Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky
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, although they will be infertile and incapable of producing a chick. See how a hen makes an egg.
A rooster is needed, however, if your goal is to produce chicks. Roosters needs to mate with a hen two or three times a week in order for the hen to lay fertile eggs. You can then incubate the eggs to hatch out chicks. You typically need one rooster for every ten 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.