Help!! Trying to manage Rooster-Hen Ratio

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jmb213, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. jmb213

    jmb213 Out Of The Brooder

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    Wilton, Ca
    I'm new to owning chickens and could really use advice from experience flock owners.

    I currently have:
    3 four month old roosters
    1 questionable four month old (looks like a rooster, doesn't crow, and is mounted (appropriate term?) by the other roosters. What might this suggest?
    2 three month old hens.

    All of the 4 month old birds were raised from birth together. The two hens we got approx 1 month later. We are finally at the point where they are all in the same coop. The girls are terribly scared of the roosters- often hiding, fearful of coming out of the coop, and very skiddish around us.
    Initially we thought we would let things unfold before determining what to do with all of the roosters. We figured if they all get along, we might as well keep them. However recently things began to change- one of our roosters immediatly runs towards you once in sight and starts aggressively pecking at your shoes and pants. He is starting to break skin if he gets ahold of your hand. Another rooster is pleasant, likes to be petted (sometimes held), but is being slightly bullied by the dominant one. I fear he may start to "change" on me and pick up these aggressive habits. The third is not aggressive towards us, but doesn't like to be touched. He has a very dominant personality without being aggressive, but also lacks interest in people.

    My concerns are:
    - that the hens are being dominated by all of these roosters and are never going to become comfortable in their enviroment. Will they continue hiding and running from everything and everyone? They have access to 2 acres with a garden and rarely utilize it.
    - that the roosters become increasingly more aggressive and I'll lose any chance of keeping my one guy "friendly" with people.

    Should I:
    - only keep the friendly rooster?
    - keep the friendly rooster and the indifferent dominant personality?
    - keep the friendly rooster and the questionable "looks like a roo but doesn't crow and is mounted"?

    Please note: We plan on getting approx 20 sexed chicks in the upcoming spring. So it may be good to have more than one rooster once our flock is that large.

    I would GREATLY APPRECIATE any and all feedback that experienced owners might have on how to best handle this situation.

    Thank you very much in advance!
     
  2. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have a pic of the one that doesn't crow? We might help you determine rooster or hen. I would get rid of rooster number one immediately and probably rooster number two. I would keep rooster number three and NOT try to make a pet out of him. If a rooster is not scared of you there is a good chance he will attack you later on. There is a good chance you will get another rooster or two in the sexed chicks you get later on.
     
  3. jmb213

    jmb213 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2013
    Wilton, Ca
    1. I will try to take a clear photo of my questionable roo. His tail is very perky, which leads me to believe it's a roo, but he is smaller than the others from the same batch.

    2. You are SO correct about the "pet" issue. I've been reading online about rooster behavior- dancing, pecking, etc. and it seems i've been letting them show dominance over me for weeks! I'm now going to try techniques to assert dominance and see if that helps (because, quite honestly i've been doing the opposite). I've learned that using a broom, stick, whip and startling them helps. Or a light shove when the peck.

    What do you think about forcing them to be held? Does this help or will it exacerbate the problem?
     
  4. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't believe excessive holding is a good thing. It seems to me that they will eventually decide, "oh she's not so bad, not scary at all". It will cause them to lose their fear of you. It sounds bad but you want them to be scared of you - not terrified but very leary. I believe in most cases either you dominate them or they will dominate you. When they dominate you that means you get attacked and that can be dangerous especially to kids. I don't worry too much about attacks below the shoulders even though they can do some damage but an attack above the shoulder can cost you one of both eyes. Kids being shorter makes it much more dangerous for them. An attack to the face could be life changing in an instant. A very few people have "pet" roosters and it seems to work for them but it is very rare. Most of the time it turns out bad! I imagine their "pet situation" takes a turn for the worse before long and we just don't hear about that.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I would get rid of all the roosters and just keep hens. Get used to just keeping chickens and you can always add roosters later if you want.
     
  6. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Too many roosters can lead to issues later including:

    - Overbreeding of hens - this can actually injure or even kill hens

    - Fighting between roosters - even when raised together, they will often become aggressive towards each other when they reach maturity

    You could pen your roosters separately, kept away from hens they can get along with less aggression between them, or reduce your roosters to just one - more than enough for the number of hens you have.
     
  7. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps


    X2.

    Personally, if possible, I would probably pen the cockerels together until they are older, then pick out which one you plan on keeping, if any, and butcher the rest.

    Right now in my flock I have one mature cock, 5 cockerels 19-28 weeks, and 19 hens and pullets. There are some minor scuffles, but no blood baths. Two of the cockerels are just waiting to get big enough to butcher. If I start having cockerel problems, the young boys will go into a pen by themselves. The mature cock will stay until next summer, then he will go away and be replaced by one or two of the younger cockerels.
     
  8. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with putting them in a seperate pen then choosing one to keep and eating the other two. But, I doubt very many new chicken keeper wants to slaughter and eat any of their chickens. But that is what I would do too.

    I've got one flock that is about 8 months old and one rooster with them. I also have another set of about 12-14 pullets and 8 roos that are about 20 weeks old. About two weeks ago I seperated the younger bunch, putting all the pullets and two of the roos in one pen and leaving 6 roos in the other pen. Before I seperated them there got to be a lot of fighting, sometimes with blood drawn. Now they are ALL quiet and there is very little fighting. I have to add that the two roos that I put with the pullets are Buckeyes which seem to be very calm. Those two roos get along great. I've never seen them fight with anybody. I really do like the Buckeye roos. The 8 month old roo is great. He takes good care of his 9 pullets. He protects them, watches for predators when they free range, finds them food to eat, let's them eat first, breaks up fights, and is not aggressive when breeding. A good roo is a huge asset to your flock. A bad roo is good to eat! lol
     
  9. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    With only two hens I probably wouldn't keep a rooster at all, or I'd get more hens. If you absolutely want to keep a roo then I'd keep the one who is most friendly at this point but just be aware that he may be more submissive now if he is the less dominant roo. When the others are gone he may very well become a different bird. Especially when the hormones really start to kick in around 6 months.

    Until you decide what to do I'd absolutely keep the hens separate or with only one rooster.
     
  10. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    "The third is not aggressive towards us, but doesn't like to be touched. He has a very dominant personality without being aggressive, but also lacks interest in people."

    That sounds like the making of a decent roo. I want my roos to give me plenty of room. My older roo tries to stay 3-4 feet away from me at all times and doesn't want to be touched. Fair enough because I don't want him touching me either because it hurts. LOL We did have about three run-ins when he thought he was protecting his pullets and chicks from me. He finally backed off when I smacked him about 3-4 times hard with a light weight plastic feed pan. He'll try me again someday and he will suffer for it. lol
     

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