What are the most desirable traits for a rooster? As is the case with anything in life, this can vary. There might be certain things that you love about your rooster that other people don’t care much about.
I, for one, value aesthetics! I never in my life imagined that I would call a rooster handsome, but I do. I love Dirty Wilson, we all love him. He’s a good rooster. We’ve had our taste of having a bad rooster around. I’m really glad that this fellow has outlasted them all!
Before we ever owned chickens, I had no idea how useful a rooster would be. All I knew was that it would crow at the crack of dawn, and I really didn’t want to be bothered by that!
We didn’t plan on having him… he just got mixed in with the girl chicks, and we didn’t know he was a “he” until his comb grew larger than the others did! But we are so glad we have him now!
For those of you who haven’t ever owned a rooster, let me fill you in on how useful they are to a flock… and what you should look for when you are shopping around for one.
Top Traits of a Good Rooster
If you’re thinking about adding a rooster to the flock, consider these characteristics. A good rooster will have them all!
Many people consider only the breed or confirmation, especially when selecting roosters that will be used for show and therefore need to meet the Standard of Perfection. However, there are lots of other things you should look for.
A Good Rooster is Protective
A good rooster warns his girls of danger. If a hawk is around, he will lead them into the woods for shelter.
When a good rooster loses sight of one of his hens, he will call her frantically until he hears a response and is able to locate her position.
A good rooster stands guard, and keeps a watch out while the hens peck and scratch in their own carefree manner.
Whenever one of his hens is in trouble, a good rooster will sound his alarm and alert everyone of the danger she is in. (I can always tell when the dog is outside chasing one of the hens, Dirty Wilson has a fit!)
A Good Rooster Shares
A good rooster shares food with his ladies. When he discovers an extra special treat, he’ll cluck in a particular way and the hens will all come running to see what he has found. Then he’ll step aside and let the ladies enjoy themselves.
If your rooster likes to eat all the food himself, that’s not a good sign. Good roosters will do something known as “tidbitting,” in which they allow the hens to eat first by dropping bits of food in front of them.
If he doesn’t conform to this desirable trait, he’ll not only eat all the food for himself but will also interfere with the hens while they’re eating, too.
A Good Rooster Isn’t Overly Aggressive to Humans
And a good rooster, totally does not attack you when you least expect it! Okay, maybe he’ll test you a time or two. Maybe he’ll run up behind you and bump into the back of your foot to see if he can scare you.
But a good rooster will quickly straighten up after a stern lecture. And he’ll never really hurt you.
A good rooster will be tolerant of people, particularly kids (this one will be especially important if you have little ones at home).
A rooster, particularly one from a large breed like a Jersey Giant, can be dangerous when it comes flying toward you. Just think about the height of a little kid – while a rooster attacking you might land on your legs or at worst, near your torso, at a child, it’s going to be neck- or face-height.
That can be extremely dangerous when you think about the spurs!
Ideally, your rooster should be wary of people without being too aggressive. It will keep a close eye on you at all times without actually being aggressive.
If you notice behaviors like flogging, chasing, pecking, or other attempted displays of dominance toward a human, it might be time to remove that rooster from your flock.
A Good Rooster Isn’t Overzealous With the Hens
Obviously, you want to find a rooster that…shall we say…knows his way around the ladies!
However, you don’t want a rooster that’s so much of a ladies man that he isn’t respectful. Some roosters are way too aggressive when they’re mating.
A lot of this has to do with your flock ratios. A good rule of thumb is to give a minimum of 10 hens to each rooster (ideally more) to prevent individual hens from being overmated. However, even with the most ideal ratios, roosters can still often become too aggressive.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep close tabs on your hens to make sure they aren’t being overbred. If you notice excessive wear on the saddle and head area of a hen, it can be a sign that the rooster is a bit too aggressive with the hens.
One final note here – if it seems as though your rooster is being a bit too excitable with the hens, try to give it a little time to see if it resolves.
Sometimes the issue isn’t necessarily the rooster’s demeanor himself but just the fact that he’s young. Young roosters tend to be a bit overeager and may be too aggressive with the hens at first – the older girls should straighten him out soon!
If a rooster is a bully to the hens outside of breeding, that’s not a good sign, either. A few sparring matches with dominant hens can occur every now and then, but if there are serious, knock-down fights that leave your hens bleeding or otherwise injured, he is not a good rooster.
A Good Rooster is Kind to Chicks
A rooster won’t interact with the chicks like a hen will – you shouldt’ expect that.
However, he should treat chicks with kindness. He might tidbit for them, shepherd them around, or protect them from predators and overly aggressive hens.
This is a great characteristic to look for in a rooster – and it’s not one that you will always find. In any event, if you have a rooster who throws, harasses, pecks, or mauls chicks, it’s time to remove him from the flock.
A Good Rooster Tolerates Other Roosters
This is a rooster characteristic that can also be tough to find!
And to be fair, “tolerant” is a term that should be used loosely. Most roosters, even the best of them, don’t enjoy sharing the hens with other roosters.
A little bit of cockfighitng is normal, but once the pecking order has been established, a good rooster will let the other ones be.
A Good Rooster is Vigorous and Alert
Vigor is one of the most important factors to consider when you’re shopping around for a rooster. The males in your flock should always be on the go, looking around for food and potential threats.
A rooster should be the first one off the post and the last one on, always scratching around to find food and arlert the hens.
A lot of crowing is a good sign. Usually, the rooster that crows the most and crows the loudest is trying to tell the hens something – which means he is paying attention!
A Good Rooster… Looks Like a Good Rooster!
Conformation to a breed standard might not matter much if you’re not planning on exhibiting your roosters. However the appearance of a rooster can tell you a lot about his overall health and ability to guard a flock.
Size matters the most. A rooster should be large,full-bodied, and with the head erect.
The reason why these traits matter has to do with breeding. You want to have a rooster that is still virile at mating, even if he has a dozen or so hens to breed.
A Good Rooster Knows Where Home Is
This can vary a bit among different breeds, but you should try to look for a rooster who knows where his home is.
Now, a little bit of wandering isn’t a bad thing – that’s how roosters find food and scope out potential threats. However, if your rooster is constantly wandering onto your neighbor’s yard or failing to return to the roost at night, that could be a sign that you need to consider a different flocka rooster.
Best Breeds for Keeping a Rooster
You might not have a lot of choice when it comes to selecting the rooster for your flock – you might be raising a flock solely of New Hampshire Reds, and so you’ll have to keep that New Hampshire Red rooster!
However, if you’re interested in raising a mixed flock of birds, know that these are the friendliest, most docile rooster to consider raising:
- Salmon Faverolles
How to Find a Good Rooster
If you’re trying to find a good rooster who you will be able to keep in your flock for the long term, I recommend waiting until they are older to make a decision. Many people make the mistake of selecting a lead “flocka rooster” among their cockerels, when the birds are still young.
This can be misleading since often, cockerels who are far more friendly when young become extremely aggressive as they get older. Some people attribute this to them “sizing up” their human caretakers – definitely not something you want to happen!
Check around with local breeders and farms to see if they have any recommendations – or are looking to get rid of any roosters. If they are, do your due diligence to make sure there’s not a specific reason as to why they are getting rid of them.
They might be trying to offload an aggressive or sterile rooster, which isn’t something you want to inherit in your own flock!
We got lucky with our Dirty Wilson, to say the least, so we won’t be shopping for a while. Yes, our Dirty Wilson is a good, good rooster. I hope he sticks around here for a very long time!
Wanna brag about that special rooster in your life? Tell us what he does that makes you glad you have him around!
last update: 12/16/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.