The Only Two Ways to Deal with a Rooster You Can’t Keep

Inside: how to deal with an unfortunate rooster truth–many (most) are aggressive, troublesome, and don’t have a place in your flock. What to do with a bad rooster is your choice, but it’s usually an unpleasant one. Here are some options.

Hens are lovely. Friendly, clucking, coming to you for treats, even letting you pet them. And of course, you get eggs.

Roosters are…a less lovely part of raising backyard chickens. One can be an asset to your flock, protecting them from predators and dealing with conflicts between the hens.

More than one is often trouble, as they will fight for dominance. And even if you just have one, they are often very aggressive with kids (will actually hurt them), aggressive with the hens, and, of course, loud.

black and white rooster outside


  • Rehoming: This sounds great but is quite difficult in reality.
  • Killing: You can eat it or not eat it, but ending its life is the only other choice

Options for Rehoming an Unwanted Rooster

You have to be realistic about this. You don’t want your rooster for very valid reasons, and those reasons are valid for others, too. It is unlikely that someone will want your rooster, but it’s not impossible. Here are places to look.

  • Ask fellow homesteaders. Sometimes people do want them! If you have a friend who wants to hatch chicks at home, they will need a rooster. And some people would like them to protect the flock.
  • Local connections: Look into local farm networks, feed stores, or [backyard chicken clubs](search online). Staff at feed stores or breeders may know someone looking for a rooster, or you can put up a flyer there.
  • Online platforms: Utilize online platforms like [Facebook groups](search for “backyard chickens” or your area) or classifieds like Craigslist (be sure to check your area’s regulations for rehoming livestock).
  • 4-H clubs: These groups often have young people raising chickens, and a rooster might be a perfect addition to their project.
  • Breed-specific rescues: If your rooster is a rare or heritage breed, there might be breed-specific rescues that can help rehome him.

The Other Choice: Killing the Rooster

You are likely, at some point, to find yourself faced with the possibility of this. No one likes it. Here’s how to deal.

  • Do it yourself. You can butcher the rooster for meat (yes, you can eat a rooster, especially if it’s young), or you can simply eliminate it and dispose of it.
  • Call a friend. A fellow homesteader might be willing to help you, or might want the meat.

Reasons You May Need to Get Rid of Your Rooster

If you’re feeling judgy about this, time to check your attitude. You might think you would never do this. But if you order chicks, even if you pick all hens, it’s not a perfect science, and some males will often sneak in there.

And think about this: if you’re ordering hens, you certainly realize that no one else is ordering roosters. They’re still hatching. What do you think is happening to them?

Roosters are usually aggressive

One of the most common reasons for getting rid of a rooster is aggressive behavior. I have had them charge after my children, jump on them and leave marks.

Excessive Crowing Disturbing Neighbors

Another reason you may need to get rid of your rooster is excessive crowing. While some crowing is expected, a rooster that crows constantly throughout the day (and night) can be a real nuisance to neighbors

Too Many Roosters for Your Flock Size

Even if you intentionally purchased roosters, you might find that you have too many for your flock size. A good rule of thumb is to have one rooster for every 8-10 hens. Any more than that, and you may start to see problems like over-mating, fighting among roosters, and stress on the hens.

Key Tip:

Make sure to buy sexed chicks from a reputable hatchery. It cost a bit more, but it was worth the peace of mind knowing that I would have only hens.

Is it possible to keep a rooster in an urban or suburban setting?

The answer to this question largely depends on your local laws and regulations. Many cities and towns have ordinances that prohibit roosters or limit their numbers. It’s crucial to research your local laws before considering keeping a rooster.

Even if roosters are allowed in your area, you’ll need to consider your neighbors. Roosters can be loud, and their crowing can be a nuisance to those living nearby. If you have close neighbors, it may be best to stick with hens only.

Can roosters be trained to be less aggressive?

While it’s possible to train roosters to some extent, it’s important to remember that aggression is an instinct for them. Roosters are hardwired to protect their flock and assert dominance, which can sometimes translate into aggression towards humans or other chickens.

All of this to say: no.

What are some signs that a rooster is too aggressive to keep?

There are several signs that a rooster may be too aggressive to keep in your flock. These include:

  • Repeatedly attacking or charging at humans (sometimes they will be fine with adults and very aggressive with children!)
  • Inflicting injuries on hens or other roosters
  • Constantly disrupting the peace of the flock
  • Showing aggression towards children or pets

Good luck!

Dealing with an unwanted rooster is never easy, but it’s a reality that many backyard chicken keepers face at some point. Whether it’s due to aggression, excessive crowing, or simply having too many males, the decision to rehome or butcher a rooster is a difficult one.

The Only Two Ways to Deal with a Rooster You Can\'t Keep

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