Do you have rooster(s) in your flock?? Are things amicable?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by keckhart, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. keckhart

    keckhart Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all! I am new to this group and new to chicken ownership. I, however, currently have 9 chicks. 2 ameraucana hens, 3 polish (2 of which I am 99%sure are roosters) and 4 silkies - not sure of the sex on them but they are all smaller and very mellow except one showgirl that may be a dominant hen or a rooster.

    Now I LOVE having these birds. Much more so than I thought I would as they are technically my girls pets. But they are so darn cute and so much fun to watch and so entertaining!! Anyway they all grew up together. All are about 10 weeks. We have grown very fond of the two we think may be roosters. I have been reading a lot about rooster behavior and they exhibit some of this already but they are still sweethearts and are so brave and caring of the others. We have a quarter acre and they all run around the area a few hours a day. They love it. Anyway a lot of what I read is negative and it sounds like 99% of people that have roosters get rid of them for one reason or another. Is this accurate? My girls get VERY upset if I mention that we may have to rehome either of them for any reason and I want to have realistic expectations. I really want to be able to keep them all. They are more dominant for sure. And more aggressive but its kinda in a good way if that makes sense and they are sweethearts to us humans. We love them. Am I being naive?
     
  2. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

    Keeping roosters in the flock can be very rewarding, but can also have some drawbacks that many don't want to deal with. Currently (until Nov 9th) I have 18 hens (2 pullets) 8 cockerels, and 1 mature Cock. He is in charge. Even the young cockerels are below the hens at this point. All were raised with each other, and within the cockerel group there is a pecking order, but no violence. Our flock rooster won't allow issues. The cockerels are starting to try to mount various hens, but Abraham puts an end to it quickly. After processing, we will have 2 cockerels and 1 mature rooster. He will stay until after breeding season next spring, when he will go away to the freezer. His photo is currently my Avatar.

    Some cockerels fight constantly. In my personal experience, this mostly happens when there isn't an established dominant cock, or when things are too crowded. With as few as you have, I would only keep one rooster. When there is a serious contest over hens or dominance, it can become quite bloody. With only one roosterm he is the dominating force over the entire flock, but the boss hen will usually be "in charge" of the other hens. Cockerels that may come later will already know who is in charge, and they won't be established enough to try for top position for a while.

    Roosters in the flock changes the dynamic somewhat, and I think (personal opinion only) is healthier for the flock as a whole. It is the way it should be.

    Do not tolerate an aggressive rooster. You are the master, he is under you. He will need to understand this from the beginning, and sometimes that means chasing him a bit, pushing him off the roost, giving out treats or special food so that he knows you are the giver and provider. He is in charge when you or another human isn't present, but when you or another person is there, he isn't in charge any more.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
  3. keckhart

    keckhart Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the advice! Of the two polish we have that we think are boys one of them is by far the dominant one. He is clearly the boss of all and the smaller boy does not challenge him. At least not at this point. Cookie (the larger of the two. The largest of them all by far) has always been the largest and been at the top of the pecking order with the showgirl silkie coming in second. He is always the first one to explore something new and all the others naturally follow his lead. It's clear he is on the lookout when they are out and about for any danger and he will break up spats between the others. He has not exhibited any aggressive behavior to us. We handle him daily. A couple times a day actually. He will fall asleep pretty quick. We hand feed him and the others treats. Are there other things we can do to improve the chances that this work out? You believe the smaller rooster will be an issue at some point?
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don’t know what your set-up is like. That will have an influence. Each chicken has its own personality and each flock has its own dynamics. That’s part of it too. There are several other things that can influence how the flock works with a rooster or multiple roosters.

    People have been keeping roosters with their flocks for thousands of years. That’s kind of necessary so chickens don’t go extinct. But what I am talking about are generally small farms with a flock of chickens that pretty much free range and mostly feed themselves by foraging. I suspect you have them confined in a fairly small space. That makes a difference.

    Some people just can’t stand the sight of chickens mating. They think that when the hens and roosters are doing what comes instinctively that the rooster is being a brutal bully and is harming the hen. It’s worse when they are all adolescents. The hormones are running wild and the boys have no self-control. The boys normally mature faster than the pullets so the pullets have no idea what they are supposed to do. It is usually a pretty messy time. Many young cockerels have literally lost their heads during this phase, but if you can hold out until they mature, it usually works out.

    Some people are worried silly that if you don’t have a lot of hens for each rooster that the rooster will over-mate the hens, destroy their feathers and cut them up, and totally mess the hens up emotionally and physically. There are some possible issues here, especially when they are all adolescents. The oversexed young males may force those immature pullets that don’t know what is going on. It’s pretty rare that the pullets actually get hurt but it can happen, especially if they keep resisting. It’s not unusual for a hen to occasionally lose a feather or two during mating, but when one gets barebacked it can be a problem. Sometimes that comes from the rooster’s techniques being really bad when he is holding on with his toes, sometimes that comes from the hen’s feathers being really brittle so they break real easily, even if the rooster has good technique. Breeders often put one rooster with one or two hens throughout the breeding season without these problems but they are using mature roosters and hens that know how to act. There is a lot more involved with this than just the ratio of hens to a rooster.

    If you have more than one rooster, they will determine which one is dominant. Sometimes you won’t even notice them deciding that, especially if they grow up together. You can have a fight to the death, but that is pretty rare unless you have roosters that are bred for cockfighting. You don’t. Most of the time you will notice them squaring off, raising their hackle feathers and skirmishing. It usually doesn’t take long for one to realize that he is better off running away than fighting and it turns into running away and chasing more than fighting. There may be some rematches but normally they work out an accommodation on how to coexist peacefully, the same way roosters have been doing on small farms for thousands of years.

    It’s possible a rooster can become human aggressive, toward you or maybe just your girls. There are a whole lot of different opinions on what might cause that or how you might prevent it, but I don’t know so I won’t get into that part of it. If a rooster attacks your girls, I’d get rid of him immediately. But there is no guarantee that a rooster will attack them. A lot of roosters are not human aggressive.

    I think space is a real big factor in how your flock will behave, whether it is just hens or with roosters. The tighter they are packed the more likely you are to have problems. I don’t believe in magic numbers for how much space you need for chickens. The more space the better and the fewer problems you are likely to have.

    I can’t tell you how likely you are to need to get rid of one or more of your roosters. My normal advice is to keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. That’s not because you are guaranteed to have a problems with more roosters, but that the more roosters you have the more likely you are to have a problem. Just like the more dogs you have the more likely you are to have a problem dog. Or cat. Or anything else.
     
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  5. GD91

    GD91 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was in a similiar boat. Got attached to my cockerels, decided on one called Rocky (the prettiest) kept him for breeding & gave his brother away to a nice family who liked him & had standard hens.
    The bantam cockerel I kept crows at 8:20Am & that's pretty much it. He's not really noisy.
    He is also the dominant cockerel over his younger brother who also has a home lined up :)
     
  6. keckhart

    keckhart Out Of The Brooder

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    I understand. I'm basically asking a question then that no one can really answer [​IMG] I will need to take it day by day I suppose and see how things play out.

    I do see the two of them square off at times, but they're not the only ones all of my chickens will square off and ruffle stare down each other regularly. They will fly up about a foot in the air facing off. Then just go about their business. It doesn't bother me to see a hen mated but I don't want to see one get hurt.
    I really appreciate the feedback! Hopefully things will work out. I am concerned if I have to rehome any of them about being able to find a home that won't turn them into dinner.
     
  7. Peaches Lee

    Peaches Lee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have two roosters and one cockerel in my flock right now. It works out because there's roo #1, roo #2 and poor Little Yellow is at the bottom LOL! Why it works is that the head roo is respected by the subordinates and not challenged. Now, earlier in my chicken ownership, my first flock had many boys and they fought too much so I had to rehome. They would fight until bleeding pretty good and I just couldn't take that anymore. When you get to that point you are okay with finding them a new home. Hopefully your boys will live peacefully together. [​IMG]

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  8. DallasCriftins

    DallasCriftins Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well I hatched out 28 chicks in May and bought 5 SLWs at the same time
    I got 17 Roos from my hatch and 4 of the SLW were Roos as well so well over the usual 50/50 split :(
    I also have 2 slightly older Splash Orpington Roos from my Easter Hatch.

    With the exception of 4 of them i.e. the 2 Orpingtons and 2 of the younger Roos that were chased out of the Boys group they all co exist happily in one group which I mostly keep seperated from the Hens as with so many Roos the chase if they see a Hen can get ugly! and as was well put by the post above they are still too young to behave!

    We absolutely have a Top Roo the white one dead centre below that we call 'Yellow Curry' yes his four brothers have all become Curries! since the picture was taken.
    He was the first to do what Roosters do, he displays, he shares his food and he mounts the Hens given the chance

    We have now eaten 7 of them and I am whittling our Roo stock down to a handful. I hope to be able to reintegrate them with the Hens as I want to breed some chicks from the Vorwerks, Wesummer and Wyandottes but I intend to keep them in a separate coop at night mainly as I have that way down at the bottom of my field just to try and reduce the sound of the crowing.

    However if it the noise gets out of control next spring and summer then we will eat them all probably although there not a lot of meat on the Araucanas!

    Meanwhile they are as much loved pets as the Hens Ducks Geese etc that we keep.
    One thing they definitely bring to our Free Range flock is a degree of protection they are alert they warn and one of our black Orpington X went for a Buzzard recently but our best guard is our Runner Duck Drake that we call Ja-Ja he hates Pigeons and chases them all over the field!

    If you have space (and tolerant neighbours) then enjoy yours and deal with things only if you have to.
    It is a great learning curve and they are fascinating to watch and have in a flock.

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