HELP! Cockerel's crowing disrupting flock

Trish1974

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I have a rumpless Araucana hen and her 6 chicks, which are roughly 12-13 weeks old now. I've had them going on 4 weeks. I let them out this morning, everyone looked healthy and active, only to return 2 hours later to find 2 cockerels bleeding from their combs, and one was cowering in a corner with his head down. As I went to pick him up he jumped out of my hands and as he was running off the mother hen and one other chick ran him down and pecked him into submission. I figured the hen was trying to wean the chicks now, so I stayed in the run to observe more closely. A few minutes later as the hen was scratching around, she began tidbitting to her chicks and eventually everyone settled down for a nap together under the coop. So apparently she wasn't the problem.

I went back out a half hour later, and a different cockerel is off by himself in a corner bleeding on the comb. Then I see a chick I call "Pat" (because I couldn't tell if it was a pullet or cockerel) try to crow. Each time this cockerel *tries* to crow the whole flock goes into an uproar, chasing, challenging and pecking each other (even the pullets and hen). After a minute things calm down, and as soon as Pat tries to crow again mayhem breaks out.

This all just started this morning. Is it something I should just keep an eye on and everyone will get used to Pat's attempted crowing? Should I remove Pat? I'd hate to put him by himself as it is supposed to get down into the 20s next week. The flock has their own coop and run from my original flock. The coop 8'x5', and they have a good sized run of 10'x50' with lots of hiding spaces and branches. I've not raised a hen and chicks before... any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
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azygous

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Broody hens are a force to be reckoned with. Yours sounds like a top notch mom. Obviously the roosters feel cowed by her. The upstart young cockerel is causing worry among the flock due to their concern the pecking order is going to be challenged very soon as these chicks become full fledged members of the flock. It's normal.

Having older roosters in the flock, any cockerels growing up will be disciplined by them as they start to get frisky with the girls. You really don't need to do anything. Just watch. It's amazing. As long as the cockerels respect their elders, there shouldn't be any bloodshed.

Yes, I agree you need to be observant at present. The flock will figure it all out.
 

Trish1974

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Thank you azygous, I always appreciate your advice. Things have calmed down... for now. When Pat crows it's like someone ringing the bell in a boxing match, some blood, but things settle back down in minutes. I will keep an eye on them, and I have the segregation coop ready to go if it gets too rough.
 

aart

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So this rumpless mama and her 6 offspring are in a coop(8x5) and run(10x50) separate from your other birds?
Are there males in your other flock?
Do you have plans to integrate these 2 groups?
Do either of these groups free range together or separately?

I'm guessing the rumpless cockerels are starting to feel their oats and mama is putting them in their place. Either the cockerels will be schooled and mind their manners....or not, multiple males can bring out all their worst behaviors.
 

CanadaEh

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I had something like that happening - collective chasing and feather pulling of an underdog rooster by other 6 roosters - however the trigger factor was not a crow, but his mating attempts with hens while only the dominant rooster was allowed to by the flock. I guess this was in other roosters eyes was a major violation and the underdog rooster forgetting his place and requiring a violent reinforcement. The solution was to cull the excess roosters.
 

Trish1974

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So this rumpless mama and her 6 offspring are in a coop(8x5) and run(10x50) separate from your other birds?
Correct.
Are there males in your other flock?
In this new flock there are 4 cockerels, 2 pullets and mama hen. My avatar cock is in a separate run and coop with my layers.
Do you have plans to integrate these 2 groups?
Nope. They will remain 2 separate flocks as I will be breeding for black mottled araucanas with the new flock. Next summer I plan to add 2 silver duckwing pullets in with my old flock to breed with my avatar cock. There is silt fence dividing these 2 flocks as not to upset males on either side.
Do either of these groups free range together or separately?
Because of a lot of coyote and BOP activity no one has free ranged in almost a month. When I resume free ranging in late winter/early spring (before the foxes put pressure on me) they will go out separately.
mama is putting them in their place.
Dang, that hen is mean!! I watched everyone for about 15 minutes this morning when I let them out and when the cockerels started rumbling she ran them down and drilled them! Two cockerels are almost as big as her.

So far the pullets have been left out the fighting. How much longer do you think it will be before they start trying to mate the pullets? My plan is to keep one cockerel in with sisters and mama for breeding. I plan to keep 2 extra cockerels in their own separate coop and run for back up. Well, really one for backup and another just so he won't be lonely.
 

aart

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Great reply, thanks for the info!
Sounds like you have great and well thought out plans.

How much longer do you think it will be before they start trying to mate the pullets? My plan is to keep one cockerel in with sisters and mama for breeding. I plan to keep 2 extra cockerels in their own separate coop and run for back up. Well, really one for backup and another just so he won't be lonely.
The may already be doing that and/or sparring for dominance between themselves.
I'd separate the 2 'extra' boys now, why wait and it should calm things down significantly.
 

Ridgerunner

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Trish, I have not encountered your situation because I don't house them that way. I'll still venture a guess as to what might be going on. I may be way off-base but I'll venture anyway. Your goals sound perfectly reasonable so I'm not criticizing.

My guess is that the hen has actually weaned them but she is the flock master. Often a hen will take over the role of a dominant rooster when none is in her flock. You have the equivalent of a mature hen in a pen of adolescents. She is in charge and will not take any guff from those adolescent brats but she still takes care of her flock.

She is likely to do anything a dominant rooster would, tidbit them, look out for danger, sleep or cuddle with them, all of that. Don't be totally shocked if she mates with one of them to show her dominance. But she may also try to keep peace within her flock. I think that is possibly what you are seeing.

I'd suggest you have an isolation pen ready for one or all of those cockerels in case you need it. Some way to keep them away from the hen and pullets as you evaluate which cockerel you want for your breeding program. You may not need it but you just might.
 

Trish1974

Araucana enthusiast
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Your birds look incredible, I hope we can talk you into posting pictures!
If you insist! That's like asking a grandmother to show pictures of her grandchildren! ;)
Here is a video I took the day I brought them home. Mama is in the background. The cockerel looking into the camera at the end is the one I hope to keep. He has the most mottling and is double tufted, although his left tuft is barely visible.
 

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