Flocks within flock

JoJoM

Songster
Jan 24, 2021
292
752
166
Eastern Ontario, Canada
I have a young flock of 21 that were 3 different “batches” that I incubated that never seemed to fully integrate into one flock. They range in age from 18 weeks to 22, 4 cockerels and 17 pullets. They all go out to free range during the day and all roost in the coop at night. They stay grouped in their original flock when outdoors as well as when they roost. Our top rooster sticks with the older, laying flock. The other roosters seem to stick together and there haven’t been any fights or issues. My question is, if I cull the extra roosters, would the remaining rooster take over the entire flock and do you think they would integrate?
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
41,276
345,239
1,692
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
I have a young flock of 21 that were 3 different “batches” that I incubated that never seemed to fully integrate into one flock. They range in age from 18 weeks to 22, 4 cockerels and 17 pullets. They all go out to free range during the day and all roost in the coop at night. They stay grouped in their original flock when outdoors as well as when they roost. Our top rooster sticks with the older, laying flock. The other roosters seem to stick together and there haven’t been any fights or issues. My question is, if I cull the extra roosters, would the remaining rooster take over the entire flock and do you think they would integrate?
Integration takes many weeks. Oftentimes not until all are laying.
The senior rooster is not interested in the pullets as they are not yet sexually mature.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
29,466
27,131
997
Southeast Louisiana
if I cull the extra roosters, would the remaining rooster take over the entire flock and do you think they would integrate?
Nothing is absolute with chicken behaviors so I use a lot of weasel words to talk about what might happen or what I usually see instead of giving something as definite. There are always exceptions.

With mine I sometimes have three or four different age groups of chicks, some brooder-raised and some broody-raised. Each group tends to hang together in sub-flocks during the day and sleep in different areas of the coop until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. With my pullets that's typically about the time they start to lay, who knows when it will be with cockerels. What you describe sounds really familiar to me.

After they mature enough to start sleeping with the adults on the main roost at night they might hang with the adults during the day but often they will stay in groups during the day. Even if they are the same age some may form a clique and spend time away from the main group. My goal in all this is that no one gets hurt. I don't care how they manage that, whether they are in one tight group or spread out.

Your groups will merge whether you remove those cockerels or not but thy may merge more if you remove the cockerels. There is a fairly good chance the more mature cockerel won't allow the younger ones to mix with his girls though he should welcome the other girls once they mature.

I don't know what your goals are with those boys. My general suggestion is to keep as few boys as you can and still meet your goals. That's not because you are guaranteed more problems with more boys but the more boys you have the more likely you are to have problems.

If you decide to reduce the number of boys you can do that any time you wish. You can wait and see how it goes and base your decisions on what you see or you can be more proactive. But in any case I think it would be wise to have a plan so you can isolate one or more cockerels from the rest on a moment's notice. When things happen to require that they often happen fast.
 

JoJoM

Songster
Jan 24, 2021
292
752
166
Eastern Ontario, Canada
Nothing is absolute with chicken behaviors so I use a lot of weasel words to talk about what might happen or what I usually see instead of giving something as definite. There are always exceptions.

With mine I sometimes have three or four different age groups of chicks, some brooder-raised and some broody-raised. Each group tends to hang together in sub-flocks during the day and sleep in different areas of the coop until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. With my pullets that's typically about the time they start to lay, who knows when it will be with cockerels. What you describe sounds really familiar to me.

After they mature enough to start sleeping with the adults on the main roost at night they might hang with the adults during the day but often they will stay in groups during the day. Even if they are the same age some may form a clique and spend time away from the main group. My goal in all this is that no one gets hurt. I don't care how they manage that, whether they are in one tight group or spread out.

Your groups will merge whether you remove those cockerels or not but thy may merge more if you remove the cockerels. There is a fairly good chance the more mature cockerel won't allow the younger ones to mix with his girls though he should welcome the other girls once they mature.

I don't know what your goals are with those boys. My general suggestion is to keep as few boys as you can and still meet your goals. That's not because you are guaranteed more problems with more boys but the more boys you have the more likely you are to have problems.

If you decide to reduce the number of boys you can do that any time you wish. You can wait and see how it goes and base your decisions on what you see or you can be more proactive. But in any case I think it would be wise to have a plan so you can isolate one or more cockerels from the rest on a moment's notice. When things happen to require that they often happen fast.
Thanks everyone!! My main goal is that there are no major squabbles and that they all lay eggs in the coop. I worry that the younger ones might find another place (huge free range area). I may have to kick the roosters out in the mornings for a week or so if I find them laying all over the place. I’d love to be able to keep them all.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,868
17,738
726
western South Dakota
If I am reading this right, none of your birds are laying or a few might be just getting started. I am assuming that the cockerels are flock mates of these chicks. So while they are all different ages week wise, they are all hatched this year?

IF so, then when all of the them are laying, they will become one flock. It is kind of neat to see. Now when you watch them, you see very distinct groups... in a month or two, that will go away.

As to the roosters - I would at least have a set up to immediately separate them if needed. The thing with cockerels, is TODAY"S behavior is no indicator on how they will get on tomorrow. Have a plan B set up and ready in case you need it.

Mrs K
 

JoJoM

Songster
Jan 24, 2021
292
752
166
Eastern Ontario, Canada
If I am reading this right, none of your birds are laying or a few might be just getting started. I am assuming that the cockerels are flock mates of these chicks. So while they are all different ages week wise, they are all hatched this year?

IF so, then when all of the them are laying, they will become one flock. It is kind of neat to see. Now when you watch them, you see very distinct groups... in a month or two, that will go away.

As to the roosters - I would at least have a set up to immediately separate them if needed. The thing with cockerels, is TODAY"S behavior is no indicator on how they will get on tomorrow. Have a plan B set up and ready in case you need it.

Mrs K
You have it absolutely right. All hatched within a month of each other. The cockerels are all from the 'middle' group. Only the first hatch are laying with the others to start any day. This reply gives me hope!! I would love to see them all integrate as one happy flock. I am willing to reduce the number of cockerels should they become a problem.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
10,868
17,738
726
western South Dakota
You will more than likely need to reduce the cockerels. One is what you need for that size, you might get 2 to get along - but 'brothers' seldom do. 3-4 is going to be very hard on your pullets. They will run them ragged.

A lot depends on your set up. How much space you really have in a lock down situation. A couple of misconceptions that newbies (if you are not, I apologize) often have with flock management:
  • being raised together will be friends for life - not true, especially with roosters
  • free ranging time periods can compensate for too small of coop/run. The dark days of winter, birds are roosted for 14 hours, too cramped causes big problems.
  • What was a LOT of space for chicks, is NOT enough space for full grown birds. Many posts where the flock has gotten along, raised together, and now is fighting.
  • Roosters attack out of no where - probably not true, inexperienced people either do not recognize the signs, wish those signs did not happen, or make excuses for that aggressive behavior.
  • Inexperienced people often times vastly underestimate the violence of roosters
    • fighting roosters
    • attacking pullets for mating
    • attacking people - tend to attack children first, then women, then men
      • if you have children under the age of 6, I strongly suggest getting rid of all the roosters they tend to take the attack in the face or head.
Some aggressive rooster signs:
  • excessive crowing when you are in the set up
  • flying up to roost so that they are at eye level with you
  • fluffing up to look bigger when you come in
  • flapping wings at you
  • stink eye
  • approaching you aggressively - not moving out of your way
Roosters are where "the romance of having chickens meets reality." (AArt) Do have a plan B set up and ready to go. If you cannot cull them, do start looking for other homes. Do not wait until there is a problem is the best advice.

Mrs K
 
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom