White Plymouth Rock Rooster
Backyard Chickens, Roosters

Re-homing Chickens: Where to find that seemingly impossible forever home for roosters and old laying hens.

Every summer and fall, our customer service team receives a higher volume of calls and emails from broken-hearted chicken keepers who have raised their sweet spring chicks from local feed stores to maturity only to find out that they have male chickens that they can’t keep. We know there are a lot of reasons chickens need to be re-homed, and it doesn’t translate to failure as a backyard chicken keeper. There are fussy neighbors to contend with, confusing and changing city regulations, unexpected moves to a home or city that doesn’t allow for chickens as pets, unknown allergies to pet chickens or eggs, aggressive roosters and hens, chickens that need specialized medical treatment, and more.

chicks as pets
Kids raise chicks to be companions. Photo by: MichelleWarrenPhotography.com

It’s a hard phone call to answer because we know that chicken keepers, especially youngsters, have formed wonderful bonds with their new pets. The time and care put into raising the chicks into a companion is forfeit, most often because of city regulations regarding roosters. Dare 2 Dream Farms does not rescue roosters or other chickens that weren’t originally purchased from this farm originally; in short, because the farm must maintain a bio-security system put in place to protect the chickens for sale and the homes they’re sold to.

It seems a hopeless task to find a home willing to take in a rooster or old laying hens. But we’ve got some great avenues for you to pursue to make sure you find the perfect forever-home for Henrietta, now aptly re-named Henry.

HAVE HOPE: Loving chickens can find forever homes in a lot of great places, where their egg production isn’t the primary purpose for being kept. Homes in rural areas may lose wonderful pet roosters that actively protect their free-range laying flock against predators, and may be in need of a replacement rooster who will be chivalrous to the hens, and good with the kids. Chickens are also beginning to provide therapy alongside other farm animals for anxiety and other conditions. Calm and well-behaved chickens are used by animal specialists who provide trained animals for filming. Hobby farms, or petting zoos may be searching for sweet chickens that are especially good with young children who visit them. They may even be accepted as a donation to a local orchard or organic farm who needs additional pest and weed control.

What's not to love?
Chickens provide more than just eggs, like companionship or even therapy.

GET CREATIVE: Advertising chickens through listing services like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Letgo can be successful, but spend the extra time to make the listing enticing. Give your chickens their own story, or personality, and post beautiful, fun, or loving photos of them. In the advertisement, remember to share why you think they are so special. For example: they greet you every morning, they’re particularly sweet with your kids, they love to be held, they’re excellent foragers, they’re a rare breed, or they’re still good egg layers. Next, consider giving them monetary value. Selling a chicken for $10 or $15 gives the impression that they have value as egg layers, breeding stock, or simply as wonderful pets, and potential forever homes will value that too. “Free to a good home” may convey that you’re desperate to get rid of them for an undisclosed reason. Plus, anyone looking to fill a soup pot won’t spring for a $10 chicken. Also, remember that backyard chicken breeds are bred for their feathering, egg production, and to maintain heritage breeding lines. They’re not useful for cockfighting, so you can rest assured they won’t be abused.

TO THE RESCUE: If you’re not successful in finding a private forever home for your chickens before your deadline, non-profit organizations exist whose primary function is to rescue, care for, and re-home chickens and other farm animals. We’ve made a listing of animal rescues in California that may help you get started. To find other places near you, search local listings for “chicken rescue,” “rooster rescue,” or “farm animal sanctuary.” Be sure to call the organization to be sure they have openings for your animals, and schedule a time to drop them off so they can be properly cared for upon arriving.

PLEASE DON’T DUMP: Dropping off chickens on private or public property without permission is illegal. Cities like Arroyo Grande and Fair Oaks in California have fluctuating populations of city chickens, unwanted and dumped roosters and hens that roam the streets and roost in the trees near city halls. Somehow they seem to be fed and find a place to sleep at night, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t also catch the eye of resident raccoons or stray cats looking for lunch, and cause someone the headache of scraping bird poop off of park benches and sidewalks. Dumping animals is illegal, whether it occurs in underpopulated wooded areas, or in the middle of a downtown area; and chickens cannot be expected to survive on their own foraging skills alone after being provided for. While we’re being forthcoming about survival, it should also be noted that animal shelters are not the ideal place for leaving your chickens. Shelters usually don’t have much space for fowl, and chickens there have a low chance of rescue and a high chance of being euthanized.

Roosters can be a productive member of a backyard chicken flock.
Roosters can be a productive member of the flock. Photo by Melissa Folks Photography

FINDERS > KEEPERS: Lastly, if you find they hold a place in your heart, you might find a way to keep your chickens. Chickens that are no longer high production layers still provide excellent companionship, organic weed and pest control, and entertainment. Many homes feed dogs and cats who eat far more in food, and never lay an egg. Chickens have started to prove to the world that they have value as companions alongside traditional house pets. Roosters, although they don’t lay eggs, can also provide value to the health of your flock (more on that here). If your main concern is their noise, there are creative ways to help control the sound of roosters: no-crow collars and insulated soundproof boxes have been created to limit the sound of a rooster until late enough in the morning that it no longer disturbs the neighbors. Some chicken keepers in love with their roos have simply moved roosters into the garage, spare bathroom, or dog crate in the house at night to muffle the sound of the morning crowing. Neighborly love for your bawking chickens could also be bought with occasional gifts of a half dozen fresh backyard chicken eggs with a cute stamp. An invitation to meet the flock can’t hurt either, so they can see just how much personality their tiny feathered neighbors have. If you’re lucky, a new bond between your neighbors and your chickens may also mean that you have an offer for a chicken sitter during your next out of town adventure.

Author: Megan Raff

Co-Owner/Founder of Dare 2 Dream Farms

 

 

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Roosters

What To Do If a Roo Isn’t for You

White Plymouth Rock Rooster

Roosters aren’t right for every owner or every flock, but culling them isn’t the only option. If you’re looking for a humane way to get rid of a rooster and earn a few bucks, Craigslist is worth a try. Price your bird at around $10 to deter buyers who are simply looking for meat birds. If you don’t mind if you’re rooster may be slaughtered or need to get rid of a troublesome bird quickly, try offering him for sale at $5 or for free. If you are willing to part with one of your pullets, you may also have more success advertising the pair together. Craigslist may not have the best reputation, but it is free to list your rooster and has been successful for many former rooster owners, such as BackyardChickens.com user, jettgirl24:

I just re-homed mine using Craigslist last week. I had my post up for about a month, starting at $10 for purebred Marans. I ended up putting the ad in the community section under ‘Pets’ as well as under ‘Farm & Garden’ and gave them to a woman for free because she was super nice and just loved them. Don’t give up hope, just keep posting and eventually you’ll find a good home.

If you have a farm supply or garden store in your area, try asking if you can post a flier in their shop or see if they would be interested in taking the rooster off your hands. It is helpful to give the rooster a name and to include a character description along with a photo of your roo looking his very best! 

Other websites where you can list your rooster for adoption include: PetFinder.com and AdoptAPet.com. Depending on your area, you may have some luck contacting fellow chicken enthusiasts directly through local clubs or meet-up groups at MeetUp.com. If you don’t mind spending a bit of money to advertise your rooster, place an ad in your local paper or farm-related newsletter if one exists in your area. 

Fun Craigslist Rooster Ad Photo
Taking Notes? Cool photos like this earn big points with animal lovers looking for a new roo


Poultry swaps or shows in your local area are another avenue to investigate. The majority of these events take place in the summer, but occur at limited dates year-round. The American Poultry Association, Poultry Show Central, and the Greater California Society of Poultry Fanciers all post listings of upcoming shows. 

Rooster rescue organizations exist throughout the state of California for the sole purpose of re-homing unwanted roos. If you are unable to find a new home for your rooster on your own, consider giving him to a rooster rescue. If a placement fee is not required, consider giving a donation to help support the organization as many of these groups are independently run. Below is a list of rescue organizations by region: 


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Farm Sanctuary, Acton, CA
5200 Escondido Canyon Road
Web: www.farmsanctuary.org
E-mail: info@farmsanctuary.org

Blue Hill Farms, Ventura, CA
Web: www.bluehillfarms.com

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Save the Cocks, Templeton, CA 
Web: www.savethecocks.com
Phone: 805-226-6567
E-mail: info@savethecocks.com

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Farm Sanctuary, Orland, CA 
19080 Newville Road
Web: www.farmsanctuary.org
Phone: 530-519-0183
E-mail: info@farmsanctuary.org

Horse Plus Humane Society, Oroville, CA
Web: www.horsehumane.org
Phone: 530-282-5565 (Sun-Thurs noon-5pm
E-mail: info@horsehumane.org 

Animal Place, Grass Valley, CA
17314 McCourtney Rd
Web: www.animalplace.org
Phone: 530-477-1757
E-mail: info@animalplace.org

Concord Feed, Concord, CA
5288 Clayton Rd.
Web: www.concordfeed.com
Phone: 925-887-9200

Chicken Behaviors, Roosters

Is a Roo Right for You?

 

buff orpington rooster
A Buff Orpington rooster keeps a watchful eye over his hens

Nothing says “farm” quite like the quintessential crow of a rooster in the early morning. These stunning creatures are not only visually appealing with their gorgeous feathering, but also act as the first line of defense between predators and the rest of your flock. A rooster is essential if you’re planning on hatching chicks; but even if that is not the case, these birds provide a range of benefits to almost any flock:

Food Call: When a rooster happens upon a tasty morsel, such as a table scrap or something found while foraging, he will alert the rest of the flock with a repetitive call or even pick up the food and offer it to a nearby hen. This behavior, known as tid-bitting, is a manifestation of the rooster’s natural protective instinct to put his hen’s welfare before his own.

Protection: Roosters will alert the flock to airborne or land-based predators and fend them off if necessary. When the end of the day draws near, a rooster will also help corral the hens back towards the coop. Rooster owner, Matthew of Virginia posted the following testimony to his rooster’s usefulness on the forums at BackyardChickens.com

Without my roo I would be out several hens even with two border collies and two guard geese roaming. When a hawk swoops I hear him give his warning and the hens scatter. The geese and the dogs don’t look up! I haven’t lost any chickens to a hawk and I think it has a lot to do with the rooster.

Social Hierarchy: It is a natural behavior for social birds like chickens to establish a social hierarchy to help maintain order within the flock. This pecking order dictates many behaviors such as who mates with who and which hens get the best roosting spots and scraps of food. Because of his strength and masculine authority, it is natural for a rooster to take on the alpha role. This helps prevent disruption in the flock by establishing a firm pecking order. Without a rooster, hens will compete amongst themselves for the alpha spot which diminishes peace and stability within the flock. (The Field Guide to Chickens, Pam Percy)

Hatching Eggs: If you are looking to hatch chicks of your own, you will need a rooster to fertilize the eggs. Chicks will hatch after approximately 21 days of incubation. Conversely, you may also choose to sell your fertilized eggs which can fetch twice the price of regular eggs. Roosters are sexually mature at 25 weeks and will mate throughout the year anywhere from 10-30 times per day. To avoid excessive mating and stress on your hens, it is recommended that you have 8-10 hens per rooster.