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I want get some chickens, my local municipality does classify them as allowable pets. There are no restrictions for 'small' groups of chickens.

Like any pet there are a lot of considerations when choosing what type of pet to get, but chickens seem desirable, as in addition to their other attributes you get fresh eggs to eat. While it may or may not make any health difference I have decided to include a rooster, so I can have fertilized eggs. I won't be breeding any chickens just harvesting their eggs.

I have chosen the Rhode Island Red for it's appropriateness for the home environment and it's attractive color. From the question How much dominance is expected from two male chickens of different breeds? I learned that some consideration should go into the hen/rooster ratio but am not sure what the ratio should be or how to determine it.

  • Do you want fertilized eggs because you prefer the taste over unfertilized eggs? – cimmanon Dec 12 '13 at 21:30
  • @cimmanon, I have heard that fertilized eggs are healthier for you. Though I realize currently that has been questioned. – James Jenkins Dec 12 '13 at 23:37
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I have found that around a dozen hens and one rooster works well. I know that some people keep roosters with smaller groups of hens, but this can lead to problems as with only a handful of hens, the rooster's attentions will be more "concentrated".

We never separated the rooster from our hens. If they went broody, we'd either let them sit and hatch their clutch or just collect the eggs as normal depending on whether or not we were planning on "retiring" any of our older girls in the near future.

However, if you are only planning on having laying hens to produce eggs for your own personal consumption, keep in mind how many eggs you're going to be getting from ten or twelve hens! Young hens are probably going to produce about an egg a day in the summer with production dropping off in colder weather and as they age. If you're happy with getting 8-12 eggs a day and you don't mind the crowing and you have the space to keep that many chickens, go for it! But if these eggs are just for your family's personal consumption, you'd probably be far better off with just 3-5 hens and no roosters. Much as it might be a nice image and you might have a preference for fertilized eggs, I just don't see it as a practical option unless you're in a rural area and are also able to sell of or otherwise use the excess eggs.

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    Two hens seemed to provide my family of three with enough eggs, but with six hens, we were constantly giving away free eggs to the neighbors and friends. Egg carton considerations also grow tiring. – rlb.usa Dec 18 '13 at 18:30
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You only need a rooster if you intended to breed the chickens. If you just want pet chickens that also provide you with eggs, then I would not even have a rooster. The female chickens will lay just as many eggs and there is usually less incidents for aggression with the chickens when the rooster is not present.(Source)

If you are intending to take on breeding then you will want to separate the roosters and the hens and only allow them to interact when you are ready to breed. If you are just breeding to get more chickens and not for show or to bring out certain traits then a single rooster may be enough for all of your needs. But in general you want a ratio of around 10/1 or less. You also want to try to keep each coop to 10 or less chickens. This ratio will allow the chickens to socialize which is important. But the more chickens in a flock the more likely there is to be aggression and conflict. Keeping coops with a consistent flock of 10 or less birds will help minimize this.

Another thing to consider is that most Roosters crow early in the morning and very loud. This is a genetic thing and there are some roosters who do not crow. Your neighbors many not appreciate you getting a rooster than does crow. So if what you really want is eggs and chicken pets, you may want to consider just sticking with hens.

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  • Adding onto this, roosters not only crow early in the morning but also all throughout the day! Especially younger roosters still learning. – rlb.usa Dec 18 '13 at 18:27

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