A male chicken can have different names depending on its age. You can call it a rooster, cockerel, capon, or simply, a cock. Often, poultry comes with its own unique vocabulary and terms to help you describe it with pinpoint precision.
Therefore, it is wise to learn and understand each terminology associated with your poultry so you can effectively communicate with other chicken owners, vets, or when buying supplies.
What is a Young Male Chicken Called?
A young male chicken is commonly referred to as a cockerel. Usually, such hens are aged between six and eight weeks or even one year. You can also call it a young rooster. When aged one year and above, this same male chicken is called a cock or an old rooster.
How to Tell if a Chicken is a Rooster?
The first indicator to look out for is the comb color and size. In this regard, a rooster will have a larger comb than the hen. The comb will also have more redness compared to that of the hen. However, these two indicators are not entirely reliable.
Comb size can vary from one breed to another or from one chicken to another. So, this makes sexing of juvenile chickens the best and most reliable method to identify male chickens from hens.
Sexing is considered the most fail-safe method used in the identification of male and female chickens. You need to check the saddle feathers that usually grow in front of the tail feathers with this option. Do so when your chickens are about three months old.
At three months, cockerels will develop long and point saddle feathers. Hens, on the other hand, will have rounded saddle feathers.
During this process, make sure to have a look at your rooster’s saddle feathers keenly. Most likely, you will see long, skinny and pointy feathers.
Saddle feathers start growing long and pointed when the cockerel is around three months old. But the shiny, curvy feathers (sickle feathers) appear a little bit later. The sickle feathers can be longer in some chicken breeds than in others.
Hens don’t grow the characteristic skinny saddle feathers; instead, they have more rounded feathers growing in front of their tail feathers. Also, hens don’t have sickle feathers.
Another type of feather to look out for is the hackle feathers (usually found around the neck). These feathers are somehow different in roosters and hens. In this case, the roosters have longer and pointier hackle feathers than hens. Even though hackle feathers can appear a little pointy in chickens, they cannot be as thin and long as in roosters.
Crowing is an obvious indicator that a particular chicken is a rooster. Unfortunately, crowing is not a fail-safe method since some hens can crow along the way. Another limitation with this method is that roosters start crowing at four or five months old.
So, the most appropriate and reasonable way to tell roosters from hens is the observation of individual chicken’s physical characteristics. Check feather shape, especially when your birds are at least three months old.
Behavior is another way you can easily distinguish roosters from hens. It would be best to observe how juvenile chickens relate to one another to pick out males from females. Typically, roosters are a bit rowdier compared to hens. They are also more vocal than female chickens. A young rooster will display some dominance over your existing flock.
As they mature, your roosters are likely to challenge each other in a mock fight or even cause some disagreements among themselves. Roosters may as well stand up taller on their legs in addition to puffing out their chests.
Rooster vs Cockerel – What is the Difference?
When it comes to roosters vs. cockerel, most chicken keepers find it challenging to tell the two apart. Especially if you are raising chickens for the first time. Luckily, some factors will help you distinguish roosters from cockerel without much struggle or confusion. These factors are simply the physical and behavioral aspects of male chickens.
It would be best if you were on the lookout for the gradual change in body size and structure for the physical part. A male chicken is a rooster when it is less than a year old.
Beyond one year, the cockerel changes into a rooster. Physical changes between the two are always visible. For cockerels, wattles and combs will be a little smaller and brighter than in roosters.
The feet and legs can also help you determine whether a male chicken is a cockerel or a rooster. As usual, cockerels will have smaller, shorter, and thinner legs than roosters. Their feet will be definitely smaller and less developed than those of roosters.
Their individual feathers, particularly the hackle, saddle, and tail feathers, will vary in size, with the roosters having the larger types of these feathers. Tail feathers in cockerels are usually smaller than what you will find in roosters.
Spurs in roosters will be longer and stronger than in cockerels. Generally, these differences will help you identify cockerels from roosters as your chickens undergo different growth phases.
What is the Role of the Rooster in the Flock?
Roosters play important roles among your flocks of chickens. Your rooster can keep every flock member in order. The rooster will control wandering hens by preventing them from going far away from the backyard.
Your rooster will fiercely protect the entire flock against intruders such as small predators. Most importantly, the rooster helps other chickens find bugs and grubs and also in production fertilized eggs.
Can You Eat a Rooster?
Yes! Roosters are just like any other chickens. Their meat is usually tasty, however, their meat can be chewier and it might take more time to cook it. With the right amount of preparation, your whole family can have it for dinner.
Can Chickens Lay Eggs Without a Rooster?
Yes, chickens can lay eggs even without a rooster, so if you want to keep chickens only for their eggs, you don’t necessarily need a rooster. A rooster “only” fertilizes the eggs produced by hens. It does not make hens lay eggs. A hen will start laying eggs at about 18 weeks of age even without the presence of a male chicken.
Having a flock of chickens is an exciting hobby and a fulfilling experience. Among your flock, you may have a few male chickens. It is essential to identify males from females to maintain a well-balanced and optimal flock.Chickens