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QUESTION about my new flock: mixed hens with a few roos.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Never kept roosters before; only hens. My question is: my new flock of 24 chickens (3 roosters) has been raised together from day one. They are almost 16 weeks old. Is it ok to continue to leave the roosters in the same pen or is it common to separate them until the girls get a little older?? What works best for y'all?
They seem to all get along just fine ... but I've had a few passersby make mention that the roosters will get aggressive and try to mate before the girls are ready. They say this is stressful for the girls.
Thanks.
post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by easyvilleacres View Post

Never kept roosters before; only hens. My question is: my new flock of 24 chickens (3 roosters) has been raised together from day one. They are almost 16 weeks old. Is it ok to continue to leave the roosters in the same pen or is it common to separate them until the girls get a little older?? What works best for y'all?
They seem to all get along just fine ... but I've had a few passersby make mention that the roosters will get aggressive and try to mate before the girls are ready. They say this is stressful for the girls.
Thanks.

They are correct...and if you've never seen it happen before, it may be stressful for you too.

Males will be ready to mate before the females, and multiple males create a competitive environment that can make the situation exponentially worse for all involved, chickens and keeper. 

 

Sometimes you can get away with multiple cockerels, sometimes you can't.....

.....can depend on how much and what kind of space you have available.

 

I'd strongly suggest that you have ready a separate enclosure or wire dog crates to segregate the cockerels asap,

because usually if/when things get ugly, it happens fast and isolating the boys can diffuse it immediately.

 

Think about what your goals are for having cockbirds.

Do some reading on cocks/cockerels and decide how to handle them to meet your goals.


Edited by aart - 10/17/15 at 3:41am

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response. Can I keep the three males TOGETHER? We have 2 other chicken pens so housing is not an issue. We can even section off portions for each male if they cannot be together right now.
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by easyvilleacres View Post

Thanks for the response. Can I keep the three males TOGETHER? We have 2 other chicken pens so housing is not an issue. We can even section off portions for each male if they cannot be together right now.

Maybe...sorry, no pat answers.

Some folks use a bachelor pad for all cock/erels, some keep them in separate pens.

Depends on the birds and how they get along, I'd try keeping them together with the option of segregation ready to go if needed.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #5 of 8

Recently I raised two batches of baby chicks and ended up with three cockerels. Needless to say, I was deeply disappointed and stressed out. I realized, from past experience what the implications were so I got to work right away to line up homes for the extra boys, having decided to keep one of them.

 

Having more than one cockerel in a flock of twenty spells trouble in a number of different ways:

 

1. As Aart pointed out, the boys mature sooner than the girls, and the pullets will be stressed out from the incessant attention.

2. Later on, that many roosters can result in over-mating of the hens resulting in feather loss and increased possibility of injuries.

3. The cockerels may decide they hate each other, and the result could be bickering and fighting and possibility of serious injuries. You may be faced with having to euthanize one of the victims at some point.

4. It may be you will have to spend money you hadn't planned on to enlarge your coop and run as that may be the only way to adequately manage so many roosters.

 

In the past, I had two cockerels raised together decide they needed to murder each other and they set about each and every day to attempt that goal. It was a very stressful experience, and the hens weren't having such a great time, either. I strongly urge you to get busy right now and find homes for those extra boys. It will greatly simplify and improve your life.

post #6 of 8
I always suggest you keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. That’s not because you are guaranteed to have problems with more roosters, but you are more likely to have problems the more roosters you have. I don’t know what your ultimate goals are, that’s up to you.

It’s very possible you could have any or all the problems the others mentioned. It’s also possible you see none of those things, though that would be pretty rare. To me the most critical items are how much space you have and the personality of the individual chickens. One thing that is almost certain to happen is that the cockerels should mature before the pullets. Since the cockerels are bigger and stronger plus the hormones are really pushing them, they can be quite aggressive toward the pullets, forcing them to mate. That’s not just about sex either, that’s a way of dominating the flock. Chicken society can be pretty complex. If you have plenty of room and the boys aren’t too aggressive that can be fairly nondramatic, but it really can be stressful.

There are several ways to go about it if you plan on keeping more than one. You can leave them all together and see how it goes. Have your Plan “B” ready so you can isolate the boys if you wish.

You can keep all the boys in a separate pen, away from the girls. Lots of people keep bachelor pads. Normally the cockerels get along reasonably well without a lot of fighting if there are no girls to fight over. They will still decide which is the top cockerel, the pullets will also determine who is top pullet, but the fighting is usually not too bad.

There is a big difference in pullets and cockerels versus hens and roosters. With adolescents the hormones are often running uncontrolled and maturity is really irregular. Some chickens just mature faster than others. Once the chickens, male and female, mature enough to understand their roles in the flock things normally become really peaceful. But until they reach that point there can be a lot of conflict. Not always, but there can be.

You can lock two up and leave one with the pullets. It’s possible one cockerel can totally stress out a flock of 21 pullets, but the odds of that are less than having three cockerels running with them together. People will sometimes quote magic numbers about hen to rooster ratios but there is nothing magical about them. You can have the same problems with one rooster and 21 hens as three roosters with the same hens. It’s just that your odds are better with fewer roosters.

You can keep the boys in their bachelor pad until the hens and roosters are mature, probably around one year of age, then let them mix. At that age the hens should be mature enough to accept the dominance of the roosters so that part should go pretty smoothly. The hens will probably squat for the roosters without being forced (though some chasing may be involved) and the roosters should have the worst of their hormones under control. It’s highly likely (practically guaranteed) that the roosters will fight some to determine which is flock master. It is possible there can be some fights to the death or that one gets seriously injured, but normally if they have sufficient room these fights evolve more into running away and chasing. They normally reach an accommodation where they work together to take care of the flock. That accommodation can take many forms. Often each rooster gets his on harem. They may intermingle some but usually each sub-flock has their own territory and they pretty much stay out of each other’s way.

They do have a tendency to fight each time a new rooster is introduced to the flock so try to minimize that as much as you can. Once they are introduced and have worked things out leave them alone if you can.

What works best for me is that I raise the chicks with the flock, pullets and cockerels. I do not isolate the cockerels unless I am going to butcher them. Yes, there is often excitement down there when they go through puberty and adolescence, but I have plenty of space and they generally don’t get seriously injured. If you are not used to it, it is often not for the faint of heart to watch. I’ve never had a pullet injured. I had one cockerel kill another once in all the years I’ve been doing this. Only once and that is when I did isolate them. I had 18 cockerels so I put some in my grow-out pen and left some with the main flock. When I let them back together one cockerel killed another. If I had not isolated them that probably would not have happened. You are dealing with living animals so I can’t say for sure.

I don’t know what the right answer is for you. Your goals and set-up are different from mine. I wish you luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #7 of 8
I agree with Ridgerunner, I've raised the girls and boys together within the flock and never had a fatality...the old Roos seem to keep the peace and the hens don't put up with the youngsters trying anything with them...if they jump a young pullet and she's not receptive, the Boss Roo or one of the Hens will put the run on the youngsters over active libido. But what works for one might not work for all...if you leave the boys in, keep an eye on the "Flow" watch for any possible problems and deal with them immediately..if things are getting out of hand...then separate the trouble makers.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post

I always suggest you keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. That’s not because you are guaranteed to have problems with more roosters, but you are more likely to have problems the more roosters you have. I don’t know what your ultimate goals are, that’s up to you.

It’s very possible you could have any or all the problems the others mentioned. It’s also possible you see none of those things, though that would be pretty rare. To me the most critical items are how much space you have and the personality of the individual chickens. One thing that is almost certain to happen is that the cockerels should mature before the pullets. Since the cockerels are bigger and stronger plus the hormones are really pushing them, they can be quite aggressive toward the pullets, forcing them to mate. That’s not just about sex either, that’s a way of dominating the flock. Chicken society can be pretty complex. If you have plenty of room and the boys aren’t too aggressive that can be fairly nondramatic, but it really can be stressful.

There are several ways to go about it if you plan on keeping more than one. You can leave them all together and see how it goes. Have your Plan “B” ready so you can isolate the boys if you wish.

You can keep all the boys in a separate pen, away from the girls. Lots of people keep bachelor pads. Normally the cockerels get along reasonably well without a lot of fighting if there are no girls to fight over. They will still decide which is the top cockerel, the pullets will also determine who is top pullet, but the fighting is usually not too bad.

There is a big difference in pullets and cockerels versus hens and roosters. With adolescents the hormones are often running uncontrolled and maturity is really irregular. Some chickens just mature faster than others. Once the chickens, male and female, mature enough to understand their roles in the flock things normally become really peaceful. But until they reach that point there can be a lot of conflict. Not always, but there can be.

You can lock two up and leave one with the pullets. It’s possible one cockerel can totally stress out a flock of 21 pullets, but the odds of that are less than having three cockerels running with them together. People will sometimes quote magic numbers about hen to rooster ratios but there is nothing magical about them. You can have the same problems with one rooster and 21 hens as three roosters with the same hens. It’s just that your odds are better with fewer roosters.

You can keep the boys in their bachelor pad until the hens and roosters are mature, probably around one year of age, then let them mix. At that age the hens should be mature enough to accept the dominance of the roosters so that part should go pretty smoothly. The hens will probably squat for the roosters without being forced (though some chasing may be involved) and the roosters should have the worst of their hormones under control. It’s highly likely (practically guaranteed) that the roosters will fight some to determine which is flock master. It is possible there can be some fights to the death or that one gets seriously injured, but normally if they have sufficient room these fights evolve more into running away and chasing. They normally reach an accommodation where they work together to take care of the flock. That accommodation can take many forms. Often each rooster gets his on harem. They may intermingle some but usually each sub-flock has their own territory and they pretty much stay out of each other’s way.

They do have a tendency to fight each time a new rooster is introduced to the flock so try to minimize that as much as you can. Once they are introduced and have worked things out leave them alone if you can.

What works best for me is that I raise the chicks with the flock, pullets and cockerels. I do not isolate the cockerels unless I am going to butcher them. Yes, there is often excitement down there when they go through puberty and adolescence, but I have plenty of space and they generally don’t get seriously injured. If you are not used to it, it is often not for the faint of heart to watch. I’ve never had a pullet injured. I had one cockerel kill another once in all the years I’ve been doing this. Only once and that is when I did isolate them. I had 18 cockerels so I put some in my grow-out pen and left some with the main flock. When I let them back together one cockerel killed another. If I had not isolated them that probably would not have happened. You are dealing with living animals so I can’t say for sure.

I don’t know what the right answer is for you. Your goals and set-up are different from mine. I wish you luck!


Thanks for the great information!!! After I responded earlier (which was sunday I think?) I went to church and talked to a family there who has had a mixed flock of some sort for years, hatching new ones to replace the old, etc. She said they never had a problem with keeping the pullets and cockerels together while they mature into adults (beyond the normal pecking order ... which is natural and necessary to establish and keep). So, when we got home we put the young males back into the pen with the girls. We are going to watch them closely and do have a "PLAN B" in order just in case.

 

When I ordered them I was figuring 2 males for 22 females ... but then one of the Buffs turned out to be a male, which is fine with me because he's a nice guy; the only male that will want attention, sit on my lap, etc., but I know that could change. So, what I'm thinking of doing is separating out the male buff with the 2 female buffs and a few of the barred rocks. They can have their own pen. When it comes time to incubate some eggs, we'll sell the pure buff chicks and keep the mixed chicks for meat. Well, that's my plan anyway ... we'll see. (EDIT to add: my original plan was to breed pure BCMs to sell the chicks and also breed BCMs with EEs with the hopes of an "olive egger" offspring ... the male BO threw things a little bit off but for the better I think? I also plan to sell eggs.) (Their pen is 20x40 but we let them out to free range too and once our fence is done they will be out for longer periods of time (like, all day as long as someone is home.))

 

The other two males are Black Copper Marans and are HUGE. They are at lease twice the size of the females, all 16 weeks old today. One of the BCMs is bigger than the other. The BO is the smallest male, but he seems to run the show so far and always has. We decided to name them Alexander (big BCM), Richard (other BCM) and Frederick (BO) ... after kings. :D

Anyway, thanks again to EVERYONE for the advice! We'll be on the look out for stressed out pullets and we are certainly not afraid to cull and eat what does not seem needed ... and King Richard is first on the list right now. :ep

Joanne

(I'll attach some photos just for the fun of it)

Frederick

 

Richard

 

Alexander and Richard with a pullet in the middle (for size comparison)

 

Alexander

 

Frederick and Alexander


Edited by easyvilleacres - 10/21/15 at 6:10am
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