Managing a rooster


8 Years
Sep 16, 2011
Hello All!

I never really intended to keep a rooster, but last year I hatched one and I love him so he has stayed. To-date I have had a pretty small flock of the one rooster and 4 hens and he has been a gentleman. This past month I started seeing signs of over mating with first one, then a second hen and by this time now 2 of my 4 hens look pretty terrible with missing feathers on their backs and necks. I bought two more POL pullets a few weeks ago that have left quarantine and are beginning to be introduced to the flock with limited success. First they were penned next to each other and now I'm giving them periods of time free-ranging together. The rooster actually seems to be the biggest aggressor to the new birds so today I have him penned away from the introductions.

All of this has gotten me to thinking that I really don't know the best way to manage this rooster. I like him and I do have a hen I would like to get some fertile eggs from with him (they are Ayam Cemanis) but I really don't like seeing my girls in rough shape because of him. Will 6 hens be enough to sate him? Should I get more? Should I be separating him from the girls for hours or days to give them a rest? I don't want him to become aggressive from separation as my joy in having him really stems from the fact that he's not a dick and is generally pretty sweet.

I would appreciate a download on any "Rooster Best Practices" to follow. I have plenty of room and pens and have always intended to get more chickens, but I am pregnant and due literally-any-day so had hoped to put off acquiring too much new livestock for a couple more months. 1 flock is easier to care for at this time than 2-3 separate ones because of needing to quarantine and integrate.

Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom!


lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
Hey Kelley! Congrats on your upcoming birth. May it be an easy and blessed time for you. Unfortunately, it's the rare flock with rooster, no matter how many hens, where at least some of the hens don't have bare backs. My roo had 24 hens, and his faves are pretty sorry looking in the back. You could keep him separated except for "date nights". That might help some. But don't expect your girls to be re-feathered until after their next molt. I don't know how the flock dynamics would look with the roo caged. Not my style.

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
13 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
Roosters are a crap shoot, some are just great, and some are just terrible, pretty much in spite of what you do in either case.

As to bareback hens: How do the hens act around him, do they follow him around? Are they terrified of him? I am a believer of making decisions based on the flock. A low tension flock is healthier, will have less disease and produce more eggs. If there is a lot of tension, hens hiding in the coop, then the rooster or any bullying hen should go. If you are unsure, pull him for a bit, see if the flock relaxes. If there is no tension, the hens are not panicked, happy, eating well, and laying eggs (always a good sign) then keep him.

I have come to this observation, bareback hens bother PEOPLE worse than they bother hens. Last year, my rooster was just a year old, and he had them all bareback very early in the summer. This year, early in the spring, I could see a ruffled stripe across their backs, but not until recently have the bare backs shown up. My hens follow him around, try and roost next to him, pretty much think he is grand.

While some people entirely blame the rooster, I have also seen the theory that some chickens have more brittle feathers, and they break off more easily that other chickens, which is why some chickens will look worse than others. If you take him out, the feathers will not grow back until they molt in late fall. At that time, the day is short, the hormones drop, and they will look beautiful, until the spring when the sap starts to rise.

I am a big advocate of setting up hideouts in your run. Just a pallet leaned up against a wall. Adding roosts to the run. Building a platform that birds can get under or on top. While this might make things look a bit more cluttered, it allows chickens to move out of sight or out of reach. It actually makes the space in the run more 3 dimensional, and your flock will be happier.

I am also an advocate, of keeping track of the the number of fertilized eggs you have as you cook. You can use that to represent the percentage of fertilized eggs of anything you wish to hatch. Currently I have 8 hens and a rooster. Often times on this site it is recommended to have 10. However, that is for fertility of the eggs, not bareback hens. Once I had a rooster who's technique was so good, that there was never a feather ruffled.

And a final warning, roosters cannot be trusted around small children. If a rooster is going to attack, he very often attacks the smaller of people, either a child or a smaller woman first. They have a lot of hormones and not a big brain, do be aware of him and children. Roosters have ruined the whole chicken experience for a lot of kids. My rooster is a pretty laid back darling, but I am always aware of him when the grandkids come with me to the coop. I talk to them about standing near the fence, away from the gate, until I get in and feed them, and see the attitude of the flock to many, quick moving, kind of loud children.

Best of luck with your new bundle, and I hope you enjoy this hobby for years to come.

Mrs K

Folly's place

11 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
All excellent advise! Right now many of my hens look scruffy, a combination of molting, and for some, the cock. I also think that feather quality is a genetic issue, and if possible, it's a culling point for hens in my flock. They can have a great life elsewhere, or just not produce chicks for me. With a tiny group of an unusual breed, you may have to ignore this aspect of selection, move forward, and see how future generations look. Mary


8 Years
Sep 16, 2011
Thanks for all the fantastic advice! It sounds like I don't really do anything, then. The hens love him... in fact when I kept him locked up today and put them in the yard with the new girls they wouldn't venture far from his door unless I bribed them with treats out into the yard. They roost with him every night and when they are free-ranging they stick pretty close to him. Their coop and run is large and has many nooks, crannies, and various heights to clamber up to so I feel they can get away when they want to/need to. It's just a shame that my poor little cream legbar looks so rough... she is usually such a beautiful little thing and now I feel like I need to hide her when we have company over lol!

The rooster only has a home with us as long as he remains a gentleman. If he starts going out of his way to go after kids he'll be sold or put in a pot, depending on if he has any value to anyone at that point. As is he has a large coop, pen, and an enormous fenced free-ranging yard to go about his business in so hopefully it never comes to that but I will certainly be wary!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom