I have an unplanned Roo but he is such a sweetpea I want to keep him. Will he hurt the hens?

ChickRex

Chirping
5 Years
May 15, 2015
29
2
74
Hi all, I'm new to keeping chickens and have 3 pullets and 1 cockerel who was supposed to be pullet #4 (avatar pic). I wanted my flock to be girls only but this little guy has become my little buddy and so I'm reconsidering. One thing a friend with a flock said is that roosters tend to be very aggressive and hurt the hens. He recommended not getting a roo at all and was looking to rehome his own. I want my coop&run to be a hen haven. Do roosters generally hurt or traumatize hens? I'm also concerned about him forcibly mating (raping) them. I don't want my girls to be somewhat confined and forced to endure that.

Any info on keeping a roo is greatly appreciated!

Added note: I will need to have a no-crow collar on him to keep him. Any thoughts about that?
 
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bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,657
32,104
1,092
On the MN prairie.
Hi all, I'm new to keeping chickens and have 3 pullets and 1 cockerel who was supposed to be pullet #4 (avatar pic). I wanted my flock to be girls only but this little guy has become my little buddy and so I'm reconsidering. One thing a friend with a flock said is that roosters tend to be very aggressive and hurt the hens. He recommended not getting a roo at all and was looking to rehome his own. I want my coop&run to be a hen haven. Do roosters generally hurt or traumatize hens? I'm also concerned about him forcibly mating (raping) them. I don't want my girls to be somewhat confined and forced to endure that.

Any info on keeping a roo is greatly appreciated!

Added note: I will need to have a no-crow collar on him to keep him. Any thoughts about that?
First of all,
welcome-byc.gif


First of all, how old is your little cockerel? Once he reaches sexual maturity, he may not be your "little buddy". However, not all roosters are human aggressive, and most don't hurt their hens. The mating process isn't necessarily pretty, and overmating - which can happen if you don't have enough hens to keep your rooster happy - can cause the hens to have bald backs. I believe the bald backs bother the chicken-keepers far more than it does the chickens. Roosters don't "rape". A hormonal cockerel just coming into maturity may be very... active, but an adult rooster usually won't try to mate pullets before they're ready to start laying. Sometimes the rooster will pull feathers out of the neck or back of the head. Frankly, if you want a "hen haven" for your girls, I would suggest finding the rooster a new home.
 

ChickRex

Chirping
5 Years
May 15, 2015
29
2
74
Boy is only 5 weeks so no hormonal changes yet. I only have 3 pullets since he's male. If they were free range and a larger flock I would feel more comfortable as a hen could more easily avoid him if she wanted a break but in the limited run they're more confined and trapped in with him. So a rooster is added stress and irritation? A different friend said hens couldn't have a fulfilling life without a roo which sounded like a load of ******** to me but I wanted to know what people here think.
 
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AnHourToGarden

In the Brooder
May 16, 2015
9
3
23
Southern California
I've had several flocks of hens over the years and just got my first roo, so I'm not especially experienced with roos, but my flock seems much more at ease having a roo to watch out for them. That said, he's a bantam cochin, so he's half the size of the girls once you get past all his feathers. He's super sweet and we have no problems unless people come over that he doesn't know. It's kind of funny to watch him try to balance on the girls back, only to fall forward on his head. LOL

We added 2 white orpington hens, a white rock hen and a white orp roo to the egg flock this year. The roo is only 3 months old and he's already much bigger than the bantam, but he knows the little guy is the boss. Not sure how that will play out once the orp starts breeding.
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,657
32,104
1,092
On the MN prairie.
Boy is only 5 weeks so no hormonal changes yet. I only have 3 pullets since he's male. If they were free range and a larger flock I would feel more comfortable as a hen could more easily avoid him if she wanted a break but in the limited run they're more confined and trapped in with him. So a rooster is added stress and irritation? A different friend said hens couldn't have a fulfilling life without a roo which sounded like a load of ******** to me but I wanted to know what people here think.
Your hens will be just fine without a rooster. I would say a rooster could cause more stress. Not necessarily that they will for sure. After all, they all have their own personalities. They will lead happy fulfulling lives. If a rooster is present, yes - the hens do tend to be more dependent on him, but if there isn't a rooster, the dominant hen may take the role of watching and warning for predators. If your chickens won't be free ranging anyway, I don't think a rooster is going to make much difference as far as that goes. I would suggest that if you don't plan to grow him out for meat, find him a home sooner rather than later before you get even more attached.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,101
19,562
857
Southeast Louisiana
The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs. Everything else is personal preference. Many people would not dream of having a flock without a rooster, many others are extremely happy they don’t have one. People tend to worry about this a lot more than the hens do.

Chickens are not human beings. They don’t have the same instincts, thought processes, or moral standards. Some behavior that we would consider horrible for a human and worthy of jail time is accepted normal behavior for chickens. Even an all-hen flock can turn quite brutal under certain circumstances, though they usually don’t. A rooster increases the chances of rough behavior, especially when they are all adolescents. It’s fairly normal for a flock going through puberty to get fairly rough while sorting out pecking order and flock dominance. Sometimes, whether a rooster is present or not, all this can be sorted and you hardly notice anything, sometimes it can get really rough.

Normally if you can get through the adolescent phase where the cockerels and pullets (pullets have a part to play in this too, it’s not just cockerels) are immature with hormones running wild, no self-control, and no parental supervision, the flock turns out to be really peaceful once they all mature. However watching them going through this phase is not for the faint of heart, especially if a cockerel is involved. Your presumed lack of space is another concern. The more space you have the easier it is.

It’s also fairly common for young cockerels to become your favorite. Males are generally more outgoing and curious. It’s their job to investigate suspicious circumstances and lead the flock. A lot of that instinct can kick in pretty early so they are the ones with personality as chicks.

I always suggest someone keep as few roosters as they can and still reach their goals. With your use of the term rape and fulfilling life, your concern about the hens’ feelings, and since you did not originally plan on having a rooster, I think the number of roosters right for you is zero. As Bobbi said, rehome him as soon as possible before you get even more attached. Your chicken adventure can still be extremely fulfilling for you without a cockerel.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,847
10,996
636
western South Dakota
I may be wrong, but you sound like a first time back yard flock. When people ask me, I give the advice to only keep hens the first few years. You have years to enjoy this hobby, and roosters can take some experience.

Roosters growing up with flock mates often display the behaviors that you are describing. The hormones make them a bit more brave, more attentive to changes, so they are quick to respond to you, making them seem friendly. The problem with first time chickens, is that they are not being raised in an established flock with older birds to reinforce politeness and pecking order. The young rooster grows more quickly and matures more quickly than his flock mates, so he is the biggest bird around, and often times that turns him into a bully. He can harass the pullets, but worse, he begins to be so cocky, and he is not afraid of you, often times this very friendly rooster attacks the humans that care for him. If you read this forum, there are countless stories where the pet becomes a nightmare in an instant.

With dogs, cats, most pets, being kind to the young, makes for very enjoyable pets for years to come. In chicken society, being nice is equivalent to being weak, and lower on the pecking order. Chickens tend to pick fights that they are sure they can win, and often times won't quit fighting until they are dead or have won. If they attack once, they most often keep attacking, and will terrorized anyone that is nice and friendly with them. Children are very vulnerable to roosters attacking, as they are smaller, their faces about the height of the spurs and claws when the rooster attacks.

Personally, I never give my rooster any attention. I only keep a rooster that moves away from me, and keeps about 5-9 feet in between us. I want a captain, not a general. I need to be the top of the pecking order.

Wishful thinking does not change chicken behavior, and they will not act like people. I vote with the letting him go crowd.

Mrs K
 
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bobbi1979

Chirping
Apr 30, 2015
163
36
86
Montana
I may be wrong, but you sound like a first time back yard flock. When people ask me, I give the advice to only keep hens the first few years. You have years to enjoy this hobby, and roosters can take some experience. 

Roosters growing up with flock mates often display the behaviors that you are describing. The hormones make them a bit more brave, more attentive to changes, so they are quick to respond to you, making them seem friendly. The problem with first time chickens, is that they are not being raised in an established flock with older birds to reinforce politeness and pecking order. The young rooster grows more quickly and matures more quickly than his flock mates, so he is the biggest bird around, and often times that turns him into a bully. He can harass the pullets, but worse, he begins to be so cocky, and he is not afraid of you, often times this very friendly rooster attacks the humans that care for him. If you read this forum, there are countless stories where the pet becomes a nightmare in an instant.

With dogs, cats, most pets, being kind to the young, makes for very enjoyable pets for years to come. In chicken society, being nice is equivalent to being weak, and lower on the pecking order. Chickens tend to pick fights that they are sure they can win, and often times won't quit fighting until they are dead or have won. If they attack once, they most often keep attacking, and will terrorized anyone that is nice and friendly with them. Children are very vulnerable to roosters attacking, as they are smaller, their faces about the height of the spurs and claws when the rooster attacks. 

Personally, I never give my rooster any  attention. I only keep a rooster that moves away from me, and keeps about 5-9 feet in between us. I want a captain, not a general. I need to be the top of the pecking order.

Wishful thinking does not change chicken behavior, and they will not act like people. I vote with the letting him go crowd.

Mrs K

Well said I absolutely agree. I made the mistake of keeping my Roo with only 4 hens (first time owning chickens). He stripped their back feathers and got aggressive with my kids first. He was sweet and brave before hormones kicked in. He was huge (buff Brahma) and we were truly intimidated by him. He knew he had us and he was boss. I regret not knowing how to handle him. First time owning chickens in my opinion is easier and a good way to ease into having chickens if you wait for a year with the Roo. I'm going to try again in a year or two but with a better understanding. I do miss how he kept them in the yard and protected them. Of course just my experience and a person could have a Roo successfully as a begginer if they did their research and learned all they could.
 

ChickRex

Chirping
5 Years
May 15, 2015
29
2
74
I may be wrong, but you sound like a first time back yard flock. When people ask me, I give the advice to only keep hens the first few years. You have years to enjoy this hobby, and roosters can take some experience.

Roosters growing up with flock mates often display the behaviors that you are describing. The hormones make them a bit more brave, more attentive to changes, so they are quick to respond to you, making them seem friendly. The problem with first time chickens, is that they are not being raised in an established flock with older birds to reinforce politeness and pecking order. The young rooster grows more quickly and matures more quickly than his flock mates, so he is the biggest bird around, and often times that turns him into a bully. He can harass the pullets, but worse, he begins to be so cocky, and he is not afraid of you, often times this very friendly rooster attacks the humans that care for him. If you read this forum, there are countless stories where the pet becomes a nightmare in an instant.

With dogs, cats, most pets, being kind to the young, makes for very enjoyable pets for years to come. In chicken society, being nice is equivalent to being weak, and lower on the pecking order. Chickens tend to pick fights that they are sure they can win, and often times won't quit fighting until they are dead or have won. If they attack once, they most often keep attacking, and will terrorized anyone that is nice and friendly with them. Children are very vulnerable to roosters attacking, as they are smaller, their faces about the height of the spurs and claws when the rooster attacks.

Personally, I never give my rooster any attention. I only keep a rooster that moves away from me, and keeps about 5-9 feet in between us. I want a captain, not a general. I need to be the top of the pecking order.

Wishful thinking does not change chicken behavior, and they will not act like people. I vote with the letting him go crowd.

Mrs K
Thanks to everyone for the advice and this one especially resonated with me. You're right, this is my first time flock and don't yet understand chicken society, needs, and behaviors from a firsthand experience. I've decided to rehome him. Do you have any advice for finding a home that isn't going to eat him in the next few months? I have no problem with eating chicken but I've grown attached to this little guy and want him to have a little more fun in life.
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,657
32,104
1,092
On the MN prairie.
My advice might seem a bit cold, but here goes: you find a home for the little guy, don't ask questions and keep telling yourself that he's going to lead a happy life. Once that chicken leaves your place, it's no longer yours to have any control over. So just don't ask...
 

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