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Cockerel Behavior-Noob Needs Advice ;)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have read several threads, but haven't found the 100% answer to my question so any help is appreciated smile.png

I have 4 cockerels in my 19 chicks (7 weeks old) and I'm noticing the boys behavior more and more and not sure what's desirable and what isn't. I compare them to my grown roo, but not sure if that's a fair comparison? I would like to keep one of these 4 boys and so I'm trying to focus in on some of those signs that "yes he might be a keeper" as well as, and probably more important, "nope this one needs culled".

So here's what I'm seeing-
-one boy will chase the girls and peck at them, sometimes try to climb on them
-a couple of the boys raising neck feathers, at each other, sometimes pecking, chasing each other and I've seen a couple do it to the girls also
-boys chest bumping each other (which I believe is normal, but some do it to the girls too

Also, any help that you can give about what's acceptable and what's not would be awesome. I want to understand their behavior so that I know what is bad so that in able to cull them out, but I don't want to unnecessarily cull a chicken.

Thank you!!!
Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
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Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
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post #2 of 9

I am not sure what your set up is, or if you have your chicks in with your laying flock as of yet, if not, you probably have two set ups. Which is good. The pullets will really start to be harassed by the juvenile roosters. Roosters are ready to be sexually active long before the pullets. 

 

If you are going to keep the senior rooster and the rooster you keep out of these chicks together in the same flock, you need to get the chicks in amongst the flock fairly soon. Yes they are smaller than the full size birds, but if you set up some hide outs, a couple feeding stations and some extra water it should be ok, mainly as you have a lot more chicks than layers.

 

At this time, you need to really examine your roosters. Check their feet, they need to be even and with straight toes. Pick the bird up and feel the conformation of the bones of the body. When you pick up the first one, you will be able to tell that their are bone, but not much else ;-) However, pick up the second rooster and compare them, then you should see a difference. Check their skull shape, their keel and the shape of their wings. Look of the standards for the breed, and check these birds to that. You probably won't have a grand champion, but do look for a bird that shows regularity in sizing and shape.

 

So when you pick your best two, pull the other two chicks to where you had the chicks, feed them well, limit their free ranging, and in a couple of weeks, at about 14-16 weeks, fire up the bbq. 

 

In the meantime, take a cup of coffee down, and watch your flock. One of the chicks you will like better, keep him and put the other with the boys in the bachelor pad.

 

Now, this is not a absolute this will always work plan. Some flock masters will allow an adolescent rooster to grow up in the flock, and be the sergeant of the flock, out on the fringes. Some young roosters will accept that role. However, some roosters won't tolerate another rooster. A foreign rooster will really trigger off fight. That is why I suggest getting him into the flock asap, so that he grows up under the leader. Sometimes this will work very well for a long time, and then there is a big fight. Sometime the leadership changes, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes that settles it, sometimes they will fight nearly all the time until one of them is dead. Roosters are a crap shoot.

 

Mrs K

Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you SO much @Mrs. K! This is super helpful!

I do have two set ups and brooded these chicks in a brooder box inside the main coop and then just moved them into their own small coop a couple weeks ago and then we made a pen for them within the pasture where my adults are, so everyone stays familiar until I let the littles out in with the adults. I have let my rooster in with the littles several times as well as one of my hens that clucks at them like a mama hen, it's super sweet smile.png Anyway that has gone well, they've learned a thing or two about the pecking order. I was hoping to let the chicks get a little bigger before letting them out with the adults mainly because of possible predators and because the pasture is a full acre, so just nervous about the space they have to get lost in lol! But t has to happen sometime I guess! They've been in their own coop for two weeks now, so maybe I just need to bite the bullet and do it wink.png
Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
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Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Oh and will roosters still fight if there are no females?
Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
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Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
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post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by MesMama View Post

Oh and will roosters still fight if there are no females?
maybe they won't. They really need to be out of sight of the hens.

Again roosters are a crap shoot, some will fight through the fence. How old are your kids? Roosters can be dangerous around children if they are small. You might be thinking you can keep them all, and can of course do what you want, but it most often does not work well. You cannot wish chickens nice, most of the time chicken society is chicken normal behavior, but it often is not nice. AArt often say this is where romance meets reality and is right.
Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. K View Post

maybe they won't. They really need to be out of sight of the hens.

Again roosters are a crap shoot, some will fight through the fence. How old are your kids? Roosters can be dangerous around children if they are small. You might be thinking you can keep them all, and can of course do what you want, but it most often does not work well. You cannot wish chickens nice, most of the time chicken society is chicken normal behavior, but it often is not nice. AArt often say this is where romance meets reality and is right.

Yeah I've really had to check my romantic side since getting chickens a year ago, I was all bright eyed and dreamy LOL! Then reality sets in wink.png

So to answer your questions-my kids are 11 and 7 and I was only wanting to keep one of the roosters from this batch of chicks and was going to bbq the other 3. So my question about them fighting when there are no females in with them-I was just curious if they would fight with each other during the time I grow them out before butchering. Just didn't know what to expect with the 3 boys together smile.png
Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
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Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
Reply
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Oh and so far I haven't seen any aggressive behavior from any of the roo chicks toward myself or my kids, so that's good. I read in one thread to assert your dominance to a roo chick when he comes up to you so he respects you and that chickens relate fear with respect (totally did not know that, so that was good to learn!). So, I've been doing that with the roo chicks and they all retreat...as of now wink.png
Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
Reply
Joyous mama to 2 kiddos, 2 dogs, and 2 chickens!-11 BO's including an awesomely sweet and gentlemanly head roo named Red.  Also, 9 Wellies-5 pullets and 1 cockerel named Lars, 4 SS and 2 SLW pullets :D
Reply
post #8 of 9

 So far, the behaviors you've been seeing are more pecking order related than hormone related. It will be several more weeks before their true temperaments start to show. Right now they are still little kids, learning to be chickens.

post #9 of 9

Again - one never knows, but last year I had a bachelor pad with 8 (out of 11, yep got 3 pullets out of 11eggs), over a small hill from the main flock. Not out of hearing, and some mornings there was a chorus of crows from one and all! I did invite them to the dinner at about 18 weeks (I was waiting for a plucker that I ordered, as a side note, I did get the one attached to drill and it worked great!) Up to that point, they did not bother each other at all. They were sure eye candy, and I did give one away, to someone who wanted one to add to her flock. The rest were tasty. We are getting used to our own chicken, it does take a bit.

 

Your boys are old enough, not that they might not get attacked by a roos, but it will not be in their face as it might be with a 3 year old.

 

Mrs K


Edited by Mrs. K - 5/7/16 at 8:25pm
Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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