Most roosters never find a forever home.
Throughout the year, we receive countless calls and emails pleading with us to take in roosters. Oft-times, the folks who must surrender a young rooster are some the most upset animal parents we see. Roosters can be funny, personable and handsome. And it is true that almost every time, the rooster is an unintended arrival in people's lives
The hens that everyone wants in their flock all had many, many brothers destroyed at the hatchery. The sexed female chicks arrive in the mail to the buyer, or at the feed store, a few days after hatching, with a hidden cost of those Lost Boys. But the story does not end there. Because in reality, at least ten percent of the female chicks will turn out to be a glorious and amazing creature called the rooster. The buyer won't know this for awhile, and some buyers are in denial when the taller chicks start to have redder combs (long before the others), shinier feathers, then pointier saddle feathers and neck feathers. But the moment the showy fellow begins to crow, denying the roosterhood is pretty tough to do.
It simply kills me to have to say "no" to accepting a rooster at Unity Farm Sanctuary (I cannot say yes to them all). When I say no, I try to offer the name of someone that is a possible safe home - but those fill up fast. I know that when I say no, it likely means that the rooster will not live out a full life. This is a community based problem really since the feed stores and hatcheries can of course legally sell you male or female chicks (in Massachusetts you must buy at least 6 chicks from a feed store to avoid the singleton Easter Chick gift problem). Odds are though, the town you live in won't let you keep the rooster - putting the burden on the humane societies and the farm animal sanctuaries to rescue or rehome these beautiful fellows.
You can help - instead of chicks, rescue hens in need with the help of a sanctuary (and the most obvious way to help is to not eat eggs or chicken). If you live in a municipality that permits roosters (and your neighbors are fully on board) you can even rescue roosters in a Rooster Tribe Flock like ours in our paddock with the farm pigs. I love their songs (really!). You can also be an advocate in your community to encourage that town to permit roosters if they permit chicks.
I speak up for the roosters, because they are such fascinating creatures, oft misunderstood. Some young roosters are filled with hormones and might not be as easy to live with, but there are ways to work with roosters behavior. If you take the time to listen and watch, roosters have different vocalizations for spotting a hawk, guiding a hen to safety, or telling the hens that he has found a special treat for them.
I hope you can spend some time on our webcams watching our Feathered Friends, and perhaps get to know the roosters that make Unity Farm Sanctuary home.