Oh BOY........ am I gonna be in trouble?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by justacouplemorechicks, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. justacouplemorechicks

    justacouplemorechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have five, 9 week old chicks..... Looks like I have 3 roos and 2 hens. I've had them since they were a week old. [​IMG]

    This roo/hen combo is not gonna work, is it? My buff orpington roo is ruling the roost right now. He is dominant over everyone else including the RIR roo and the BR roo. Should I try to put the RIR and BR roos in their own coop? Will those two live together okay with no hens? I have a small back yard so no matter what they will be seeing the hens in another coop.[​IMG]

    Is two hens gonna be enough to keep one roo happy? What to do, what to do???

    I know what I want..... more [​IMG] and a nice handy man to build me some coops.
    I don't know where to find either![​IMG]
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I suggest you read this thread. I think it debunks a lot of the myths you see on this forum.

    Breeders managing roosters
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=250327

    I have five, 9 week old chicks..... Looks like I have 3 roos and 2 hens. I've had them since they were a week old. [​IMG]

    This roo/hen combo is not gonna work, is it?


    Probably not. They are living animals and anything can happen, but in spite of that thread above, you will probably have problems, especially during their adolescent phase.

    Should I try to put the RIR and BR roos in their own coop? Will those two live together okay with no hens? I have a small back yard so no matter what they will be seeing the hens in another coop.

    Many people keep bachelor pens, often in sight of the hens. They usually work out pretty well, but again they are living animals.

    Is two hens gonna be enough to keep one roo happy? What to do, what to do???

    Again, read that thread. If you can get through the adolescent phase, you may be OK, but there are no guarantees. One option, if one rooster is too rough on them, is to try a different one with them. Or maybe keep all three in the bachelor pen, either until they mature and you try one or maybe permanently. The only reason you need a rooster with the hens is if you want fertile eggs. Anything other than that is just personal preference. Different ones of us successfully do it different ways.
     
  3. justacouplemorechicks

    justacouplemorechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ridgerunner, thanks for the link to that thread. Hope you don't mind, but I have a couple more questions about a few things you said....

    Probably not. They are living animals and anything can happen, but in spite of that thread above, you will probably have problems, especially during their adolescent phase.

    What or when exactly is the adolescent age? Do hens and roos both go thru it?

    Many people keep bachelor pens, often in sight of the hens. One option, if one rooster is too rough on them, is to try a different one with them. Or maybe keep all three in the bachelor pen, either until they mature and you try one or maybe permanently.

    I think this is the direction I will go. Kind of what I had in mind. At the moment they all are fine. Henry, my buff orp roo makes them toe the line. I think I will start working on another pen. Also had thought about building 2 more pens and then giving each roo his own coop and adding a couple of girls for each of them. If I divide everyone, will they still be able to free range together, for short periods of time? Or will I have to free range them independently from each group?

    The only reason you need a rooster with the hens is if you want fertile eggs.

    I fell in [​IMG] with ALL my chicks the moment I brought them home. I could never ever part with any of them. I hoped and prayed for hens, but you see how that worked out. So now, I want to make life easy for all of my babies.[​IMG]
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    What or when exactly is the adolescent age? Do hens and roos both go thru it?

    Different chickens mature at different rates. Both male and female go through it. I've had roosters start at 13 weeks, though some wait until they are closer to 20 weeks to start. Pullets usually don't start until they are ready to lay. That is just starting. When is it over? I wish I had a good answer.

    I've seen a 15 week old rooster accepted by mature hens and exhibit several of the behaviors of a mature rooster. That is extremely rare. Usually it takes a whole lot longer. Some continue to show adolescent behavior until they are close to a year old. It can be complicated too if you have more than one rooster. One will be dominant. Sometimes it is hard to tell if the other's behavior is adolescent of just non-dominant behavior.

    An adolescent rooster is usually very energetic, especially about keeping all eggs fertilized. But he is also growing and can be clumsy, much like some teenage boys in a growth spurt. He has not yet matured enough to calm down a bit and has not developed the proper mating technique. Also a mature rooster knows he has responsibilities other than fertilizing the eggs. He is a flock protector, always looking out for predators, especially hawks. He puts himself between his flock and danger. He may protect young chicks being raised by a broody if the broody messes up, which happens. I've seen that, even from a fairly young rooster. He finds food for the hens, calls them over, and lets them eat first. He breaks up fights between the hens and even other non-dominant roosters.

    Until a pullet is sexually mature to the point she is about ready to lay eggs, she is going to resist any rooster. Sometimes the rooster thinks she is sexually ready but she does not think so. So a rooster may force himself on her. Since a rooster is normally bigger and stronger than the hen, it can get pretty rough. Even after she starts laying a pullet may still resist any rooster's advances. Egg laying does not automatically turn on and fine tune all her instincts. She has to mature enough to do her part properly, just like a rooster.

    This is greatly complicated by the fact that a rooster has to dominate the hen by his personality for her to willingly submit. It is not just a physical maturity. It is not at all unusual for mature hens to be extremely brutal to an immature rooster, even if he is big enough to physically dominate them. They dominate him by their mature personality and certainly will not willingly submit. So relative maturity between pullets and roosters the same age comes into play. Sometimes the pullets are too immature to accept any rooster's advances, even if they are laying. And sometimes they mature faster than a rooster the same age and will not accept Junior's advances.

    I can make it even more complicated. A mature hen looks more at a rooster's behaviors as flock protector and food finder when determining if they will willingly submit while a less mature hen is more swayed by his magnificent appearance. So the pullet's maturity comes into play here.

    If I divide everyone, will they still be able to free range together, for short periods of time? Or will I have to free range them independently from each group?

    It is going to depend some on their personalities and how they are housed. What I would expect is that when the roosters meet with the hens present, they will probably fight. It is not absolutely certain this will happen if you regularly let them roam together and they can see each other, but I'd be really worried about this. Personally, I'd free range them separately, but you can try it to see how it works out. Just be ready to intervene if necessary.
     
  5. Sooner

    Sooner My kids Mom!

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    Quote:I had a bachelor pen at one time, it was a large pen with 3 roo's in it. They were fine for months & months, no problem at all. Then one day it rained & the two lower roo's had an all out war, thought the looser was going to die. I was able to heal him but he was never able to return to the pen. Just my experiance so if you decide to go that route know that you need to have a back up plan.

    I couldn't free range them at the same time either. I have seveal pens now & can't free range any of them at the same time since they each have a roo.
     
  6. justacouplemorechicks

    justacouplemorechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you to RIDGERUNNER & SOONER. [​IMG]

    All of your advice and information is so very helpful!!

    I remember my great aunts having chickens when I was very young. Was it this complicated to raise chickens back then?
    Probably not. I think they just got a couple chickens, put them in the barn and let nature take it's course. I was flogged by a
    rooster and later a peacock when I was young, maybe 3 yrs old. For years I was terrified of chickens. When I was about 9 my
    great aunt sent me out to get the eggs by MYSELF. Usually she went with me and would move the hens to get eggs from under
    them. Well I remember walking in and every hen was sitting on a nest. I came back to the house empty handed and said there
    were no eggs. She knew better and took me back to the hen house and stuck my hand under every chicken in there. I was pecked
    and bleeding, but I was forced to get every egg.

    That was 30 yrs ago!! So, this is kind of one of those "overcoming my fear" deals.
    I have really been working with all of my chicks to get them to socialize with me and I catch and hold each of them at least once a day.
    I also let my children hold them and play with them. They love to chase my 3 year old around the yard pecking at her hot pink toenails.
    She thinks it is hilarious! I want them to be pets and good-natured with each other and us.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't think it is all that complicated. To a very large extent, I just let mine go and let them work it out. But I do enjoy watching them and reading a bit about their behavior.

    When your great aunt had chickens, they were not pets, they were livestock. They probably had a lot of room and there were probably very few roosters compared to the number of hens. Any extra roosters were probably eaten before they got too old. That's the way it was when I was growing up. Your present situation is a lot different. You really can't compare the two.
     
  8. Pele

    Pele Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You've gotten a good start, and good advice here. There are a lot of people on the forums, and breeders, who keep a bachelor pen for their roos. The main issue with the bachelor pen is that chicks raised together usually get along, but if you try to add a newcomer, usually things get bloody (depends on the birds of course).

    The only thing you can do is give them the ideal environment with what you have. If they're determined to fight, there's not much you can do but stewpot the aggressor.

    As far as the hens vs roos ratio, 2 hens is probably too few. You'll end up with stressed out hens missing feathers from too many matings. A safer ratio is a roo to 10 hens. Although, if you have a super dominant roo, and a super submissive roo, you can have them together with your hens, because the submissive one will not be allowed to bother them.

    I hope that makes sense!
     
  9. rarely bored

    rarely bored Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Excellent information here!! Thank you Ridgerunner! You answered some of my question too.
     
  10. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    My bachelor roosters do well together in their coop because they were raised together. They are not allowed to freerange with the hens and their lucky roo who gets all the action. That alpha roo used to get along with those bachelor roosters when they were young, but now he sees them as a threat to his hens and a fight will break out.
     

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