Roosters in Crisis

Unwanted roosters are a product of backyard breeding, school chick-hatching programs, and hatchery-chick purchases.

Most people do not realize that ten percent of chicks sold in feed stores or online as young hens will mature into roosters. Because chick-sexing is inexact, no hatchery can guarantee better than a 90 percent accuracy. People who live in areas with no-rooster ordinances then scramble to find homes for the unwanted roosters or wind up dumping them in parks, along the side of the road, or at animal shelters.  

Some people even think they are doing their unwanted roosters a favor by "setting them free" in a park or wooded area. This misguided notion is responsible for killing untold numbers of domesticated birds every year. Domesticated poultry (primarily chickens and ducks) who are abandoned cannot forage or escape predators. They last an average of one week before they are killed by predators, starvation, or extreme weather.  

There are some parks and neighborhoods that are known for their thriving, wild rooster population, but looks can be deceiving. More often than not, the place is such a popular dumping ground for unwanted birds that they are replaced as quickly as they are killed. Closer attention shows that you will never see the same roosters from week to week, because they are killed within days of being dumped. 

Moreover, animal abandonment -- including that of chickens -- is illegal in every state under anti-cruelty statutes.  

Rooster Retention Program

Roosters are essential members of any flock, watching over hens and protecting them from predators. Countless thousands of backyard hens have been saved by a heroic rooster guardian who gave up his life protecting his hens from hawks, coyotes, neighborhood dogs, etc.  

If you live in an area that permits roosters but are having problems with your rooster (noise, aggression toward other animals or humans) our Rooster Retention Program will help you work with your rooster so that he can stay with his family and those who love him!

Bachelor flocks are all the rage! Without hens around to stir up the hormonal aggression, roosters can get along great!  At many sanctuaries, including Hen Harbor, roosters and hens are split up into several flocks (with a few exceptions) in order to keep the peace.

If you are local and are having rooster rumbles, a sanctuary volunteer can come to your residence to assess the living arrangements and make recommendations. Please email for more information! 

Still want to relinquish your rooster? 

On average, we receive 20 requests a month from people looking to relinquish their roosters.

Because of this we are well beyond capacity at all times and require any relinquishments to adhere to the following conditions:

  • Surrender of all hens in the flock in addition to the roosters, as we do not support breaking up families.

  • Donation of a kennel/coop (approx. $350 online from Home Depot) for the birds to live in, as we are already beyond capacity and have nowhere to house incoming roosters;

  • A surrender fee of $20 per bird;

  • A monthly sponsorship to support each bird’s basic care ($10 per bird)

  • A signed agreement not to purchase or breed any birds in the future. (There are thousands of hens in California in need of homes; contact us for information if you are unsure of how to adopt birds-in-need.)