Advise on Breeding Setups/Batchelor Pads

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Zanna, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. Zanna

    Zanna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 14, 2010
    Jefferson, Oregon
    Wanting to hear how others deal with breeding in free-range flocks with multiple roosters/breeds.

    1. How are your breeding pens set-up?
    2. How long do you separate Rooster/hens from the main flock before collecting your eggs to incubate and ideal ratio of 1 roo to ? hens?
    3. How do you incorporate Roo/hens back to main coop and and free-ranging flock situation after breeding?
    4. What do you do for Bachelor pads for keeping multiple roos to grow out while deciding which ones to keep for future breeding when they become "active" so they don't wear out the hens and reap havoc in the main flock?
    5. Is it just best to keep breeders separate from main egg laying flocks? Opinions?

    I hate the thought of keeping breeders locked up and separated permanently just to best meet my goals, I love having them free range, I think it makes happier, healthier boys and girls. I feel the benefits outweigh the risk of predation, injury, etc. and I accept any losses I may have in this situation. Opinions?

    Any other input would be appreciated as well...................
  2. Zanna

    Zanna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 14, 2010
    Jefferson, Oregon
    Any breeders out there with advice for me??
  3. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    First off, thank you for posting this question. What I have found for my own disaster has been "hutches".
    We have the main coop (A)with 16 hens in, a hallway to store grain, excess lights, cords etc and is used in the winter time so the hens can get to fresh air and sunshine without completely freezing the air in the main coop. In the main coop we have a "hutch" where the girls can use the floor space, but if we have a need to put a broody hen to break her on solid wood floor, hospital type care- even a sitting on eggs broody. Plus we a "in-law" apartment (tongue in cheek) when we have chicks that need an immediate place to go for whatever reason, or a hen, rooster, 1 bird that needs an antibiotic, especially in summer as its in front of the window for breeze/fresh air & sunshine.

    Now the hutches that we have were great until we have 3 of them at this point, all for a reason, but would be much nicer in one building, easier to tend to anyways.

    (B)1 hutch is 4x8 with a 2x4 living quarter with a sliding plexi-glass door into the hardware cloth door, that has a sheet of plastic on the back and front to winterize. Never to tight, they do great with fresh air exchange (we all know that). This has 1 main door to the living quarter with a 2nd smaller door for winter care. The front hardware cloth door drops down for easy clean out.

    (C)The next "hutch" ( DH built this as a tractor, but at 350lbs, it did not move very easily) has been placed on "footing" and has a 8x10x4' pen with a 3x8' house built on, door that lifts up and plexi-glass windows on each side. Right now it houses 2 Standard Cochin roosters (that grew up together, and at the time I separate them, will not be able to put them together. Although some breeds are more difficult and need individual quarters.)

    (D) Another 4x8x6 hutch that was originally for turkeys, they ran away(no kidding) and is solid wood on back and one side , then hardware cloth on the front and side door. The door lifts up, I don't believe I'd have this again, you have to lift and put a pole under door and it has come down on more need be said. It is in the garage on the back wall (not attached to the house!) so that it gets some sun, but most shade as we use it for broilers, brooding young broilers/turkey poults. Right now its quarantine for 5 hens. This area is also used for that.

    (E) The gazebo in the "cat yard" is for raising our BB turkeys that go to freezer camp, electric fence along lower 1/2- night time only. We also use this area for giving confined birds a chance to get out, live for a while and gain vites and stuff from grass and sun. Also for separating birds that we want for breeders so to separate the eggs from the general layer population.

    Its a lot of work lugging water and feed, but with its certain foods for grower/breeders I use a metal trash can outside that coop so that if I hire a "sitter" for vacation, then there is less to be concerned over as can is labeled with duct tape too. A number of breeders say that they use 3x4 pens for breeders, and where we raise feather footed birds, Bantam & Standard Cochin and D'uccle's, if your going to show them, you cannot breed them as feathers break and ruffle. If you want to show, then having a smaller pen, with no roost and plenty of shavings. I have seen some awesome designs and I hope to someday have all these birds in one area!

    (Sorry for the novel) Clean out suggestion, make the hall big enough to get a wheel barrow in. We did not think in that way but have rectified that issue by using a 30 gallon trash can on a dolly for easy in out of coop and coop door! Live and learn.
  4. acid_chipmunk

    acid_chipmunk Polish Silkies d'Uccles O my!

    Mar 29, 2010
    Spook, I love that you call it a disaster. That made me giggle at work this morning!

    We keep our birds separate (in their breeding pens) from the time they are old enough to mate and lay, some even before that.

    Our pens are simple, 8 feet long, 4 feet wide. The coops are about 3 feet tall and are about 2 feet off the ground. They have the whole 8 feet for run length and shade under their coops. The food and water hang under there as well. The side are 3 feet tall in the run, as that is how tall the fencing is. Then, the tops of the runs are covered, too. We have a people access door on the side for getting eggs and cleaning and a sliding door on the opposite side for them to get into the run.

    These are all tactors and get moved around our yard all year long, except for right now because of the mountains of snow we have here.
  5. Zanna

    Zanna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 14, 2010
    Jefferson, Oregon
    So, does anyone out there separate breeders from a free-range situation just for certain parts of the year and then re-incorporate them back into the flock when you have collected all the eggs you want for the season? How do you do this to create the least stress on the breeders and the main flock?
  6. grendel

    grendel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2010
    Walbridge ohio
    I have each of my breeds separated in indoor "flights"and then rotate when each breed can free range.One roo ,three to five hens per flight.The hens can intermingle without the roos,on occassion.
  7. averytds

    averytds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2008
    Quote:We do it all the time. We also pull out birds to be prepped for show. Including quarantine after, they may be out of the flock for 3-4 months at a stretch. We give hens 3-4 wks without a roo to be sure they're clear if they've potentially been around other roos.

    We used to go through having a separate caged off area for them to get re-acquainted. Still use it sometimes for totally new birds to the flock, though that's as much to cement their new coop assignment without restricting the entire flock. The rest I think have gotten used to the frequent comings and goings and just don't really pay any attention as they may be the next pulled out. [​IMG] Maybe we've just eaten all the contrary ones. [​IMG]
  8. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    Ok my plans and I free range almost all year here.

    By next month I will have another coop and the coop now will be the breeding broody coop. What I am doing is taking hens out no more than 3 and letting them empty. Then putting in my pick rooster for 3 days. Then taking him out and putting him back with main flock. I have to do this all at night so chickens do not leave coop and I can catch them. In our case if I do not have a broody, hens will lay in box till one goes broody then rest will be let back into main flock.

    I might down the road have pen sectioned off to 3 breeding pens but for now it is just a coop pen. The point is keeping hens away till they are clean of any rooster before leaving with pick rooster. Depending on what I want will depend on who goes with who. Right now it is one on one breeding. I will not do more than that till later when it might be 1 to 3. But I will not go over that 1 to 3 ratio. That is my choice for I am devloping breeding lines here.
  9. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds like we all have a rotation of projects in each building/pen. I do free range all of my hens and roosters in the summer, except my banties, the standards don't like banties. So we free range them in another area. We do have a 3' plastic mesh fence, nothing special and they can go under and over, but they don't.

    I would like a improved set up, but tractors seems to be the way to go, keep your breeds separate and yet give them the healthy grass, bugs and fresh air without being exposed to predators.
  10. Zanna

    Zanna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 14, 2010
    Jefferson, Oregon
    So, if I have had hens separated in a breeding tractor for 6 weeks or so while I am collecting eggs, when I have collected the number I want, my plan would be to return the hens and roo at night back to the roost in the main coop (their regular "community" tractor). In the morning I would let everyone back out to free range for the daylight hours. At dusk, will they likely return back to the main tractor? In the breeder tractor, they would not have been free ranging, coming/going so should not associate that with home, right?? Will they likely remember where their "old" home was after 6 weeks away (maybe only 30 feet away)??

    Maybe we've just eaten all the contrary ones.

    Perfect business plan!! Love it!

    Last summer I did one breeding with my NH Roo X 6 WL hens to produce some egg layers to replace my aging production reds. My main tractor, Greenhouse type, is fairly large so I was able to partition off the back 1/2 with heavy deer netting and put the breeders in there. I started collecting eggs for incubation at the beginning of week three (I know, not long enough wait time as I have other roos but I got lucky) and had my 48 eggs to incubate by the end of week four. Then, I just opened up the divider again and that worked well. They were very agitated for the first week, especially when the door got opened to let the main flock out to free range in the mornings and they were still locked in, but they seemed fairly content after that first week. I was worried the agitation would affect the fertilization rate, but 42 of the 48 eggs hatched. The breeding tractor plan is also a greenhouse tractor type, slightly larger than the current tractor, with a walk down the middle and two divisions on each side for breeding, roo batchelor pads, etc. Here is a pic. of my current community tractor in its Oregon winter attire:
    I hope this will work well and leaves me options for multiple breedings at the same time if I desire.​

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