Monday, September 7, 2009

You Can have too many roosters

I have been threatening to change the name of our place from Treffynnon Farm (which roughly translates from Welsh as "the farm by the stream"), to the more apt "Cockerel Corner" due to the large number of roosters we seem to be collecting.

We started out with two: one Rhode Island Red rooster who protects our egg-laying hens, and one Blue Chinese Cochin Bantam who came with his two lady friends. Along the way in my chicken rearing history of the past five years, roosters came and went, much to the delight and annoyance of my Atlanta neighbors. Now we live in a rural area, and everyone has a few chickens, maybe some ducks or doves. In the last year we have hatched several batches of Cochins (they are such broody girls!), but I think we win the prize topping out this week eleven roosters, with one baby I think will also turn out to be male. That will give us an even dozen.
This is not a good thing. Roosters are good to have around only for protection of the hens, they aren't needed for egg production since the hen lays eggs every day (or every other day) whether there is a 'man' around or not. If you have more than one, they will fight, most often to the death of one or another. Having a rooster does give one fertilized eggs, which can be hatched into more chickens or sold as having (in some circles) specific health properties. This brownish rooster was our "Gift With Purchase" chicken that we got when we ordered our chicks back in April. "Buy 25, get a Rare Heirloom Breed (hatchery choice) at no charge!!! We'll also include an extra chicken of the type you purchase just for buying". We are waiting for it to get older so we have a shot at identifying the breed.

So we got 25 females guaranteed plus one free rooster Silver-Laced Wyandotte and one free Unknown Chicken who turned out a rooster, too. What a surprise.

Plus, we have five Cochin bantam roosters who hang out together and argue a little bit. We call them the "Gang of Five".The bantam rooster who is top of the heap of the little chickens is Colonel Boogie and he is one tough little guy. He weighs maybe four pounds and has fended off hawks, crows, and a huge turkey vulture. He has earned his place as head of the bantams. The Gang of Five bows down to him at all times.

The big rooster Rhode Island Red is "Big Boy", and he is the one who lost his tail feathers to the possum. He has earned his spot in the pasture just by being able to wake up the household so we could battle the possum for him. He couldn't stand up to that huge bastard all by himself, so I helped him out a little, me and my metal fence post.

With such a plethora of roosters, we are faced with the choice of a) letting them have the run of the place, crowing at all hours and possibly annoying the neighbors and us, or b) butchering them and eating them. I have to be honest and blunt, although Barry will grumble at me for revealing it: I am in the "b" camp. I vote we eat them, even though the bantams are small and probably pretty tough at this age. Yes, they are beautiful, and yes, I'm sure they would make someone somewhere really nice show roosters, but no one wants roosters. They are useless and we have too many of them. Barry votes for "a", and so far seems to be winning, mostly due to apathy and inertia on my part.

We have done in two roosters since we've been here, but those two were Evil Roosters and needed to be Done In. They crowed at all hours. ALL. HOURS. It started at midnight, which got our other roosters going, then continued until dawn and then all day. It was tiresome. Plus, they attacked every human who got near them, and I just don't truck with no evil roosters. My baseball bat and I have a little talkin' to do to them roosters if they come flying at my face, which they did, and we did. But when it came time to do the deed and butcher them, I did it with as much kindness as I could muster, but I had no regrets. Unfortunately, they were too old by the time we butchered them and were both far too tough to eat. I guess they got the last laugh on us.

If anyone is interested in having an adorable, fluffy, sweet, funny-crowing pet bantam rooster, drop me a line. I'll deliver him in Atlanta or mail him for anywhere else in the lower 48 states of this great rooster growing country.

Cock a' doodle doo, y'all.


  1. Hello. This is a very random question...but how much would you charge to borrow a Rooster for an hour? I'm am shooting a video and it would be a great addition if we had a rooster. You can contact me at We are The Undergrads.

  2. Hey Sally and Barry!
    I'm sure it's impossible that you haven't read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. But just in case, it amuses me that Sally and Barbara feel exactly the same about "extra roosters." If you haven't yet read it - it's a must!
    Can I bring Walker over sometime for a "farm fix" when we can't make it to Virginia?

  3. Keep big boy and cull the rest... if they are small remove the breast and use the rest for making stock ;)

    Sounds like big boy does the work with the hens and the rest are just eating you feed and reducing your cash flow.

  4. I have about 24 Roosters that all live together with no problems. I do not understand why people believe they can only have one Rooster. Everyone told me it wasn't possible, but we have had no problemsThey live together on my three acres with about 4 hens...and there is never any problem. I have never had one even act the slightest bit aggresive toward a human. I love my roosters and would never think of getting rid of any of them. Love to hear the crowing at all hours of the night, that is just what they do! at all.

  5. What a dilemma! We have 10 cockerels ready to process. I put an ad on Craigslist but any that are not sold in the next week will be fryers/broilers. I vote for (b), Sally. You can tell Barry. Your Wyandotte is so pretty, but I will have to wait for purebred chicks to keep the peace. I am going to add a third rooster, though. I found a breeder of very rare, show quality Black Copper Marans with 8 week old pullets and cockerels for sale. The pick up is only a few miles away from my route when I come home with my English Shepherd pup in North Carolina. Such a beautiful and fascinating breed, and the roosters are reported to be very sweet with the ladies. The eggs are beautiful, too. I'd love to protect this heritage breed. I think I will get 10 hens and a rooster. Wish me luck!
    Cristi, do you keep your roosters as pets? A farmer must make decisions based on economics. If a rooster is not used for breeding, protection, or meat, then it is eating grain and costing money but not pulling its weight. Even our barn cat catches mice! And our goat wethers eat poison sumac and privet.

  6. I have Two Rhode Island reds and two barred plymoth rock hens that I just moved out to the coup.I just purchased three mille fleur bantams and were not sure if I had roosters or hens being they are only a few weeks old and the breeder was not sure. I have the bantams indoors and two are constantly fighting. I have two roosters I think? I am new at this and not sure what to do? I think I should just keep one of the two fighting and find a home for the other.I worry that when they are ready for the coup they will be nasty to my other hens or be after one of my kids. Will one rooster be less opt to be nasty than two? Do you know of anyone who would like one bantam rooster.

  7. It sounds like they are roosters if they are fighting and not just having a disagreement. Hens tend to disagree for a moment and move on, but roosters will fight until something stops them. Whether or not they get along in the coop has to do with space to roam (so they can have their own territory) and who wins the dominance game. Nasty to each other doesn't automatically mean they will be nasty to humans, you just have to keep an eye on them. If they do try to dominate or attack a human, you shouldn't keep them around, in my opinion. I have never seen an aggressive to humans rooster change. I don't know of anyone who wants a bantam off hand, but I'd post an ad on Craigslist or on feed store bulletin boards. They tend to go faster than regular roosters.

  8. I have found someone to take my bantam rooster! I am keeping the other. i appreciate all your info.I had chickens growing up and remember a little but it's been a while. I have a nice coop for them with plenty of room but my larger chicks are about 4 months old try to stomp the little guys. I'm pretty sure that is normal with such a age and size difference.The chicks I've brought up already are friendly and love people I just hope that is the case with the bantams when they can join the others in the coop.thanks sally and berry!!!

  9. I'm in the A camp with Barry. You will easily find loving homes for your hens, but no-one will rescue your roosters.

    Your boys didn't ask to be hatched out and they sure as heck aren't asking to die.

    Keep them for the gorgeous, colourful, inquisitive creatures that they are. Without hens on your property, the boys will live peacefully enough if you don't enclose them together.

    Why breed animals if you can't give them a safe home? Eggs ain't that important.

    Cats, dogs and guinea pigs don't lay eggs either. That's no reason to kill them.