You don't need a rooster to get your hens to lay eggs, but they make interesting additions to a home flock. A crowing, strutting rooster adds variety to your coop, and gives your hens a sense of order and structure. With a rooster around, your hens may lay fertilized eggs now and then, but as long as they are refrigerated as soon as possible, they are still fine to eat.
Reinforce your chicken coop before introducing a rooster. A rooster is generally more aggressive than the hens he protects, and he may try to escape if he thinks an animal outside the coop is trying to steal his hens. Cover any gaps or holes in the fence with extra chicken wire, and fill in holes at the bottom of the fence with clean dirt to prevent an escape.
Install an extra roost inside your coop. Chickens normally sleep off the ground, and your rooster should have his own perch. Roosters are larger and often weigh more than hens, so make sure the roost is sturdy enough to support his weight.
Place the rooster in a small wire cage, and set the cage in the middle of the coop. This allows the birds to acclimate themselves to each other while avoiding unnecessary squabbling. Leave him in the cage for an hour or until the hens no longer seem curious.
Open the cage and allow the rooster to come out at his own pace. Some roosters charge out and start exploring, while others wait for the hens to come to him and investigate. A little squawking and pecking is normal; however, if the birds are drawing blood, remove the rooster and reintroduce him the next day.
Allow the rooster to mingle with the hens. Roosters often take charge of the flock, and your hens will willingly follow him and cluster around him while they eat and explore the coop.
- Don’t be alarmed if the rooster mates with your hens; this is normal and should not disrupt your flock’s laying behaviors.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.