Impact of Going Roosterless

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by phryan, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. phryan

    phryan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2014
    I currently have 18 laying hens and 1 rooster all about 18 months, along with some pullets and cockerels from this year. I am considering removing the rooster and all but 2 of the (very young) cockerels.

    What is the impact to the flock and pecking order of removing the alpha rooster? Will it be a total shakeup or will the hens retain the status quo? There will be some month and a half old chicks, broody raised, still getting used to the flock that I'd be concerned about.

    About half the hens are showing some wear but overall they seem to like his presence. He can be aggressive, mostly when in the coop or in 'his' territory, less to me but more so to visitors. With the males not contributing in the winter and a next generation ready to pick up next summer, figure its time to lessen the flocks food bill and open up some space in the coop for winter.
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hens and roosters have separate pecking orders, so removing the roo will not upset the girls' wrecking order. I find my flock a lot more peaceful without the former roo around (nice stew though) [​IMG]
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    My hens never seem to notice when I remove a rooster. he's not part of their status order, so it won't really effect their standing in the flock.

    Adding a new rooster or a young cockerel hitting maturity can change things a little. If he develops a favorite that was not previously highly ranked, she's likely to move up in the order. But with mature birds that have been a flock for a while, it's usually not much of a big deal.
  4. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2014
    NW Florida
    When my rooster was taken last summer, the hens adjusted easily. One hen, a RIR, picked up the duties of the rooster and found food and warned the other girls of possible danger. Overall, ALL of us were happier without the rooster. I currently have a young, Polish cockerel. He's about 14 weeks at this point, and I've not seen one sign of aggression or trying to mate with the hens. The last one I had was mean at this point. I'm hoping he'll work out as he seems fairly docile and calm. Time will tell.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    How old are the 'pullets and cockerels from this year'?
    Are all the birds living together already?

    The only concern I can see is that the 2 young cockerels may step up activity with the each other and with hens and pullets with the older cockbird gone.
    Could be some cockerel battles for dominance and they will both be competing for mating rights to the pullets and could overwhelm them.
    The older hens will hopefully kick the cockerel butts and teach them some manners.
    The broody will probably continue to protect the 6 week old chicks, but if she doesn't the cockerels might go after them too, mature cocks know they aren't ready but cockerels may not get that yet.

    Just some thoughts, that might be way off base if I didn't assess the population correctly.
    An interesting situation, I find their social behaviors fascinating, and good on you for management plans for your flock going into winter.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  6. phryan

    phryan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2014
    Everyone shares a coop but the tend to forage by age group. The 2 males I'd end up keeping will hatch this weekend, I'd probably remove the rooster and other cockerels around Thanksgiving. So at that point the 2 keepers would be about 7 weeks old. They should be small and timid during most of the winter, so the hens will have a relaxing fully feathered winter. Come spring the males should be ready to assume their rooster duties.

    -Thank you for the feedback.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’m glad Aart asked about the ages. I wasn’t going to respond until I saw that answer. I pretty much agree with what the other said about how they’ll handle the situation, by the way. I’ve removed the head rooster several times before the cockerel was ready to take over. They normally handle it very well. The only time it got exciting was when the head hen did not want to relinquish her position and the cockerel had to take it by force, but they worked that out in a couple of days once he hit maturity. No one was injured.

    Different cockerels mature at different rates. I’ve had a very few cockerels able to “influence” the older ladies by five months. I’ve had some that could not dominate all the hens until about 11 months though moist of the other eggs were fertile. Most of the time I start seeing all eggs fertile around seven months. With two in competition the normal timetable will probably move up a bit. Plus with two you are more likely to hit the average at least. With just one it gets iffy.

    If I do the math right with them 2 months old around December 1st, they will be 7 months old around May 1st. Exactly when do you want fertile eggs? From what I’ve seen some of the eggs will be fertile before all the eggs will be fertile. That is going to depend on the individual hens and the individual cockerels, exactly at what age they can dominate the hens. Some hens will squat for about anything in spurs or even the potential for spurs. Some are more selective.

    I think you might be cutting it a little close.
  8. phryan

    phryan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2014
    I don't need them to be active so to speak. Being able to replace losses was one of the reasons I went with a rooster to begin with. So far losses have been minimal, 1 mature hen, so no urgent need for more in the spring. Having a broody sit and raise some chicks also adds some spice to the summer.

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