31 August 2010


I've been thinking a bit about keeping roosters lately. To keep or not to keep, that is the question.

We have two flocks of chooks at the moment; the flock of chooks that came to us at one day old and had a couple of roosters in amongst all the hens, and a flock that we bought at point of lay with no roosters at all.

The reason I've been thinking about them is because after a few rooster attacks on me and the girls while gathering eggs, we are all a bit afraid of visiting that flock. I'm sure they are only protecting their girls but gosh it hurts and I have some scars to prove it.

But one of the most important things to us at Daylesford Organics is biodiversity and we don't believe you can be bio diverse if you have 1000 female of a species and no males.

Also, we feel that it is our responsibility to provide a good life for our hens. A life that is as close to their natural life as we can facilitate whilst protecting them from predators and the elements. This means keeping roosters.

The flock with the roosters appear calmer than the one without and if you watch them carefully, you'll see the roosters calling to the hens to alert them to something to eat or to a threat.

And I guess what's a farm without the early morning crow of the rooster?
Even if it means always maintaining a supply of ear plugs when they are up near the house over winter.

Its a hard one, but we are lucky enough that none of the boys seem to mind visiting the rooster flock to feed them, move them along or to collect the eggs, so we don't have to make any difficult decisions at the moment.

But I do believe that keeping roosters is probably the difference between a free range organic egg farm where the chooks have a lifestyle and an egg factory.

But its interesting to think and talk about. To consider from all angles and to make our minds up and then change them again. After five years in the egg business, we are still learning every day.


Anonymous said...

You couldn't really deprive the ladies of this simplest form of entertainment.

Cherie said...

Bloody men ;-)
You've explained your dilemma so eloquently Kate - sounds like you've answered your question beautifully ;)

Leonie @ Cuppa and Cake said...

I think keep the roosters but if you get an aggressive bugger...chop his bloody head off and pop him in a pot!! (sorry...I know you are a vego but truly the kids should not lose an eye to a rooster!!)

belinda said...

This certainly is a hard choice. I know a few people with very placid roosters that it would be hard to have an objection to but they certainly are the exception rather than the rule.

Unfortunately I have to agree with your summation that if you want your chooks to have a full and healthy flock life a rooster is part of that equation.

Kind Regards

Chicken Willow said...

Can't you just get some old cricket leg pads to wear while you're in with them...and maybe a wire front helmet for the kids. Rooster spurs hurt!!

farmdoc said...

Kate, I doubt you really 'believe that keeping roosters is probably the difference between a free range organic egg farm where the chooks have a lifestyle and an egg factory'.
But I can see how you may have reached such a conclusion, growing up as you did in a household with three sisters, a mum and a dad.

dillpickle said...

Chooks are great, aren't they? And home-poached eggs with that day's eggs are fantastic! (I'm just learning to poach eggs at the moment, and really enjoying it!!)

I don't think we can have roosters though - one of the restrictions of urban living (at least in our council area). But they can definitely be rather lovely to look at, even if they are a bit narky at times! It's a hard call when they're not being nice to the kids, but maybe learning how to deal with rooster fits might not be a bad thing?!?

Leah said...

yes that makes sense, for a good flock but gee they are nasty. We've had 2 (suposedly sexed day olds growing into roosters type of thing!) attacks and 2 dead roosters as a result! Attacked Joey both times and he is nice to them! So we don't keep roosters if we can help it, only have 8 chooks though. I would have them in your situation though.

Sherri B. said...

I like having a rooster and feel that the hens are much better off with one. I have strict rules though...I will only have one as I do not want to see fighting and he must be nice to the girls and us.

biobabbler said...

Per some of your commenters, I've heard it's very possible to get NICE roosters, they do exist, so it's something to think about.

Mr. H. said...

We had to get rid of our roosters last year as they kept attacking our grandson...I think they thought he was also a rooster. Anyway, I did notice that egg production seemed to decline immediately afterwords, it could have been the warm weather or maybe a rooster does help to stimulate the birds to lay a little better...not sure.

Anyway, I agree that it is much more natural to have one around and think that perhaps if we do get another one I will simply look for a more docile breed.

ronnie said...

I've met some really NASTY roosters in my time - but I've had some truly delightful ones as well - after I discovered bantam buff pekins..... these little boys still did all the big rooster things (finding food, protecting the girls.... even if the girls were much larger than them!)but with their furry feathered feet (covered spurs - yay!) and little crows they were soooo much nicer to have and hold (our young kidlins would cuddle and play with benny-henny-man, our last rooster)

hope you find some nice boys sooner rather than later

Becky said...

I think the difference between you and an egg farm is the free range aspect and the care you give your girls every day. I would toss the roosters.

But that is just me and you have to do what makes you comfortable.