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Mixing hens and roosters

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by zeusyboy, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. zeusyboy

    zeusyboy In the Brooder

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    We have 3 roosters (all different breeds) and 21 hens (various breeds). The flock has just all been placed together and the pecking order is finally beginning to emerge. The question I have is about mixing hens with different roosters for hatching. There are certain breeds we would like to continue to raise, and also certain breeds we'd like to mix to sex-link the chicks. For example, our NH Red rooster has several hens who seem to be with him, but we'd like to mix some other hens with him to hatch sex-linked chicks. Also, we have some older easter eggers who we'd like to put with our new lavender splash roo, but they don't seem to be "his hens". Is it possible to mix them up and place them in a different coop/run when we're ready to breed or would it cause a lot of problems? Should we separate them now so that they won't be too mixed up when we get ready to breed. This is only our second year with chickens and we're not sure how to go about mixing up the pecking order for breeding. This past hatch, we just got the luck of the draw. Almost all hatched, but now we've got a better idea of the breeds we'd like for the future. Any advice on this subject would be appreciated!
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Southern Oregon
    [​IMG]

    Sounds like you're going to be setting up some breeding pens [​IMG]. How you do this just depends on you and how you want to manage your birds. Some folks run them all together, as you've got now, and pull out specific birds to breed when they're ready. One downside of this is the hens store sperm internally a good 2+ weeks, so you have to have her off the undesired rooster at least that long before you start collecting eggs to incubate. Not impossible at all, but it does require planning. You can't just pull eggs one day to put under a hen that went broody.

    Other folks keep the birds separate in breeding pens. I have this set up currently. One pen with a splash Ameraucana rooster, one with my mixed breed Eric. For the most part, the hens stay with each rooster all the time. I'm going to be doing some moving around due to an unprecedented number of hens going broody this year [​IMG], but usually they just stay with their guy.

    Myself, I don't obsess about pecking order. I've worked with animals all my life, they all have their hierarchy system. Horses, dogs, cats, goats, chickens, they all just sort things out on their own. Just be sure everyone has plenty of space, and maybe more than one feeder and you should be good.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. zeusyboy

    zeusyboy In the Brooder

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    I just had to reply. We have a lavender splash Ameraucana rooster (unnamed) and our NH rooster is named Eric. For a second when reading your post, I had to read twice to be sure I wasn't reading something I wrote! Too funny! But thanks for the advice. We may just pull some and place them in the breeding run. We built that one this year to put the chicks into before we mixed them with the flock. We figured we'd just use it when we decide to breed them. Over time, we may expand and build another one as well.

    Also, thank you for mentioning the 2+ weeks of fertility. I think my next question would have been just that - how long until I can be sure the other rooster's sperm is no longer fertilizing the hen's egg. We're very excited to start out! Good luck with your broodies! (ALL of our black australorps are broody this summer - all summer! None of the other breeds though.) Hopefully you want them to set?!? :)
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    That's so funny on the names [​IMG]

    I'm having a problem hatching, and I'm starting to wonder if some of it is due to the splash rooster. I've had lots more broodies than normal, but hatch rates have been in the toilet. So have incubator hatches. I just candled 24 eggs I set from his pen, on day 11 and 5 were clear and 2 look to be early quitters. One hen lays very distinctive shaped/colored eggs, and apparently she just doesn't like the rooster cause I've never got a fertile egg from her since setting this pen up. I'll try putting her in with Eric and do some trouble shooting....I've got a young splash Ameraucana coming up, he's just a baby still but will be ready to breed in the spring.
     
  5. zeusyboy

    zeusyboy In the Brooder

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    Apr 14, 2014
    I've been tempted to let some of the hens set on their own, but we switched roosters and they are too young right now. 75% of the hatch and the straight run chicks from local hatcheries were male so we decided to keep a few and get rid of the older boys. Plus some of our hens desperately needed a break. Now I wish we hadn't because 3 of our 4 australorp girls have been broody all summer.

    Hopefully the young splash rooster will give you some luck. We got one of those just to try to hatch with our easter eggers - they have been such sweet birds. The splash roosters are so pretty. Hope you get to see some little chicks soon!
     

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