Considering keeping our cockerel... not plan A

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Little Coop on Salt Creek, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. So, this year we are new to chickens. So far we have ended up with 19 pullets, 1 cockerel and 3 white silkies that we aren't sure are all hens (but, we can hope!).

    We originally intended to not keep any roos because of my husbands wariness of mean roosters. However, our Maisy girl.. that turned into a Mainry ?... turned into our very good Henry boy. Our Henry boy is a Speckled Sussex.

    So, the thinking is now that we can keep him as long as he continues to be a GOOD boy. We came to that decision because we felt he could help with predator awareness during free-range time (we live in the country and have plenty of predators) and we thought we could re-populate within our own flock should our numbers go down (instead of having to buy chicks from a hatchery).

    So far, Henry isn't aggressive toward us at 16 1/2 weeks. He doesn't care to be touched or handled though. He gets out of dodge as soon as he feels that he is going to get a pet. However, he will take treats and food from my hand and will come and peck at my pants and shoes along with the other girls. He is starting to mate (ok, a sad attempt on most days.. as he is shot down almost 100% of the time) and he is starting to help round up the girls when it's time to come inside from free-range time.

    We would love to hear your advice and opinions on our consideration :)
  2. SueT

    SueT Crossing the Road

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    Speckled Sussex are supposedly among the better behaved roosters. Don't handle him, don't baby him, let him know you're the bosses and he should be a good candidate. You've made a good start! Good luck!
    abcn123s likes this.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Free Ranging

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    If I am asked, I recommend a hen only flock for the first year. There is a learning curve to chickens. I see in your signature, that you have children, if any of the kids are less that 6, I will strongly recommend not keeping the rooster. They tend to attack children first. A rotten rooster has ruined the whole chicken hobby for many a kid. If the kids and the chickens share the same backyard, I recommend not keeping a rooster. Children at play, wild running, and yelling are normal childhood behaviors, but upsetting to roosters.

    I also like roosters raised in a mule- generational flock. When they are raised with just flock mates, they get bigger than the pullets much faster, become interested in sex, long before the pullets are ready. They can and most generally will run the pullets ragged and stressed.

    In a multi-generational flock, the young birds are at the bottom of the pecking order, they get thumped on by bigger birds, learning how to behave in a chicken society. They are kept in their place, until they can convince the older birds, hey, I have something to offer.

    It is by far better, (In my opinion) to just keep the pullets this year. Next year, pray for a broody hen, and either give her day old chicks, or ask for some fertilized eggs from a local chicken enthusiast. One of those is apt to be a rooster, he can grow up in a multi- generational flock.

    Now if you really are determined to get a rooster, I would still recommend culling this one. When your pullets start to lay, ask at the feed store, or the local poultry club or the county fair. Someone will have a rooster that is so nice, the boy has not been culled, but is unneeded. That is the bird you want.

    Mrs K
    andreanar, bobbi-j, SueT and 2 others like this.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Crossing the Road

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I've always had roosters in my flock, and love the good ones! Mrs K raises very good points, and you may want to do as she recommends. I love my SS hens, but have had both wonderful and awful SS roosters! Stop hand feeding him! Don't let him invade your space, or peck at you! He needs to move away from you, not 'dance' for you, or act as though you are another chicken, in any way. SS boys are really beautiful, but don't let his good looks blind you to any behavioral issues that turn up. Beekissed has a very good article here about rooster management, worth looking up. Mary
    bobbi-j, SueT and Pork Pie Ken like this.
  5. Thank you for the input! A question though: if I don't handle him at all, won't that pose an issue IF there is a problem I need to address with him? I seem to have the best luck touching him when it is bedtime and everyone is roosting.
  6. Mrs K, thanks for your honest input. We had never heard this take on roosters. A question though, one of our pullets is close to laying already.. so why would we get rid of Henry and get another one from someone else? Is it that he would be younger than the rest of our existing beginning flock?
  7. Thank you Mary! Since this is our first time with chickens, the whole rooster raising is obviously new too. I didn't realize that he should be moving away from me in ALL things. He mostly does, but I have noticed that he sometimes doesn't. :(
  8. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    Jan 30, 2015
    I find walking purposefully towards a cock bird, as mentioned above on a daily basis helps remind him who's boss. A failure to move is not a good sign. The walking towards him regularly helps you to gauge his attitude towards you. Similarly, i ensure that a cock bird does not come within a couple of metres of me.

    Having said that, I agree with Mrs. K. If you are proactive in managing your young fella then hopefully he will be fine.
    bobbi-j and SueT like this.
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Crossing the Road

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Also, wear long pants and shoes (those barn shoes!) rather than shorts and sandals, so you can confidently walk 'through' him as you do your daily chicken chores. Throw those treats on the ground, don't hand feed at all, at least until you are getting more respect from all the birds. You are the queen, the giant who brings food, not another chicken who's part of the pecking order. Think of cockerels and cock birds as the male livestock they are, similar to stallion, bulls, and boars, not cute fluffy toys. You might consider carrying that stick around for a while, as an arm extension, to move him away if necessary, to retrain/ readjust his attitude. Mary
    rebrascora likes this.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I handle the cockerels less after about 6 weeks, but still handle them once in a awhile just so they learn that they 'will not die' if I touch them. Handle the pullets more, again so all will know 'will not die'.....and the cockerel knows I won't hurt the girls. I hold them until they stop struggling, and release them slowly kind of holding on until they semi-calmly walk away. Still hand feed along with the flock, which is not terribly often, but do not tolerate any overt aggression from any of the birds. I also do not let them jump onto my body ever. I also touch them regularly on the roost, while talking softly, when I lock up after dark..and once in awhile pick a few up quickly handle then put them back. I think that gets them used to my touch, voice, and presence, so they are less panicked(most still squawk and struggle, but settle down quicker) when/if I have to handle them for exams/treatments.

    It's delicate balance learning when and how much to handle.
    A great deal depends on the humans attitude when working with the birds, especially cock/erels. Calm, cool, confident.....walk and talk slow and softly. It can be hard to squelch your own startle response, adrenaline flow, and anxiety.....but important because I think they can feel that and it can make them anxious and spark the fight or flight response. That's why it can be harder having little kids around them, their bouncy movements and loud squeaky voices can set off fear in the birds.

    Just my thoughts.
    CTKen and SueT like this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: