Help with rooster management, anyone?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by buckabucka, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2010
    Fairfield, Maine
    My Coop
    I'm a newbie with 23 chickens, now 8 weeks old. Six of them are dark Cornish, which we will send to the freezer in the fall (when they are about 22 weeks old).

    Right now, there are 4 roosters (3 dark Cornish and an EE). I read in one of my chicken books, that with "heritage birds" (which I believe dark Cornish would qualify) you should separate out the roosters at 10 1/2 weeks. At 8 weeks, the EE rooster is attempting mating, the dark Cornish are crowing but not trying to mate yet. We don't think we want to keep a rooster, so the EE will likely go in the fall also.

    This is my current plan: Hang a tarp down the middle of the coop and run, tying the top to the ceiling and weighting the bottom with bricks. We have 2 pop doors and plenty of roost space. I'll put all the bachelors in the smaller half. I have not done this yet, partly because it will be a real pain setting it up and slipping through a tarp to feed and water, and plus, there has been no fighting or major harassment of the hens so far.

    My questions:
    1. Should I separate the roosters from the hens now, before they start mating with the flock? I read on here that removing a rooster from his flock may make him get depressed and stop eating.

    2. Will a tarp be enough separation? They won't be able to see the hens, but they will definitely hear them. I really don't know where else I could keep them. We have a simple chicken tractor, but it only has chicken wire and no shelter (definitely not predator-proof).

    3. It will be necessary to separate them eventually (before 22 weeks), right? I am assuming they will fight each other and harass the hens, but I'm not sure at what age this becomes an issue.

    I appreciate any advice, if someone has experience with this type of situation.
    Thanks!
    Robin
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Since you have nowhere to create a real "bachelor pad" (out of sight and direct sound of the hens), I would suggest just kind of playing it by ear... wait til the cockerels start beginning to create problems before separating them. Unless you especially *want* to do it now, which would be ok too of course.

    I don't personally see any problem with them trying to mate the pullets, as long as it is not causing excessive social unrest or fighting.

    You might consider processing the cockerels serially rather than all at once (troublemaker goes first, then wait til there is another troublemaker, etc).

    Also, since you have so few cockerels and can deal with them individually, you might consider (when they get older) WEIGHING them every week or two. May as well process when weight gain slows down markedly. For the chickens I've raised (mainly sussexes and some crosses thereof) that seems to havppen around 16-18 weeks. You quickly reach a point of diminishing returns where you are putting a *lot* more food into the chicken in return for not much more meat gain. I don't know about dark cornish, but my sussex and sussexX cockerels usually dress out around 3-3.5 lbs at 16-18 weeks (that's with skin but without neck or giblets, which I package separately so they don't get weighed with the carcass [​IMG])

    I would be a bit leery of the "tarp hung in coop weighted at bottom" divider -- you may well find you need something stouter than that.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  3. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2010
    Fairfield, Maine
    My Coop
    Thanks for all the great information!

    I definitely would prefer to not do anything just yet (dividing the coop will be a real pain).

    I like the idea of getting rid of the trouble-makers first. We will only have 7 birds to process (and plan to have it done elsewhere), but perhaps we could process them in 2 batches.

    I had not thought about the fact that they will reach a point of diminishing returns. Weighing them weekly, later on, sounds like a good plan. It will help us make a decision about when to butcher.

    I'm really hoping there is no need to separate them at all, but I'd like to be prepared just in case.
    Thanks for the reply.

    Robin
     

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