New Rooster Problem

JWChickens

In the Brooder
Sep 20, 2020
3
14
13
I hope you all can help. I bought 10 hens to start my flock. Two buff orpingtons, two black sex links, two americauna, and four rhode island reds. We lost one buff orpington this spring to what we think was a raccoon. I have a completely enclosed run, but one of the buffs was dead with her neck pressed against the wire. She was cold, but still intact. Later this spring, a new chicken enthusiast's wife bought a straight run of chickens and got a few too many roosters, offering us one for free. I brought home a half grown rhode island red rooster. The problem, at least for me, is that he doesn't crow and is terrified of the hens. One or two of the hens is aggressive towards him and he runs into the coop to hide. We put him in his own small enclosure for a couple of weeks where everyone could see each other and interact, but while he is absolutely a treasure (acts really tame) when he is by himself, when placed among the hens, he gets pecked once or twice and runs in and hides in the coop. He has even been seen trying to get under a laying hen (which is a funny sight, let me tell you. It's hard to take this seriously when his head is jammed under a hen in the nest box). When we try to take care of the chickens, this timid rooster becomes Harry Houdini, running for the exit of the pen, as though his life depends on it.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to integrate him with the flock? Is it dangerous to leave him in there? Any help is appreciated. We don't want him to die from being too afraid to eat or drink, and he's actually bigger than the hens now (though he's still not fully mature, we think).
 

bobbi-j

Crossing the Road
Mar 15, 2010
14,852
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On the MN prairie.
First of all, you don’t have a rooster. You have an immature cockerel. Your hens are laying, so I’m guessing they are mature birds. This isn’t a bad thing, really. When he’s a bit older and full of hormones, those girls will keep him in line instead of him being aggressive with them, as sometimes happens when you have a cockerel in with pullets of the same age.

Unless they are pinning him down and drawing blood, I wouldn’t intervene. Do you have anything he can hide behind to get out of their line of vision? How big is your run (in feet by feet)? Can you put out two feeding and watering stations? Chicken society isn’t pretty, but they understand it better than we do. I think sometimes it’s harder on their humans to watch it happen than it is for them to experience it.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
Some information on what you have to work with could come in handy. Things like size and photos of your facilities. It's hard to make specific suggestions if we don't know what you are working with.

This sounds like a classic case of an immature cockerel and mature hens. Once he matures enough to act like a mature rooster he will take over as flock master, but for now he is terrified of those hens. If he invades their personal space they will probably beat him up, at least he thinks so. And he is likely correct.

My definition of a successful integration is that no one gets hurt. It sounds like you may be OK with that for now. When he matures some more he will try to take over. That may be a smooth transition, it may involve a lot of violence. You never know. When will he take over? No telling. I've had one as young as 5 months manage that, and interestingly it was a fairly smooth transition. I had one do that at 11 months and that one was one of my more violent. Most of mine manage around 7 months, and it's usually not that rough. I have a lot of room, I do think that helps.

Some of this will depend on his personality and how fast he matures. Some will depend on the personality of your hens, especially the dominant hen. Those hens play a part in flock dynamics.

One of the issues you are likely to have is at night. The hens probably won't let him sleep with them on the main roost, maybe not even in the coop. The bigger the coop the better. You may need to find a way to keep him safe at night until he matures enough to force his way into the coop.

You could have pretty much the same issues bringing an immature pullet into your flock. A single immature pullet could be behaving exactly the same way. The difference will be when he matures enough to try to take over. Then it may get exciting.

Good luck!
 

JWChickens

In the Brooder
Sep 20, 2020
3
14
13
You all brought up good points. My coop is probably about 12 sq ft with four perches (probably 2.5 feet by 5 feet), and the attached run is probably about 140 sq ft or so (about 12 feet by 10 feet...ish). My rooster was probably about 8 weeks or so when I brought him home, but honestly I haven't kept track of time. He mostly hides in one of the nest boxes (my hens use ONE nest box on the other end of the coop). My wife is concerned he isn't getting enough food or water. I've attached a couple of pictures. Sorry for the quality. Getting a good picture is hard.
 

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