Whether you’re planning to start a poultry farm or it’s just out of curiosity, one common question most people ask does roosters lay eggs. Now, roosters are admired for many reasons. They’re beautiful birds with striking appearance. They help to lead the rest of the flock and they’re good procreators as they fertilize the eggs.
In fact, roosters have myriad benefits, which we can’t afford to list in this article. But, is egg-laying one of the reasons why roosters are admired? Well, to answer this question, you need to understand poultry anatomy and biology. Although we’ll discuss this in detail, roosters are male chickens meaning they can’t lay eggs as they don’t have the anatomy to do so.
So, in this short guide, we’re going to discuss whether roosters lay eggs. We’re also going to list some benefits of having roosters in your flock and some amazing facts about egg-laying.
What Is a Rooster?
To understand whether roosters lay eggs, you need to first understand the biology and anatomy of chickens. You need to start from the very first point, which is to understand the meaning of roosters. Now, roosters are male chickens and are also known as cockerels or simply cocks. Roosters are admired for many reasons such as their aggressiveness and ability to protect the flock.
In fact, roosters are the ones that crow in the break of dawn to wake you up. But other than the benefits we’ve mentioned, roosters are grown for their meat as they’re more muscular than female hens. They’re also domesticated for cock fighting, especially in regions that hail this kind of sport.
Is a Rooster a Male Chicken?
A rooster is a male chicken. Therefore, if you’re asking do farm roosters lay eggs, then the answer is no. They don’t lay eggs. However, roosters can be used to mate with laying hens if you want the eggs to hatch. However, with advancements in technology, most hatcheries have mastered techniques such as in-ovo sexing to separate male eggs from female eggs.
Since roosters are disliked for their noisy crows, most people prefer to keep hens in their backyards to avoid disturbing their neighbors. Hens are also admired for laying eggs and for their meat.
What Is the Difference Between a Chicken and a Rooster?
If you’re a novice and you’re interested in chickens, the first lesson you must learn is to tell the difference between hens and roosters. In fact, this is a very important lesson if you’re learning to identify their gender—a process known as sexing. So, here, we’re going to explain the main differences between roosters and hens in the form of a chart
|Egg Laying||The first obvious difference between roosters and hens is the ability to lay eggs. As for roosters, their role is to protect the flock from danger. So, if you’re asking can a rooster lay eggs, then the answer is no.||As for hens, these ones are purposed to lay eggs and protect the chicks.|
|Appearance||As for the appearance, roosters have more defined combs and wattles. Both the combs are wattles are red and more pronounced. They also have broader bodies than hens and they have distinctive tail feathers that arc upwards. Lastly, roosters have stronger and thicker feet than hens.||As for hens, their combs and wattles are smaller and less pronounced. Hen’s feathers are less colorful and they don’t have pronounced hackle feathers on their necks as roosters do.|
|Vocalization||When it comes to vocalization, roosters are admired for their barnyard calls. This is the call they make when protecting the flock against predators or when there’s food to eat.||As for hens, these are known to be silent and less vocal. However, they can be vocal if they sense danger or when they’re protecting the chicks.|
Can a Rooster Lay Eggs?
So, can roosters lay eggs? Well, the simple answer to this pressing question is No. Roosters don’t lay eggs. Their reproductive anatomy can’t allow them to lay eggs. Now, some poultry farmers claim that their roosters lay eggs. Well, this is not true. You see, some people state that their roosters lay eggs only because they found them sitting on top of the eggs.
Others don’t know the difference between hens and roosters so they end up confusing the two. Other farmers swear their roosters lay eggs due to the color and size of eggs they find in their coop. What they forget is that the unusual size and color of the eggs they find are caused by many factors such as the breed, maturity, nutrition, and health conditions of the hens.
Now, as an aviculturist, before stating that a rooster actually laid an egg, you should take your time to inspect your flock to determine which hens are mature enough to lay eggs. While some hens show obvious signs of maturity, others fail to show any. Other breeds start laying eggs at an early stage than others.
Therefore, if you fail to consider some of these factors, then it’s easy to get fooled that indeed the eggs were laid by roosters.
Do You Need a Rooster for Hens to Lay Eggs?
Now, if you’re asking do chickens need roosters to lay eggs, then the answer is no. You don’t need roosters for your chickens to lay eggs. Egg laying is something that comes automatically when your hens are mature. So, once they reach the egg laying age, which is around 18 weeks, your hens will automatically start laying an egg every day.
However, you need to note that the types of eggs laid by your hens are unfertilized eggs. So, such eggs will only benefit a poultry farmer who’s looking to sell eggs for consumption. But, if you’re looking to hatch your own chicks, then unfertilized eggs won’t help. Therefore, you’ll need to get fertilized eggs.
Where do you get them? Well, you’ll get fertilized eggs from adding roosters to your flock. When we mention roosters, we don’t mean that the roosters will lay the eggs. The purpose of the roosters is to fertilize the eggs by mating with the hens. Only then will you have fertilized eggs that will hatch chicks.
How Does a Rooster Fertilize an Egg?
Earlier on, we agreed that your hens don’t need a rooster to lay eggs. So, if you’re asking, do hens need roosters to lay eggs, then the answer is no. In most cases, the hens will begin laying eggs on their own when they’re 18 weeks and above. However, the type of eggs laid by hens without roosters are unfertilized meaning they’re good for consumption but not for hatching.
So, if you’re planning to incubate eggs or raise chickens that can hatch chicks, then you’ll need a rooster to fertilize the eggs. But, how do roosters fertilize eggs? Well, that’s exactly what we’ll discuss here.
Usually, the process starts when the rooster and the hen mate in a process called “cloacal kiss”. Once mating is over, the rooster releases sperms that go straight to the hen’s oviduct to fertilize the eggs. So, any eggs laid from this time are considered fertile and perfect for hatching chicks.
Now, after this explanation, some people might be wondering, how then do you tell that an egg is fertilized? Now, there are two ways to tell whether an egg is fertile. The first method is by cracking it open. In a fertilized egg, you’ll see a white spot on top of the embryo. This spot is known as a blastoderm.
The second method is the candling process. Here, you hold the egg and place a source of light underneath it. If you happen to see a dark veined spot in the middle, then it means the egg is fertilized. The egg can also be opaque in color.
How Does a Rooster and Hen Mate?
Now, we’ve heard questions such as can hens lay eggs without a rooster. We’ve also heard people asking whether roosters lay eggs. In the above section, we’ve explained in detail how roosters fertilize eggs. In this section, we’ll discuss how exactly hens and roosters mate.
Now, roosters don’t have penises like humans do but rather a bump inside the cloaca. Hens, on the other hand, have a cloaca that serves as a digestive, urinary, and reproductive organ. So, how do these two birds mate?
When the hen is ready to mate, she drops her body to the ground and keeps her head low. Once they’re in position, the hen spreads her feathers to extend her cloaca. The rooster’s papilla then rubs against the hen’s cloaca to release sperms. This process is usually known as the cloacal kiss.
Once she’s successfully mated, the sperm travels to the eggs to fertilize them. This mating process can continue 10 to 20 times a day until a hen is successfully mated.
Reasons for Having a Rooster in the Flock
Can chickens lay eggs without a rooster? Well, you now have an answer. But, since hens can lay eggs without roosters, why then do you need a rooster in your flock? That’s exactly what we’re going to find out in this section.
The first obvious benefit of having roosters among your flock is to fertilize the eggs. If your eggs are for consumption alone, then you don’t need roosters. However, if you’re planning to hatch your own chicks and increase your flock, then you’ll need roosters. Once they mate with the hens, the eggs laid will be fertilized and ready to hatch when incubated.
One of the interesting benefits of roosters is that they’re good selfless protectors. As a natural characteristic, roosters find themselves defending the flock against dangerous predators such as eagles, snakes, and other potentially dangerous animals. Since they mate 10 to 20 times daily, they must protect their “girls” against external threats. Roosters are very attentive in spotting threats. They use various warning calls to alert the hens in case they sense danger.
Roosters have a bossy characteristic when they’re in the middle of a flock. Now, if your flock has hens only, you’ll realize that older or stronger hens will be too aggressive toward the weaker hens. There will also be clashes of interest in the flock. But, with several roosters in the flock, there will be order as the roosters will maintain equality by protecting the weaker hens. However, note that having too many roosters in a small flock will lead to fighting.
To those asking do farm roosters lay eggs, then the answer is no. However, many factors make roosters admirable. One of them is their bright, colorful, and flashy feathers that make them striking-looking birds.
Another factor, that’s quite interesting, is their high sense of humor and entertainment. If you watch them closely, roosters enjoy performing dances to woo and entertain their “women”. If you have a few roosters, you’ll see them try to outperform each other in a bid to attract attention from the hens.
Amazing Facts to Know About Egg Laying
Hens Don’t Require a Rooster to Lay Eggs
Now, one of the most interesting facts about hens is that they don’t need a rooster to lay eggs. So, if you’re asking can chickens lay eggs without a rooster, then it’s no. Roosters are not necessary during egg laying. They only become necessary if you want your eggs to get fertilized.
Roosters Don’t Make Hens Become Broody
Another interesting fact about roosters is that they’re not responsible for the broodiness of your hens. So, if your hens are broody, it doesn’t mean it was caused by a rooster. Even without roosters, hens can end up being broody over unfertilized eggs. So, broodiness is caused by a hen’s breed and the feeding. The purpose of a rooster is actually to fertilize the eggs so that they can hatch.
Hens Can Remain Fertile for a Long Time
Hens can stay fertile for up to 3 weeks after mating with a rooster. You see, after mating, sperms from the roosters get to the hen’s oviduct to fertilize the eggs. In the process, some of the sperms are stored in storage tubules to fertilize other eggs in the coming days.
This allows hens to remain fertile for up to 3 weeks. However, their fertility reduces after the first week and is strongest in the first 3 days.
Do chickens need roosters to lay eggs? From what we’ve discussed, the obvious answer to this question is no. However, you need to note that roosters have lots of other benefits when they’re part of a flock. We’ve listed some of these benefits just above. The most obvious and most important benefit of roosters is to fertilize the eggs. So, if you need to hatch your own chicks, then a rooster is a necessity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Is it Okay to Eat Fertilized Eggs?
The answer is yes. It’s okay to eat fertilized eggs. You see, fertilized eggs have no difference from unfertilized eggs. However, you have to collect the eggs regularly to discourage the hens from sitting on them. Remember, if they do, then the eggs will start developing into chicks. By the way, most people argue that fertilized eggs are more nutritious than unfertilized eggs.
Q2. What are Fairy or Fart-Eggs?
Now, fart or fairy eggs are eggs that appear smaller than regular eggs. These types of eggs are laid by hens either in the earlier or late stages of their reproductive life. In the Middle Ages, some people believed that these eggs were laid by roosters and were sometimes called cock eggs. These beliefs have caused a lot of confusion up to this day leading to questions such as can a rooster lay eggs?
Q3. At What Age Do Hens Lay Eggs the Most?
Well, in most cases, hens lay the most eggs when they’re at least 30 weeks old. At this time, they’re believed to be at their peak production. Although the size of the eggs is smaller at this age, it gradually increases with time as the pullet matures. From the 2nd year of their egg-laying cycle, your hens start to age and the number of eggs laid begins to drop.
So, do roosters lay eggs? Well, we believe you now have the answer to this question. Roosters don’t and will never lay eggs. So, if you found a fairy egg, then it’s likely it was laid by a pullet. Secondly, if you’re sure your rooster laid the egg, then you must be confusing the rooter with a hen. To avoid any confusion, we’ve listed some key differences between roosters and hens. So, make sure you review the chart above to remove any doubts.
Lastly, although roosters don’t lay eggs, it doesn’t mean that they’re useless birds. Roosters have numerous positive qualities that make them useful among your flock. Some of these benefits are highlighted above so we won’t get to that again. That said, this guide has provided vast information regarding roosters and whether they lay eggs.
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Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!