Introducing a Rooster - is it a good idea?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TheIvoryKitty, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. Rooster

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  2. Covered chicken tractor

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  1. TheIvoryKitty

    TheIvoryKitty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a flock of 5 hens: 1 dominique, 1 leghorn, 1 rhode island red, 1 easter egger and 1 silkie bantam. They are seven months old. I let them out to free range for the first time a few days ago and they absolutely loved it! My cats *thankfully* ignored them and I watched as they ran around until evening and then swiftly ran back to their coop for the night where I closed them up to keep them safe. My worry is that the girls didn't look around for predators at all, and that they didn't so much as look nervous when my cats walked nearby. They were content to do their thing. Choco, my silkie, is particularly small and she has a terrible tendency to get left behind by the flock while she pays too much attention to a particularly nice piece of ground. We have tons of hawks and I can just imagine my little girl getting lifted away forever! [​IMG]

    So, I've been thinking... is it wise to add a rooster to the flock for predator protection? They've never been around one, so I wonder if it would be weird for them. Also, I'm only planning to free-range them on the weekends and the rest of the week they are confined in an 8x10 run with a coop above it... Will the rooster pester them mercilessly in this little space? I want them to be happy.

    My only other option is to build a chicken tractor that I can drag around the yard for them to safely scavenge inside. Which is better? Covered chicken tractor or rooster?

    I'd love your thoughts!!!!

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  2. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    You'd be better off with the tractor. The rooster would tear up your hens in a confined space causing undue stress or injury on your hens. Hawks eat roosters too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  3. Ashburnham

    Ashburnham Chillin' With My Peeps

    A rooster is always vigilant and makes a different warning noise for whatever potential predator he spots.
    They can cause the hens problems in confined spaces though - build a bigger enclosed run.
     
  4. FarmingForFun

    FarmingForFun Out Of The Brooder

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    I have about 15 free rangers that like to split into two groups so I have them with 2 roosters. I also have 9 RIR's that I let free range about 3-4 days a week the rest of the time they live in a 30x80 space I converted to a large house/run. The RIR roo is much less sexually active and/or aggressive with he hens than my Dominique and Langshan x. He still gets the "job" done, many fertile eggs, and is a great guard. I'd say if you go with a roo go with one like an RIR.
     
  5. Ashburnham

    Ashburnham Chillin' With My Peeps

    Good point! Some roosters are certainly more aggressive than others.
     
  6. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Your best bet, if you decide to go with a rooster, is a mature cock. Maturity is a major player in how a rooster treats a pullet or hen. Young roosters, like under a year, are like teenage boys. their hormones are raging and they don't know how to treat a lady. Also, a medium to small size cock will be easier on Silkie sized pullets. The other reason that is perhaps most important, is that older pullets or hens would resent the presence of a strange cockeral and make his life miserable until he matures. Having said all that, I have to echo Dawgs statement, "hawks eat roosters, too".........Pop
     
  7. TheIvoryKitty

    TheIvoryKitty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 24, 2011
    Central California
    Hmmm, good feedback. Actually I hadn't thought about a lot of those things. First point is that, you're right, hawks eat roosters too so, while he'll be paying more attention and will call the hens in if there is danger I am likely to lose the roo to a predator and that sounds terrible. :( Second point is that, you're right again, likely the pen is too small and he will cause undue stress & injury to my girls, and if he's a smaller breed, my girls will probably cause undue stress and injury to him - and that's just as bad! So I guess even with a less aggressive roo, I couldn't stand to watch the girls beat him up or a hawk attack him..

    I suppose I'm going to go with the chicken tractor! Not quite as nice as walking around at their leisure, I'm sure, but nicer than sitting in one place all the time.

    Thanks guys!! Really good advice.
     
  8. TheIvoryKitty

    TheIvoryKitty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jeez, 30X80?! That's some serious space! Lol!

     
  9. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love my rooster dearly. I hatched him under a StepMama hen. She nearly pecked him to death, and I had to raise him indoors. The hen wouldn't have anything to do with him and charged and pecked at him, each time I tried to reintroduce him to the flock-- until he got big. Now the girls like him.

    But I have a Sebright Bantie, a very small breed. I thought my roo was leaving her alone, just doing his dance around her, but I saw him try to mate with her the other day and it scared me to death. He's way to big and could hurt her. So I have to keep her separate from him in an enclosed pen, which is a pain for her and for him, because they like each other. But I can't take any chances. I've worked too hard to raise the Bantam to risk seeing her get hurt.

    Also, roosters need a different food from hens, and trying to keep a rooster out of laying mash is a big trick, when they are all together. I keep the laying mash in the pen with the Bantie, and I rotate the hens all day long with the rooster. In his pen is his All Flock food, which is lower in calcium. The excess calcium in laying mash is great for laying hens, but can cause kidney damage in roosters. I make freechoice oystershell available for the hens while they are in the pen with the rooster, eating the All Flock. The roo doesn't tend to eat the oystershell, I don't think. I haven't seen him touch it.

    But all this fine-tuned coordination is exhausting, in my opinion. It was so much easier when I just had the hens.

    And I can't say that my rooster is good predator protection. He is quite intelligent, though. When a visitor brought some nasty terrier dogs the other day who chased the hens, my rooster flew up on the rail, making me think he was going to get into the fray and protect the girls. I am so glad he had the good sense not to do so. Those terriers would have killed him in a flash. He stayed on the railing, and thank goodness, the terriers did not get the hens. It was a close call, though. He could have pecked out the terriers' eyes. Maybe because he was raised indoors by me he's a bit of a self-centered narcissist, protective of his beautiful feathers, and that is fine with me. I don't want to see my boy killed by a predator.

    I am working on getting a safer, covered run, so I won't have this problem in the future.

    I worry about his crowing upsetting the neighbors, so I bring him inside on the weekends, in case the neighbors want to sleep late with no crowing.

    All of this takes a lot of time and energy.

    But roosters are beautiful and add a lot of joy and fun to a flock. If you are looking for fascinating observations, I recommend a rooster. It is so fun to see how they think.

    I do worry about my boy being a bit too rough with my hens. He is still a teen. He turns 27 weeks old on Tuesday. I am starting to keep my 2-year-old Barred Rock separate from him, too. I think I may need to get him some more adult hens, young ones. The two half leghorns who are his age seem to do okay with his advances.
     
  10. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, I forgot to add that my rooster is picky about my clothes. Today I wore a dress after church to do some work in the pen. I had never worn a dress around him before, and he did not like it! He kept grabbing the hem of the dress in his beak and pulling the skirt way out. It was hilarious, but he pecked some holes in it. I didn't mind that, but I was sorry to stress him out. He wants to see me in my standard khaki pants. They are about the color of his feathers. He doesn't like my dark brown pants that are skinny-legged. He likes full-legged pants. I never had to dress for my hens. They don't mind a bit what I wear. They are more laid back than my rooster.
     

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