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Introducing (new) adult hens to existing sole cockerel

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by davelauc, Sep 9, 2016.

  1. davelauc

    davelauc Hatching


    I apologize if this question has been asked. I see threads for the reverse, but did not find one for this particular scenario.

    We currently have a flock of 5 cockerels who hatched this past May (we got all males!). My kids would like to keep one. Will be getting rid of the others to make room for 4 grown hens. So my questions are...

    1) What is the best way to introduce 4 adult hens, from another flock, to a lone cockerel?

    3) How do I quarantine the new hens without leaving the cockerel in solitary (he will have just lost his hatchmates)?

    2) Would it be better to keep 2 of the cockerels until the new flock has accepted one another?

    4) Is there a better way to deal with having 5 cockerels?


    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
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  2. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Songster

    Apr 19, 2014
    NW Florida
    Hi Dave,

    Putting the hens with the cockerel isn't really an issue as he will want to be with them so he can do his thing and follow his nature, which is to protect his flock. There may be a bit of squabbling, especially if the hens are older and the young cockerel doesn't know his manners yet. However, you will need to quarantine the new birds - a month is ideal, but do quarantine for at least two weeks to make sure they don't have any disease that they may be bringing in.

    Your lone rooster will survive until the hens are released, but if you wanted to keep one other for his company until the hens are ready to join them, that's up to you.

    I can't think of a better way - it's what will work best for you and not be cruel to the birds.
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  3. theuglychick

    theuglychick Crowing

    May 3, 2016

    I recently added 3 older pullets to my flock of younger pullets and cockerals.

    I would definitely keep 2 cockerals for the introduction and for back up in case one turns out mean then you can keep the "nicer" of the two.

    I was told that you don't have to quarantine but keep the birds separate, but where they can see one another. That is a mistake. I would fully quarantine them for no less than a month. As in where they can see each other but also preferably not come into contact with each other or share airspace.

    Also, lesson learned the hard way, deworm and treat all birds for mites. Note anything you notice about new and existing birds, scabs on legs, comb, wattles, runny nose, sneezing, etc . I watch poop, usually someone has worms or mites.

    After ruling out all possible illnesses and getting ready to introduce your new birds to one another, put your new pullets in with the cockerals two at a time, letting them get used to each other before adding the next set of two. Usually takes less than an hour.

    My experience is that two cockerals raised together get along well. I like keeping two cockerals because one usually turns into an a-hole and has to be culled, or one may get sick or injured. Unfortunately I just had to put down one of my two due to an infection he got that didn't respond to meds. Best of luck!
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  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    I may have some different ideas than other folks.....

    In this scenario, I wouldn't worry about quarantine. You have one bird you'd be saving, and a cockerel at that. If the hens bring in something and he dies, to me it wouldn't be that great of a loss. You'd still have the hens regardless. If the hens are from a reasonably trusted source, I'd play the odds. Plus, doing a true quarantine is difficult. He'd need to be in solitary as you call it, I think 150 feet from the other birds for a few weeks. You'd have to consistently care for him first, then the other birds. With kiddos, this may be nigh impossible.

    I'm also not a fan of long, drawn out integrations. Were this me, I'd get rid of all the males that are going to go. I'd then bring in the hens and put them all together. Depending on his age, he may get his butt kicked around the pen a few times. Won't hurt a thing, and it will make him very respectful of the ladies. As time goes on, he'll earn their respect.

    I actually did something very similar recently, come to think of it. I bought 4 hens from an auction ( I know, I know. First time I ever did that, too!). I wasn't concerned so much about quarantine as I knew the seller, but I did want to see who was laying what. Pen space is at a premium, so I put them in the grow-out pen that currently houses 2 cockerels, about 4-5 months old. It was very anti-climactic. One cockerel and one hen squared off a time or two when he tried to stealth mate her, but no big drama from anyone. they've been together a week now and it's like they all grew up together.
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I'm with donrae on this. My new cockerel (and his pal, from the same breeder) jumped the grow-out pen on the first night i had them and into the main coop. He's still being taught some manners by my old girls, but thats no bad thing. Integrating cockerels / roosters is a lot less fraught with trauma than for pullets / hens.

    This is just my experience, but i raised 2 brothers - 3.5 months old that had such a fight one day, that both had to be culled. I'm not suggesting this will always happen, but if you do decide to keep two, then keep a very close eye on things.

    Good luck
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Out of ovations so..... Excellent post!!!^^^^
    2 people like this.
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Yep, I agree with Donrae. One rooster is what you are risking. If losing him, will put you in a depression, well that is different. But from the sounds of things, you are comfortable with culling. The pullets that you are getting I am assuming are all from the same place. They will have the same germs and exposures. People often talk on here about quarantine, but most people are not set up to do it. You need a huge space between the birds, and if you cheat at quarantine, you may as well not do it at all.

    Do NOT buy a bird that you are sorry for. And while it is not fool proof, a healthy bird looks healthy. They should have bright eyes, and be active. Examine them for parasites.

    People who should quarantine are people that have highly valuable flocks, either emotionally or financially. If you have birds over 20, well that is considerable more to lose than one. Recently I lost most of my flock to coons. Ugh! Not nice, but hey, I got new chicks coming next week.

    Mrs K
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