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A rooster can be a beneficial addition to your flock. A rooster will protect your flock by sounding the alarm whenever a predator approaches your chicken coop. Roosters also enable your chickens to produce fertile eggs and, ultimately, live chicks. If the reason you want a rooster is to produce chicks, it will be useful for you to have a complete understanding of the mating and breeding process.
Roosters and Hens
Roosters tend to want to mate with hens as often as they can. It's the rooster's nature to want to reproduce, and most healthy young roosters will mate with their hens as much as possible. It's not uncommon for a rooster to mate between 10 and 30 times each day, according to the University of Georgia.
The Mating Process
In a natural setting, a rooster will entice his hens into mating with him. The mating ritual will typically begin with a rooster exhibiting a type of dance meant to attract his mate. You may see him dip one wing and dance around the female in a circular pattern. If the hen is receptive, she will crouch down and allow the rooster to mount her. When the rooster mounts the hen, he will grab hold of her comb, neck, back and even the skin on her head. He may appear to walking in place as he mounts, and he will likely spread his tail feathers out completely as the mating process is completed.
In some cases, if there are not enough hens, a rooster may actually mate with the hens too much and cause them to lose physical condition as well as experience unnecessary stress. It's generally recommended that you have 8 to 10 hens for each rooster to ensure the rooster can divide his time adequately without causing undo stress to the hens. Hens who are being subjected to too much mating may show damage around the head, neck and comb as a result of being repeatedly mounted.
Hens do not need to mate with a rooster to produce an egg. Your hens will produce infertile eggs roughly every 24 hours even if you don't own a rooster. The benefit of owning a rooster is that, if your fertilized eggs are incubated properly, you will have chicks roughly 21 days after your eggs are laid.
- Rural Living Today: The Pros and Cons of Keeping a Rooster
- The Poultry Site: Natural Mating and Breeding
- University of Georgia: Natural Mating and Fertilization
- The State of Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry: Incubation - Chickens and Other Species
- Old Farmers Almanac: Gestation and Mating Tables
- Backyard Chickens: The Frequent Asked Questions of Raising Chickens
- Enchanted Learning: Egg and Embryo Development
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images