Whether you have recently acquired some backyard chickens as pets or are looking to start your own egg-selling business, you may be wondering do chickens lay more eggs with a rooster present.
Before you decide whether you want to get yourself a new and natural morning alarm clock that will undoubtedly annoy your neighbors, you need to consider the facts to see if a rooster is worth the trouble and if it will truly increase egg production.
Do Chickens Lay More Eggs With A Rooster?
While many people may believe that you can boost egg production by adding a rooster to your flock of hens, this is not true.
I have been keeping chickens with and without roosters for decades and have never noticed a difference in egg production between hens with roosters and my flocks without. There is no scientific evidence I can find either that shows chickens lay more eggs with a rooster.
Egg-laying hens will produce eggs as long as they are healthy and are kept in a good environment. Adding a rooster to your flock of chickens will not increase egg production from your hens. Roosters, however, can aid in fertilizing eggs so you will be able to hatch baby chicks and grow your flock.
How a rooster can impact egg-laying
We’ve established that rooster does not have a positive impact on the egg production of chickens but that doesn’t mean that they have no impact at all.
If a rooster is particularly aggressive he can cause the chickens to reduce egg production. This is because if the chickens are being over-mated and harassed by the rooster, she will become stressed, and due to the stress, her egg production levels will drop.
So if anything, roosters can only cause egg production to decrease. However, there is a multitude of factors that could be causing your hen’s egg production to lower (see below). Roosters in most cases aren’t the culprit, these are some of the reasons you may be experiencing a drop in egg production with or without a rooster.
Factors That Can Affect Egg Production
While adding a rooster to your flock will not increase the number of eggs your chickens produce, some factors can assist in boosting egg production.
The Amount Of Light Your Hens Receive Affect Egg Production
To boost egg production within your flock of chickens, they need at least 14 – 16 hours of light daily. Egg production increases during the warmer months like spring and summer because the days are longer, and your hens receive a significant amount of natural light.
Your Hens Stress Levels Can Affect Egg Production
If your chickens receive adequate natural light during the day, but their egg production is still low, it may be due to other factors such as stress. Your hens may feel stressed when they are in a less-than-ideal environment.
If a chicken is stressed, it can often lead to more dangerous issues down the line. Pressure from roosters is one of the forms of stress, if the chickens are being over-mated with and harassed by aggressive roosters, their egg productivity very well may decrease due to stress.
However, rooster pressure is not the only reason behind chickens being stressed, we’ve often seen chickens become agitated and mentally unwell when it is kept alone. This is why it is crucial that chickens are kept in flocks, the more chickens that are kept together, the better. This is because their social structure is very complicated and they need many-to-many relationships with other chickens in order to remain happy. Chickens can very well become lonely and it can have drastic impacts on their health and egg production.
For more information on this, check out our article Do chickens get lonely?
Other reasons that can affect your hens’ stress levels include moving them to a new environment, leaving them without enough water or food for many hours, or subjecting them to extreme temperatures. These factors can interrupt your chicken’s egg-laying cycles, hindering egg production.
The Age Of Your Hens Can Affect Egg Production
As we mentioned earlier, some people think that having a rooster makes the chickens lay more quickly and mature faster. There is some psychology behind this but we haven’t noticed any substantial differences for it to be definite.
Most hens have a standard egg-laying period of around two to three years. Once they reach the three-year mark, it is common to notice a decline in egg production. If your goal is to produce as many eggs as possible, it is best to keep younger hens.
It is essential to know how old your chickens are, as their age can affect the number of eggs they produce. If you do not know how old your hens are and their egg production decreases, you will not be able to tell if it is due to health, environmental factors, or just old age.
From a commercial standpoint, it’s best to replace the flock once they drop below a certain threshold but many people choose to keep the chickens for the entirety of their lives as pets despite them not being anywhere near as productive as they once were.
The Health Of Your Hens May Affect Egg Production
A healthy hen is a happy hen, and happy hens lay more eggs. You will need to regularly inspect your chickens to ensure they are in great shape. If your chickens have underlying health concerns, this could decrease the number of eggs they lay.
Internal parasites (worms) and external parasites like mites and lice can affect the health of your chicken, which could cause a decrease in egg production. Any health problem or illness can be detrimental to the number of eggs your chickens produce, as unhealthy hens could stop laying eggs altogether.
Will chickens lay eggs without a rooster?
While many people believe that chickens need a rooster in order to lay eggs, this is actually not the case. Chickens are able to lay eggs without a rooster present, and in fact, most commercial egg production takes place without roosters.
When chickens are kept as pets or for egg production, they are often separated by sex. Hens will lay eggs regardless of whether or not there is a rooster present. The only difference is that the eggs will not be fertilized. As a result, they will not be able to hatch into chicks. However, many people still choose to keep roosters with their hens. Not only do they provide protection from predators, but they also help to keep the flock together.
Chicken Breeds That Produce The Most Eggs
Not all chicken breeds are the same, and different breeds will have different egg-laying rates. If your goal is to increase egg production, you must choose a chicken breed with a higher egg-laying rate. I have a whole article on which backyard chickens are the best for egg laying that you can check out here. In summary:
The chicken breeds that produce over four eggs per week are listed below:
- White Leghorns
If you are unable to find the breeds with a high rate of lay, then it is best to avoid chicken breeds that are known for poor egg production, which are listed below:
- New Hampshire’s
- Jersey Giants
- Naked Necks
If your goal is to raise egg-laying hens while they are in their prime years and then sell them for meat later, you should look at dual-purpose breeds, which are listed below:
- Rhode Island Reds
Advantages Of Adding A Rooster To Your Flock
While roosters may not be able to help with an increase in egg production, that does not render them completely useless. There are a few advantages to adding a rooster to your flock of chickens.
Roosters Can Help Increase Your Flock
If your goal is egg production, adding a rooster will not automatically increase the number of eggs your hens lay. However, roosters can fertilize eggs, which will allow some eggs to hatch into baby chicks, increasing the number of hens in your flock. The more egg-laying chickens you have, the more eggs you will get.
Roosters Can Help Bring Order To Your Flock
If you’re trying to provide your hens with the most natural life, adding a rooster to your flock will help complete the natural order. In the wild, female and male chickens are mixed, with the male usually watching out for the flock.
Adding a rooster to your brood will bring order, as the rooster can help keep the hens in line by breaking up fights, as well as enhancing the general happiness of your chickens by looking out for your hens and finding additional food, tasty treats, and nesting boxes for them.
Roosters Can Protect Your Flock Of Hens
Adding a rooster to your flock will help your hens with their stress levels. The rooster would act as the protector of the flock, watching out for predators and sounding the alarm if anything suspicious happens. Roosters will even protect and defend your hens by attacking certain predators.
Disadvantages Of Adding Roosters To Your Flock
There can be some disadvantages to adding a rooster to your flock. Certain areas have zoning laws that prohibit the ownership of roosters in that area. Roosters can also be quite aggressive and noisy. You may find more neighbors complaining about your rooster crowing in the early mornings and throughout the day.
Why you usually don’t need a rooster in your flock
Roosters in most cases bring no value to your flock and are futile to keep unless you’re hatching eggs, there are a few reasons why you don’t need a rooster in your flock.
No return on investment – Unless you’re hatching the eggs that your hens produce, a rooster has no financial value, he will still eat and drink but unlike the hens, he won’t provide any eggs.
Aggression – Roosters are notorious for being territorial and aggressive, lots of roosters are usually docile but in some cases, especially when they feel threatened or challenged, they can become really nasty. As well as this, sometimes they can stress out the chickens by over-mating and harassing them.
Noise – Depending on where you live, there will be certain rules and regulations on keeping a rooster but regardless they will make lots of noise each morning which often receives complaints.
While adding a rooster to your flock of hens will not directly increase egg production, a rooster is still a good addition as they can protect your hens, fertilize eggs to create baby chicks, and add some natural pecking order.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do all chickens need a rooster?
A: No, not all chickens need a rooster. If you are planning on keeping your chickens for egg production only, then you will not need a rooster.
Q: How many hens per rooster do I need?
A: The rule of thumb is 10 hens per rooster. However, this number can change depending on the personality of your rooster and how big your flock is.
Q: Do I need a rooster if I only want baby chicks?
A: Yes, you will need a rooster if you want your hens to lay fertilized eggs that will hatch into baby chicks.
Q: How do I know if my eggs are fertilized?
A: You can purchase a candler, which is a device that you shine a light through the egg to see if there is a developing chick inside. If you see red blood vessels, then the egg is fertilized.
Q: Can I keep a rooster and hens in my backyard?
A: It depends on your local laws and ordinances. You will need to check with your city or county to see if they allow chickens and if so if there are any restrictions on roosters.
Q: How do I keep my rooster from being too aggressive?
A: One way to keep your rooster from being too aggressive is to socialize him when he is a chick. Another way is to not allow him to mate with your hens too often, as this can increase his testosterone levels and make him more aggressive. You can also try training your rooster with positive reinforcement methods.
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.