1 rooster 4 hens or 5 hens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cpendleton84, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. cpendleton84

    cpendleton84 Just Hatched

    Feb 19, 2014
    I am new to raising chickens, and am going to build a coop for up to 5 chickens, and I was wondering if people would advise getting 5 hens or 1 rooster and 4 hens. I have heard of the like 1:10 rooster to hen ratio, but I have also heard some good things that roosters can do for your flock, so I am wondering what I should go with. I think I would feel more comfortable with a rooster with the hens, but I know there are some reasons I shouldn't get one. What do you guys think? Any feedback is appreciated.
  2. forgetful

    forgetful Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2013
    You only really need a rooster if you want to hatch eggs. Hens can surprise you with how well they pick up the opening. A head hen will emerge and watch over her friends. Also, the number of hens to a rooster depends on how vigorous the rooster is. If he enjoys his job a little to much, you'd need more hens, but a more docile rooster can easily watch over four without hurting them. In fact, I have a rooster with 3 hens and they're all peachy.
    1 person likes this.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I think if you're new to chickens, start with hens. If all goes well in a year or so, and you're comfortable with them, you could add a rooster if you wanted. They're a dime a dozen and easy to come by, so obtaining one wouldn't be an issue.

    The only reason you'd need a rooster is to hatch out chicks, or for a very high predator area where you free range. If you want to hatch out chicks, you'll also need a brood hen, or an incubator, and somewhere to house the littles. Plus, half of your hatch are going to be roosters, and you'll have to deal with getting rid of them. For backyard folks, it's usually just nicer to buy sexed females when you're ready to add more birds.

    Personally, I love roosters. I do not think they're for everyone, though. They can crow any hour, day or night. More than one and they can crow competitively! They need a person who is calm, assertive but not aggressive, and small children and roosters are a recipe for disaster. Chicken mating is also pretty distressing to folks who aren't raised around animals.
    2 people like this.
  4. TheEggCollecter

    TheEggCollecter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2014
    Only get a rooster if you really want one or want to hatch chicks. They are a handful and can develop attitude.
    1 person likes this.
  5. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2014
    Getting a rooster will depend on what you expect of your flock and local ordinances.

    As for aggressiveness; that'll depend on breed and raising methods. A Rhode Island Red tend to be large and very aggressive if not violent towards intruders yet mine were hand raised and are quite friendly. More often than not it comes down to chance. If you only want eggs a rooster could be nice for the BBQ.

    But back to my opening comment; what do you want from your flock?

    If future breeding interests you have hatchery guarantee they aren't siblings.

    Have fun.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Start with all hens first, then see
    1 person likes this.
  7. SoDak605

    SoDak605 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 21, 2014
    South Dakota
    We started with 6 hens and a rooster, all were raised by my daughters (8 and 10) and can be handled by the girls whenever they want. Our second flock was the one we let go wild since they came in the summer and didn't really need to stay under a heat lamp as much, the buff orpingtons are pretty much like feral cats when it comes to catching and handling them. I have a Plymouth rock rooster from the second flock that developed a nasty large ear infection when he was little, it took a bit of pulling and prying but we finally got a marble sized pussball off the side of his head and he recovered, and grew into an awesome looking rooster that I can still walk over to and pick up without any fuss. From what we've seen, if you handle them a lot, they will be more docile and accepting of you than if you let them fend for themselves and grow up on mulberries and grasshoppers. I haven't been spurred by the buff orpington yet but he does have a crazy eye, he might find himself in the fryer if he decides to act out.
    1 person likes this.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    As others said, the only reason you need a rooster is to get fertile eggs. The rest boils down to personal preference. Why do you want chickens and why do you want a rooster? If you are not hatching eggs, a rooster will eat food and not lay eggs. Would you prefer to have another hen instead?

    There is a lot of luck involved in what a rooster will do if there is a threat to the flock. A few will attack a predator (or maybe certain predators) and even sacrifice himself for his flock. Some people report a rooster fighting off a hawk. It happens. Practically any of them will check out a perceived threat while the hens back off. But if a true threat is established, my roosters are practically always trying to lead the flock to safety instead of sending them to safety while he protects the rear. I have yet to lose a dominant rooster to a predator, even in two different dog attacks where I lost 8 and 5 others.

    A dominant rooster will function as a look-out and give his flock some warning, but if you don’t have a dominant rooster, one of the hens is likely to take on that role.

    Don’t get hung up on that 10 to 1 ratio. That comes from commercial flocks where they are producing hatching eggs where fertility is the only concern and the pen breeding method is used. Unless you keep 20 roosters in a pen with 200 hens with fertility your goal, it probably doesn’t apply to your situation. A 10 to 1 ratio makes a nice flock but it will not keep roosters from fighting and it will not stop some hens from getting bare backs or being over-mated.

    Many breeders keep one rooster in a pen with one or two hens for the breeding season and don’t suffer any of those problems. Their secret is that they don’t use juveniles. Adolescents with their hormones running wild can get pretty wild, especially if they are with pullets that aren’t mature enough to do their part either. Usually once the males and females both mature enough to do their part, things really settle down.

    I still advise people to keep as few roosters as you can to meet your goals. It’s not that you are guaranteed to have problems with roosters, just that you might. That’s why we are asking why you want roosters. Your perfect number of roosters might be zero.

    When you say you are building a coop for up to five chickens, that implies to me that you are building a fairly small coop. That by itself isn’t a real problem. As long as they have access to more space when they need it, coop size itself isn’t a huge issue. How much total room they have and when it is available is what is really important. You might follow the link in my signature to get my thoughts on space requirements. A lot of it won’t apply to your situation but some will. I do think having a rooster with the flock increases the need for space, especially when they are adolescents.
    Hamiam and cpendleton84 like this.
  9. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Roosters can be nice to have around and roosters can very often be a royal pain in the backside. If you are new to chickens make it easy on yourself to start. Start with some hens, get used to taking care of them, learn chicken behaviors, and if your still interested in a rooster later then give it a shot. In the meantime learn all you can about rooster behavior and how to live with and manage them. I've had roosters and I currently have a big RIR. When he is gone I'm going back to hens only.
    1 person likes this.
  10. Rosenwinkel

    Rosenwinkel Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 23, 2013
    One rooster needs at least 10-12 hens to mate with or the hens will be mounted too much and will start to loose their feathers. It is cruel to have too few hens for a rooster for the health of the hens.

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