How many eggs do roosters lay?

This is something I used to always get confused about: how many eggs do roosters lay? or wait a second… no, roosters don’t lay eggs. Let me get that right…! If you are a newbie you might find yourself trying to answer the same question. 

How many eggs do roosters lay? Roosters are male chickens and as such they they don’t lay eggs. Roosters only fertilize eggs.

If roosters are necessary for fertilizing eggs then do I have to have one? Do unfertilized eggs exist at all, for an egg in order to exist does it have to be fertilized? Are unfertilized eggs edible? If you want to find out the question to the above in detail let’s dive right in!

Before we delve deep in this topic let’s clarify basic terminology. Roosters are male chickens and hens are female chickens.

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If you look around in nature you will find that in all species the egg is produced by the female body, chickens are no exception to this. Roosters being male don’t lay eggs, only hens do.

What roosters do is fertilize the egg. But you don’t need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs. Hens can lay eggs without roosters.

If you keep chickens for eggs you need only hens. However if you want the eggs to be fertilized, you need a rooster. In other words if you want baby chicks you need a rooster. 

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Whether you want your chicks to hatch by a broody hen or by incubating you need to have the eggs fertilized. 

The initial question phrased correctly it would sound something like this:

How many eggs can a rooster fertilize at once?

How many eggs can a rooster fertilize at once? A rooster can fertilize 14 eggs at once as his sperm can remain viable in the hen’s body for up to 2 weeks and a hen can lay 4-7 eggs a week depending on her productivity.

Roosters can fertilize multiple eggs by mating only once with a hen. This is because the rooster’s sperm is stored in the hens body and can fertilize the eggs as long as the sperm is viable. 

Not only that but roosters, being very fertile, mate between 10 to 20 times a day. If you consider the ideal ratio of roosters to hens which is around 1 to 10-12 you can see that a rooster can technically fertilize even more than 14 eggs per day.

Hens can be over-used due to a lower ratio than ideal if the ratio is too high let’s say 1 to 5.

Roosters usually have a preferred one or two hens that they return to mate more often. The preferred hens often lack feathers and have damaged skin on the back and the neck as they are over-used.

How do roosters fertilize eggs?

How do roosters fertilize eggs? The rooster’s cloaca delivers the sperm to the hen’s extended cloaca and fertilizes the egg. Hens can store the sperm in sperm pockets or pouches that will fertilize the eggs of the next days.

Roosters just like the hens have cloaca. 

The rooster gives the hen the so-called cloacal kiss. 

The rooster hops on the back of the hen and grabs her by the comb or back of her neck with his beak. When the rooster is in position the hen lowers her back and drops her head and body and spreads her wings.

The rooster by touching his cloaca to the hen’s cloaca delivers the sperm and thus fertilizes the egg. 

If your hens are missing feathers on their back it can be a sign of over-mating or if it is only a pair of hens missing feathers then they are the preferred ones of the rooster.

Hens don’t have to mate everyday to have the eggs fertilized as they can store sperm in sperm pouches. Thus the eggs the hen lays will be fertilized as long as there is viable sperm in the pouches.

If the rooster’s role is exclusively fertilizing the eggs the question arises: Is it pointless to keep a rooster if you keep chickens only for their eggs? Do roosters boost the hens’ ability to lay eggs?

Do hens lay better with a rooster around? 

Do hens lay better with a rooster around? Hens don’t lay better with roosters around. Hens get stressed if there are too many or too aggressive roosters. Stressed hens lay less eggs.

Hens with roosters around won’t lay more eggs. The opposite is true, too many or too aggressive roosters can be very counterproductive to egg production. 

For hens to lay eggs a “calm environment”  is necessary.

If you keep roosters and want to optimize egg production it is crucial to make sure of a 1 to 10-12 ratio of roosters to hens.

If there are too many roosters, hens might get stressed out by the fights between roosters for dominance in the hierarchy. Having too many roosters per hens can lead to over-mating that will also stress out hens and ultimately negatively affect egg production. All that decreases egg production.

The presence of an aggressive rooster can also negatively affect the hens’ egg production. An aggressive rooster will stress out the hens that will also negatively affect the egg production. 

So why should you keep a rooster? Does it make sense to keep one if you keep chickens for egg production?

What are the advantages of having a rooster?

What are the advantages of having a rooster? There are advantages of having roosters with the hens not directly linked to laying eggs: roosters alert other chickens in case of danger and they might even defend the hens against predators. Roosters can be also useful when chickens are kept free range if roosters find edibles they might leave it to the hens.

Adult roosters have a strong instinct of protecting their own flock. They will herd the flock in the same area and alert the chickens if a predator approaches.

Depending on the temperament of the rooster some even risk their own life and attack the predator.

Roosters spend most of the day scouting out edibles.

Another advantage of having a rooster around the chickens is that if you free range your chickens when they find some edible they will step back and let the hens eat while watching over them.

How can you tell if an egg is fertilized?

Is there a difference between a fertilized egg and a sterile one? From the outside you can’t tell the difference. The only way to tell the difference is to crack it open.

A sterile egg has a white spot, the so-called germinal disc on the surface of the yolk. If the egg is fertilized by the rooster the germinal disc is developed into a white ring with a clear center that looks like donut or bullseye.

For further development a fertilized egg needs a temperature of at least 27 C/80 F degrees for at least more than a day. Without that the chick won’t even start developing.

So eggs stored at a low temperature can’t develop. The low temperature halts the development of the chick even if the egg is stored for a longer period of time.

If you keep only hens and no roosters this will not be a question as only roosters can fertilize the egg.

If you keep roosters with the hens, collecting eggs multiple times a day is a good idea. It will prevent the embryos from developing inside the eggshell as the broody hen can’t be sitting on the egg for more than a few hours.

Is there a difference in taste between sterile and fertilized eggs?

There is absolutely no difference between the taste of sterile and fertilized eggs. They taste the same.

Actually the only way to tell the difference is to check the germinal disc on the surface of the yolk.

Can you eat fertilized eggs?

Fertilized eggs taste the same but look different. But do they have any effect on your health?

None of them is healthier than the other, none of them is harmful for you. You can eat fertilized eggs and it will not affect your health at all.


Sam is an outdoor enthusiast, who loves spending time in the garden and learning about animals. His motivating forces are his wife and 5 beautiful children. When he doesn't get it right, he will go and try again!

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