4 roosters in flock of 13. Will they continue to get along?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by eggsnbacon, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. eggsnbacon

    eggsnbacon New Egg

    3
    1
    9
    Oct 20, 2014
    As new chicken owners we have made many mistakes. I should have read this WHOLE board before moving forward, but was a little hasty. With that said, we are the happy owners of 13 chickens, 4 of which are roosters (1 buff orphington and 3 white leghorns). They are 4 months old and all get along as of right now, but I'm guessing that will change. We free range our chickens during the day and I haven't noticed any major issues with the roosters. They all seem to get along just fine. Will this always be the case? I was going to advertise 3 leghorns on craigslist for free, but it's making my stomach turn thinking of my kids being eaten. I know this is natural and I'm a big hypocrite as I enjoy eating chicken, but these are my babies! Do I have to get rid of them or will they get along? I have 3 kids under 3 so I really want to make sure they won't be aggressive. As of right now they are all friendly and approachable and great with us. I appreciate all advice. Thanks!
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    63,796
    9,429
    766
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    [​IMG] In all likelihood they will start fighting as they mature. Eventually when the hormones really kick in, they will start 'terrorizing' your pullets. Even if they get along 4 roosters to 9 pullets will result in flock problems.
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    18,887
    6,300
    526
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    When your roosters get a little maturity and start beating the crap out of each other, when you let them out in the morning and notice bloody combs, when they start gang raping the pullets, particularly the ones at the bottom of the pecking order, you'll be happy to send them to some one elses crock pot, or even better yet put them in yours. I know I'm speaking bluntly, but chicken social behavior can sometimes be horrifying if you don't know what to expect. Also, if you have young children, that's all the more reason to get rid of all but your gentlest roo. If I were in your shoes, I'd watch them closely, and immediately get rid of all but one just as soon as you pick out the best mannered one. Look for a roo who dances for the ladies, offers them tidbits, and does not allow the ladies to fight. But, initially, you'll see a lot of raging hormones, and not much of the good roo behavior.
     
    2 people like this.
  4. eggsnbacon

    eggsnbacon New Egg

    3
    1
    9
    Oct 20, 2014
    That's what I thought, but I was trying to delude myself into thinking they will always be one big happy family. I appreciate your help. The buff orpington is the most relaxed friendly rooster. He's been my favorite from the get go. Alright I know what to do! Blunt is fine, I needed a reality check. Thanks again
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,129
    3,326
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I don’t know what your goals are or why you have chickens. My advice is always to keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. It’s not guaranteed that you will have problems with more roosters, just that your chances of problems go up the more you have.

    At 4 months they are still adolescents. The hormones should start flowing real soon if they haven’t already. They have worked out the pecking order by now but with the hormones kicking in, expect some challenges for flock dominance and some changes to the pecking order as they continue to mature. Those pecking order changes include the pullets as well as the cockerels.

    It’s possible the cockerels could work out their flock dominance and pecking order issues and you don’t notice a thing. It’s possible there could be fights to the death, especially of one gets injured in a fight. They have no mercy if one gets injured. What normally happens if you have lots of room is that they work out their differences but it can get really messy with their fighting. Lots of room is a key factor.

    There are no magic ratios as far as hens to roosters. You can have the same problems with very low hen to rooster ratios as very high. The more roosters you have the more likely you are to have those problems but there are no guarantees either way. When the hormones do kick in you will see a lot of mating, usually unwillingly from the pullet’s side. That’s more about the cockerels setting up flock dominance than about sex. You’ll see that if you have one cockerel or four. With four, you will see more of it.

    As far as the roosters attacking your kids. It’s usually only the dominant one you have to worry about. Part of his duties are to protect the flock form danger and to maintain his position as flock master. The non-dominant roosters usually don’t have those responsibilities to that degree so they are less likely to attack kids, but it still could happen. Many roosters are fine around kids but some see them as a threat to the flock or as a challenge to their position as flock master, especially if they interact with the flock.

    For thousands of years small farmers have been raising kids with free ranging flocks that contain roosters. Usually there are not any problems, but young kids are especially vulnerable. They can’t protect themselves and the rooster will often go for the head where the eyes are. I suggest you don’t let your kids out without good supervision. If a rooster ever attacks a kid, get rid of that rooster immediately.

    I don’t know your goals but for me one rooster and nine hens would make a real nice flock.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,531
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'd be way more concerned about the female's life than the males fighting among themselves. Seeing a pullet ganged up on by hormonal cockerels isn't pretty picture.

    If you're determined to keep the roosters as pets, you can set up a separate housing/bachelor pad for them. It depends on your end goal for keeping birds.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,700
    1,325
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    If you are just getting started with chickens, I would get rid of all the roosters. You have very young children, and roosters have ruined the whole chicken experience for a lot of kids. The kids will be the ones attacked first. As new chicken people, you may not pick up on aggressive cues, until one has attacked your child. Under three and most children will be attacked in the face.

    Often times, inexperienced people raise very aggressive roosters because they underestimate the space needed for a peaceful flock, they raise a rooster with flock mates, so that he gets bigger and stronger than the pullets much earlier, and there are no older birds to thump manners into them, and they handle the roosters a great deal, hoping to make a loving pet out of the rooster. What often happens is roosters take petting as signs of submission and weakness and aggressively tries to dominate you by attacking.

    I had an all hen flock for 3 years before I tried a rooster, you learn a lot those first years. An all hen flock is a nice flock. You have years to have chickens, start slow and add roosters in about 4 - 5 years, you and your children will have a lot more experience with chickens and be a lot taller. Often times a hen will go broody without a rooster, if you want her to raise eggs, ask other crazy chicken people for some eggs or order chicks to put under her. Nothing more fun than a hen with chicks.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,764
    6,886
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    If you can't get rid of them right away, I'd set up another pen and shelter and have it ready because when it happens, it happens fast and you'll want to separate and confine them away from the rest of the flock.
     
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    What aart said.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    My bachelor pad.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2014
  10. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

    17,585
    745
    416
    Feb 28, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Is this breed specific? I've got and had Del roosters together and they get along fine.

    Usually trouble comes when I separate them for a bit and then they can't be let out.

    I've got a Marans rooster with an Aurcana and they seem fine too.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by