Picking a cockerel to keep?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lpyrbby, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Songster

    I currently have 4 3-month old birds, with plans to add more shortly, as soon as this @#$^ coop is finished. One, I *knew* was a cockerel at purchase. The 2nd took a few weeks to come out of the closet. I don't mind having a roo in the herd, but I'm not sure I can maintain enough hens for the both of them right now. I'm considering re-homing one.

    The BLRW (he may actually be splash, but it's not really relevant) is generally aloof. He keeps his distance from me and isn't really interested in interaction. He doesn't run, but isn't doing any posturing or challenging at this time. His name is Wyatt. He's the largest of the 4 birds right now too.

    The Speckled Sussex (Ringo) is an adventurer. He regularly wanders away from the others to check things out. He's also not interested in being touched, but is NOT afraid of me when it comes to meal worms, oats, and other potentially valuable treats. Even Wyatt doesn't crowd, despite how interested he is in them. Ringo tends to crowd the door when I'm tossing in treats in the morning (they're in a small 6x3x2 pen right now until aforementioned coop is finished). He's over-exuberant about the treats and gets plenty of flesh if I hand feed. This behavior doesn't really surprise me. Even Nona, the dark brahma, will pinch some skin when hand feeding. Ringo checks in on us when they're out for supervised time out. I feel like he's looking for goodies, but I could be wrong.

    I've been leaning towards sending Ringo off, since I feel he's going to try challenging me in the future. But today, while outside, he actually gave a call to alert the others about goodies. They all came running at his call excitedly. I was kinda proud. Wyatt, well...he's practiced crowing and doesn't appear to be an @$$ right now, but I haven't noticed him being incredibly attentive to the ladies.

    Currently, Ringo is not the top bird. Wyatt is that bird. I can foresee Ringo and Wyatt battling it out at maturity. While Wyatt is the top right now, it feels like Ringo is going to be that roo that will come into maturity and battle as long as it takes. When I come home from work and get the dogs out before letting the chickens out, I've seen Wyatt and Ringo chasing each other around the pen and squaring off at one another. Wyatt is doing most of the chasing. Ringo stands his ground longer and longer but eventually relents, just to go into chase again. When they are out of the pen, they don't really bother one another. Ringo goes adventuring and checks things out. They're often seen side by side, searching for things. Then again, that could just be "opportunity" especially after the small toad incident today (Ringo found the toad, kept running off with it, trying to dine on the prize, Wyatt finally stole it, then in a fit of possession, swallowed the **** thing whole!)

    Are there any things that you noticed about your young birds that gave you signs to how they would be as adults? Is Ringo giving me signs about his temperament now, or is it fairly typical teenager behavior? These are my first chickens and I've never had rooster experience.
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  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I personally like to wait a bit longer before making my final choices in rooster, for now both sound like they have potential. If it becomes a problem to have two you can remove one to a separation pen, than swap them out until you decide which is better. Sometimes what appears to be a good rooster changes when the competition is removed.

    I like a rooster who gives me a respectable distance, especially at that age, as well as giving me his back and moving off when they see me, all are a sign of respect, coming forward towards me isn't, so watch for challenging posturing and never give your back while they are facing you, stand square and move with confidence around them.

    When I approach any of my roosters they turn and move off a bit and often flap their wing which I see they do when a dominant rooster comes near them, I believe isn't a sign of submission. I am only careful during that teenager faze, all my mature roosters I don't even think twice about anymore. They are smart enough to know I'm not a chicken.
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Trust your instincts.

    I had three cockerels last summer, and early on I could tell which would be a good one to keep because he quit wanting to interact with me, except for accepting treats, he kept his distance, and he immediately got out of my way as I approached.

    The real deciding factor was the way each cockerel mated with the hens. The one I ended up keeping was very smooth and precise whereas the other two were more like ICBMs launching at a target, making contact, then blowing things up.
  4. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Songster

    Thank you both :)

    Is it mainly just respecting space? Is it common for a roo to be more adventurous, wandering away from the flock?
  5. I never buddy up to my roosters.
    My Rooster last year was pure mean. He attacked me daily.
    Speckled sussex are known to be a calmer rooster.
    This year I am trying a Danish brown Leghorn.
    When they are little its too hard to predict how they will act once mature.

  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    A submissive rooster will often hang by himself if there's a dominant rooster in order to avoid conflict, but will always be ready to hook up with wandering hens. My third in dominance does this, than he escorts the ladies around the yard until the older rooster sees what's going on and comes running. He than bows out and gives distance to the group.

    It does boil down to a submissive rooster giving a dominant member space, whether you or another chicken. That's why overly friendly roosters often become aggressive because of the mixed signals it presents to the rooster.

    When giving treats, I toss them on the ground and than the rooster should call everyone over. I personally would never hand the rooster food because depending on his intelligence he could see it as me being dominant, or as me being submissive because dominant members will often take food from submissive members. So I avoid the situation and let the rooster take his credit for finding stuff.
  7. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Songster

    Poor Ringo found another vittle today and Wyatt stole it from him again. He's good at finding the goodies and doesn't seem to mind telling about them, but he's also the one that's "less afraid" of me. Wyatt, on the other hand, keeps his distance. When they were out today, I paid more attention to how they responded around me. They both readily move when I come towards them, but sometimes I do feel that Ringo is sneaking behind. He's not pecking, but he *is* watching.

    Right now, I'm going to see what I can do to keep the both of them once maturity comes around. My current coop/run that we're building can reasonably house about 12 birds. That would only allow 5 per roo and I just don't feel that's sufficient. I'd like 10 per roo. I'm going to keep looking for some ideas on another coop/run to try that's cheap so we can make this work. And if either of them don't work out, I don't mind getting another roo.

    Thanks again for the replies :) I'd love to hear more opinions too, if anyone has anything additional to offer.
  8. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Songster

    A couple of months later now, and I'd like to throw out an update.

    I still have both boys. I acquired 8 more ladies, about a month older than the boys. They've been moved into the hoop house and I made an expansion to their space with dog kennel panels so I could work on introducing the 2 flocks. Integration has gone well, mostly. Now that they've been interacting regularly for a little over a week, I've been able to make some additional observations.

    Ringo still knows that I'm the treat giver. He will come roost on my arms or leg occasionally. He has taken a curious peck at my eye but I do think it was curiosity and not malicious. By the time we got to introducing the new flock to the old flock, Ringo seemed to have a better handle on dealing with the ladies. He was a little rough and awkward at first, but he's gotten better and will dance for the ladies. Sometimes. There are still some rapings happening.

    The first day we opened the pens to introduce birds, Wyatt hung back with the other two birds from the original flock while Ringo went to bat with the ladies and asserted himself. Wyatt has been mostly hanging back but now his hormones are starting to kick up and he's been trying to participate in rapings. I've also seen him just straight up peck the ladies hard and in the center of their backs or on their heads and not try to mount. It looks like he's trying to practice on one of the ladies from the original flock who just started squatting and is more docile. I've seen him try to dance one day, but now he's back to just trying to hop up on an unsuspecting hen. That being said, the majority of the ladies give him wide berth. Nona and Reba (the two they grew up with) seek out Wyatt for protection when Ringo is off doing other things.

    Wyatt is still aloof. And he's huge in comparison to the other birds. He and Ringo spar occasionally, but I don't usually see it. I just see the marks on their combs when I'm out with them. Tonight, Wyatt launched himself at Ringo and Ringo relented fairly easily and came and "hid" in the area behind my chair. A few of the ladies joined him. Wyatt then wandered around the run looking for a willing lady or food or someone to harass.

    Neither of the two have challenged me yet. I'm leaning more towards sending Wyatt on his way. I don't have another pen/coop to keep either of them separated in long term. I'm also trying to get an idea for how the girls feel for the boys. Will their preferences be obvious? Because it kinda seems like they prefer Ringo at this point. Maybe it's just because Wyatt hasn't figured out gentlemanly behavior yet. Maybe it's just because I really do like Ringo a lot.



    Ringo and some of his ladies behind me after Wyatt launched at him.

    And just a little sampling of why I like this bird so much.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Keep the one you like best, but I'd get rid of one soon, the competition can increase aggressive behavior.
    I advise against letting him sit on you, hand feeding is OK.....
    ...but familiarity can breed contempt, he's still young and should learn to mostly stay away from you.
    Just MO.

  10. lpyrbby

    lpyrbby Songster

    Husband and I discussed the birds some tonight, mainly because Wyatt and Ringo must have had enough of a battle not to harm one another, but hurt Ringo's feelings enough for him to segregate himself. I just don't like Wyatt so if one goes, it'll be him. We aren't at all ready to process a bird, so I'll give it a little while longer and see if something in the dynamic changes. Wyatt is still rough and rude with the girls but he may still be getting it. He's doing the dance now, but only after he rapes his subject.

    I know it's hard to convey via text, especially since finding the correct words can be a problem for me lol, but I am trying to remain aware that Ringo may start displaying behavior that makes him a no-go too. I won't keep a rooster that flogs me. I will NOT.

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