Roosters With A Bad Rap (And Why You Might Want One)

Roosters get a bad reputation, but one bad egg in the bunch shouldn’t condemn an entire lot of roosters to the soup pot. 

Roos are often misunderstood because they can be aggressive. Certain individual birds (and some breeds) may be more prone to chasing humans, attacking other critters, and of course, crowing…a lot. 

But the truth is, they’re not all bad. In fact, much of their “aggressive” behavior is actually beneficial for the flock. Moreover, you’ll find that most roosters aren’t actually mean at all.

So, to set the record straight, let’s take a look at commonly frowned-upon rooster behavior and how it’s actually good for the flock. 

Mean Rooster Behavior and What it Means

It’s easy to just write off the following as bad behavior from a bad rooster. But let’s think it through a bit first.

Because, in most cases, there’s a reason for the behavior.

Crowing (Not Just in The Morning)

Roosters crow.

All the time. 

But there’s a reason for crowing, and usually, it’s to either communicate with the flock, warn off predators, or ask something of you. 

Roosters can assert themselves to both predators and other roosters and the point is to show whoever he’s talking to that he’s the boss around here…and these are his hens. 

Crowing can be a good thing if you don’t mind the sound of it because it may keep predators at bay, warn you of impending doom, and help the flock find food or safety (because that’s what roosters often talk about most). 

Roos are keen on finding the best treats for their ladies, and when they find a tasty morsel, he will be the last to eat. Instead, he clucks, crows, or calls to his ladies to let them know there are some good eats nearby!

Lastly, roosters crow if they need something. If your flock is confined and they are out of food or water, you better believe your rooster will let you know about it!

Roosters Chasing Humans

Roosters who chase humans or other animals usually do so to protect their hens.

Unfortunately, they may chase us even though we aren’t a threat. For some reason, some roosters are on higher alert than others and misdirect their aggression toward the wrong person. 

In the wild, roosters who chase off possible threats are a blessing to the flock. Just think about it, if we’re intimidated by a puffed-up rooster booking it toward us then their scare tactics might work on other, less well-meaning, beings as well. 

This behavior becomes a problem, however, when roosters act on their aggression by using their beak and spurs to injure humans or other domestic animals.

Fighting with Other Roosters

Speaking of harming other animals. Keeping more than one rooster in a flock is not always a good idea. 

It can be done, with the right roosters (who were also raised together). And if there are enough hens to go around for both of the boys in the flock, it might be feasible.

But even then, one day, you may find your two favorite gentlemen in a bloody battle for the flock. 

And that’s how things work in the natural world. One rooster is typically dominant over all the hens in the flock, and if the other boys nearby disagree it will most likely end in death. 

Considering natural selection, when referring to this aggressive bird-on-bird behavior, you could think of the winning rooster as the strongest to lead your flock. In that case, choose which roo you’d like to keep on for the job and which you will relocate or process.

Favorite Hens Looking Shabby?

Sometimes a certain hen becomes the apple of your rooster’s eye, and she gets, ahem, most of his attention (wink, wink…elbow jab, if you know what I mean).

And you might think it’s a good thing, but that poor hen needs a break and if your rooster doesn’t lay off of the hen in question, you may need to relocate her. 

Another reason your hens may look a little rough around the feathers is that there aren’t enough hens for your overly zealous rooster in your flock.

Adding a few more (like you need a reason to add more chickens, right?) will help distribute your rooster’s, um, affections amongst the flock more evenly and help his favorites heal.

As a side note: if your hens’ feathers have been ripped out from a well-meaning rooster, they will grow back after their next molt.

Should you need to protect your hen’s backs, consider a hen saddle.

Should You Keep a Rooster?

So, while there are some clear drawbacks to keeping a rooster in your flock, as you can see, some of these behaviors serve a purpose. And in some cases, it’s for the good of the flock. Like protection from predators, foraging skills, and of course reproduction. 

The truth is, most roosters, if they have what they need to be happy and healthy, aren’t all that bad. 

In fact, your years of rooster owning, you may only come across one or two bad eggs. 

And to be honest, the crowing may become an enjoyable part of my homestead. 

Rooster Relocation

All this to say, sometimes we can’t accommodate our rooster’s needs or they really are just a bad egg. 

If that’s the case, it may be time to either process your rooster or pass him on to a farm that is willing to take on his behavior. And who knows, a change of scenery might be all he needs to turn his life around.

Books of Interest

Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics: Lessons for Expanding Your Flock, Understanding Chicken Behavior, Keeping a Rooster, Adjusting for the Seasons, Staying Healthy, and More!

Pokey Jr: Even Roosters Get Second Chances

How to Speak Chicken: Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say

8 Must-have Supplies for Raising Chickens

When you’re getting started with chickens, one of the first things you need to do is ensure you have all the supplies your flock needs. 

The good news is, the basics are pretty straightforward. We’re giving you the lowdown on the must-haves and a few optional extras.

Must-Have Supplies for Raising Chickens

The following items are absolutely necessary for raising a happy flock…so don’t skimp on these supplies for your new chooks.

1. A Chicken Coop (The Essential Supply for Raising Chickens)

A shelter for your chickens is definitely a no-brainer. But what you might need to hear is that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, some of the safest, most functional, chicken coops are made from repurposed materials. 

The only things you need to be sure of are:

  1. That no predators can get in and kill your chickens
  2. That your chickens are protected from the elements
  3. There is proper ventilation

Other than that, your coop can be made from anything you’d like. So feel free to go all out or get a little thrifty when planning your first chicken coop. But whatever you do, don’t skimp on the hardware cloth!

2. Bedding for Your Chickens

Hand-in-hand with your chicken coop is the bedding you use inside the chicken coop. The purpose of having a layer of bedding on the bottom of the coop is so their droppings don’t sit on the floor of the coop. When they sit on top of bedding, they dry out faster and are easier to remove. We recommend using straw, pine shavings, sand or even dried leaves. 

Pine shavings are a good bedding choice in the chicken coop.

And as a word of caution, never use cedar shavings (the fumes can be toxic to chickens). 

You may also wish to try a product that speeds up drying and reduces odors and ammonia in the coop. We recommend Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher, and have featured it in our monthly supply boxes for chicken keepers.

3. Chicken Specific Feeders

If you imagine completing your morning chores by tossing corn to your chickens in the yard, think again because chickens need containers for their feed. 

You see, chickens pick up parasites, or coccidia, from eating food straight off the ground in their coop or yard. This is because they also poop in their yard, and that’s exactly how parasites get passed from one chicken to another…by inadvertently eating feces (among other things). 

Feeders also keep chicken food clean and dry. Plus, they prevent your soon-to-be chooks from scratching their feed all over the coop, making it inedible, and just plain undesirable. 

We use this Harris Farms plastic feeder in the Henny+Roo coop, and love that it can be hung from the rafters. This prevents the chickens from being able to use their claws to scratch food onto the floor, saving feed. It’s also very easy to fill from the top.

4. Waterers that Work for Chickens

Just like containers for chicken feed, waterers are simply non-negotiable when it comes to supplies for raising chickens. 

Chickens need water available at all times, but especially in hot weather or when being fed dried insects, like mealworms.

Founts made specifically for chickens are our recommendation because they’re made to keep dirt, feed, and droppings out of the water (ensuring it’s fresh and clean for your chickens).

We have used this Harris Farms waterer for a while, and like it because you can fill it from the top. Many waterers require you to fill it upside down, attach the base, then flip it over and hope water doesn’t get everywhere, or the base doesn’t fall off completely. The nipple attachments reduce leaking and keep the water cleaner.

Consider a heated waterer if you live in cold climates so that your flock always has access to water when the temperatures are below freezing.

5. The Right Feed for Your Chicken Breeds

While it’s not a bad idea to mix your own chicken feed, as a beginner, it’s simply easier (and most likely cost-effective) to rely on the ready-made formulations. 

You can rest easy knowing your chickens are getting the nutrition they need from feed created by the professionals. 

So if you’re raising layer hens, make sure you grab the layer-specific feed because it has the right nutrients to help support strong, delicious, eggs. 

On the other hand, if you’re raising meat chickens, look for feed labeled for raising meat birds.

Chicks have their own special feed as well. Be sure to read the labels to determine when to switch young chickens from chick feed to layer feed.

A feed that we are excited to try is Chicken Layer Love from EL CU Animal Nutrition. Chicken Layer Love is for egg-producing hens and is a complete, natural and sustainable feed containing all of the nutrients your flock needs, along with the mealworms and dried black fly larvae that they love. If you’d like to try this for your flock, click the link above and use code HENNYANDROO at checkout to save 5%!

6. Nesting Boxes

If you want to have clean eggs (and be able to find them) then you’ll need nesting boxes for your layer hens. Hens prefer dark, clean, well-protected spaces to lay their eggs. Each hen does not need their own nesting box, but you should have enough to reduce any drama. We’re not sure about your chickens, but ours have a favorite nesting box and usually bicker over it, even though it’s identical to the others! It’s recommended that you have one nesting box for every 4-5 chickens.

You can purchase ready-made nesting boxes or simply DIY them! Pinterest is a great place to look for nesting box and design ideas for inside the coop. We use these Miller Wall Mounted Nesting Boxes because they are easy to remove and clean.

7. Grit for Great Digestion

Grit is a finely ground, hard substance that chickens consume in order to digest their food properly. It sits in their crop and grinds food so that their bodies can more easily absorb nutrients. So while it might seem like an optional add-on, it’s a necessity for happy healthy chickens. Some chickens are able to get enough grit in the form of tiny rocks or coarse sand if they free range. If not, make grit available to the birds anytime in a separate container than their food. They will eat as much as they need, when they need it. Grit for chickens can be found at your local feed store or online. We like Poultry Grit from our friends at MannaPro.

8. Dust Baths

Dust baths are often overlooked when it comes to chicken-keeping supplies. But the truth is, dust baths aren’t just a luxury item for your chickens. They’re also a way for chickens to naturally prevent external parasites, control their body oils, and kick boredom to the curb during long winter months. 

You can make your own dust bathing area by providing a corner in the run that has loose soil, fine sand, or even wood ash. The dust bath material does not necessarily have to be in a container, but if it does, you can build it out of wood, or provide an inexpensive shallow plastic bin. It should be large enough to allow your chicken to lie in, spread their wings and flick dust over their whole body.

There are commercial products you may wish to place in your dust bath area if dry soil is not available, such as Lixit Chicken Dust Bath.

Optional (But Good-to-Have Chicken Supplies)

The following items aren’t necessary, but they’re definitely helpful to have. With that being said, don’t worry about stocking up on these things until you’ve got the basics covered.

Oyster Shells – Great source of calcium (not a replacement for grit because it’s soluble)

Treats- To treat your chickens and add some extra protein try XXXXX

Swings – Who doesn’t love chicken swings?

Apple Cider Vinegar – Add to water biweekly for added immune support

Nesting Box HerbsHenny+Roo’s Coop Complete Dried Herbs can be sprinkled on the coop floor, nesting boxes and dust bathing area to repel pests and calm chickens. All of the selected herbs are safe if ingested, are thought to have health benefits, and are GMO-free with no added chemicals or preservatives. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly and add weekly or whenever bedding is changed. 

Spray for Lice and Mites – Keep on hand in case of an external parasite outbreak

Diatomaceous Earth – Great to dust coop with between cleanings to kill external parasites 

The point is not to get overwhelmed when you start raising your chickens. Because, in truth, chickens are pretty content when their basic needs are met. Once you know you’ve got everything you need to raise happy healthy chickens, don’t be afraid to add-on some extras, just for fun. 

Henny+Roo Monthly Supply Boxes for Chicken Keepers

Chicken keepers ourselves, we would never include an item in our monthly supply boxes that doesn’t get our flock’s cluck of approval. You’ll find that we put a great deal of thought, research and time into the selections for each box.

Save 10% on your first subscription with code NEWSUB at hennyandroo.com!

We will help you build your chicken emergency kit, try new treats that your chickens will love, learn more about how to care for your animals with books and magazines, and enjoy chicken-themed gifts, cooking items, and other goodies. It’s the only way we know to truly surprise yourself with a gift – one that supports your favorite hobby.

Henny+Roo boxes make the perfect gift for the chicken keeper in your life (even if that’s you!). Show your loved one that you love their chickens too by purchasing a subscription or something from our Shop.