Can you sticky? Some common management questions.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WallTenters, May 7, 2011.

  1. WallTenters

    WallTenters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2010
    Sweet Home, OR
    I see these questions come up again and again, so maybe if we could sticky this and others could add to it, it would help?

    Integrating new flock members

    If you have bought a new bird, PLEASE QUARANTINE!!!

    Once you have quarantined, add the bird(s) to the existing flock by first allowing the birds to see and hear each other. This can be done with a dog crate or similar cage placed inside the coop of the existing flock. Your bird will live in this crate for a few days, so make sure it's large enough. If there seems to be a lot of unresolved fighting after several days, see if it's just one bird that is fighting with the new addition - this bird may need to be picked up in the middle of the fight (sometimes this helps), or removed if that's possible.

    Also, if you can, do not add only one of a fancy feathered (leg feathers, top knots, etc.) to an otherwise mundane flock. They will usually get pecked for this. We try to add two birds+ at a time any time we add new members, but this is especially true for different looking chickens.

    Bachelor Pens

    Bachelor pens can and do work, but it depends on the pen and the roosters in the pen.

    #1 RULE : NO HENS!!!! Best to have your bachelor pen where they cannot see hens! This alone will greatly reduce your fighting! Whatever you do, don't put them right next to a coop full of hens where they are just a wire fence between them. Also, don't let them free range where they have access (through wire or otherwise) to the temptresses.

    Pick out fighters. Often you can stop fighting just by being out there and not allowing it to happen - pick up a fighter and hold him until he's calmed down a bit. If he/they continue to fight, you may need to separate those ones. It's fine to have totem poll scraps, but all-on fights are not necessary. Try housing these roosters where they can see and hear but not grab each other for a few days and see if that helps.

    Bullies - if you have a real bully, he should be removed. He will only stress the others, which makes them more prone to disease and fighting amongst themselves. No one likes a cranky king, so move him out of there. If he seems to get along with one or two of your roos but not the large portion, take him and his buddies to another bachelor pen so he doesn't have to be alone.

    Do you need a rooster?

    If you just want fresh eating eggs, NO, the hens will lay eggs even if they are not fertile. If you want chicks, beautiful long flowing gleaming feathers, a melodious crow to brighten your day, and a wonderful pet that likes you for you - not just your treat bag - yes, you NEED a rooster.

    "Evil" Roosters

    Sometimes, an evil rooster is not born, but made, and can be unmade. First thing's first, do not allow your rooster to breed or fight in front of you. A dominant rooster doesn't allow this in his flock, and neither will you. They must sneak off and breed, those are YOUR hens, not his!

    If a young rooster starts getting frisky - aka the wing herding move, it often helps to pick him up and carry him around a bit. Sometimes he's gentle and you can just carry him - other times, upside down it is.

    Sometimes you get a rooster that is already in full-on attack mode. Stand your ground, basically ignore him. He's a foot tall bird, you're a 5-6 foot tall human. Wear good clothing. Also, I've found that these bullies are best handled at night. I go in, grab them off the roost and kind of wake them up and just hold them. Don't let them squirm out of your hands, they will usually settle right down. I pet them, rub their wattles, etc. This is also a great time to check and clip down or remove spurs if they have gotten a bit long, check him for parasites and give him a good run-over to make sure he's not suffering from any illness or injury.

    Once he realized you are head rooster (by the methods above) his attacks will usually stop. If he is really determined, drastic measures may need to be taken.

    Most of all, take care of his ladies!!! A happy rooster has happy hens! If the hens crowd around you for treats and are happy go lucky, the rooster should and usually will stand back and let this happen. If you are constantly harassing the hens in front of him, you can't really blame him for being stressed when you're around.

    I cannot recommend keeping a rooster or cockerel with a bad temper around. He may breed this on to his offspring, and will be a constant nuisance and danger to you.

    As far as attacking HENS goes... it's my opinion that any rooster not sweet on his ladies should have his head cut off promptly. There are plenty of free and nearly free nice roosters out there, no need to mess with a hen killer.

    Will add some more later [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 7, 2011
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    I was in complete agreement until it came to the "evil roosters" part. IMHO evil roos are not made, but born. A fellow BYCer said it best recently: Like begets like. Temperament is something that is passed on through future generations. A human aggressive roo will always be a human aggressive roo and no amount of working with him is going to change that. Working with them merely makes them more sneaky about who and when they attack.

    I would change your sticky to relay that the origins of aggressive roos is up for debate. Some say nature, some say nurture. So many flock owners have posted about bad roos, and have come here asking about ways to rehab a bad roo and agonizing about what they did wrong to make their roo so awful. The majority of seasoned poultry veterans assure them that they did nothing wrong, and that their roo was just a bad bird. I think that telling them they "made" their roos bad is not a good policy. It seems harsh and unwarranted.

    I recently have started spring culls. The first that went was my extremely aggressive roo. The second that went was his very aggressive sister. It wasn't just the males in that line that were terrible. The females, although they wouldn't try to rip you apart, had a terrible penchant for actively seeking out a hand to bite. Bad breed lines. They were raised the same way every other bird here has been raised, but were the only ones that had a terrible desire to draw human blood at any given opportunity.

    I hope this helps. Good luck.
  3. WallTenters

    WallTenters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2010
    Sweet Home, OR
    CMV, I do agree with you there. I updated the thread [​IMG]. What I meant more is that a rooster on the fence can be made to be mean by lack of understanding by his owners. Almost every cockerel will go through the "are you a hen I need to herd around?" phase, and if it's not nipped in the bud right then and there he will soon be challenging you. If you handle him correctly, he'll be a sweet and loyal companion. Otherwise, he could be a little cuss that makes you dread the chores [​IMG]

    I do believe those most unholy children of Satan are often bred that way, unless something really terrible happened to make them that way. No rooster like that should be kept in a breeding pen, I think.
  4. LauraG

    LauraG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    Upstate, NY
    Good advice, well written, thank you

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