The little known fact among newbies is that you do not need a rooster in order for hens to lay eggs. It’s worth repeating… hens lay eggs just fine without having a rooster!
We often get questions about roosters. The common fear for first-timers seems to be waking up to the lovely sound of a rooster crowing in the morning. If you have roosters in your yard, this rude wake up call will be hard to miss. And unfortunately, roosters crow throughout the day. So, the noise they make is likely to bother you and your neighbors all day long.
If you think about it, many animals (including humans) produce eggs on a regular basis. And, this egg production does not require a partner to make happen. The partner, or in this case the rooster, is only needed to fertilize the eggs.
So, you will require at least one rooster if you plan to incubate and hatch the eggs your hens produce because the eggs will have to be fertilized. If, on the other hand, you only plan to eat your hen’s eggs for breakfast, no rooster is required.
For reference, a youthful rooster will be able to fertilize the eggs of 10 to 20 hens. An older rooster will only be able to handle 5 to 10 hens. If you plan to hatch eggs, it’s a good idea to err on the side of more roosters rather than fewer even if that means your walk up call is a bit louder in the morning. The reason extra roosters might be a good idea is because each of your roosters is likely to favor specific hens. As a result, even if the “math” works out to a good ratio, some hens may be neglected and their eggs may not get fertilized unless you have an extra rooster or two.
It’s our opinion that most backyard chicken flocks should be hens only. It’s okay to raise a cockerel as a meat bird, but we see few reasons why you would want to have mature roosters in your backyard flock.
If you live on a farm, and want your flock to propagate, then a rooster is a must-have. Otherwise, take solace in knowing that your new project won’t wake you up early in the morning.