How many hens to roosters?

Esjay600

Chirping
Dec 3, 2017
55
77
86
Australia
Hi everyone


I purchased three 6-8 week old chicks, that were all apparently female. I was never planning on having a rooster, but as it turns out I have two cockerels and a pullet! That's alright though!

What I do need to know though, is how many hens I will need, to keep the two cockerels from fighting as they get older? I know there is an ideal number, but for me, fewer would be better, as while my coop is large enough for more, I'm not sure I could handle too many.

Thank you for your help!
 

junebuggena

Crowing
Apr 17, 2015
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Long Beach, WA
About 8 to 10 hens per rooster is a good general starting point. But it does depend a lot upon the rooster's temperament. Some are just rough and will over breed and a cause bareback hens even if there are 20 hens. Some are just fine with 3 or 4 hens.
Most of the time, cockerels that are raised together will get along just fine, provide there is ample room for all.
The problem with having more cockerels than pullets is that cockerels tend to mature much faster than pullets. This usually means they start trying to mate before the pullets are ready, and leads to very stressed out girls.
Also, cockerels that grow up in a flock without adult birds around tend to be more prone to aggressive behaviors towards humans.
 

Esjay600

Chirping
Dec 3, 2017
55
77
86
Australia
Hmm, ok thanks for the advice! I certainly wasn't planning on having so many hens, but I will have to consider the options. :hmm
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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My Coop
I know there is an ideal number, but for me, fewer would be better, as while my coop is large enough for more, I'm not sure I could handle too many.
Actually there is no number set in stone...tho you might find what is ideal for you and your flock.

The 'rooster' to hen ratio of 1:10 that is often cited is primarily for fertility efficiency in commercial breeding facilities.
It doesn't mean that if a cockbird has 10 hens that he won't abuse or over mate them.
Many breeders keep pairs, trios, quads, etc
It all depends on the temperaments of the cock and hens and sometimes housing provided.

You'll have to decide what kind of flock you want to keep.
You might not even want to keep any males.
The only reason you'd need a male is if you plan on hatching out more chicks.
Then you'll have even more males to deal with,
any keeper should have a plan to get rid of unwanted males.
You could get rid of the 2 males you have and get some more females.

Now you'll need to learn about integration.
You say you have space for more, but adding birds work best with extra and separate but adjacent space. Here's some tips and links.

Consider biological/medical quarantine:
BYC Medical Quarantine Article
BYC 'quarantine' search

Integration Basics:
It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

The more space, the better. Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.

This used to be a better search, new format has reduced it's efficacy, but still:
Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
This is good place to start reading, BUT some info is outdated IMO:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/adding-to-your-flock
 

Esjay600

Chirping
Dec 3, 2017
55
77
86
Australia
Actually there is no number set in stone...tho you might find what is ideal for you and your flock.
Thank you for your information, I am reading the quarantine article now.

Do you think it's best to add members to the flock who are in the same life stage? E.g. if my pullets were 18 weeks, introducing new pullets that were between 16-20 weeks? I was considering that perhaps introducing older or younger pullets could cause harm if they were to fight?

I certainly have the ability to establish a second run and segregate them, so thank you for that advice!
 

HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
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I have a 5:1 ratio and everyone gets along well. Mine free range, so I can't say that ratio would work if they were penned up.
 

HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
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btw I did have at one time 3 roosters and one hen, and they got along great for a year until I could get new hens.
 

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