At what age should you buy a cockerel?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by albodean, Nov 27, 2016.

  1. albodean

    albodean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2016
    I'm looking at getting a Light Sussex cockerel to join my flock and have a couple of questions.

    1. My pullets are currently around 24 weeks old, when you get a cockerel is it better if he is around the same age, older or younger?

    2. I currently have 3 hens, would it be necessary to buy more if I was to get a cockerel?

    3. Would you still eat the eggs even though there is a chance of them being fertile?

    The reason for getting a boy is I hope to raise chicks in the future.
  2. 1. Personally I like Cockerels to be the same age...

    2. The best ratio is 10 pullets to one Cockerel.....

    3. Yes, eat the eggs....They are fine.....

  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Six hens work well with one cock. It makes for enough birds for him to mate to not bare backs. Temperment of the cock will have a lot to do with how worse for the wear hens are.

    If you can I'd find a full grown cock bird. Reason being is his personality is developed so there are no surprises. Human aggression and poor flock leader/ over wear on hens and the like have already shown themselves in the bird after year of age. When your dealing with cockerels personalities can change as they mature, enter secual maturity, and take role of flock leader.

    There is no difference in fertile and non fertile eggs. Most non chicken people cringe at the thought of eating fertile eggs. I simply don't tell them they are fertile unless asked. I've relatives that say they wont eat fertile eggs but don't even think about it as I'm making them scrambled or eggs on toast to eat. If they thought about it they'd realize the eggs must be fertile as we keep cock birds.

    All eggs will be fertile. They will not start to incubate unless a hen is sitting on them or you put them in an incubator. People finding partial developed chicks is a myth and/or misidentification of a blood spot.
  4. albodean

    albodean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2016
    Ideally would the hens prefer to live with a cock bird or without? I've grown quite attached to my girls and whilst I would like to have chicks from my own hens, I would prefer them to lead a stress free and happy life.

    Also, I will be keeping the hens for the entirety of their natural life and would want to do the same if I bought a cock bird in. Would they be happy together for the whole of their lives?

    Thanks for all the help!
  5. Hens are always happier without a Rooster.....Roosters breed many times a day.....

  6. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    I agree with @Egghead_Jr on this one. I would get a bird over 1 year old that has been proven. Boys of the same age mature a little faster and are way hornier than the girls. They then grab the girls and make them scream while they rub vents together, since roosters do not have penises . The girls are NEVER happy about this, and have NO say in the matter! A rooster should be more gentile and less amorous than a young cockerel.

    I don't think roosters equal that great of protection. And the cost of feeding one (for me $3/month) I could by 12 chicks each year. Of course it would be nice to have a broody raise them. But also, I am guessing we are talking hatchery stock, which is OK but their genetics often don't conform to the SOP for their breed. Which is OK if it fits your plan. Since I want my flock to self sustain for many generations I am trying to get the best genetic start I can. But what would you do with all the extra cockerels you hatch? We will be eating ours.

    And from a personal stand point, I like to see different breeds dotting my yard with eye candy. Plus it makes me feel like a kid again when I get to be surprised by what I am going to find in the nest everyday. I like to be able to tell my birds apart at a glance so if I see something wrong I don't have to try to figure out which one it was. And being able to tell the eggs apart can also tell me things about their health like who's laying how often and any deformities. And then there is chicken math! [​IMG] Breed interest can change. If you are stuck with too many light sussex maybe you won't get a chance to experience so many other wonderful breeds.

    We eat our eggs and most are fertilized for sure. There is no difference. An untrained person wouldn't be able to tell at all assuming there hasn't been incubation taken place for a significant amount of time, probably a few days. And if you collect daily, shouldn't have much problem with broodies doing that.

    Most of my flock would be much happier without a cockerel to pester them non stop. A rooster should be better. I have 2 sets of pure bred, French Black Copper Marans for dark eggs and meat quality. And Swedish Flower for a dual purpose interesting breed. I also have just egg layers of different breeds, but won't be hatching their eggs on purpose even though they are being bred by my boys and I will probably let them brood if they choose to.

    Honestly, I wouldn't have roosters if I didn't have a very specific goal. I do think they are beautiful and I love to hear them crow, though some are more shrill and annoying than others. 3 pullets is not enough for 1 cockerel. But 3 hens and 1 rooster may be OK. As much as I would like to agree that there is a magic # to keep the girls from being over bred... with plenty of girls around I saw 1 pullet get mated by the same cockerel 4 times in less than an hour one day. More hens does give more opportunity to spread the love around. but some just won't give it up and he may not like others. [​IMG] And my boy pecks down the girls who won't give it up and doesn't let them pass on the roost. To me, it's extra drama. It can be managed though.

    Also if you have small kids or dogs, the boys may go after them if they are running around enjoying themselves.

    It is a very multifaceted issue. And everybody has different experiences to share. No one way is right, except the way that works for YOU!

    If this is your fist year with chickens, I HIGHLY suggest you do not try to add the dynamics of a cock bird at least until your next year.

    Another consideration is that layer feed has too much calcium for roosters, especially since you wan't him to live a good long life. It can cause kidney issues long term. So I would feed a flock raiser or grower type feed that has more protein (like 20%) and less calcium (1% is good) and offer oyster shell free choice on the side for layers. Actually the same is true for chicks! Layer won't support growing chicks and it's too difficult for most people to provide multiple feeds plus making them eat the right one. Starter, Raiser, or Grower should be fine for everybody as long as OS is on the side for layers.

    Best wishes!
    2 people like this.
  7. albodean

    albodean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2016
    If I were to get a rooster it would be from a local breeder, I'm in the U.K. so there are a few light sussex breeders in the area. Also, thanks to the advice I've received here I would definitely wait until next summer to get a year old one.

    I'm not sure I'd want him to be pestering my hens all of the time though, I didn't know they were so aggressive on the mating front! So definitely that will be the main thing for me to think about in the meantime.

    Thanks for all of your advice, it's much appreciated!
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Chicken Obsessed

    I was thinking though as I was watching the flock that I do enjoy the boys. And some of the girls do like hanging out with the older boy who will dance [​IMG], serenade, call her to treats he finds, and run towards the sound of hen commotion instead of away. He also takes no for an answer and doesn't just run over unexpectedly and jump on. While one of my cockerels was learning his manners still, he pecked a chunk out of the pullets comb that won't grow back. So injuries do happen. [​IMG] But I didn't want it to sound like boys are all bad. So the pestering probably won't be constant with an older boy, though I don't know about the 3/1 ratio.

    Also I learned they don't really develop a relationship with you as they are growing. They learn to respect you and stay out of your way. And probably to come when you provide treats. [​IMG]

    Awesome, that you will be able to get an older boy from a local breeder! [​IMG] I didn't mean to imply any judgement towards anyone who does choose to breed hatchery birds. [​IMG]
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    An all hen flock is a nice flock to have, quiet and peaceful for the most part if you have enough space.

    A couple of other options, especially for people who keep pets:
    If you get a broody hen, then order sexed pullet chicks. You can slip these under her, and she will raise them up in the flock. All of the fun of a hen with chicks, none of the problems. No integration issues, no rooster needed. No rooster chicks.

    Generally, when you raise your own chicks, you will get over 50% rooster chicks. Your experienced poultry people will tell you, that you cannot keep all of them without considerable raggedness and tension in your flock from over mating, or you must maintain them in a bachelor set up. Unless you have a huge amount of chickens and SPACE - say 100 head.

    If decide to raise a rooster, in my opinion, you need a sharp knife. Many roosters are not nice, they can fight with other roosters, or attack people. If you take on a rooster, you need away to catch and confine it if needed, and cull it if needed.

    I think you would be happiest, at least until you have more experience, to keep an all hen flock, adding a couple of chicks if you get a broody hen. Roosters take experience in my opinion. One is never quite sure how they will turn out.

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    From what you're saying, I don't think you really want the reality of a rooster.

    Roosters mate hens. Several times a day. If you've only 3 hens, that's not very many for him to spread his lovin' around to. Each hen is going to get a lot of sexual attention.

    If you get an older, mature rooster, things may go nicely. He may be a total gentleman, and court them well, and they're perfectly accepting. Textbook mating. But even at that, only 3 hens, you run the risk of winding up with bare backed hens, simply due to the math.

    You're going to keep these hens forever. What about the chicks you hatch out? I understand wanting to have offspring from a beloved pet, but what about all the little cockerels you're going to hatch out?

    Any time you add birds, or change things in their environment, you're going to stress your birds. Having a broody hen bring chicks into the flock would be a stressor. Bringing in a cock would be a stressor. I'm not saying all stress is bad, but you emphasized you want them to be stress free.....just something to think about.
    2 people like this.

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