The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether or not you actually need a cockerel with your flock.
Cockerels are notoriously noisey so if your chicken are kept on an allotment or in a garden it would be wise to consider whether or not your neighbours would object to being worken up at sunrise - regardless of what day of the week it is. And it doesn't stop there. Cockerels often crow throughout the day and well into the evening. You wouldn't be the first or the last person to end up being taken to court because of an over-enthusiastic cockerel.
Secondly you would have to consider why you actually want to have a cockerel. With the easy availability of hybrid chickens such as Black Rock you don't need a cockerel to ensure that your hens will lay. Providing that they are well cared for, have access to clean water and grit and are not overweight they should lay without any problems at all from around 16 weeks of age.
However if you are hopeing to breed from your hens then a good cockerel is essential.
If you are hoping to sell on your young stock it is advisable to choose a cockerel of the same breed as your hens as cross-bred stock are hard to market. If you have a mixed flock and cannot separate them to ensure no cross-breeding takes place it may be wiser to either buy in fertile eggs to hatch out using a broody hen or an incubator or young stock from a reliable breeder. One other cautionary note is that growing and very active cockerells have extremely harty appetites so can be quite expensive to keep 12 months of the year.
Another reason to keep your own cockerel is if your stock are free-ranging over a large area. A good cockerel will keep the flock together so prevent them from straying too far from home. They might also protect the flock by warning them of approaching danger and tackling small predators long enough to give the hens time to get to safety - sometimes sacrificing themselves in the process.
If you need to buy in a cockerel it is probably best to choose from young stock rather than established mature males as the reason for selling on adult cockerels is usually associated to the low fertility rates of the hens eggs. It is pointless keeping a cockerel - unless it is a pet - if it cannot fertilise the eggs that your hens produce.
One point of caution - it is never wise to keep more than one cockerel per flock of hens. Rivalry between cockerels - once their develop spurs - can lead to the hens being damaged to such a degree that they never recover.
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015