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Do I really need a Rooster?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mudd32, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. mudd32

    mudd32 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2013
    downtown Nicholson, ky.
    Just relieved my last rooster of his duties last night.
    Question...
    I have free ranging birds in a fenced in yard, plus I have a dog so aerial attacks is pretty much all
    I'm worried about.
    I've seen my rooster sound the alarm when a hawk is around and they all scatter for cover, now that he's gone is the likelihood of a hawk getting my birds greater by say 50% or is it just a myth that hens don't look up or worry about predators like roosters do?
     
  2. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    You don't need a rooster. Hens get snatched with a rooster on duty and they get snatched when one is not on duty. If you don't plan to breed or don't want the risk of injured children, you truly don't need a rooster.
     
  3. mudd32

    mudd32 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2013
    downtown Nicholson, ky.
    Thanks..
    I forgot to mention that they are all in a secure coop at night...only free range during the day.
     
  4. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For two years I have had nothing but hens, and they are constantly scanning the sky for hawks etc. When they see one, they call out and everyone runs for cover. I added two roosters to the flock this year, and I have noticed the internal pecking that the hens would do with one another has greatly decreased, and hens that constantly had bare spots are growing back their feathers. So the roos seem to keep order better than the hens alone do. One roo typically stays in the outdoor run while the other one stays in the yard, each watching over half the flock at any given time. When they come in for the night, they sleep next to each other on the top roost.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Boy, are you lucky to have that great scenario!
    How many hens do you have, what breeds hens and roosters?
    Wonders if the roosters are siblings and how you managed that integration.
     
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    You don't need one unless you want to hatch your hens' eggs, though I personally wouldn't want to free range my flocks in our predator-rich environment without a good rooster. For instance, my friend's quite exceptional blue Orpington rooster killed a full grown cat yesterday. Poor thing was a stray who wandered into the wrong yard and that rooster has his zero tolerance policy for anything that doesn't belong on his land. He's gone up against coyotes, foxes and a rottweiler and lived to tell the tale, but as I said, he's certainly the exception and one day, he won't come out on top of the situation. He probably thinks he's invincible by now. He's about 13 lb with 2" long wicked spurs and knows how to use them.

    Most roosters wouldn't have his luck or his talent, though, but I credit my own wonderful rooster brigade over the years for no predator losses while free ranging on our wooded mountain property. I'm having to raise up a new crop of protectors, though, since I'm down to one aging Delaware LF rooster. The others died from natural causes, not predators. They are my first line of defense and I fully expect to lose one or two eventually. They and I know what they are there for.

    Your dog is quite a help, I'm sure. I don't have dogs now-mine are all gone now, but none were ever safe around the chickens anyway. If I had a chicken friendly dog out there, I might risk free ranging without a rooster or two.
     
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Terms folks use are interesting.

    Free Ranging. Well, if you live in a downtown area and you allow them to scoot about a fenced back yard, as you say, one can only assume this yard is how big? A fenced back yard in a more town environment is quite different than truly free ranging over woods, hill and dale out in the country somewhere.

    In the former setting, a rooster wouldn't be essential. In the latter setting, a rooster provides at least some level of notification and a limited defense. We primarily keep roosters for breeding and flock harmony.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I think of free ranging as without any fencing at all. If you need fence but it is a very large space with lots of good stuff to eat growing there, it is called pasturing.
    If you need fence in a smaller space with less good stuff growing to eat and have to supplement more feed or rotate smaller areas it is called paddocking.

    But really all in all there is no one word to describe any given situation (especially once the government decreed their own skewed definitions) you need to describe it with many words. Of course that won't keep folks from using buzz marketing words to describe their situation.
     
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Just really depends on what you mean, as Fred said. If you live in the city on a 1/4 acre lot, it's not exactly what I'd call free ranging, yet, I usually think of it as such if they aren't in a limited penned area.

    My flocks each have pens attached to their respective coops, but when I let them out, they range within the perimeter livestock fence which surrounds about 2 of our just over 5 acres of mountain property. It isn't a chicken pen, just a property border, sort of. They are wandering through the woods quite a ways from their coops and our house so I do consider that free ranging. That perimeter fence wasn't there when we first started our free ranging, but we started putting it up, one big roll at a time as we could afford it, to prevent our birds (one hen we used to have with a bad case of wanderlust) from leaving the property and to make it harder for wandering canines to just run across and grab a chicken as they go. Being livestock fencing, a smaller pullet and certainly any chick can go through the larger openings at certain locations if she get a wild hair or can fly over it if she gets the idea, but they rarely ever do so. The part of the property closest to the house we do call the "yard", though it is a term used very loosely.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  10. Wrooster

    Wrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's what I would expect. We've never had hens without rooster, but our rooster treats it like a job. He's protector and director and, of course, fertilizes those eggs. He'll attack anything that approaches him or his girls (a mixed blesssing) and just a couple of days ago took on a medium-sized dog inside the coop while the girls fled to the yard. No damage except to the dog.

    Penned up, there's less concern. We let them free-range until he had bloodied one too many legs. Their radius was about 200 yards and he kept the flock under control. At that time we had one rooster and maybe 15 hens. Now it's fewer hens and we have another adolescent rooster, which is leading to all kinds of issues - but that's another story.
     

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