Making a smooth rooster transition?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Morrigan, Sep 17, 2018.

  1. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

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    This is a follow on to an earlier thread about having a back-up rooster. https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/adding-a-second-or-back-up-rooster.1263122/

    The short version was that I planned on keeping one of my cockerels along with my 5 1/2 year old rooster, Duke, for at least one more year, provided they got along. I've come to the conclusion that keeping Duke is being driven more by my emotional attachment, rather than what is the best thing for my flock (I can explain why if it makes a difference). I now plan on replacing him altogether, and am looking for advice on the best way to make that transition. I have two decisions I could use help with.

    First, I currently have two 16 week old cockerels that I am trying to decide between. Would it be better to wait on making the choice until after I have removed Duke, to get a better sense of their personalities and which ones the hens might gravitate to? Or are they so young, that all I'm doing is ensuring chaos until they mature?

    Second, if it's better to choose the "winner" first, when should I actually put Duke down? At the same time as I cull the #2 cockerel, so that my winner stands alone? Or is it better to have a mature rooster around until the cockerel is bit more mature?

    Right now, every one is getting along. The cockerels have just started to crow and get interested in the ladies, but are not harassing hens or causing trouble yet. They seem to have worked out an alpha/beta role amongst themselves and both defer to Duke and older hens at the moment.

    I don't have the set up to create a bachelor pad.

    Thanks! I'm probably overthinking this.
     
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  2. Chickassan

    Chickassan Crossing the Road

    16 weeks, don't even ponder it yet. They are nowhere near mature enough for you to make a choice. Do you have a particular one you like better for any reason at all? If so keep that one but also keep Duke at least until your replacement is a year old so your elder fella can teach him. 5 and a half years is a whooole lot of experience to pass on. Before you choose between either boy even if you have a favoriate i'd wait until they are 6 months at least. They are still technically babies, so if you choose now you don't know what you're getting.:)
     
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  3. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

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    Thank you!

    I love the idea of waiting to decide. I'm having a tough time choosing the "winner" because they are both good looking birds. One is a majestically combed BCM, the other is a gorgeous English Orpington with blue/buff cockoo feathering. Neither has yet to give me any problems or reasons for concern. It's going to come down to temperament -- I won't tolerate human aggression -- and who is better with the hens. It's hard to evaluate that at this stage.

    My biggest concern with waiting is that they start to harass the hens. I've also read that sometime roosters can go, very quickly, from getting along great, to fighting to the death.
     
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  4. Chickassan

    Chickassan Crossing the Road

    Duke most likely won't let his hens be harassed, he's a tough old bird by now and they don't tolerate nonsense. As for if your young ones start to fight, until they grow their spurs it won't be that hard to stop them. Duke probably won't have much of that going on either. Just watch those boys, see who keeps an eye out, who gives the best food to the ladies and who the ladies seem to like. They choose the winner in the end. Agree totally on the human agression, a good rooster can't be fixated on something that isn't a threat namely you and yours. That takes away from the flock and defeats the whole darn purpose.:)
     
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  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    I think I am in this position too, I think I have a rooster chick, out of 5 chicks being raised in the flock. That is how I want it. He was hatched early August, so my plan if the stars line up, is to cull Captain Red next fall. This chick would be coming a year old, and that is about the age, that my roosters in the past, began to be worth something as a flock master.

    However, my chicken plans never go quite according to plan. If it doesn't work, I think I will cull the old boy, letting my hens continue the young cockerels education. I could separate them out of the flock if he and if any other of the chicks turn out to be male and get to be too much.

    But I am thinking that Captain Red, should be of help.

    Mrs K
     
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    What are your goals for having a male?

    I had to decide last year out of 3 Marans cockerels, hatched for my OE project.
    I chose for body type, the biggest one for meatier cockerels in the future.
    The other cockerels went to freezer camp at ~15wks,
    left the adult flock cock for another few weeks then he went to freezer camp with the oldest hens. Remaining hens took cockerel to school, it took awhile for him to find his place.

    It took some time to establish a good relationship with the one I chose,
    he was very leery of me and I of him. Much depends on how they are handled and interacted with by their human keepers, there are a lot of variables that can keep things calm or make them go disastrously sideways.

    It's very difficult to assess cock/erel behaviors when there are other males around,
    things can really change when you remove other males...the competitive environment created with multiple males in residence can bring out all their worst behaviors, as well as hide some via submission to dominant males.

    Just my thoughts and experience.
     
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  7. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

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    #1 is to have a source of fertile eggs for replacement hens. We also process and eat the cockerels every year. #2 is for good flock dynamics. Duke really excelled at the little things of showing where the nest boxes were, settling squabbles, etc. I'm going to miss Duke, but I feel he is no longer able to accomplish my #1 goal.

    Yeah, that's what I'm struggling with. I am worried that l I'm not going to have a good sense of what kind of roosters these cockerels might be until they are in a position of authority. I'm also not totally comfortable just leaving Duke around until my winner is fully mature. As he's aged, he'a gotten a little creaky and stiff. He's now terrible at the mating act and not setting a good example there, and don't want his final act to be fighting a young upstart rooster who senses some vulnerability.

    This is toughest decision I've had to make in my 5 + years of chicken keeping. A rooster is such a huge part of the flock, I have two such great options - two gorgeous cockerels from a breeder - it very hard to choose, plus all these emotions going on with letting go of Duke.

    And yes, I do tend to analyze thing to death. :rolleyes:
     
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  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Well don't worry too much, ten to one, something else will happen and make all that thought for naught. Always does to my chicken plans. Go with what you have, until you start to sense the tension, then decide.
     
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  9. slordaz

    slordaz Songster

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    I lucked out with my first flock I gave the lone cockerel away and kept the 29 pullets they hatched out the first year, and the ones we hatch out here now i'm not keeping do to room issue, but they are going out to my friends farm, but will go out there with human interaction and a bit of training from my flock, my rooster is 2 and I am more scared of my hens than I am of him, but we are also on the edge of town and they free range in a fenced yard, out on the farm the roosters will have a lot more to deal with predator wise if they are allowed to free range unsupervised. A lot depends on your goals and set up, and what they have to deal with but my rule of thumb here is if they are aggressive they go to freezer camp as I don't need one that is aggressive. Watch how your hens interact with the cockrels they will give you a good indicator of a successor that is acceptable to them. happy hens = more eggs
     
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  10. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

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    That does often seem to be the case. I was agonizing over culling my older hens last year when a bobcat did the job for me.
     

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