“Hey, can you help me find a home for my rooster?” No, no I can’t and won’t.

April 16, 2014

I can't count the number of times I've been asked this question latey. My answer will always be the same: No.

There's a reason that I didn't sell straight run chicks when I ran North Haven Gardens. We worked really hard to provide sexed females only for sale at the garden center. Why? Well, because roosters are outlawed in Dallas. Regardless of how you feel about the necessity of that ordinance, it's current law.

Cuckoo maran silver

What happens when you buy straight run baby chicks? Well, chances are you'll get 50% males, 50% females. It's just the law of nature. So when you buy straight run chicks, and live in an area that doesn't allow roosters, you should have a plan for how you're going to deal with the roosters once they mature. And no, that plan does not include me (or anyone else)  finding a home for them for you. Believe me, I've had an incredibly hard time finding just one home for a rooster that was abandoned at the garden center during my tenure. I spent 9 months raising him to maturity (silkies take a long time to reach sexual maturity) only to be bonded with him by the time he started crowing. Took me months to find just that one home to take my sweet Rico. If you don't want to bond with roosters, don't buy straight run chicks. Again, I say "thanks a lot"  to the jerk that dumped him and his siblings.

Incubating new chicks for your kid's class is really cute, right? But guess what? You're going to get 50% males. So again, what's your action plan for dealing with them once they mature?  If you live in an area that doesn't restrict roosters, then great! But if they're outlawed, where will they go?

Keeping backyard livestock means taking full responsibility for the animals. So if you go ahead and buy straight run chicks, then you're most likely going to have to "dispatch" the males once they show themselves. Learn how to use a sharp hatchet or a stiff broom handle.  Think I'm being mean? Well, then you haven't kept backyard livestock before. Sometimes your birds become very sick, or egg bound, or injured...the most humane thing you can do is put them down in some of those situations. So you'd better learn how to do so, unless you want to pay a vet $200 to stick a needle in their heart to put them down (that's more stressful and painful for the bird).

Go ahead and puruse the boards of  the local backyard poultry group to see how many of those "free rooster" postings get responded to. If you're really lucky, you might be able to find someone outside of town to take them. If so, great! But the chances are high your rooster will be going right into their soup pot. Why? Because really, how many roosters can one person keep? Not many. One rooster per flock...two if they just so happen to sort of get along. Production farms can't take your birds, because there are strict bio-security laws that apply to commercial operations. So you can tell yourself you've saved them from the hatchet, but you may just be passing the buck to someone else.

Back to that ordinance: Don't agree with it? Work with the city to change it if you feel strongly about it. Believe me, I did my share of haggling with the city to get the whole backyard chicken thing rolling. But defying the ordinance and  creating a "rooster problem" in Dallas only puts the entire practice of backyard livestock in peril - why give the naysayers an excuse to complain?

There are many places to purchase sexed chicks. Local feed stores should and typically do distinguish between sexed and straight run chicks. If they don't, you should assume they are straight run. Then run.

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