Roosters, these strangers

What has happened to those beautiful and colourful roosters we used to see in country courtyards?

Let’s take a step back to remember what rural farms were like in the past, where cocks and hens were considered just one presence among many others: cows, donkeys, horses, rabbits, dogs, cats, pigeons, ducks, geese, mice, … the environment where chicks were born and, we must remember, were always born in almost equal numbers between males and females.

Both males and females were grown simply as chickens and eaten after a few months, as soon as they had enough weight… yet mostly still sexually undifferentiated. Their sexual maturity is in fact reached around five months and it is good to know that it is not reached even in so-called organic or free-range farms.

here are four examples of poultry in a rural courtyard

In rural farms, two or three chickens are left to grow longer, until adulthood when they reach sexual maturity and thus have a couple of males and a few females, in order to have eggs for consumption and, above all, to generate the next generations.

So, it is only after about 5 months that these chickens reach ‘puberty’ and become roosters and hens and transform: their plumage turns colourful, their crests and wattles turn red, their spurs grow and they become more aggressive in defending their nest and their territory… and this is where the roosters of our childhood come from, the ones that drove away intruders and even the guard dog!

Today, modern broiler farmers are only concerned with growing their animals well and do not have to worry about the next generation.

The generation of new chicks is taken care of by specialised parent farms, where parents, males and females, are reared under the best conditions to enable them to produce fertilised eggs out of which future generations of chickens will be hatched in hatcheries.

These breeders (cocks and hens) are therefore those ‘selected to breed’ new generations and they still behave like ‘the old ones’, but they do so in protected environments designed by man to defend them from disease and contamination.

So, we no longer see roosters scratching around in backyards, because they do so in protected farms.

However, rural farms have not disappeared, a few roosters in the countryside can still be found, but they only serve the needs of the farmer’s family, a few neighbours or some citizens who take their children to see the countryside.

An in-depth look at the difference between chickens, hens and roosters can be found at this link:

for a more in-depth look at the origins of the first roosters you can go to this link:


The editorial staff of M.A.C.