Aggresive hens

Sodbuster94

Hatching
May 25, 2020
2
1
8
Hi I'm new to the forums an and I'm looking some info i have 4 rir hens I've had for a year raised from chicks but was wanting to hach my own birds going forward and looking a protector for them so i got a 16 week old rooster problem I'm having is i have tried for 3 weeks to get them used to him put him in a cage outside of there run and then inside there run but every time i try to introduce them they go right at pecking and cornering him i figured this was just them establishing there pecking order but this morning i come out before work his head is down in corner and he's bleeding from them pecking at him so much i put him back in the cage outside the run but how long can i expect this to go on for i figured after 3 weeks it was safe to put him in with them but I'm lost now any ideas would be appreciated
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,140
15,374
726
western South Dakota
Thing is, he is really young. He won't be mature until for a couple to several more months. He is the stranger. Time will help, but it might be your set up. What are the measurements, do you have pictures?

Do you have a wide open, empty run? A lot of people do, and it really makes integrations very difficult. If your run is set up, so that a bird can see every other bird at any time in the run, it is too empty. Adding hideouts, roosts, multiple feed stations can really help. Adding a ladder or old chair, a piece of plywood, a platform up on cement blocks, or leaned against a wall can allow a chicken to get out of sight. Make it so that a bird eating at one bowl, cannot see a bird eating at another bowl.

Another trick is to let the original birds out of the set up, and lock them out, while locking the new bird in the set up. This lets him explore the area without being attacked, and it gets the old birds used to seeing him in their coop without the sky falling. Try and feed along the fence. Let the old birds in as close to dark as possible. The urge to fight is not quite as strong as the urge to roost.
 

Sapphire Sebright

Roman Catholic who won't shut up
Premium Feather Member
Jun 22, 2019
13,598
122,269
1,356
Welcome to BYC! Sorry to hear about your poor rooster.
I'm not an expert on this sort of stuff, but if it were me, I would put the cage inside the run, and then inside the coop each night for a couple of weeks. Don't let him out without supervision.
He's also pretty young -- he doesn't have any spurs to fight back with, and he's probably pretty small, too.
It'll take time for proper integration. Keep an eye on them when you let the rooster out with the hens, and be patient with them.
Good luck with them.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,626
24,695
927
Southeast Louisiana
Hi, welcome to the forum. Glad you joined.

The main problem is that he is not a rooster, he is a cockerel, and those are mature hens. Many mature hens expect a rooster to have the traits that would make a good father, an immature cockerel doesn't measure up. Not only does he need to have the traits of a good father, he needs to WOW! them with his magnificence and self-confidence. That little boy doesn't have that yet. Chickens can be bullies. When he gets around them they beat him up. It doesn't matter if the is bigger than them, they are meaner and more self-confident than him.

Mrs K brought up another big concern, how much room do you have. Often when there is conflict between chickens one runs away and learns to stay away. If you don't have enough room for them to run away the winner doesn't know they have won so they keep attacking. The quality of what room you have can be improved by adding things to hide under, behind, or over. it doesn't always work but it can help.

When will a cockerel mature enough to be able to take over as flock master? I don't know. I've had one that could manage at 5 months, one took 11 months. Most are ready at 7 months but it can really vary. The attitude of the hens play a part too. Some hens will pretty much squat for anything in spurs but sometimes the dominant hen just does not want to give up her role as flock master. I think that's what happened to my 11 month one. His spirit was kind of weak and the dominant hen was strong-willed.
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
8 Years
Apr 9, 2014
3,084
12,301
702
N. California
These types of integrations are tricky, and little difficult to watch, quite frankly. It's surprising how mean your seemingly sweet hens can get.

A few years ago, I had a 4 month cockerel I was introducing to a dozen 6 month old hens. I tried the cage in the run thing for a few days, but as in your situation, they would attack him immediately and mercilessly once I released him.

I ended up enclosed a fairly large section of my chicken yard off for him and kept him there for 2 weeks. Every night I would collect him into a dog cage and put him into the coop. Every morning I would put him back into his yard section. I put food and water near the bordering fence, so the hens and him had a lot of time to see each other and get used to each other.

My next step was to open up the area between the two in the middle of the day when the hens were generally calmer. They'd chase him about for a bit, then I'd close him off again. I did this for a few more days until I felt reasonable confident that weren't going to injure him. The first few days of full integration were pretty rough still. He still did get beaten about a good deal and had all saddle feathers pulled off. But, as they got used to him, and he matured, he slowly began working his way up the pecking order. By 8 months, he was fully in charge.

I do think having hiding places would have helped. Although I had a big yard, it was bare dirt at that time. He did try steer clear of the hens as best he could, and me knowing next to nothing back then, didn't think to put up some boards, shelters, etc.
 
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Sodbuster94

Hatching
May 25, 2020
2
1
8
Thanks for all the replies i really appreciate the info and i think i may see the problem my coop and run are fairly small for 5 birds though i have a fenced in backyard in a small town i will sometimes turn them out when I'm around I'm thinking i might turn the hens lose in the mornings and put the rooster in the run and then let them all roost together at night and when I'm not around just keep them separated till they act more civil
 

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