If you’re a novice in the world of backyard chicken owners, you might be wondering if all male chickens roosters? The answer is yes, all male chickens are roosters. Roosters present a challenge to many backyard chicken owners because local jurisdictions usually have ordinances against roosters because they love to crow, which disturbs the neighbors. Many breeders strive to sell only female chicks, also known as pullets for the uninitiated, but the occasional male chicken can accidentally be sent to a backyard owner because chicks are difficult to sex at a young age. Read on to learn some additional information about sexing chicks and the hard truth about what happens to the male chicks after their sex is determined.

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How Do Hatcheries Sex Chickens?

Many hatcheries hire “sexers” to help determine the sex of newborn chicks. These “sexers” look closely at the chick’s private areas and feathery wings to determine the sex, but they are only correct about 90% of the time. The truth is that it’s difficult to determine the sex of chicks until they are several weeks, or months old, so backyard chicken owners may inadvertently end up with a rooster or two when they were expecting hens (female chickens). Many backyard owners end up finding other homes for their roosters to avoid fighting with their neighbors and to avoid brushes with the law over local ordinances.

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What Happens to Male Chicks?

It’s a sad truth that many male chicks are killed right away during the sexing process. An estimated 7 billion male chicks are killed each year around the globe through chick culling. Male chicks are gassed, suffocated, or ground up in shredding machines because they can’t lay eggs and will never become fat enough to be sold as meat at your local supermarket.

In some European countries, they’ve developed a method called in-ovo sexing to determine which eggs are male, allowing them to be sent directly to market instead of hatching them and then immediately killing them upon sexing. Companies in the U.S. are also working to create ways of sexing the eggs. The goal is to prevent the hatching of male chickens in the first place, preventing unnecessary death as the eggs are never hatched and go right to market for sale, but progress toward this goal is slow.

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5 Things to Know About Roosters

  • Gallus gallus means red junglefowl and is a type of chicken native to Southern Asia. Gallus gallus spread around the globe when the chicken became domesticated.
  • A cockerel is a young male chicken that is less than a year old. A rooster is a male chicken that is older than one year.
  • Male roosters typically live anywhere from 10 to 30 years depending on a variety of factors.
  • A rooster will announce they’ve found food to hens, but the females will ignore him if they’re already aware of food nearby.
  • ‘Tidbitting’ is a dance performed by roosters in which they make food calls while moving their heads up and down, picking up and dropping pieces of food.

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Backyard chicken owners typically want only hens, so they have their own fresh eggs. Hatcheries often sex their chicks to weed out the males within the first day so only female chicks are sold to backyard owners. Sadly, many of the male chicks are killed because they don’t lay eggs and they don’t fatten up well for meat. If you’re a backyard chicken owner and you’ve discovered you have a rooster that you can’t keep, try looking for a local rescue to take in your unwanted fowl.

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