Roosters. Perhaps the most misunderstood males in the barnyard. The strutting, the crowing, the pecking – let’s face it – to the untrained eye, they can be downright…fowl. 

With urban agriculture gaining popularity across northern Colorado, many of our neighbors are acquiring and raising chicks in anticipation of farm-fresh eggs. Oftentimes, though, chicks thought to be hens are misidentified, turning out to be – you guessed it – roosters. 

Roosters are not allowed within Fort Collins city limits due to their crowing, and can be frowned upon in other communities for the same reason. As a result, owners surrender numerous roosters to Larimer Humane Society each year. 

Because roosters have feelings, too, we wanted to share some things you might not know about these brazen birds:

  • The sex of baby chicks is revealed once they begin to develop the comb at the top of their head – around three weeks of age, and the wattle beneath their neck – at approximately five or six weeks. The wattles and combs of roosters are larger than those of hens, and bright red. 
  • Wattles and combs are used as a heat regulation system in chickens. Since chickens are unable to pant or sweat, warm blood will circulate through their wattle and comb, which gives them their bright red color.  
  • Hens choose their mate based on the rooster’s wattle and comb. Hens are attracted to bright red, stable wattles and combs, as this is indicative of the health and strength of the rooster. Combs come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the bird’s breed. 
  • Adding a rooster to your flock of hens can be quite beneficial. Always alert, roosters guard the flock by keeping an eye out for predators. They’re also keen foragers and will call out to share with the hens when they locate food. Roosters tend to create a more solidified and functional social order among the hens, and keep the flock growing by fertilizing eggs that can develop into chicks. 
  • The life expectancy of a rooster is approximately 5-8 years, though if healthy and well cared for, they have been known to live past 15.  

If you’re looking to add a rooster to your barnyard or flock, consider adopting from Larimer Humane Society. Available small barnyard animals can be found on the Adoptable Critters page.