Change in flock dynamic.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NysiaAnera, Nov 9, 2016.

  1. NysiaAnera

    NysiaAnera Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We recently made the heartbreakibg decision to part with our wonderful, top dog rooster, Mo. We loved Mo, and he is such a great rooster, it was a very difficult decision to make. But bottom line was he is the wrong breed for the purpose of our flock, we did not want babies from him, and so we let him go with four hens we sold.

    Okay, now he is gone, and we have our remaining 3 roos (cockerels, they are 8.5 months old). The 4 of them had all worked out their own harems previously, so now the whole dynamic has changed. There is now a ratio of 11 hens per roo. We have several hens who have lost their rooster, and I am sure all have lost hens from their harems.

    How long does it take chickens to adjust and re-establish after this kind of an upset?

    Do hens immediately choose a new rooster when theirs disappears? Or will the roosters have to fight it out and take the hens they want?

    Most of the hens are also pullets, same age as the roos and raised together. We only have 4 that are older.
     
  2. PeepersMama

    PeepersMama Overrun With Chickens

    If a chicken had a close relationship with another flock mate, it can take them quite a while to recover from losing them. We had a RIR die from internal laying, and her sister always seemed sluggish after that. If Mo was a good rooster and was gentle to his girls, then there is a pretty big chance that they miss him. Our BO boy, Arrow, served as a neutral zone on the roost at night; the girls would hide under him when the got pecked. Sometimes a hen will take on a more gentle roo and win; it's not too common, but i've seen it happen.
    Typically, unless you've got an amazing roo, the boys pick out whoever they want, and the ladies don't get much say in the matter. The boys lower on the totem pole will typically take the more submissive hens, and the big boss will take whomever he desires.
    I've also seen "racist" roosters. Bear, our old RIR, had the girls he grew up with, and would chase away any other hen. Arrow cared about the girls pretty much the same, but when there was scratch involved, he would chase away everyone but his beloved austra whites [​IMG] And then there is Arrow's wife, Banana Smoothie. She would sneek away from Bear to hang out with Arrow; she loved him and he adored her [​IMG] If any hens had a relationship like that with Mo, then she would probably take a little longer to adjust to some "greenhorn" roo trying to mount her. She might fight him, but most of the time, the roo wins.
    Hope your flock figures things out!
     
  3. NysiaAnera

    NysiaAnera Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The dramatic and complex soap opera that is chicken society!

    Personal relationships between different chickens is the one thing I had simply never even thought about when getting started with our self sustaining flock... which will be changing frequently throughout the years.

    Sounds like Mo is a lot like Arrow. He definitely takes good care of the ladies, and is very gentle, and always watchful. I think it was harder on us to send him to a new home than it was for him and the 4 hens. They joined 2 other hens, and all are happy.

    I have been watching to see how our original hens are taking his absence. So far, they have not shown signs of distress, but I wonder if that also has to do with 2 of them molting, and one of them still watching over 3 month old chicks. I have noticed my other three roos working the other hens, and I did see one fight between one hen and a rooster. He ended up backing down. None of them are aggressive. The boys seem to be doing a lot more mating, and I am thinking they are figuring out who gets who of the now available hens. So far, I have not seen any of them even attempt to mate with our 4 original girls.
     
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Research suggests that alpha hens are mated less frequently than omega (lower ranking hens), so thats probably why your original girls are not being harassed by the cockerels.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    If your older girls are currently not laying or not laying well, they won't be mated as much as your POL pullets. A rooster generally likes to be nearest the most fertile hens and that changes with whatever hens are currently in a good laying cycle. Nothing much to do with which hens they like or are used to, but more to do with which hens are currently in need of fertilization.
     
  6. NysiaAnera

    NysiaAnera Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is something I find very interesting. Can you direct me to any studies I can read up on? Is there also a link to this and age? My older hens are only a year older than the young ones, except 1, who is only a year older than them. Basically, my oldest hen is only 2.5 years old. Anyway, Mo was mating with them daily until 1 started brooding and 2 started molting. The other he was still mating daily till he left.
     
  7. NysiaAnera

    NysiaAnera Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So if one is currently laying regularly, someone should be trying to mate with her since Mo left. Maybe it is just happening when I am not around.
     
  8. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Dont have a link to the research - i learned it on an online course, from the Uni of Edinburgh - Scotland - try searching "Coursera" and you should find the course. Age and hierarchy can be linked, so until a cock bird "convinces" an alpha hen that he is worthy of her mating with him, she is much less likely to let him. A broody is a no-go for mating. Others with experience of having moulting hens can advise about them - here in Kenya, chickens do not go through a "conventional" moult.
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    There's no doubt of that....plenty of mating goes on when we are not around. [​IMG] It may take a bit before she'll let a younger cockerel mate with her but one may eventually force the issue if he's dominant enough and it will go on from there. If each male has plenty of mating opportunities to be had, then it's possible that she will get mated infrequently but most likely will still get bred enough to keep her eggs fertilized. She'll be fertilized from Mo for up to 30 days after his last breeding if not currently being mated, but I'm betting she's getting bred if she's laying daily.
     
  10. NysiaAnera

    NysiaAnera Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will do that, thanks!
    Interestingly enough, my oldest hen IS the dominant hen, though since she has been raising chicks, one of the others has become very bossy. However, all 4 of them have the best roost spots.
     

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