Keeping Roosters – Quietly and Responsibly

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Backyard poultry keeping has surged in the past year or so. Many families are taking advantage of the easy keeping and productive nature of chickens. But when you find yourself with an adolescent rooster, just learning to crow, many of us ask how do we keep him quiet.

Many cities around the country ban roosters to prevent nuisance complaints, even though there are several ways to keep roosters in populated areas quietly and responsibly. There are really only two reasons to have roosters in your backyard flock – to protect and to fertilize eggs. If your flock is well confined and safe from predators, whether they be furry or feathered, there’s really no need for a rooster’s protection. If you do not plan to breed your hens and hatch their eggs, or do not wish to have fertilized eggs, you also have no need for a rooster.

If you keep a small backyard flock without a rooster, one hen will generally take the rooster’s role. She will keep an eye out for predators, alert the flock if danger is near, maintain the pecking order and, in rare cases, may even crow.

But, if you see cute, fuzzy baby chicks in your future then you definitely need a rooster.

So – how do you keep the father of your flock with out disturbing your neighbors?

Most roosters begin to crow at daybreak. Even the slightest glimmer of light starts my guys off in a rousing cacophony. The trick is – well – to trick them. Trick them into thinking its still dark out.

Roosters can be moved into the garage at night, into their own cage where they cannot tell when the sun comes up. They can also be placed in a cage inside the coop or a spare rabbit hutch or even a plastic dog crate and covered with a tarp or thick blanket. Again, so they can’t see when the sun comes up. If they do happen to crow, the noise is muffled enough that most people won’t be able to hear it.

I like keeping roosters and think they’ve gotten a bad rap. I love the way they strut around the yard looking after their girls, their beautiful feathers spread out in a rainbow of colors. I love the way they perch themselves on top of fence posts or wheelbarrows, smug and indignant, showing everyone they’re the boss. And, most of all I love the chicks we raise to replenish our flock or give away to friends so they can know the joy of having their own backyard flock.

I understand that roosters are not for everyone and I understand that most people did not bargain for neighbors that crow so early in the morning. Roosters are beautiful and they do serve a purpose. Not having them may be a necessary compromise suburban chicken keepers have to make in order to take one step closer to self-sufficiency.

Creative Commons License photo credit: 826 PARANORMAL

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