Approved by Dr. Luqman Javed

When you picture a rooster, you probably think about the bright red comb on top of his head and hear the loud crowing as the sun comes up. You might not think about the rest of the bird. Specifically, what do the reproductive organs of a rooster look like? Are they necessary for laying eggs? And can you have your rooster neutered?

In short, yes, roosters do have testicles, but you won’t be able to see them if you take a quick peek under your rooster’s tail. Keep reading to learn more and get all of your rooster questions answered.

new chicken divider Rooster Anatomy

Like most birds, chickens have internal reproductive organs. Roosters have internal testicles (also sometimes referred to as testes) located near their kidneys. They also have a cloaca which serves as the portal by which sperm exits the rooster’s body.

Roosters do not have a penis, but they do have a small organ called the papilla located inside the cloaca. This is a small bump that helps transfer the sperm of the rooster to the cloaca of the female chicken. It swells up with lymph during copulation.

Image Credit: Margaret Van de Pitte, Pixabay

How Can You Tell a Male From a Female Chicken?

Determining the sex of a chicken is very easy when they’re adults. A rooster is larger, develops spurs rapidly, and, of course, crows. Roosters also have more prominent combs and wattles than hens do. Hens are distinguished from roosters by their smaller combs and wattles, relatively smaller size, and the ability to lay eggs.

It can be difficult to tell a male from a female chick. It’s not until the chickens get older and the rooster begins to develop his prominent comb. This typically occurs around 4-5 months of age. If your chicks are all of the same breed and hatch at the same time, the roosters typically grow larger than and are heavier than the hens. This distinction is more obvious as the chicks turn into juveniles.

There are methods to sex chicks: feather sexing and vent sexing are common methods used by farm workers to quickly sex chicks that need to be sorted by sex. For the typical backyard flock, this isn’t warranted. The care of both sexes of chicks is the same. If you are curious about your chick’s sex, consider contacting your veterinarian for assistance. Many hatcheries also sell pre-sexed chicks.

How Do Chickens Reproduce?

Chickens reproduce when the rooster balances on the back of the hen which she lifts her tail. The cloacas of the rooster and hen meet, and the rooster deposits semen into her cloaca. The sperm then travel up her reproductive tract, where they remain viable for up to 2-3 weeks.

rooster with open wings
Image Credit: Capri23auto, Pixabay

Can Hens Lay Eggs Without a Rooster?

Hens can lay eggs without a rooster. The eggs won’t be fertilized and thus won’t hatch. If you want to raise chickens that lay eggs merely for eating and don’t want to raise baby chickens, then you can keep only female chickens.

Can You Neuter a Rooster?

Yes, a qualified veterinarian can neuter a rooster. This process is called caponizing, thus if you’ve heard the term ‘capon’ it refers to a rooster that’s been neutered. This being said, the process should be completed when the rooster is still a young chick, often between 6 weeks to 3 months of age.

Some claim that roosters that have been neutered are calmer and less prone to obnoxious rooster behaviors due to the lack of hormone production that results from caponizing.

Close up Egyptian Fayoumis rooster
Image Credit: Emil Lito, Shutterstock

new chicken divider Final Thoughts

Yes, roosters do have testicles. However, they’re quite different from those of most mammals. Instead of being outside the body, a rooster’s testicles are internal. Also differentiating them from mammals is the lack of a penis.

You can neuter a rooster; consult your vet if you wish to do so. In short, if you’re raising chickens, you’ll want to discuss all of these options with your veterinarian, as they’ll be able to advise you on the sex of your chickens and the best strategy for their reproductive health.

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Featured Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabay