Oh that sucks. :(
Don't worry much about introducing a rooster to the hens. A good rooster becomes extremely excited and constantly courts the hens immediately.
The hens can be anything from very wary to outright challenging him. again, a good rooster ignores the challenges and continues to court hard, but it is ok if he gives her a good peck and stops if she backs down immediately. The wary hens will eventually be won over.
Other okay things: if rooster immediately chases and breeds a hen.. but then starts courting after. It is also okay if a hen fights him and he fights back.. as long as he does not try to beat her up after she surrenders.
To be honest, I worry more about introducing new hens to other hens rather than rooster to hens.
X 3 ....And in my experience, the more mature the cockerel is when you reintroduce him to the ladies, the more likely he is to court them and woo them before attempting to mate. I had kept my Ameraucana cockerel, Copper, in a lone pen for weeks, and when I finally released him into the yard there was the normal establishing of the pecking order with the other boys, but he was a real Romeo with the girls. I was thrilled when my first flock of girls clearly favored him and invited him to join their coop. He's been devoted to their welfare ever since and continues to be a perfect gentleman.
This is very helpful, everyone! Things have settled down more today and were much quieter - I had forgotten that when you remove chickens, while there is a decompression of crowding, you're still changing the dynamics and pecking order needs to be reestablished (duh!). I am resigned to separate boys from girls as soon as the coop is finished. I do have experience in introducing an older cockerel with established pullets that were about 4 weeks older than him - I adopted a lovely Cream Legbar cockerel named Dumbledore from a breeder (crooked comb, was going to be soup). He was able to watch the three girls from a distance for the 5 weeks he was in quarantine, and then he joined them at 18 weeks. He went from crowing and strutting to cowering as they hen pecked him mercilessly (no injury, didn't keep him from food, just putting him in his place). He had to earn his place with them, but he is now mating (very politely) and crowing and watching for predators when they forage, and the three "wicked witches" have even let him sleep on the top roost with them (though they kick him out of bed temporarily sometimes right before sundown, which is hysterical - he's still pretty whipped). So I can definitely see that introducing a more mature male works better.
How about having more than one male re-introduced together (there will be 6 or 7 pullets)? I was HOPING to have at least 3 (or 4) cockerels, and wondered if more than one could be part of the main flock without courting disaster.
I broke down and ordered some more coop plans online last night - it's a coop that holds up to 6 large chickens that is mostly plywood panels (and a run) that breaks down into flat panels/sections when not in use, so I could build a few for cockerel growing out and set them back up later for breeding pens. The only power tool I don't have yet is a table saw - maybe there's one in my future...
(I got weights today!!! Separate post coming...)
- Ant Farm
Edited by Fire Ant Farm - 11/18/15 at 5:46pm