This is one of the most frequent questions that I get asked by people who have an interest in keeping chickens. The answer is a simple and direct “no”. The female hens are perfectly capable of laying eggs without having a male rooster present. Usually, the next question that follows will be: What’s the rooster for then? Well, although you can still get the eggs from the hens without having a rooster around, these eggs will NOT hatch into chicks if they’re not fertilized. And that’s exactly where a rooster comes in.
So, if you want to start breeding your chickens to increase your flock size, you’ll definitely need to mix in a couple of roosters in your coop for them to mingle. Once the eggs are fertilized by the roosters, you’ll still need to get them incubated one way or another. As a natural means, the hens will usually incubate the eggs (this usually happens even if the mother’s not around because they will care for their own kind. How sweet!). Alternatively, if you want to make sure that the incubation is done properly and consistently, you can use an artificial incubator for it. An incubator isn’t too expensive, and you can probably get a good one for less than $100.
For those who’re merely interested in collecting the eggs to be consumed or to be sold, you should pick them up from the coop on a daily basis before the eggs are incubated by the hens. After you collect those eggs, keep them refrigerated immediately.