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Can you make a rooster be nice to the ladies?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lagerdogger, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Lagerdogger

    Lagerdogger Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2010
    Aitkin, MN
    We have been raising layers for several years. I like having a rooster around for the looks and the crowing. We usually keep one at a time, and as soon as the rooster starts ripping up the hens and attacking my wife, he gets eaten and we start over the next spring.

    We have decided we want to hatch our own chickens. Right now we have about 40 hens and 5 roosters that free range around our barn. The roosters include two light brahmas and three golden-laced wyandottes. We are thinking (right now) to get rid of the brahmas and the wyandotte rooster that has a single comb rather than a rose comb (if anyone wants this beautiful, unique chicken, let me know), and keeping the other two wyandottes. We have five wyandotte hens that we would choose from for mating next spring.

    So...the question. In the past the roosters have shredded the feathers off the hens, and they are never even old enough to develop much of spurs. Are there any tricks to keeping the roosters away from the hens other than penning them up? If we pen them up, will they need seperate pens to avoid serious fighting? Will they kill themselves trying to get to the hens?

    Thanks for any advice or references to pertinent threads form the past.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    First, the requested homework. These may help you.

    Breeders managing roosters

    Number of roosters thread

    Managing multiple roosters

    Are there any tricks to keeping the roosters away from the hens other than penning them up?

    None that I know of. The more room the better but mating is an instinctive behavior. The adolescents are the worse because they cannot control their raging hormones and often the hens vigorously resist. As they get older, they usually get better, but no guarantees.

    If we pen them up, will they need seperate pens to avoid serious fighting?

    You might use the search feature above and look at "bachelor pad" for more details on this. Many people pen extra roosters together. I would never do this then let them back out as a group with the hens. If they are raised together with hens, they usually work out their differences without too much serious fighting. Not always, but usually. If you separate the roosters from the hens, or separate one rooster from the flock then put them back with the hens, all that brotherly love and cooperation is out the window. They have totally forgotten everything and have to start form scratch to determine who is the head rooster. Often this can get pretty messy. Sometimes they can reestablish an order, but serious fighting is almost sure to happen.

    Will they kill themselves trying to get to the hens?

    If they are penned up together but separated from the hens, they are usually just like a buch of hens penned together. There are no hens around to get them excited. Not always, but sometimes it doesn't even matter if hens are just on the other side of the fence. They will just ignore them.

    Since you only plan to breed about 5 hens, you only need one rooster. You might plan on only keeping one and let him roam with the flock until it is time to set up the breeding pen. Another option is to keep them penned up and rotate the roosters with the flock or breeding pen, one at a time.

    If you want to keep more than one rooster, I would try letting them run with the flock until I actually saw a hen damaged. It is not unusual or bad for a hen to occasionally lose a feather during mating. The problem comes in when they start to get bald spots, then you should take action. It is possible in any flock, no matter how many hens or roosters you have, that some hens will become "barebacked". It is possible in any flock, no matter how many hens or roosters you have, that no hens will be barebacked. The dynamics of each flock is different. No one can tell you without a doubt how yours will be.
  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Chicken mating is rough
  4. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    That is it. Had my hopes up. All the roosters are going to freezer camp. Kept thinking I would maybe keep two. Now....I think they will all go to camp.
  5. Surehatch

    Surehatch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2009
    chickens can can very aggressive if their broody
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Quote:I'm not sure what you saw here that caused you to make this decision. I've kept multiple roosters in the same flock that did not attack people, never fought each other once dominance was settled, and treated their ladies like ladies. I've also eaten roosters that did not meet these standards.

    A good rooster has two main instincts. He is prepared to give his life in defense of his flock. He had a duty to assure that the eggs are fertile. These instincts sometimes get a rooster in trouble. If he sees a human as a threat to his flock, he will attack. I've seen plenty of roosters that would not attack any human, but some do. If a rooster attacks a human, he needs to go. The instinct to fertilize the eggs also can get him in trouble. If he sees a human as a rival rooster or as a potential hen in his flock, he can act inappropriately and needs to go. His instincts aren't real good. If his instincts tell him to mate but the hen resists, he is big enough and strong enough to force her. That does not bother me unless he injures the hen since the hen is the one that is behaving inappropriately, assuming she is actually old enough to lay. The rooster is just doing what he is supposed to do. If the hen does get injured in this, then it gets more complicated and I have to try to determine in my mind if this rooster and hen are going to grow out of it or if I need to take steps. I have permanantly removed the hen instead of the rooster in some of these situations. Not all but some. If it is one hen out of a dozen, it may not be the rooster's fault. Another potential problem with mating is barebacked hens. A rooster, especially the young adolescents in that first rush of hormones and without the maturing process where he has improved his technique, will mate a lot with anything that moves, whether she cooperates or not. Sometimes he removes enough feathers that the hen can be seriously injured. There are a lot of things that go into causing barebacked hens; frequency of mating, size difference between the hen and the rooster, the rooster's technique (which often improves with age), the hen's resistance (which often declines with her maturing), size and sharpness of claws and spurs, how much room the hen has to get away, and I'm sure several other things.

    Some people get upset with the physical aspect of the actual mating. Whether the hen cooperates or he forces her, he grabs hold of the feathers on the back of her head and climbs on. She kind of lays down to spread his weight straight into the ground so she does not have to support his weight. Once he is in position, she instinctively raised her tail out of the way and he very quickly does his thing. He hops off and the hen shakes herself to get the sperm to go down the right way. In almost all matings, neither the hen nor the rooster are hurt in any way. Occasionally you do have problems, but it is not really all that common for a hen to be injured.

    I can't tell you what will happen in your specific situation. There are a lot of things that go into flock dynamics. There are additional risks to keeping roosters. I advise people to keep the minimum number of roosters they can and meet their goals to help minimize the possibility of these problems. There are a lot of myths about roosters on this forum concerning what will happen. Many of these things might happen, but many of us keep roosters without them happening.

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