Cowardly roo-advice please


Nov 17, 2020
We are new to chickens. We currently have 2 Roos (hatched may 19 of this year) 4 hens (same hatch date) and 4 pullets. They live in a large wooden coop with two 100sq ft rooms. They also have a 200 sq ft outdoor area. Our Roos are both Ameraucanas. One of the boys is a lovely cuddle bug who is gentle with all of the girls and people, the other is far more dominant. A few months ago the boys started crowing and doing all of the normal roo things. There have been a few squabbles this week and now our submissive roo has stopped crowing, started hiding in corners or on high perches and won’t even come down to eat until the big guy leaves. When we lock the big roo out the submissive ones behaviour goes back to normal. My daughter doesn’t want to get rid of either of them so I’m wondering what a more experienced chicken owner would do. We have the flock separated right now. Should we get rid of one, add more hens, let them figure it out on their own?
That one is hard. The pecking order is important to the birds dynamics. Sometimes if you have a bully bird and you rehome it, another bird can become the new bully. I think if you give it a bit of time they will sort it out. If it looks like the dominant roo is going to kill the other or not let it eat at all then maybe consider rehoming him. But i would give it time and give the submissive roo some extra attention. Or at least I would.
2 roosters for 4 hens is a problem. It can be a very big problem. You're going to need to quit interfering with the pecking order squabbles unless things get bloody or life threatening. Your submissive rooster is behaving properly, he is giving the dominant roo respect with a very wide berth, as it should be. His job is to be seen, not heard, crowing is reserved for the dominant male and for the submissive to crow would be seen as a challenge to your dominant guy's authority; a challenge that the dominant rooster cannot ignore lest he lose the respect of the flock. Ensure that food and water is available in more than one location so that the dominant rooster cannot deny access to all the groceries. Erect or install cubby holes, hiding spots, even an empty 5 gallon bucket makes for a good spot for your submissive bird to get out of sight, out of mind of the dominant bird to minimize miscommunication between these 'brothers'. If the problems persist or worsen, you can reconsider either permanently separating these boys or finding a new home (or freezer space) for the boy that you (or your hens) least prefer.
Your birds are all immature, pullets and cockerels, and behaviors develop over time as they grow up.
Having extra space, places to be out of sight, more than one feeder and waterer in different locations, will all help. Your square footage is good, but still, the cockerels are competing. It's normal, but can get out of hand very fast.
As new chicken owners, with all young birds, no cockerels this year would maybe be best. Will they learn to get along? Maybe, or maybe they will kill each other, all in one day. If nobody is being injured, give it more time, but have Plan B ready!
Separating them now may make a reintroduction more difficult.
We opened the door between the two groups and added some additional hiding spots. There is multiple areas where they can eat and drink and we’ve also added 2 dust baths. We gave Drumstick (our gentle roo) a good once over and he had no visible injuries. Our pullets are 15 weeks so I’m wondering if I should add a few old hens to the flock to improve the hen to roo ratio.
Adding more hens will probably not help. Roosters really do not understand sharing. When you have a dominant rooster, and a submissive rooster, it will work until it doesn't, if it does go south, people who have never witnessed cock fighting generally vastly under estimate how violent it can be.

How cockerels are acting on Monday is no predictor as to how they will act on Tuesday. At the age that you are moving in to, birds that were friendly to people, can become quite violent to those same people. How old is your daughter? If she is under 5 be very careful, children generally are attacked first, then women, and finally men.

Roosters are a crap shoot, the more roosters in the group, the greater the odds of it going wrong. And while everyone has their own pet theories on raising good roosters, a lot of it is genetic and really non changeable. Luck has a large part to do with it.

Do have a PLAN B, do have a way for separating them if needed. Do realize that you may not be able to keep one, or both of the roosters.

Hideouts help, space helps, but nothing is a "if you do this, you will get perfect roosters"

Mrs K
currently have 2 Roos (hatched may 19 of this year) 4 hens (same hatch date) and 4 pullets.
Sorry, I found this confusing. The 4 "hens" hatched May 19 of this year are actually pullets, as they are less than a year old. You say you also have 4 "pullets." If they are over a year old, then they are actually hens.

As others have said, what you have are two cockerels and 8 females. A general rule of thumb is that a good ratio of males to females is one male to about ten females. More males tends to result in overbreeding, resulting in damage to the hens: loss of feathers on the back at least, and sometimes even a breakdown of the skin, injuries around the wings, to the head, neck and comb, etc.

As you are discovering, two males to eight females is unbalanced, resulting at this point in difficulties between the males. It probably won't get better. At best you will end up with a sad, lonely, bachelor male. At worst ... well, as others have said, cockerels have been known to fight to the death.

Good luck!

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