It’s chick season and people are grabbing these cute little fluffy birds and bringing them home! But do they have a plan if a chick ends up being a rooster?
While I adore my rooster and find him valuable to our flock, many chicken owners are not thrilled to find out the baby chick they’ve raised is actually a cock-a-doodle-doo-ing boy bird of the species. It is usually 4 months or more before they start crowing and developing feathers that set them apart form the girls.
People new to keeping chickens may find this surprising, but the only way to ensure you get females is to get adult hens or “sex link” chicks, which are bred to be identify by sex with specific colored feathers and to produce a steady supply of eggs. Avoid “Straight run” chicks which are not sexed as your odds of ending up with a male are even higher.
Roosters are beautiful, amazing creatures and help watch over your flock and help make sure there is order within the social hierarchy. Naturally one rooster maintains a flock of 10-12 hens and is the main provider. They are outlaws in many cities and are known for their early morning crowing which will piss off the neighbors and prevent any sleeping in on weekends. They can also be a nuisance and if not raised well they can become aggressive and difficult to handle. Many people simply cannot keep the boy birds and should have a plan in place *just in case* they end up with roosters.
So what to do when you find out you have a boy chicken?
*Find a new home – try craigslist or another classified ad service. There are people out there who will take roosters as food or as pets… but there is no guarantee either way unless you know the new home adopting the bird.
*Keep him- (assuming the law allows it) They are actually great providers and can be very sweet if they are handled often.
*Cull it – which is another way of saying butcher the bird. If this is the route you choose and you’ve never done it before, it is best to get the help and guidance from someone with experience to make sure it is done correctly and in the most humane way possible.