Question about Rooster preventing hens access to food or water

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Saukacre, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. Saukacre

    Saukacre Just Hatched

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    I have an Australorp Rooster and Hen that are 9 months old and 6 Barred Rock hens that are 6 months old. They have been in separate pens with hardware cloth between them so they could see each other for about three months. I tried to put them together and the first day the Rooster was patrolling and guarding the food and would not allow them access to the food. I put a separate feeder in the coop that evening. The next day the Rooster had backed them into a corner of the coop and would not allow them to access either feeder or the water. At that point I separated them again. Is this normal behavior for a Rooster? Did I try to put them together too soon? I thought he would be excited to have more girls. I expected some difficulty from the hen but, nothing like this from the Rooster. Do I wait a month, two months and try again? Should I wait until the Barred Rock hens start to lay before I try to put them together? Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Not normal for any of my roosters.

    I'd pull the rooster and let all the hens get to know each other for a few days, see how that works. Once the Rocks are established in the area, with the older hen, try putting the rooster back in and see how that goes.
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Your rooster is still immature. He needs a few months to mature and start to exhibit good rooster behaviors. I would keep him separated for a few months or so, somewhere where he can be seen and can interact through a fence. He should start to try to entice the hens near him as his free access to them gets remove. He will be forced to work for their attentions. I have had great luck turning rotten roosters into great roosters this way. They just need to grow up a bit.
     
  4. Saukacre

    Saukacre Just Hatched

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    Thank you, sounds like a good idea to keep him separate from the girls for awhile. It will give the older hen a rest from him too.
     
  5. Kev

    Kev Overrun With Chickens

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    The only acceptable reason for new girls to be backed into a corner is if they are not laying and the rooster has been trying repeatedly to force a breeding on them. Did he try to breed or court them with wing dancing or was he just aggressive- pecking at them and patrolling the feed?

    Good idea to separate only him, leave all the girls together. However I'd suggest if not in a hurry for fertile eggs and the set up is not crowded with all the girls in the same area, keep him separated for a month or more.

    It's because there is some stress for the hens to be all in the same area, even if they were right next to each other for a while. Just be a nice thing for them all to become extremely comfortable/well established with each other before adding extra nonsense from the rooster. It also gives the rooster time to mature if immaturity is his problem.

    Suggest getting rid of him entirely if he causes more problems like this after reintroduction and you don't need fertile eggs. Roosters simply are not necessary also there are plenty of good roosters that need a new home if you do need or just like having a rooster around.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Agrees.... immature cockerel (not called cockbird, or rooster, until one year of age) should be separated from females.
    He may, or may not, reform his behaviors.....getting rid of him may well make everyone happier.

    Pullets (not hens until one year) should be close to, or already, laying?

    Although they've 'seen' each other for months, once they are are sharing physical space and food/water...all bets are off.
    Multiple feed/water stations, places to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from aggressors can all help with integration.
    Oh, and the more space the better.....how big is your coop and run...pics?
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
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  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    Many of us have found that the sooner young birds are integrated into the flock, the better. Ideally, IMO it should start as soon as the chicks are off heat. Many others do so even sooner. When the pullets are reaching sexual maturity, that is IMO the worst time to integrate, as at that time they are considered to be more of a threat to the established pecking order. When they are still peeps, they get a cursory peck to remind them to mind their p's and q's. But when they are becoming sexually mature (have their clucking voice) the older birds are much more aggressive.

    Aart raises an important question. How big is your coop and run? To successfully integrate, you need more room than the generally recommended minimum of 4 s.f. in coop and 10 s.f. in run/bird. Multiple feeding stations helps, as does providing plenty of hiding and multiple level places especially in the run. If you free range at all, that is the perfect time for that first face to face. I like to have plenty of treats that I can scatter around when integrating younger birds. The old biddies can guard the feed bowl, but they can't guard a whole section of lawn that has lots of tasty stuff scattered around. They are too busy grabbing stuff (kind of like at a Pinata party) to worry about guarding a small area. When your birds are free ranging, the youngsters can have plenty of retreat space, and they can also join the periphery of the flock, and work their way in gradually.

    As for your cockrel: I have concerns about his temperament as a flock leader. A good roo will guard the youngsters, and he will not be aggressive towards them. In fact, he will likely step in if one of the biddies harasses the chicks. He will never breed the young pullets until they are close to POL. Granted, your cockrel is young yet. And he has not had any one to teach him proper roo manners. You might be able to do a bit with him by putting out the treats, and driving him away from them to allow the youngsters to eat first. Don't let him back to the treats until YOU say he can come back. This is accomplished by having a skinny stick about 4' long. You simply place yourself between him and the treats/youngsters, and any time he approaches, you chase him away. a light tap on the heiney with the stick with you following along, and he'll get the message. Roos are smarter than we give them credit for. When my roo is in pursuit of a low pecking order gal, All I have to do is verbally reprimand him. And he'll change direction, acting like the cat who just fell off the couch. "I meant to be going over here anyways!" Either way, I'd take him out of the picture: temporarily for at least a month, or permanently. Good roos are a dime a dozen, and you don't need one who is terrorizing your pullets.
     
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  8. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Some interesting feedback on your cockerel. You are dealing with tough age groups to integrate.

    Years ago, I was down to just one (mature) hen and a cockerel when I brought home two new (mature) hens. My original hen and the more dominant of the two new girls got into a sparring match. Because my cockerel had time with just the one hen for a while, they were quite bonded. He stepped in to break up the spar and put the new hen in her place. It was the one and only time those two girls got into it but the cockerel ensured that the one he bonded with was top hen (as she remains to this day).

    Your cockerel may be immature but that doesn't mean he'll be a bad rooster when he's matured. He has had 9 months to bond with the Australorp pullet and yes, is being territorial, most likely to protect her (IMO). I agree with both aart and lazy gardener, the more space you can provide to them the better and hiding spaces with multiple exits, plenty of feed and water stations and free range time together will help reduce all that tension. If you can also give them vertical escapes; plenty of roosts both inside coop and in their run will help as well.

    Integrating a single bird into a whole flock can be equally stressful though your older pullet has a slight age advantage. If all he's doing is guarding the feed and there are no attacks and/or bloodshed on the younger pullets, then I may reconsider removing the cockerel. Maybe wait until some of the younger pullets have actually begun laying before removing that barrier or add them in pairs to the Australorps as they begin if the other suggestions aren't helping.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    An other thought you might try: If the young birds have plenty of space, you might consider putting him with them and leaving his girl friend out of the mix, and see how he responds. If you try this, I'd suggest you take one of the young pullets and put it with the older pullet, placing both of them in an out of sight area, perhaps in a garage for a bit, if that's an option. Off the wall thinking, but sometimes crazy ideas actually work.
     
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  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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