"They don't want to come eat and drink because they're worried they'll get jumped on," she said.
Poplar Spring and United Poultry Concerns do not adopt out, which means vacancies take a while to open up. Chickens live an average of eight years but can survive as long as 15. They aren't cheap to maintain, either: A coop can cost from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand. Monthly feed costs run from $15 to $50 a month, according to a 2011 study by Mint.com, which said it can take urban chicken farmers an average of 2 1/2 years to recoup their costs.
The ranks of homeless roosters are still small and don't come anywhere close to the three million unwanted cats and dogs that are euthanized each year in the United States. But Paul Shapiro, vice president for farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States, which supports backyard chicken farming, said that figuring out what to do with unwanted roosters "is a very serious problem, and one with no easy answer."
"We encourage people to adopt hens from shelters for a number of reasons, one of which is the rooster problem that can arise from breeders," he said. "Many shelters have to euthanize roosters for lack of available homes, just like they do with dogs and cats."
Given how hard it has become to place unwanted roosters in the Washington area, Cummings fears that the spread of backyard chickens to new counties may exacerbate the issue.
If they are lucky, they will end up like Hanz, the rooster at Montgomery County's animal shelter, which doesn't euthanize the animals it takes in. There, Hanz will get shelter and three squares a day until he's adopted.
"Just hearing that one needs a home — I feel really bad," said Davis, of United Poultry Concerns. "But we can only do so much."