First timer 30 unsexed chicks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jatsma, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. jatsma

    jatsma Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2015
    Canada, Saskatchewan
    Do you have to separate the hens and roosters when they get older, if so, how do we house all the roosters until they are old enough to cull? (Will be eating roosters) And if we decide to keep a rooster how many roosters per hen? Thank you in advance.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    1 per 10 on average.

    It is usually best to separate them. The boys will fight and overbreed the pullets if you don't
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I agree, this way you can let the roosters grow up a bit, then start really looking at them for confirmation points, pick your best two or three. Cull the others, and then try them one at a time with the girls, see if you really like them.

    Mrs K
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    1:10 ratio is mostly for fertility they are housed and managed can greatly change that ratio.
    Plenty of folks keep pairs, trios, quads, etc penned for breeding.

    I leave my cockerels with the flock until they start causing trouble trying to mate/fight, 13-16 weeks..... then they go on the grill, bones are saved for stock.
    If you want to grow them bigger they'll most likely need to be put in a bachelor pen to growout or you'll have a free-for-all on your hands.
  5. jatsma

    jatsma Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2015
    Canada, Saskatchewan
    Thank so much I got the answers I was looking for
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I see that you already have your answers but I’ll throw in a little more.

    A big part of this to me is how much room you have. I generally leave my cockerels with the flock until I put them in the freezer. That is usually not before 18 weeks and normally around 23 weeks. Some people like to eat them younger, a very few older. With a mature rooster in the flock it still gets kind of exciting down there with all those cockerels running around but the old rooster usually keeps them from bothering the older hens. He doesn’t protect the pullets nearly as much though. Still, with lots of room the pullets can usually manage. I do have a separate coop and pen where I can isolate the boys if I want to. Occasionally they become such a pain I do. From reading your post I don’t think you have a mature flock so keeping the boys separate might be a good idea. At least have a place ready in case you need it. It can come in handy in other ways later. It’s good to have that flexibility.

    I always suggest you keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. That’s not because you are guaranteed more problems with more roosters, just that the more roosters you have the more likely it is to have problems. Some people keep one rooster with only one or two hens for the breeding season, some people keep one rooster with over twenty hens and the eggs are pretty much fertile. A lot of that is age dependent though. There is a big difference in pullets and cockerels versus hens and roosters. The cockerels usually have hormones running out of control and the pullets mature later so they are very confused little girls. Once they both mature into adults things normally settle down a lot. Until then it can be pretty rough down there. A lot of young cockerels literally lose their heads at that stage, where if left to mature they could become an outstanding flock leader. As Sumi said though, watching cockerels and pullets mature into responsible adults is often not for the faint of heart.

    When you are deciding which one or ones to keep, I suggest you do it by a process of elimination. I don’t know what your goals are but first eat the ones that just don’t meet your goals. That might be color, size, behavior, or you just don’t like something about them. Do not keep any with obvious defects, like crooked toes or funny beaks. Those are the first ones to go. If you are looking to breed meat with them, you might look for a faster maturing cockerel. Basically keep the ones that are like you want their sons to be. With me I can usually get down to two or three without a big problem, but the final selection can be rough.

    The boys will decide who is boss, often by fighting. If they are kept in a bachelor pen, no females, this usually isn’t too bad. Bachelor pads really work well to keep fighting down. But if females are present it can get rougher. The more room you have the better it works too.

    Usually two or more adult roosters will reach an accommodation and work together to take care of the flock. This can take different forms, but a standard form is for each rooster to get a harem and a specific territory. They will split up during the day and just avoid each other. That way there is just not much chance of conflict. So having enough space so they can have separate territories can be a huge bonus. I did have two roosters one time that were best buddies. They hung out with each other more than with the hens. All the eggs were fertile and they definitely knew which one was boss, but they just hung out together. When you deal with living animals strange things can happen. It was a peaceful flock.

    With 30 unsexed chicks there is no telling how many cockerels or pullets you will get. You’d think it would be close to 50-50 but not with most of my hatches. Mine are more likely to be 2/3 - 1/3 and who knows which sex will be the 2/3. So just stay flexible.

    Good luck with it, it’s going to be a fun adventure. A little frustrating or exciting at times, but still fun.
    1 person likes this.

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