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Is there a rooster in the house? April 8, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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The hen house, that is. When people find out that our friend Ben and Silence Dogood keep chickens, the conversation almost always goes like this:

“Do you have a rooster?”

“No, just the six hens.”

“Then how do you get eggs?”

This has to be the most common misconception about chickens, that hens need roosters to lay eggs. The truth is that you’ll get just as many eggs without a rooster as with one. What you won’t get is fertile eggs. So if you want chicks, you need a rooster. If you just want eggs, you don’t.

Two other misconceptions that are almost as common:

* Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs. Not true, but we can see where this probably came from: For a long time, pretty much all factory-farmed eggs were white, while farm-raised hens were often hardy breeds that laid brown eggs. A healthy hen that gets plenty of variety in her diet and runs around on a farm will certainly lay more nutritious eggs than a factory-farmed hen, whether her eggs are brown, white, blue, green, or pink.

* Which brings us to this classic, that blue eggs have blue yolks. Take this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, and white eggs would have white yolks! All eggs, whatever their color, have yolks that range in color from pale yellow (those factory farms again) to a deep, rich apricot-orange (our hens’ eggs). And yes, the deeper the yolk’s color, the more nutritious the egg. (Hens that lay blue, green, or pink eggs are called Easter Egg chickens. Ameracaunas all lay blue eggs.)

Have you heard any curious questions about eggs?



1. Heather - April 8, 2009

I can’t wait to get my chicks. I get to call on Friday to find out the ship date. Hopefully the chicken house construction will begin this next week. We may have snow in the next few days. Gotta love Idaho weather. I would love to see what your chicken coop/house looks like. Oohh, and your birds too!

Good for you, Heather!!! Tell me again what kind(s) you’re getting. As for my setup, you’ll have to wait for my chicken book to come out—hopefully they’ll send somebody out here to take some pictures! I designed our setup myself and was really thrilled with the results. We haven’t lost one chicken to predators in 15 years, and they seem really healthy and happy. (We have a portable “chicken tractor” pen as well so they can get out and about every now and then.) You’re going to love having chickens!!!

2. lzyjo - April 8, 2009

I tried to explain the no rooster egg concept to DH, but he wouldn’t believe me. I think it has something to do with the yolk resembling an embryo to him. That’s why there are so gross to us and we never eat them on their own.

I can totally relate, lzyjo! I’m texture-sensitive and couldn’t bear the texture of eggs—fried, scrambled, hardboiled, you name it—as a child. My mother, who apparently thought I’d die if I didn’t eat eggs, made them into pancakes, waffles, and French toast, which of course I loved. Today I can eat omelettes, huevos rancheros, and the like—dishes where the eggs are combined with lots of other things—and can even manage hardboiled eggs in salads, red beet eggs, egg salad sandwiches, and deviled eggs (which I actually love). But no scrambled, softboiled, poached, or runny eggs, please! EeeeEEEWWWW!!!!!

3. Victoria - April 8, 2009

We’ve learned a ton about chickens since deciding to have some of our own. Asking around, it seems like quite a few people around here are “chicken knowledgeable”.

That’s great, Victoria! It always amazes me how many people keep chickens. You’d never think until you bring it up. Then stand back!

4. cooperii - April 8, 2009

I’ve a spare rooster if anyone needs one.

There is a theory, and I’ve seen evidence to support it (in the work place if not the coop), that says hens need a rooster to unite against. He is rough and abrupt, ruling the roost with an iron beak. They are sisters united against an evil overlord. This lets them all get along well together. Without a rooster the hens pick at each other (both in the coop and at the workplace!). Roosters have a place in a flock of more than a dozen. They are not necessary for eggs, but important for balance.

Good point, Alan! I understand they’re great defenders of the flock as well. We’ve never had more than seven hens, and our girls have managed to sort things out for themselves. But I too have heard that a rooster will keep everyone from getting “henpecked”!

5. cooperii - April 9, 2009

I’ve stories I’m not allowed to tell. Too many bloody hens looking for a rooster.


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