Do Hens Lay Eggs Without a Rooster?

If you don't need a rooster for eggs, what are the benefits?

A close-up of a rooster with background hen
Ben Miller/The Image Bank/Getty Images

You don't need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs, as hens will lay just as many eggs whether there's a rooster around or not. However, a rooster is needed to fertilize the eggs to hatch them into baby chicks.

There are significant pros and cons to keeping roosters. Therefore, any chicken owners should be sure to take both into consideration before adding a rooster to the flock.

Rooster with eggs
Jesus Orchando/Getty Images 

Benefits of Roosters

There are some benefits to having a rooster, as it does offer significant protection for the flock. It will guard against predators and sound the alert if there is any perceived danger.

  • You need a rooster if you want to naturally hatch baby chicks. The male chicken fertilizes the eggs, which allows them to develop into baby chicks.
  • Roosters will protect the rest of the flock. It will guard the hens from predators, keeping them safe by keeping them together and sounding the alert if a predator approaches. A rooster will also defend them bodily against an attacker.
  • Roosters complete the natural order of the flock. Chickens naturally live with males and females mixed, so you're allowing your hens to live as normal a life as possible with a rooster in the mix. The roosters may break up hen fights, find and give treats to then hens, encourage egg-laying, and even monitor the nest boxes.
  • Roosters are beautiful. Roosters are classic farmyard icons, and they are gorgeous to look at in many cases.
  • Roosters have a lot of personality. For some, this can also be a con. However, many folks find that roosters are entertaining and interesting creatures to have around.

Drawbacks of Roosters

If you don't need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs, then you might wonder why anyone would bother with a rooster at all. Indeed, some choose to keep an all-female flock to avoid too many baby chicks or because roosters can be noisy and aggressive. Additionally, urban or suburban homesteaders may not have a choice due to zoning laws that forbid roosters.

  • Roosters can run afoul of zoning laws. Check out the ordinances in your area to ensure you don't get fined for having a rooster where they're not allowed.
  • Roosters can be noisy. They crow—both in the morning and at other inopportune times as well. Think of your neighbors' reactions, especially if you live in close quarters.
  • Roosters can be aggressive. They have spurs on their ankles that can break the skin. You need to stay on top of training them, so they respect you. You might want to think twice about owning a rooster if you have small children or lots of farm visitors.
  • They can wear out hens. Chicken sex isn't consensual, and if you have too many roosters and too few hens—one rooster can take care of 10 to 12 hens—your hens will start to show the wear. Signs of this can include backs rubbed clean of feathers and physical exhaustion.
Pros
  • Roosters provide protection for the rest of the flock

  • Roosters complete the natural order of the flock.

  • Roosters are beautiful.

  • Roosters have a lot of personality.

  • Roosters make baby chicks possible.

Cons
  • Roosters aren't allowed in some locales.

  • Roosters can be noisy.

  • Roosters can be aggressive.

  • They can wear out hens.