How many Roos??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mcranton, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Mcranton

    Mcranton Out Of The Brooder

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    Not an issue yet. Just wondering what to do with multiple roos in a flock? How old to separate, if you know they are roos (silkies)? Is the general rule to only keep one? Or can they share the flock peacefully? What would you do with extra roos??
     
  2. familyfarm1

    familyfarm1 Overrun With Chickens

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    How many hens do you have? I have three roosters with 15 hens at the moment and am trying to find a home for 1 or 2. They might be able to share it peacefully if there is enough hens. I can't remember what age you should separate them at.[​IMG] Hope you figure something out!
     
  3. Mcranton

    Mcranton Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 17, 2014
    I only have one other Wilkie and she is 5 months old. Or at least I think she is a she. I am in the middle of my first hatch coming next week and was curious if they mostly turn out to be roos, do I have to rehome or rebuild.
     
  4. Mcranton

    Mcranton Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 17, 2014
    I meant Silkie. Lol
     
  5. familyfarm1

    familyfarm1 Overrun With Chickens

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    I would have one rooster for 8-10 hens. You should either re-home or cull a few. Hope you have hens!LOL
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Those are not easy questions. There are no magic numbers, either for age to separate them or how many hens you need for each rooster. My advice is always to keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. It’s not that you are guaranteed problems with roosters or multiple roosters, just that the more roosters you have the more likely you are to have problems. The only reason you need a rooster is so you can get fertile eggs. Everything else is personal preference.

    When you have more than one rooster in a flock, they are going to determine which one is the dominant flock master. They do that by fighting. Sometimes, especially when they are raised together either as father-son or as siblings, that goes so smoothly you hardly notice any conflict. Sometimes, even if they are raised together, that results in a fight to the death. They are living animals with individual personalities. Personality of the individuals has an effect. I don’t care what breed yours are, no one can tell you what the individual personality of your roosters will be.

    Another huge factor is how much room they have. Forget about any square foot per chicken magic number. That is meaningless with multiple roosters. You not only need enough room that one can run away and get away if it is losing a fight, but once the fighting is over, they need enough room so each rooster can gather his own little harem and stay away from the other roosters with their harem.

    What normally happens if they don’t fight to the death (and they normally do not) is that they eventually reach an accommodation where they know which rooster is boss but they then each create a harem for each to take care of. These individual harems can normally share a coop and will sometimes be seen foraging together, but a lot of the time they are physically separated from each other by a lot of room. That avoids things that can trigger a conflict. They tend to have a specific territory where they are OK with another rooster outside that territory but will defend their territory from an intruder rooster.

    This does not mean that two or more roosters can’t coexist in more limited space. It means that your chances of having serious problems goes up the more they are crowded together. There are no magic numbers.

    You often hear a magic number given on this forum that you need 10 hens for every rooster if they are full sized and 15 hens for each rooster if they are bantam. While that can make for a nice flock, it’s pretty meaningless for most of us. Those numbers come from industry where they have dozens of roosters and hundreds of hens in one pen and the only goal is fertile eggs. Fertility is the only goal. It has nothing to do with roosters fighting and it has nothing to do with hens being over-mated. In most of our flocks it doesn’t have much to do with fertility either. In our situation where we have a lot less roosters and hens, how many hens one rooster can keep fertile is going to depend a lot more on how active that rooster is and how cooperative the hens are. One young active full-sized rooster will often keep 20 to 25 hens fertile while an older less-active rooster may have trouble keeping five hens fertile.

    Many people quite successfully keep only a very small number of hens with a rooster without any over-mating or barebacked hen problems, but one secret to this is that they have mature chickens. When they first hit puberty the young cockerels have hormones running wild and they have no control over those hormones. The pullets normally mature later than the cockerels so they don’t know what is going on so they resist. Older hens usually don’t want to have anything to do with those adolescent upstarts. Things often get really disruptive when you have adolescent males. If you can get through that stage they usually settle down into a nice well-behaved flock when they mature, but that can take a while. Many people can’t stand to watch that and it can be hard on the pullets.

    All this does not mean you cannot have multiple roosters in a fairly small space, even with a fairly small number of hens. You might get really lucky. It also does not mean you won’t have problems with totally free ranging flocks with no fences and 25 hens per rooster. Problems are possible. It means that the less space you have or the more roosters you have the more likely you are to have problems. The more you crowd them the likely serious problems are.

    If your goals require you to have many roosters, one thing people do is create bachelor pens. Keep the roosters in a pen by themselves and away from the hens. Usually if there are no hens to compete over the bachelors get along pretty well. Usually. As always the more space you can give them the better. When do you put them in there? As soon as you can identify them as roosters. Adolescence is your highest risk time. You need them separated about the time some start hitting puberty. Some will be earlier than others.

    I have to give you credit for thinking about what to do with extra cockerels before you hatch. Many people don’t think that far ahead. If you hatch eggs you are bringing new chickens into the world. You have a responsibility toward them.

    Personally I eat my extra cockerels and extra pullets as well as older roosters and hens when it is their time, but a lot of people don’t do that. Probably the best way to get rid of any extras is to advertise on Craigslist, either try to sell them or just give them away. Once you turn them over you lose control over them. The odds are that they will be eaten.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    x2. Good advice.
     

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