how old a male chickens must be to breed effectively?


9 Years
May 25, 2010
I have about a 5 months old RIR and I just saw him breed with my XC hens. My XC are about year and half. Is he old enough to get hen fertile eggs at his age. Also I have some RIR hens and some black sex link at 5 months should i start giving them layer feed?
I use feather development rather than age to estimate whether rooster is sexually competent or not. Once he starts putting on first set of adult feathers (third set), he can effectively sire offspring. My hens typically reject such advances from birds just starting into first adult set, especially if more mature alternative is present.
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can you describe how the feathers go in to set. this is my first time raising chickens
I got five pullets and a rooster on March 29, 2009. They were about two to three days old when I got them. These birds lived together, isolated from all other birds, for their first year.

The rooster was an Easter Egger, while the five pullets were: 2 barred rocks, 2 buff orpingtons and 1 Easter Egger gal.

Five months and three days after I got them, one of the Buff Orpington pullets decided to go broody on us. So we let her sit on a few eggs.

Three weeks and two days after she went broody, she successfully hatched three baby chicks.

Since the only rooster we had to fertilize those three eggs was no more than five months and one week old when he fertilized them, I can safely answer your question by saying that it is possible for a five month old rooster to successfully "do the deed."

Hope this helps...
can you describe how the feathers go in to set. this is my first time raising chickens

Timing of maturation is very much a function of genetics with lesser affects coming from nutritional history and social environment, that is why I avoid use of age only to determine age when reproduction can start. If you know your breed, then age immediately becomes more reliable.

Feather setting: At hatch, a chick has first set of flight feathers already erupting under down. If of a breed capable of flight, by 10 to fourteen days the chick will be capable of at least limited flight. The first of flight feathers mature (individuals feathers no longer supplied by blood and quit growing) in my games at about 28 days. By 21 days, the body feathers start coming in. Second set of flight feathers begin to replace first at about 28 days. The replacement process takes a good bit longer (about eight weeks). Generally it is the second set of feathers that enables sex determination in most of my birds. The changes of feather sets usually goes without flight capability loss. Almost as soon as second set in completely the third set starts coming in (about 12 weeks old). Shortly after this some of my games start crowing for first time if no dominant males present. The third set of feathers takes even longer to come in 3 to four months. Usually my birds full bone growth but considerable more maturation of muscle and mind yet to come. Generally my male games are able to sire young once the first adult set of sicle feathers start coming in. Usually, my hens at this time are no longer laying becuase they are in heavy molt. By eight months my games in full stag feathering. They are fully capable so siring offspring regardless of social situtation. The stag (third set) feathering is distinguishable from that of cock (bird in fourth or greater set) feathers in respect to sicle and secondary feathers of wings. The fourth and greater sets of feather put in during fall, regardless of hatch date for individual.

Over the next year I will be watching the feather set replacement process in games, American dominiques and American barred Hollands. I am pretty sure there will be noteworthy differences.
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Not completely on the topic, but my 3 month old EE roo mounted one of my 3 month old pullets yesterday... of course they are not laying, I think he was just.. working on his...

She was not pleased at all.

would a rooster mate with a hen that isnot laying?

Ours did -- at least back when he was an immature cockerel.

He was the same age as his five pullet roost-mates. But he matured sexually much earlier than they did. I remember him mounting them so much that I had to make him sleep outdoors one night so that the pullets could have a rest, and this was at only four months old. The pullets were not sexually ready yet, and he was already wearing them out.

HOWEVER, after the five month old broody successfully hatched three of his children (two pullets, plus a cockerel that we later rehomed), he seemed to grow up and mature in more ways than just physically.

So that when his two little pullet daughters, Patty and Cathy, joined the flock for a few hours a day at about age 12 weeks, I noticed that he did NOT try and mount the little girls.

We have merged in three different pairs of new chicks into the existing flock over the past year (that first clutch's pullets, a second clutch's pullets hatched three months later, and two baby Delaware chicks born four months after the second clutch) -- and in each case, the now matured rooster waited until the hens were old enough to lay eggs before he would mount them.

You would see him inspecting the girls as they grew older. But he did not mount a single one of the younger pullets until about the same time that we began finding their little pullet eggs in our nests.

So I guess the answer to your question (at least based on our experience) is that an immature cockerel will probably mount anything and everything in sight, but a more mature rooster will wait until the pullet is sexually mature before he mounts.
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