Are two roosters better than one when free ranging?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by limhyl, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. limhyl

    limhyl Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 15, 2012
    Trying to decide if it is worth it to pay to feed more than one rooster. I am thinking that two will provide better predator protection/early warning than one, provided the two get along. I will have around ten hens for them to look after and we have two acres for them to roam. Any thoughts?
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I am not sure more than one would help. When I have harems (dominant rooster and hens and offspring bonded to him) running about the rooster will act to defend them from a predator like a hawk under certain conditions. Sometimes another rooster or two that are subordinate are what I call a satellite male that follows group around, mates with hens when gets a chance but is otherwise frequently chased by the dominant rooster. The subordinate rooster I have not observed to protect harem but he will drive off other roosters trying to be a satellite male to same group.

    If you can get hens to bust up into two harems where each rooster is top dog then you might at least have to roosters on premises that will engage a something like a hawk. I have never seen two harem masters operate cooperatively against something like a hawk and sometimes a predator riling them up can start harem masters fighting among themselves (that I have seen).

    Game roosters will try to distract something like a fox from attacking their offspring but do not seem to do same for hens unless chicks involved.

    Overall I would not count on roosters providing reliable protection from predators unless other flock members can fly well and cover is available. Even then rooster is best considered a buyer of time for other flock members and potentially an alarm system for you (and your dog if it will drive predator off).

    Rooster breed / age as well as season also important. My American Dominiques have not demonstrated themselves to be effective against any predators.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    My general advice is to keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. It is not that you are going to have problems with multiple roosters, just that you might.

    You are likely to get a bunch of responses on how your hens are going to be over-mated, barebacked, stressed out and all that or that your roosters will fight to the death with what you are proposing especially with your ratio of hens to roosters. Many of us that often have multiple roosters have not experienced any of that. Some of that can possibly happen. That’s why I suggest keeping as few as you can and still meet your goals. But many of us don’t experience that, especially if they have sufficient room.

    Different things can happen. I’ve seen two or three roosters sort of split the hens, with one rooster taking a few as his harem and the other two hanging together with the other hens. Sometimes a group of hens form their own roosterless group and hang together separate from the main flock. I’ve seen two roosters hang together without the hens really hanging around. The eggs were still fertilized and the two knew which was dominant, but they were often alone together. In all these cases, the flock still spent some time foraging together but they also spent quality time apart.

    More to your specific question, I’ve seen two roosters work well together taking care of the flock. For example, when I opened the pop door in the morning the dominant rooster was the first one out, checking things out. The other rooster was the last one out, staying behind to take care of the stragglers. Someone on here had a nice photo of two roosters, one on each side of the pop door, looking out after the flock had all gone in the coop because of a hawk alert.

    It’s also nice to have a backup rooster in case something happens to your one and only.

    I don’t know a lot about your set-up or the real risks your hens will see. As often as not, my roosters lead the hens to safety instead of positioning themselves between the hens and the danger. Some roosters will do a better job of keeping the flock together and scanning the skies for danger than others. But I would not keep a second rooster for flock protection, especially if I had to feed him. If he foraged for all his food I’d maybe have a bit of a different attitude, but I really don’t think you’ll get much bang for the buck considering feed costs.
  4. animals1981

    animals1981 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2008
    honestly if u want to free range they would be way better off with a donkey or a dog or a lama

    even emu will help more than roosters i think my friends will hiss and kick and strange animals getting into the field and their kicks can chop wood, they will slash and stomp also, animals just dont want to deal with them so they dont go into the pasture with the emus.

    But roosters are so limited and helpless and at the mercy of experienced wild predators and dogs.

    another thing u might want to think of i saw a big farm hog corner and try to eat a coyote alive that tried to eat the hogs feed. It actually tried to eat the coyote when it saw the coyote iit cornered it and just started trying to chomp it down. The coyote got away but the coyote was in such a state of fear and shock its ears were far back and it was shaking so bad and in pure terror. NOTHING i have seen scare a coyote so bad not even dogs.

    I dont know what kind of hog it was, it was like 700 pounds and black and white lol it made the coyote scream though.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  5. AceOfSpadesJJ

    AceOfSpadesJJ Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2012
    UK Colchester
    well its 1 rooster = 10 hens so it depnds how many u have
  6. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    I am unsure of the answer to your question...never thought about it. I think it depends on your predators...I don't know if my rooster would face down my dominant predator - coyotes - not for long, obviously. I'd like to think he would stand up to a hawk. I wonder if with two roosters one would be alpha over the other and the non-dominant one would duck and cover and let the alpha face the danger alone?? No clue. Best of luck with your decision.
  7. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2012
    They might...we have 2 roosters and 1 cockerel, but only 3 hens that are laying, and 5 getting ready to start laying...The roosters don't fight mainly because one is a huge White Rock and the other is a small White Silkie...I assume the difference in size keeps the silkie in line...The big rooster is THE rooster, the silkie is just support...When they are free ranging the silkie watches out while the big guy scratches with the hens...if something comes around the Silkie sounds the alarm and runs off with the hens and the big roo will flap at whatever it is, usually our dogs...Then the big rooster runs off as well. I am not sure how much good roosters do protecting hens at all. I am just glad that ours get along. Sometimes the 2 roosters just hang out...but the big roo lets the silkie know he is on top. None of the 3 hens are over mated, or scuffled or anything. I assume because the big rooster is older and knows what he is doing, and the poor silkie can't get a chance before the big roo comes and chases him off. Every once in awhile the silkie will knock the big guy off a hen...I am surprised the hens get bred at all because both roosters spend all their time making sure the other rooster isn't getting any. I really like roosters...but we are going to order quite a few more hens in the spring, so hopefully that will alleviate some tension. If you want more than one rooster get more than one...I am not sure if 2 young similarly sized roosters would fight, I would assume they would. Because young roosters are pretty excitable in a way that older roosters just aren't.
  8. limhyl

    limhyl Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 15, 2012
    Thanks everyone. We have at least two young roosters and maybe a few more that are too young to tell. I will probably have to get rid of one or more of them but wanted to check here first before I made the decision. I guess I'll try to keep two and see how they get along. They will be free ranging quite a bit so perhaps feeding them will not be so much of a deal breaker.
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    You will have lots to learn when jumping back and forth between confinement and free-range foraging. I am still learning and having fun doing it.
  10. GoChick

    GoChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2010
    Each situation is different, and the rooster's personalities would affect my decision of keeping two or not. I had two roosters with 12 hens and they didn't fight at all, but I don't think they did better than one would, as far as predators go.

    Now I have two different roosters with 22 hens and somehow they work perfectly together - they're huge - one is a Dark Brahma, the other one is his son, with a Buff Orpington.
    When they spot a hawk, they give the alarm and while the hens hide, they stay in the middle of the field, screaming their heads off at the hawk, until it leaves the area.

    They are extremely aware of their surroundings. Just two examples:

    One day my husband heard the older one growling (his son wasn't even born at the time), and went to check out. All the hens were hiding under the coop, and the rooster was staring at a red-tail hawk, who had landed about 15 ft away. My rooster was just staring at the hawk, hackle feathers up, and making this low, angry growling until the hawk flew away, as my husband approached.

    The younger rooster actually attacked a fox before I even saw it - he ran at the fox literally growling, hackle feathers up and flapping his wings. The fox was so surprised it ran away instead of attacking.

    But I chose these two out of six roosters, based on their behavior. So it really depends on the individual rooster/roosters.

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