Do you need a rooster for a hen to lay an egg?

Small and Backyard Flocks, Science for Youth December 14, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF


A hen (female chicken) does not need the help of a rooster (male chicken) in order to lay an egg. She is quite capable of doing the job on her own. See how a hen makes an egg. 

A rooster is needed, however, if your goal is to produce chicks. Roosters must fertilize the eggs. You can then incubate the eggs to hatch out chicks. You typically need one rooster for every 10 hens. 

Roosters also can help to protect the flock. If you have a free-range flock of chickens, roosters will sound the alert if there is a predator nearby. They are also good for keeping the hens close to home. Hens have a tendency to wander, each in her own direction.


Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky

Photo cc

Connect with us

  • Facebook
  • YouTube


This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by



This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.