Ahh... navigating Chicken life with Roosters. WARNING culling alert.

Cee

Songster
Nov 3, 2017
176
141
143
Albuquerque, NM
I am a new flock keeper. I have spent hours reading here. Especially about cockerels and roosters. This is a precious place. I have learned everything I've needed so far here. I appreciate and pay most attention to folks that have been here a long time.
I
I got my chicks back towards the beginning of the pandemic having read too many post apocalyptic novels.
Seriously should stop that.
I had 4 cockerels and 20 pullets.
At 6 months, I moved the smallest, shyest, lowest in the rooster pecking order out along with 4 pullets because I thought he'd end up being one of the 2 I'd keep.
I thought I'd end up with 2 based off of everything I'd read here about people trying to have a harmonious flock with multiple roosters. Seems it's possible but not the rule.
I ended up with 2 of the 3 other cockerels tidbitting, trying to stare everything down, and flying at people on the regular. I tried numerous things including a couple of behaviors like picking them up and walking around with them in my arms, and holding my hand down on top of their backs for a few seconds. Read about that here. I'd rejected the more violent ideas right out. I read some more and I now think that the things I'd tried triggered and deepened the agression. These guys became a huge problem after attacking my tenant. More than once. She was really scared of them.
I decided to cull the 2 meanest ones. I asked my neighbor to show me how to butcher them and in exchange I'd give her one to eat herself. When I got them over there, she thought they were so big and pretty, she wanted to keep hers alive. Okay. His lucky day.

I made soup out of the other. Wasn't easy.
Hope it gets easier in the future. But I think it's going to always be difficult. Maybe it should be. I don't know, but I DO know I'll never be callous about it.

I have 2 left. One with 16 girls and the other with 4 for now, in 2 seperate coops/runs.
I must admit that the entire bigger flock is so placid and MUCH calmer. I guess I didn't realize how stressed out the girls were with those 3 brash dudes throwing their weight around until there was just one pretty okay one left.
The one in the smaller coop "Hazel" (I know it's a girls name but Umbrella Academy on Netflix is all I have to say about that) and run is starting to tidbit and pace all "cocky" like but has not progressed in his aggression. I am practicing ignoring him without giving way.
The other "Cha Cha" keeps his distance, he's pretty mellow, and stays out of my way in spite of me picking up his girls and seeing to them while they squawk in front of him. He gets upset but doesn't act out so I think he's maturing?
Couple weeks ago I made the mistake of letting both flocks out at the same time on a quarter acre. After a bit, I turned round and they were fighting. I let them (I'd read here it's better to sort things put amongst themselves?) until it got really bloody and neither were giving in. I waded in and separated them. Saw to their cuts by rinsing w water and triple antibiotic. Neither fought me and I comforted them with my voice and pets.
They are 7 months old.
They are both good to the girls. I want them for breeding but only NEED one. They are New Hampshire Reds.
Anybody know when I will for sure know they are "mature" roosters? Is it a year or is it longer with this breed?
I mostly posted all this because I'm new to all this and telling a bit about my journey might be helpful to others trying to navigate their own way with managing cockerels and pullets all at the same time. Cockerels are a WHOLE nother world.
Knowing what I know now, I think it's really smart to start your first year without a rooster and get a good one from somebody else after a year. There are so many nice ones out there that need a flock of their own.
If anybody has questions about anything, I'll do my best to answer. I think we all end up finding our own positions and philosophies as we learn.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,485
13,175
656
western South Dakota
When you get down to the last ones, sometimes it can be a challenge, this is a good time to go to the SOP of the breed and then using your hands, examine both roosters.

Check the head shape, the beak alignment, the meat at the breast bone, their weight, Check the shape of the body, and examine the feet and legs and walk, You are looking for uniformity and alignment.

Mrs K
 

Cee

Songster
Nov 3, 2017
176
141
143
Albuquerque, NM
When you get down to the last ones, sometimes it can be a challenge, this is a good time to go to the SOP of the breed and then using your hands, examine both roosters.

Check the head shape, the beak alignment, the meat at the breast bone, their weight, Check the shape of the body, and examine the feet and legs and walk, You are looking for uniformity and alignment.

Mrs K
Thank you. What does SOP mean?
 

ChocolateMouse

Free Ranging
7 Years
Jul 29, 2013
5,603
17,960
707
Cleveland OH
SOP means Standard of Perfection and it's only important for breeding show chickens.

If you're not breeding for sale, I would let them continue to grow out for up to 18 months like the others have said and then pick whoever is the nicest.
 

BigBlueHen53

We will get through this... together!
Premium Feather Member
Mar 5, 2019
20,015
75,348
1,237
SE Missouri, USA
Thank you for sharing your journey. Now that you have an established flock, it's helpful to know, going forward, that young cockerels can learn manners from both older hens and an established old roo.

I'd also like to share that I have learned that if you do have 20 or so hens, two roosters are better than one. A hawk attacked my flock last year. One roo sounded the alarm and led the hens to safety. The other roo covered their retreat from the rear. It cost him his life, but I didn't lose any hens. He was just a barnyard mutt, not yet a year old. I have since replaced him with a Black Jersey Giant. I will always try to keep two roosters now.
 

Cee

Songster
Nov 3, 2017
176
141
143
Albuquerque, NM
Thank you for sharing your journey. Now that you have an established flock, it's helpful to know, going forward, that young cockerels can learn manners from both older hens and an established old roo.

I'd also like to share that I have learned that if you do have 20 or so hens, two roosters are better than one. A hawk attacked my flock last year. One roo sounded the alarm and led the hens to safety. The other roo covered their retreat from the rear. It cost him his life, but I didn't lose any hens. He was just a barnyard mutt, not yet a year old. I have since replaced him with a Black Jersey Giant. I will always try to keep two roosters now.
I've read that having multi generations are helpful. I hope someday the young ones I have now, will be the older leaders and teachers.
I remember reading your story about about your two roosters. Really cool and poignant.
Unfortunately the two I have now, really had a big bad bloody fight and have chunks of comb and wattle missing. They wouldn't quit and I had to jump in. I don't ever see them being being flock buddies.
Maybe I will have more than 2 roosters in the same flock in the future.
 

BigBlueHen53

We will get through this... together!
Premium Feather Member
Mar 5, 2019
20,015
75,348
1,237
SE Missouri, USA
You just have to do whatever seems like the best thing at the moment. I wasn't criticizing anything you've done, just trying to give you hope for the future! 😉
 

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