Is it time for the great divide?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by EllieMaesFlock, Jul 3, 2016.

  1. EllieMaesFlock

    EllieMaesFlock Hatching

    Mar 28, 2016
    I have 30 pullets, 1 guinea, and 13 cockerels! Obviously, all of the cockerels can't stay with the main flock. The vast majority of the flock ranges in age from 10-16 weeks. I have one hen that is slightly older and has just started laying. Here is the breakdown:

    3 bantam cockerels (silkie, cochin, mille fleur)
    5 bantam pullets (silkie, cochin,millie fleur)
    25 full size pullets (wyandottes, swedish flowers, olive egger, easter eggers, [COLOR=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Ameraucanas[/COLOR], copper marans, favorelles, cream legbars, orps, penciled rock, and bielefelderr)
    10 full size cockerels (wyandotte, swedish flower, olive egger, copper marans, bielefelder, and [COLOR=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588)]Ameraucana[/COLOR])

    My setup:

    I have one 11x11 stall with a 10x10 run that they all currently reside in, though I realize this isn't big enough once they are all full grown. I also have an 8x8 outbuilding that is currently unused. I have access to 3 more 11x11 stalls, but those would need retrofitted for predator proofing purposes. They are currently allowed to free range as often as possible, usually 3-5 days a week.

    I don't mind keeping a rooster colony, but I'm having trouble deciding who to banish from the island. I'm not opposed to eventually eating some, but they aren't big enough for that yet. The 2 olive egger cockerels and the copper marans cockeral all seem to be coming into their own. They are little crowing machines. One of the Swedish Flower cockerals and one of the wyandotte cockerels seem to be at the top of the pecking order, though I never hear them crow. They get the top roosting spots and when they puff up, no one continues to challenge them. The remaining cockerels don't crow and seem to mind their own business. I rarely, if ever, see them participate in any form of dominance or challenge. I really love the swedish flower cockerels (2), the millie fleur, the cochin bantam, and the ameraucana. The rest could get eaten tomorrow and I wouldn't care at all.

    I have also thought about separating the bantams and separating the excess roosters, though I'm not too excited to have to retrofit another stall. They currently reside at my mom's but shouldn't be there for more than another 12 weeks. We are in the process of selling our home and finding something more rural :)

    Is it better to do the separation now, before their hormones kick in? Should I just wait until the move and separate them then? I haven't had any injuries from disagreements, but I do have a few that I think are just too far down the pecking order. They rarely leave the stall, even during free range time. I think they just like having free access to food and water with less competition. What would you do?

  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Yes I think is the answer.

    Pull all the roosters now. Roosters tend to out grow hens, and you should be beginning to see a size difference by now. Generally speaking, if you separate these boys to the outbuilding, they should continue to get along, and grow out. I did this myself last year, when I hatched 11, and got 8 roosters. I quit letting them free range, as my first birds were too tough from all that exercise, but they were in a large enough set up. Later on, there would be crowing contests. I butchered them at 5 months (I wanted to do them at 4 months, but was waiting for a drill mounted plucker, which I highly recommend). This will allow you more time for your finale decision who gets to stay and who goes. I have even heard of butchering down to 3, waiting a while and then deciding.

    If you leave them, they are going to be getting more and more crowded as they get bigger, and that will often times causes ugly habits. Just nip that in the bud and get them separated.

    Personally, I don't have bantams, but that is quite a size difference in birds, they may or may not need to be separated. Others may chime in on that, but I think I would prep that other place just in case... or by the time the roosters are gone, you could put one of the flocks there.

    Mrs K

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