Is it necessary to separate the younger girls

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TheTwoRoos, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 25, 2015
    I have 6 new chicks.One of those is cockerel.He started humping this morning.He did it once to the big girls,and is after the pullets.They are only 3 months old,and I figured this might be too much stress.
     
  2. Wilebaum

    Wilebaum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If he has enough hens and he's the same size as the smaller girls, it'll probably be fine. I'd just monitor your younger girls for signs of stress or too much mounting(cowering in the corner, not eating, bloody combs, missing back feathers, etc)
    If you have to separate, I'd separate that cockerel, since your smaller girls and older girls have been working out their own pecking order.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m going to copy something that I wrote for another thread, the adolescents were 5 months old, not 3 months like yours, but I think most of it still applies. Three months isn’t all that young for this behavior to start, but it is on the young side. Four months is more normal from what I’ve seen but some wait even longer than that. Many people will agree with you, it is just so stressful. Many cockerels literally lose their heads at this stage because it stresses people so to watch. If it stresses you that much, get rid of the cockerel.

    Some of us consider this typical chicken behavior. It’s a stage adolescents go through on the way to becoming adults. It is hard to watch, it can be pretty rough down there. Since it can get physical it’s always possible a chicken can get hurt. If you have them shoehorned into a small space the risk goes up. If they have plenty of room to run and avoid, the risk drops. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you there is no risk, there is. But I have a lot of space and I’ve never had a pullet injured when they go through this. When they mature it is a peaceful flock. But watching them go through adolescence can be hard.

    Typical mating behavior between mature consenting adults.

    The rooster dances for a specific hen. He lowers one wing and sort of circles her. This signals his intent.

    The hen squats. This gets her body onto the ground so the rooster’s weight goes into the ground through her entire body and not just her legs. That way she can support a much heavier rooster without hurting her legs.

    The rooster hops on and grabs the back of her head. The head grab helps him get in the right position to hit the target and helps him to keep his balance, but its major purpose is to tell the hen to raise her tail out of the way to expose the target. A mating will not be successful if she does not raise her tail and expose the target. The head grab is necessary.

    The rooster touches vents and hops off. This may be over in the blink of an eye or it may take a few seconds. But when this is over the rooster’s part is done.

    The hen then stands up, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake gets the sperm into a special container inside the hen near where the egg starts its internal journey through her internal egg making factory.

    With five month olds you are not dealing with consenting adults. You are dealing with adolescents that have no control over their hormones. The cockerels normally mature earlier than the pullets and are being driven mad by their hormones. The pullets have no idea what is going on so they certainly are not going to cooperate.

    At that age most of this is not about sex either. The mating ritual is about dominance. The one on bottom is accepting the dominance of the one on top, either willingly or by force. It’s not about pecking order either, but total flock dominance. The cockerel’s hormones are screaming at it to dominate the pullets but the pullets are not ready for that. It takes both to do their part, pullets as well as cockerel.

    To do his job as flock master, the cockerel has to be the dominant chicken. How can he keep peace in his flock if he can’t break up a fight without the others beating the crap out of him? What good does it do to warn of danger if no one listens? How can he fertilize the eggs if they don’t cooperate? A cockerel is usually bigger and stronger than the pullets. If they don’t cooperate willingly he is going to force them. That’s part of his job, to be the dominant chicken.

    Part of being the dominant chicken is that he has to act like a mature adult. He needs to dance for the ladies, find them food, watch for danger, keep peace on his flock, and do all the things a mature rooster does to take care of his flock. He also has to have enough self-confidence to win the hens over by his personality. It takes a while for most cockerels to get their hormones under control enough to be able to do this.

    Normally the pullets and cockerel will eventually mature enough to play their part in the flock. For the pullets that is often about the time they start to lay, though some take a few months longer. I’ve had a cockerel do that at five months but that is really rare. I’ve had some that took a full calendar year to win over all the ladies. Normally around seven months a cockerel will mature enough to start getting his hormones under control and act like a flock master should. Normally the pullets are ready to accept him at this time but more mature hens may hold out a little longer. It’s going to vary with each flock, depending on the personality of the individual hens and rooster.

    Until the cockerel and the pullets mature enough to fulfil their duties in the flock and learn proper technique, it can get pretty rough. Normally neither the cockerel nor the pullets are harmed during his maturing process but since force is involved injury is always possible. The big problem for a lot of people is that it is just hard to watch, especially if they don’t understand the dynamics of what is going on. I don’t see anything unusual or out of the ordinary in what you describe.

    You may hear that disaster is assured unless you get more pullets. Some people believe that a magic ratio of hens to rooster will solve all these types of problems, ten to one is often quoted. It doesn’t work that way. Many breeders keep one rooster with one or two hens throughout the breeding season without any problems. One secret though is that they use roosters and hens, not cockerels and pullets. That makes a big difference. You can have the same problems with very small hen to rooster ratios as you do with very large hen to rooster ratios. If you want to use this as an excuse to get more pullets by all means go for it. But it is an excuse, not a real reason.

    Good luck! It’s probably going to be a messy down there for a couple of months, but if you can get through this phase, you should have a nice flock.
     
  4. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 25, 2015
    He has SEVERAL girls!he tries to hump the big girls.I do have another rooster who I hope pushes him off his girls.The pullets actually wil fight him (The 3 who are not scared of him),and all he does is run away,he knows he cannot fight them,the girls are just too aggressive.

    I have noticed a dramatic change in his behaviour.I'm starting all the "Methods" so I will not end up with a butt for a rooster.He has pecked me twice!So he may just not be able to stay around too long.But i'm still unsure if it was just he thought i had treats,or was it really aggression?
     

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