Amateur here! One of our cockerels is going to a friends flock...would love some expert advice :-)

Spaeth-chicks

Chirping
May 16, 2020
42
78
79
Sebastopol, CA
We're a newbie chicken family. We hatched eggs from friends and currently have 7 almost six week old chicks (3 cockerels and 4 pullets). We're going to be giving one of our roos to our friends established flock of hens. I believe they currently have 15 hens (ages range from 3 months - 2 years old). He will be their first rooster. He'll be integrated in their flock as a solo chicken. I'm trying to figure out when the best age for me to give him to them is.

He's really sweet, and I'm worried about how he's going to get on with all the adult chickens that he's going to meet. I know they won't just throw him in with all the other ladies. They'll slowly introduce him and keep him separate at first. I'm also worried that he's going to be scared and lonely during his transition. I'm worried that they'll attack him, as the young newbie. He's smart and sweet. He's already starting to crow (or at least he's been trying...it's really cute) over the past week. I'm just wondering when the right window age/maturity should be that I hand him over to our friends?

Any advice, or stories of roosters that you might have in this same situation would be really helpful. We're quite attached to all 7 of our chicks and it's been a hard thing for us knowing that he's going to be leaving us. I just don't see how we could manage having 3 roosters in our small flock. At their house he can be the king of his castle. Also we'll get to visit him. I think it's a win win...I'm just really concerned about this first part.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,951
11,344
636
western South Dakota
I would send all the roosters and send them soon. Roosters have a much better chance to turn into nice roosters if they are raised by older and bigger birds. Roosters raised with just pullets, tend to become bullies. It is an artificial chicken society. The rooster is bigger than any other bird, and he can get away with aggression. Older birds teach them their place in society.

By sending all three roosters, you let the older birds teach them some manners, but they are not a single addition (one of the hardest and trickest integrations experienced chicken people can make, it can be done, I did it, but it is not easy.) Your fear is a valid one. The three birds will have a friend that they know, the pecking is spread out over them, so not a single bird takes all the pecks. And they are in a true chicken society, where they are not the biggest in the flock.

Then when they are about 7-8 months old, take one or two roosters back. A single addition of an adult male to laying birds is the easiest integration you can make. Your pullets will be of age to be ready and interested in a rooster at that time. Whereas, pullet chicks mature much slower than rooster chicks. Rooster chicks are ready and want sex long before the pullets and can make the pullets life hell as they beat them up to get it.

I much prefer a rooster that has been raised in a multi-generational flock. They have better flock social skills, and are more aware of the hens and their surroundings. They are just much better roosters.

Not all roosters are good roosters, they are rather a crapshoot, even if they are darling as chicks. But I think you have a much better chance of getting a good rooster if they are raised with adult chickens.

Mrs K
 
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333113

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Mrs K's advice is absolutely the best. A young rooster needs to learn manners. You want to add the cockerels at an early enough age that the hens are bigger than him and can still boss him around.

I added a cockerel to my flock of older hens. He immediately went to one corner and called them for food. They ran over, and there was no food. He probably just was calling them for sex, typical roo behavior.

Those old biddies beat him up with their wings and chased him away. That night, and several nights after that, I saw him on the far end of the roost -- they would not even let him sleep on the roost with them. It took about two weeks for him to get back on their good side. By the time he was full-grown, they were completely devoted to him. And he was very gentle with them, no broken feathers at all.
 

Spaeth-chicks

Chirping
May 16, 2020
42
78
79
Sebastopol, CA
Thank you both so much :). I talked to our friends and they are totally good with the idea of doing this...however my son is really upset about it. He's 10, and really attached to all the chicks. I tried to explain it to him by saying that it's sort of like sending them off to training camp so they can be better roosters for our girls when they return. The other day we were sitting outside with them and one of the cockerels 'Odin' jumped on one of the pullets 'Lady Bird'. He bit her head and she screamed and ran away from him. I don't know if he was trying to mount her, he was just barely 5 weeks old at the time. Maybe he was just testing the water? I used this as an example to my son. We also had a talk about consent and hormones...and how the older girls will be able to teach them manors, so they can come back and be gentlemen. We agreed to one month, then we will check in, see how they're all maturing and then go from there.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,951
11,344
636
western South Dakota
A month is not long enough, wait until the rooster is at least 6 months old. If you bring them back before that, you may as well not take them. You really need to wait until your pullets are laying.

I am hoping that a little separation, will help your son distance himself from the roosters. Inexperienced people often underestimate the violence of an aggressive rooster. You may have to make an adult decision for the safety of your son and other family members. I think raising roosters in an established flock greatly increases the chance of getting a good rooster, but nothing is 100% fool proof.

Aggressive roosters have ruined the whole chicken hobby for a lot of kids. Friendly chicks can become aggressive.


Mrs k
 

Spaeth-chicks

Chirping
May 16, 2020
42
78
79
Sebastopol, CA
I agree that one month is too short of a time line. That's why I think that if I approach it with him where we go one month and then check in...that it might soften the blow a little for him. My adult 'mom' plan is to take him up on that one month, and then after one month we have another talk and just go month to month until our girls start laying and the boys are more mature. My ultimate goal is to make both flocks (ours and theirs) happy and balanced. I don't want to bring them back too soon before they learn manors, and before our girls are ready.

He's upset that we're going to miss everything in being part of the boys growing up, and then when they come back they won't know us anymore. I'm trying to be gentle with his feelings, but I'm also looking at the long term future of our flock...and he's 10 and emotionally attached so he's only looking at the 'right now'. We'll get there :).
 

Spaeth-chicks

Chirping
May 16, 2020
42
78
79
Sebastopol, CA
I just wanted to give an update. We brought the roos over to our friends flock on Monday. So far they're doing good. They're in a smallish coop in the run / fenced in yard of their flock. This way the girls get to meet them and get used to them before they integrate them into the flock. Within 10 mins of putting them in there, their head chicken 'Sparrow' walked over to the boys and tried to attack them through the hardware cloth. I think she was telling them that she was the boss. Since then, she's been hanging out near their coop, sometimes on top of it, sometimes 5-6 feet away. I think she's claiming them? Our friends said that she's been acting a little broody on her eggs the last couple days as well. They're going to give it a little more time then they'll let the boys out into the yard with the rest of the girls. I'm glad that all three of them are going through this together instead of one scared young rooster by himself with all these older ladies.

Meanwhile at home, we transitioned our 4 girls into their new coop that we finished building. They've been having a blast with all the space. Without the boys their personalities have been really blossoming. They're working on establishing their own pecking order now, and it's really fun to watch them coming out of their shells. I think it's good for them. They'll get confident and older then when we bring two of the boys home, they'll be good and ready to see them again.

Thank you for the advice. I feel good about our decision and, I've been having fun watching the girls explore and grow and I'm excited to bring our boys home (of course when they're all older and wiser). Hopefully they won't get beat up too much in the process.
 

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