The age-old problem of what to do with unwanted roosters has taken on a new twist: roosters in residence at the animal shelter.
Hundreds of roosters are now listed on the online animal adoption site Petfinder. Several dozen roosters are housed at the MSPCA's Nevins Farm in Methuen, Massachusetts.
Julia Pesek, the community outreach coordinator for the MSPCA told local news station WBZ-TV:
"It's definitely a bachelor pad--that's for sure. If you can imagine a frat house, it's probably pretty similar."
Why are there so many homeless roosters?
Fluffy chicks ordered through the mail or picked up at a feed store are not always hens, despite efforts to sex them before sale. Even batches of chicks sold as females may have a male or two. Sometimes, it's simply not possible to reliably identify a rooster from a hen at hatch, and often not until two to three months of age.
Once that fluffy chick matures into a visible rooster, it will start to crow. Urban and suburban chicken keepers often are not allowed to keep roosters due to municipal laws and/or noise complaints. Rural owners have no need for more than one rooster per dozen or so hens. Rural or not, not everyone wants the noise of crowing.
Noise issues aside, multiple roosters are prone to fighting each other over available resources, so it's simply not possible to keep very many roosters in an average coop.
What does a family do with one too many roosters?
Many roosters end up on the table or in the freezer. For those who treat their chickens as pets, it might seem unthinkable to send a rooster off to "freezer camp" or to eat an animal they know. The alternative is to try to find a new home for an unwanted rooster.
As more and more people across the United States keep chickens, the number of roosters at shelters continues to grow.
Re-homing roosters is not easy.
"Don't think it will be easy to give away your excess cockerels--'free to good home' roosters are about as welcome as ants at a picnic," Harvey Ussury, author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens.
Some families with an extra rooster try Craigslist to re-home their roosters. Some families are turning to animal shelters. Petfinder lists over two hundred homeless roosters in shelters nationwide but their chances of actually finding a good forever home are small. Even so, shelter staff are doing an excellent job in caring for these guys, and doing their best to find forever homes.
Do you know the all of the benefits to owning a rooster?
There are benefits to having a rooster in your backyard flock.
- With a rooster you will have fertile eggs which means that you will be able to hatch your own chicks.
- With a rooster you'll have a naturally protective guardian of the flock.
- You'll have a natural alarm clock.
- You'll probably also hear a crow any time a rooster spots something out of the ordinary. A rooster is sort of like a natural property alarm system!
READ MORE: 7 Reasons to Let a Broody Hen Hatch Eggs
Do you have room for a rooster in your flock?
So, if you have room in your coop for a homeless rooster, check out some of the handsome guys available for adoption below. Remember: keep your existing flock safe by quarantining any new birds to isolate and treat health issues.
Do you have a rooster, or a home for a homeless rooster? Let us know in the comments below!
Images via MSPCA's Nevins Farm unless otherwise specified.
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