How to keep extra roosters?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by StrawberryMoon, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. StrawberryMoon

    StrawberryMoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello Everyone!

    I do not have any chickens right now, but I would like to incorporate some poultry into my organic orchards next spring. I am trying to learn and plan as much as possible now, so I will be well prepared to care for them when the time comes. One major question in my mind is regarding extra roosters. If possible, I prefer to buy straight run chicks, and to keep all of them. I understand that the preferred ratio is about one rooster per eight hens, but math predicts closer to a 1:1 ratio. I do know that roosters are not necessary for egg production, that they are very difficult to keep, and that most people choose not to keep any roosters, or at most one rooster. I am just wondering if it is possible to accommodate the roosters rather than kill them. I have only read accounts of one person who has tried this, and that person reportedly had success by housing the hens separately from the roosters. I can try this technique, but if anyone else is out there making this effort, I would love to hear what is working and what is not working! Are there breeds docile enough to boost my chances of rooster success (maybe faverolles??)? Should I build my coop like an apartment building and house one roo +one hen couples? Should I build a sorority and a frat house? Any and all tips are welcome! I am willing to go to considerable effort if there is a way to make this work. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  2. chickencraz

    chickencraz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I currently have quite a few roos (14?) and keep them with my hens. I know some people will bachelor coops, for the guys and it works out great. The reason for the 1:8 ratio is so that the hens aren't injured and in good condition. Having 1 older bantam roo that grew up with roos has worked okay for me so far, although 2 of their favorite hens are missing a lot of feathers.
    I'd definitely get rid of any aggressive roosters, as they cause lots of problems.
    As for breeds, OEGs, Sebrights, Cornishes and and breed that was originally bred for cock fighting are ones you's want to avoid.
    So far the roos that get along the most are my d'Anvers, Japanese and Sumatra, although a lot of it come down to each chickens individual personality.
     
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  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    What is the advantage of keeping so many cock birds? The utility advantage of them is for propagation, fly tying and meat. Other than that they are an economic drain to keep around in terms of feed alone not to mention damage to hens from over mating or cost of bachelor pad to house them separate.

    As a breeder I need a lot of birds hatched and as a result 50% of those will be roosters. All well and good as they are evaluated and culled leaving only (potential) breeders kept longer than 14 weeks of age. All runts or not to standard birds are used for sustenance when they are still tender and before they are an economic drain. Birds start to consume adult portions daily around 10 weeks of age. They get to good eating size by 14 weeks but slow thereafter in growth while consuming the same amount of feed. I should add that currently we've still over 20 cockerels, all last year cock birds have been culled, and will end with only two breeders going into winter.

    If you truly have an aversion to using the males as food (giving away free for food) you should seriously consider not ever getting any and stick with pullet/hens only.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
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  4. StrawberryMoon

    StrawberryMoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Egghead_Jr: There is no utility advantage of keeping so many roosters. It is just a personal preference, since I prefer to let them live if possible. I fully realize it is not in my economic interest to do so. I would like to try anyway. I do not want to order female chicks only, since I want to breed them, and because ordering females only means the equal number of rooster chicks will be killed on my behalf. I prefer to give them a chance at life,and if I get a few roosters that are too mean and awful to keep, I'll deal with those. But I am trying to design a situation with minimal killing in mind. My reasons for keeping chickens are mostly related to my other crops: insect pests management, fertilizer source, etc. Eggs from the hens will be a nice perk, but not the primary goal.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    What most people want is a peaceful happy flock out pecking around. Too many roosters can really decrease the peace and increase the tension of a flock. When you iimagine your flock, do you see bright feathers, calm peaceful birds eating bugs, or do you see ragged, feather-worn, barebacked hens and pullets hiding under bushes or in coops afraid to come out.

    A great deal depends on your space, both in and out of the coop. Many times people think that if they free range, they can cheat on space in the coop, and one can during the summer, but come winter, a too small of coop will make for a lot of ugly behavior during the long winter nights.

    If you do this, I do suggest you get all hens the first year. Allow these girls to grow up, next year go with the straight run chicks. The mature hens will teach the roosters and pullets proper chicken society. It might help with your over all wanting that many roosters. If you start with straight run chicks your first year, the roosters will mature much earlier, and get much bigger faster than the pullets. Because there are no birds bigger than them to thump some manners into them, these roosters will be very aggressive toward your pullets, and may even kill pullets or weaker roosters. They often become very people aggressive too. At about 10 weeks a 50/50 will not be a peaceful flock.

    Truthfully you can do what you want, but you are going to learn that there is a difference in the romance of chickens and the reality of chickens. There are real and rather violent reasons that people limit the number of roosters, not just they don't want them.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
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  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I had a 50/50 flock one year. Straight run, some hatched here, some from a hatchery. When those cockerels hitbsexual maturity it was just like Mrs. K described. Pullets run ragged, afraid to come out to eat or drink, constantly harassed by those cockerels. If one decided to attempt breeding a pullet, several more would breed the same bird just to prove their place, too. They also fought. A lot. This did not go on very long. They were put in a bachelor pen within a week. They stayed there for a few weeks enjoying their rich new diet until we butchered them. If you do go ahead with your plan, I would suggest having a backup plan just in case you end up with a bunch of roosters who all want to be the alpha bird.
     
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  7. StrawberryMoon

    StrawberryMoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Mrs. K thank you for the insights! I like the idea of having some mature hens around to help train the young cockerels. As for space, I have 10 acres of my own, and I'm pretty much surrounded by corn fields and woods, so they will have significant ranging space. I haven't built the coop yet, so it can be any size. How many sqft per hen, how many sqft per rooster do you suggest? Assuming the hens and roosters live in separate coops, how far away do those coops need to be from one another to keep the roosters calm? Can they go out to free range at the same time and sleep separately,or should I alternate days so they are always separate?

    @bobbi-j Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like your flock did well once you moved your roosters to their own coop. Is that correct?
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    They did well after being separated, yes. But the roosters were not let out to free range with the hens. I think you would have to range your cockerels and pullets separately or there will most likely be problems. My chickens have over 100 acres to roam and it wasn't enough. As to how much space they need, user Ridgerunner has a good article on that. The "x number of feet per bird" is more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule.
     
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  9. Peekin In

    Peekin In Out Of The Brooder

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    I ordered m chicks online, at the time of ordering I requested only one rooster, that is my cochin boy to go with my cochin girl. We received an extra 'bonus bird' which turned out to be a Barred Rock Roo and 6 "fillers" which looked at the start to be leghorns but have turned out to be (we think) sexlink Roo's. We lost one so we only have 5 they live in the batchelor pound and are bound for camp Kenmore (our freezer)
    Of the other birds I ordered one of the Speckled Sussex turned out to be a Roo, so now I have 3 Roo's in my main coop and 12 pullets. Fights are beginning to break out among the 3 fellas. Do you think they will settle down once a pecking order is formed or am I looking at adding another to my freezer camp list ?
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I am a rancher with thousands of acres. However, chickens do not use all of the acres. Some breeds will be more independent, some will seldom get far from the coop/run, although the more you let them out, the farther they will go over time. 10 acres are going to have plenty of predators, and everything likes chicken. That can be kind of ugly too. My bachelor pen was not a life long pen, they stayed there for about 5 months. They were out of sight of the main coop, but not out of hearing. Crowing contests can be rather entertaining IF the coops are a great distance from the house.

    I did not let my roosters free range, I wanted them a little bit fat and tender, and I did not want anything else to eat them.

    Mrs K
     

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