, they won’t grow much more significantly to give you more meat; it will only make the meat tougher.

You can put the chicken in your pressure or slow cooker to get a nice texture. And put the bones to use- make your bone broth.

Check out my recent Tiktok Video of our newest flock of chicks, and guess how many are Roosters( I still haven’t confirmed it yet!)

What to do When Your Hen Turns Out to be a Rooster

If you are on the fence, here are some quick reasons I prefer to have a Rooster, and you can check out how vital a Rooster is when you free-range your flock here.

WHY I KEEP ROOSTERS

Protection– They will alert the flock to any land and sky predators. It is one of my favorite things to watch the Roosters over the years sit back, call the ladies over for food and be on alert 24/7.

Bossy– They do keep the flock in order. From where they should be foraging for food for the day and who is out of line. A Rooster is a great leader for the hens.

Feathers – Okay, basically, they are pretty! The color ranges and feathers are gorgeous depending on what breed you have.

Chicks– When you have a Rooster, you can have chicks. So whether your hen is sitting on her eggs, and maybe you don’t want the hen to, or incubate the eggs ( the incubator linked is the same one we use and love), you can have little chicks running around in no time.

Even though the outcome of a Rooster can be disappointing, there are plenty of options to make it work for your homestead.

Which option are you leaning towards?

For more Chicken Tips, Check out These:

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