Can Roosters Lay Eggs? (and why you need them)


If you are someone who is looking to go and start your own backyard chicken flock, you might have to look at the type of chickens you would want to raise. While we all know that hens actually lay eggs and are perfect if you want to have a perennial supply of eggs that you can safely eat, you are probably wondering if roosters are the same in the sense that they could also give you the same value. So, do roosters lay eggs?

Roosters do not lay eggs, but are the ones that actually mate with hens so that they can produce fertilized eggs. Even if you don’t have roosters, your hens will still lay eggs that are unfertilized. Having a rooster is only mandatory to get eggs that can hatch into chicks.

Given that roosters do not lay eggs and are not entirely the best when it comes to their meat, you might be wondering if you should actually go and get roosters for your backyard chicken flock. The good news is that roosters add a lot of value to your flock, even though they may not be the best in terms of their direct value in your eggs and chicken meat. Don’t worry because I am here to tell you more about how valuable a rooster can be.

Can male chickens produce eggs?

When it comes to starting your own backyard chicken flock, there are plenty of things about it that will provide value to your regular life. The first and most valuable part about keeping backyard chickens is that they will give you a perennial supply of eggs because most chickens will keep laying eggs on a daily basis. This means that you will be able to collect the eggs and keep them as a constant supply of food for your own home.

In that regard, while we already know that hens or female chickens are the ones that are primarily responsible for laying eggs, you might be wondering if the male chickens or the roosters hold the same value as far as eggs are concerned. Plainly speaking, you might be asking if roosters actually produce eggs.

The rooster does not produce eggs and is always incapable of producing eggs. In fact, most male species of animals, regardless of whether they may be birds or not, are incapable of producing eggs.

That’s because the females are the ones who are responsible for producing eggs, while the males are the ones that fertilize the eggs so that the female’s eggs can produce offspring.

In that regard, keeping roosters without hens around will not give you a perennial supply of eggs or even a single egg at all. You will even have a hard time with the roosters because they will constantly fight with one another for territory. 

As such, if you want to make sure that you have enough supply of eggs on a daily basis, it is best that you focus your efforts on increasing the number of hens that you have in your backyard chicken flock. That’s because, as mentioned, the only chickens capable of producing eggs are the hens. And, as you will understand later, there are times when the hens are perhaps the only chickens you will ever need if you are only focusing on eggs.

Do you need a male and female chicken to get eggs?

Now that you understand that roosters are not capable of egg production and that the females are the only chickens that are capable of laying eggs, you might be wondering if you actually need roosters and hens together in the same flock for you to be able to have a constant supply of eggs. That’s something I will be talking about in brief.

Hens will almost always lay eggs

So, the short answer to the question is that hens do not need roosters to produce eggs. Regardless of whether you do have a rooster in your flock, the fact of the matter is that the hens will almost always lay eggs. And while hens are genetically supposed to be able to lay eggs regardless of whether there are roosters around, there are some hens that may not be able to lay eggs due to a genetic defect.

But, generally speaking, hens should be able to lay eggs all the time without the help of the male. This is something that should be true when you have a hen that is healthy enough and comes with no genetic defect whatsoever.

Hence, if you want to be able to have a constant supply of eggs in your backyard chicken flock, you can keep a flock that is made of almost entirely female chickens or hens because these are the chickens that are responsible for laying eggs with or without the presence of a rooster. There are even some backyard chicken owners that never owned a rooster because their hens are all they need.

The good news as well is that healthy hens will almost always lay eggs on a daily basis, and that is why you are probably never going to run out of eggs depending on how quickly you consume them. Then again, there are some hens that may skip a day or two of laying eggs depending on how healthy they are. But, most of the time, healthy hens should always give you a constant supply of eggs on a daily basis.

How do hens produce eggs?

So, if you are wondering why hens are able to produce eggs without the presence of a male and how they produce eggs, here is a quick breakdown and explanation of how hens naturally produce eggs.

The hen’s reproductive system consists of two components, called the ovary and the oviduct. There are some hens that may have two ovaries but, most of the time, only one of those will become functional. Meanwhile, the healthy ovary is where the chicken forms the eggs regularly. It will only take about 24 to 28 hours for a hen to produce an egg.

What happens is that the yolk is produced in the ovary and will eventually be ejected into the part of the oviduct, which is called the infundibulum. If the hen is mated, the yolk will be fertilized in this part of the oviduct. If the hen is not mated, nothing will happen to the yolk in this part of the oviduct.

After about half an hour, the egg will move on to the magnum, where the egg white will begin to form. It will take about three hours for the egg white or the albumen to reach the halfway point of its development. From there, the egg will continue to move along the oviduct.

After that magnum, the isthmus is where the egg will begin to develop its inner membrane and the outer shell that eggs are known for. Meanwhile, the egg white will still continue to develop as the inner and outer membranes continue to form for about two hours.

When the egg has left the isthmus, it will now go to the uterus where it needs to remain for the rest of the day as the outer part of its membrane needs time to harden. And once the shell is already hard enough, the hen will now push the egg through its cloaca, which is the same hole where the hens excrete their urine and feces.

Roosters only fertilize eggs

Now that you know that hens will still produce eggs regardless of whether there is a rooster or not, what then is the purpose of the rooster in egg production? Well, the answer is simple. The rooster is there to fertilize the egg. And if you read the part where I discussed how chickens produce eggs, you will know that the egg yolk will be fertilized by the sperm in the infundibulum if the hen was mated by a rooster.

As such, the only role that roosters have in the entire egg production process is the fertilization part, which isn’t even needed when it comes to producing the egg. Again, hens will always produce eggs even when they are not mated. The rooster will only be useful if you want to have eggs that are fertilized. And a fertilized egg is the type of egg that will form a chick inside the shell and will hatch once the chick is already ready to come out after developing inside the egg.

Why do you need a rooster?

All that said, if the rooster doesn’t even produce eggs and doesn’t have the best meat in terms of its taste and texture, why do you even need a rooster in the first place? We did discuss that roosters are there to fertilize the eggs that the hens produce on a regular basis but roosters are not even needed for egg production. So, for what purpose should you get a rooster?

Chicks

So, when it comes to your backyard chicken flock, one of the reasons for having a flock in the first place is to have a perennial supply of eggs. But the thing you need to understand is that chickens do age. That means that they will weaken and slow down as they get older. As such, they won’t be able to lay eggs for a long time and will eventually die of old age.

Also, you may want to keep backyard chickens for their meat as well. This should be a good idea if you want to make sure that you have enough chicken meat so that you no longer have to buy your chicken meat in the supermarket. But butchering your hens will mean that you will eventually run out of chickens.

All that said, the only way for you to have a perennial supply of eggs and chicken meat is to keep a rooster in your flock. That’s because having a rooster means that your hens will lay fertilized eggs that can hatch into chicks.

In case you need things to be explained, the chicks are the ones that will eventually grow up into adult chickens that will continue the flock. This means that, if ever your chicks turned out to be female, you can keep them as the next generation of hens that will provide you with eggs and chicken meat.

Raising chicks into hens is also a lot cheaper than buying the chicks themselves. This means that you will be able to save money if you invest in raising chicks than buying hens. The only downside is that the chicks may turn out to be roosters but that shouldn’t be a problem if you do have a good market for roosters or if you are willing to actually eat rooster meat.

Protection

The rooster is not only there for reproduction, but is also there for protection. Like a lot of different animal species that tend to live in groups, the male chicken is the one that is responsible for protecting its flock from danger such as predators. This is why roosters can be quite aggressive and protective of their territory, even against fellow roosters.

As such, keeping a rooster around will add an extra layer of protection for your hens so that you no longer have to always keep a close eye on them. The rooster will do that for you. Your rooster can fend off smaller predators such as small hawks, small reptiles, or even rodents that may want to feast on eggs and the smaller and weaker chickens.

So, in that regard, your rooster is there to serve as the protector of the flock so that it will defend the hens and alert them if there are dangers that are coming the flock’s way. While a good herding dog may be able to do that, your rooster is the one that is naturally built for that purpose.

Leadership

At the end of the day, your flock would need a natural leader that is there to not only keep them safe, but also make sure that all of the hens and chicks are organized and are peaceful with one another. That’s because roosters are built for that purpose.

If there is a tasty treat that the rooster was able to sense while walking around, it can easily alert the females so that the hens that are under its wing can eat that tasty treat, which will help them in their egg production.

Meanwhile, even though hens are not half as aggressive against one another as roosters are, they may still end up bickering and fighting with one another. But having a rooster can help keep the peace because they can actually stop hens from bickering with one another.

In all other cases, having a rooster simply changes the entire dynamic of the flock. From egg fertilization, protection, leadership, and even something as simple as the way the hens act, a rooster still adds value to your flock.

And don’t worry about the eggs because, as long as you collect them promptly enough, they won’t end up hatching into chicks even if they are fertilized.

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Patrick FROMAGET

I want to share everything I know about chickens to help you take better care of yours! I grew up raising chickens at home and have learned a lot over the years. I hope you'll find my articles useful and learn something from them.

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