Confused about trios and pairs when setting up for breeding

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the SOP' started by Storybook Farm, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. Storybook Farm

    Storybook Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2015
    Sugar Grove, WV
    My Coop

    I'm getting excited about beginning to breed to the SOP in the spring. I'm choosing breeds now. I have a pretty simple, newbie question for you (and if it's in the wrong place, I hope the moderators will move it).

    Question: I read a lot about keeping/breeding "trios" and "pairs." But, don't the roosters just kill the backs of hens in such close quarters? I mean, I've read that a reasonable ratio is one rooster for every 10-12 hens to keep them from getting bare backed. So, how do breeders keep trios and pairs healthy?
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Im sure that breeders here will respond later, but i can only imagine that they separate the genders and put them together when they wish to breed.

    1 person likes this.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm not a SOP breeder, but I've kept as few as a pair in a breeding pen. I find it has a lot to do with the individual birds.

    A young cockerel is more likely to tear a hen up, especially when paired with a young pullet.

    A mature rooster is more accomplished in mating and often the urge has slowed down some. His technique is better. A mature hen also has better technique and the mating is often pretty much a non-event.

    Breeding for SOP, my understanding is you're not going to be mating young birds anyway, you'll need to grow them out and see how they mature to decide who makes the breeding pen and who is just used for laying stock or culled.

    Part of your SOP breeding should be excluding birds (hens) with brittle feathers. Ridgerunner has made some great posts about culling brittle feathered hens from his flock.

    If you have a young rooster you want to breed, or one who is otherwise darn near perfect but an assertive mater, you can set up alternate housing and only have him with the hens to be bred for a few days at a time. Having the male with a group of females for a week or so can easily give you enough eggs to incubate as the eggs can remain fertile 2 weeks after the male is removed.

    That "magic ratio" of 10 hens per rooster has been handed out like it's gospel, but it's just not true. It is a good rule of thumb for newbies to go by, though, so it's a starting point for a lot of folks. But like so many other magic numbers, when you're dealing with live animals you often have to experiment and see what works for you and your particular group. And have a back up plan for when you find out plan A isn't working [​IMG]
    2 people like this.
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Don't confuse breeding pens with a flock where that ratio you mentioned is employed.

    A cockbird can be moved from pen to pen to pen. All he needs is a few days with each female or each pair of females. The male is normally rotated around, not the females. The cockbird do not mind the moving at all. There may also be extended periods of time that he isn't with any females at all. He needs a few days off each week to rest up as well.

    Once breeding season is over, birds can be kept in a more conventional manner.

    My answer says nothing about actually breeding to the Standard and choosing breeders, just the logistics. The SOP is short for the book, the Standard of Perfection which contains all the standards for all the breeds, thus, one doesn't breed to the SOP. One breeds to the standard of your particular breed and it is best to simply say- bred to the standard, or standard bred.

    Hope this helps.
    2 people like this.
  5. Storybook Farm

    Storybook Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2015
    Sugar Grove, WV
    My Coop

    Most of your answer was very helpful, thanks!

    I guess I should be more precise in my terminology. I actually did know about what SOP is and means; my shorthand attempt in mentioning it was merely to indicate that I'm working towards planned matings, hence the plan to keep trios or pairs at all. Sorry to confuse!

    Again, grateful for the helpful information about rotating cocks through. I'm going to be starting with a trio of Colombian Rocks that are now 8 months old, and plan to start collecting eggs for the incubator in late Feb 2016. So, the trip will be about a year old. At what age is a cock thought to be mature, in this context?
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Each strain differs. Our Reds are so vigorous that the males are crazy at 6 months, jumping everything they see. Crude about it too, so I don't allow them near a female at that age.

    Our Barred Rocks are MUCH slower to mature, gain the adult balance and fill out their muscling. I don't like to use any Barred Rock male before his birth day. Honestly, since it takes almost that long to judge their worth anyhow, it's fine. The males like it warmer in spring and they too need a lot of light for fertility, just as the females do for egg laying.

    If you're going to breed LF Columbians, I know Scott Brazinski would love to compare notes with you. Enjoy the trip. It's a lot of fun.
  7. Storybook Farm

    Storybook Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2015
    Sugar Grove, WV
    My Coop
    Ha, yes. I'm getting my trio from him, and he's been a great person to ask all manner of things!
  8. Sydney Acres

    Sydney Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2012
    Western WA
    Yes, keeping a cock with 1-2-3 hens full time is usually very hard on the hens, as they do get quite overused. Having the cock breed the hens 1-2 times a week works great, as hens typically store sperm for 2-4 weeks (or more, I've had a few fertile eggs 6 weeks after slaughtering the cock), depending on the hen. There are two alternatives to moving the cock out of the hen pens. First, you can put a saddle on the hen(s). It isn't a great alternative, as she will still be overmated, but at least she's less likely to be plucked, scratched, or gored multiple times daily. The other option involves keeping 1-2-3 hens of your chosen breed together in a pen with one cock, but also have 5-8 other hens in with them that lay a different color egg. That way you can easily tell which eggs came from your breeders, so you have the benefit of pair/trio/quad breeding, you can still maintain a traditional gender ratio, but you'll also have the social benefits of a long-term stable harem group. This is more important in free range management or very large pens, but I find it works quite well for my Red Dorkings, which is a breed that hates confinement and forms very strong social bonds. I do occasionally need to change the pair mating, but I always keep the hens within the same social group together, so they usually accept the new rooster without problems. I have found that moving just the breeder hen, without her social group, does not work as well. I usually move the entire group of hens instead of moving the male. It's a little more trouble, but in my group it seems to work better. That might not be true for other lines/breeds, or for other management systems.
  9. draye

    draye Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 30, 2010

    The 1 cock to 10 hen ratio us given mostly for folks that have free range or bigger runs for their chickens. That ratio us given to prevent under fertilized eggs for hatching. Some cocks can handle more done not as many. That is just a good number to go my.

    I have on occasion had up to 12 hens with a cockerel. That usually ok especially with a young cock. On older roosters sometimes the fertility rate isn't as good again it all depends on the individual rooster.
  10. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina

    I would try to follow Scott as closely as I could, to start off with. Scott is not new to this, and will not lead you down a wrong road. Not to mention that he knows HIS birds. Good luck.

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