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Question about rooster behaviour and bachelor pads

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Gypsy07, Nov 12, 2011.

  1. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've got a whole pile of roosters, old and young. Some are for breeding from, some are for eating. I was hoping to be able to put them all in one big bachelor pad over the winter, but the first time I put two in the one pen, they started tearing chunks out of each other. So I separated them and patched them both up, and put them in two separate runs. I actually have five roos in five separate runs just now, as well as two free range ones who roost in the big coop with my laying flock and one other free range one who basically lives outdoors and roosts in trees.

    The two free range ones who roost together get on fine, but they were hatched from the same batch of eggs and raised together.

    I have another old rooster in a run with about 15 hens and 7 young growers (2 pullets and 5 roos) and they all get on okay. Yesterday I went to check on them, and found that my free range outdoor roo (10 months old) had flown into the run (over a 7' fence) and had basically kicked the utter cr*p out of my old boy, who was dripping blood and looking rather cowed. I left them alone till dark then removed the young one, cleaned them both up and applied terramycin spray to all the wounds. Today the young one flew back into the run, but there's no more fighting going on.

    So the questions are, will all roos fight at first when put together in a bachelor pad? And do they only fight once, to establish the pecking order, or will they tend to fight continually. I'm really needing to be able to pen them all together for the winter, but obviously I can't do it if they're going to be constantly at each other's throats...

    I've got six adults and five growers, and I really can't be doing with making 11 separate pens...
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Genetics plays into this but if not games, some level of calm can be realized after pecking order is worked out. In case of holding roosters not of same flock together, more is better. This will make it so figh ranking birds have more targets for aggression decreasing odds one will be singled out. There will be a battle royal at first and likely nobody will feathered for show once dust settles. Keep hens well away to limit motivation for scrapping.
     
  3. giggleboxfarm

    giggleboxfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It really helped with mine to introduce them at dusk. I have about 5 right now in a bachelor pad. The ones I had introduced during the daylight hours had alot of fighting - bloody combs.
     
  4. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah, so the best thing to do would be to get the bachelor coop-and-run ready, then put them all into it at once? I did consider that and was wondering whether it would be a good idea or not. The birds are from different flocks but are all the same breed, Marsh Daisies. They're a mix of Leghorn, Hamburgh, Malay, OEG and Sicilian Buttercup, so they do have a fair bit of gamebird blood from way back, but they're generally a calm and non-troublesome breed.

    My own boys are well handled as youngsters and are polite around me. The adult males I've bought in are less tame and rather flighty.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:The tameness / flightiness does not seem to be a predictor of their fightiness so that will not be reliable guide as to who will be a problem.


    Adding all at once is a good idea and doing so at night is not bad advice although I would monitor situation the following dawn. In many instances, the birds will still fight as coming off roosts but it may be of shorter duration and most people do not watch their flock at that time.

    The game content should be low enough that it will not be a factor.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I think that's a question with no easy answer, certainly no perfect answer. With any chickens when you put them together, you are going to have to get them over two different things. It does not matter if they are all roosters, all hens, or mixed flocks. I don't know how I'd go about it in your circumstances. With roosters, if hens are involved, there would be an even bigger third problem, breeding master, so definitely try to keep the hens away.

    The first problem is pure integration. Chickens are territorial. If strange chickens show up on their territory, they might try to defend their territory. This does not always happen, but with the game in the background of your March Daisies, I'd think they might be pretty protective. This is where housing flocks side by side but protected from each other until they recognize that eash other has a right to be there helps so much. I did not even try to figure out how many different pens you'd need for this. I doubt it is practical for you.

    Then you have the issue of pecking order. They have to determine where each one stands socially in that flock. Sometimes it is more intimidation, but even with an all hen flock, it is sometimes pretty serious fighting. I tend to agree with Centrarchid. They have to determine where they stand in the flock, no matter when they are introduced. Having them wake up together may help, but I think the biggest advantage to the introduce them at night approach is that the human is not around to interfere when they wake up. This approach can lead to disaster or everything can go so smoothly you wonder what the worry was all about, just like any other approach.

    I don't know your physical set-up. I'd be tempted to look for a place that none of them are familair with so they won't be as territorial and throw them all in together at one time. I'd probably have a second pen for those that might need treatment next to the main pen. Give them time to heal and house them next to each other before I tried it again, if necessary.

    I haven't tried anything like this with so many different "flocks" or individuals to introduce at one time so I am doing some guessing. I would think some breeders go through something like this when breeding season is over, so maybe one of them will see this and chime in.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks guys, any and all of your thoughts and advice is very helpful to me at this stage.

    My current setup is this:

    One big coop for the laying flock (20 hens and 2 roos) with a small run attached, but they free range every day. The run definitely isn't big enough to keep them shut in for more than a day or so in an emergency, say, if there were foxes roaming the area. It's really just intended for them to potter about in for an hour or so every morning before I let them out for the day.

    One coop-and-run that I usually use for growers. The coop is a good sized shed and the run is 30' long, 10' wide at one end and 16' wide at the other. At the moment it houses 7 growers plus 14 adult hens (four different breeding groups) plus the one old roo I mentioned.

    One shed (with no run) that I use for rearing chicks. I have six 4-week-olds in it at the moment.

    I have four roos in temporary 'pens'; two in a greenhouse, one in a dog kennel, one in a small outdoor run. These are the roos from the four breeding groups of hens, and I really want to keep them away from the hens all winter, as the hens need some rest and time to regrow their damaged feathers. They were looking really run down when I got them, and I want them back in tip-top condition for next years's breeding season.

    Obviously I'm going to have to build a whole bunch of new coops and runs for my different breeding groups, and this is still in the planning stage. The grower's coop-and-run is a possible bachelor pad, as it's already there and it's a good size, but one problem I can see is that as my hens free range and roam about the farm as they like, it'll be hard to keep them away from this, or indeed any other bachelor pad that I build...

    The free ranging was another thing I was wondering about. When I'm not actually breeding from my birds, I'd prefer them all to free range. I already have three roos who free range together and get on fine. A while ago I had two roos with two separate flocks who free ranged the same area but kind of stayed out of each other's way. What is the likelihood of being able to do this with more groups of birds? If each group of birds had their own coop and run, would they most likely free range peacefully, or would the boys seek each other out to fight? I know there's no definite answer, so I'm just looking for other people's experiences and what the most likely outcomes would be...

    If I could possibly free range different flocks, I'd want to build each coop and run as far away from the others as possible, to give each group of birds maximum opportunity to carve out their own little piece of territory in the farmyard when it's out of breeding season and I don't need to keep them all shut in. But if they were almost certain to fight and not be able to free range together, I'd prefer to build all my breeding pens together, to make feeding and egg collecting quicker and easier. Then, out of breeding season I'd want to put my boys in a bachelor pad together and move my ladies to one big coop to free range together.

    Advice from other breeders about their set-up would be useful...
     

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