Rehoming chickens: is it traumatizing??

lynseylou

In the Brooder
Jun 6, 2020
8
12
18
Hello all! I'm still fairly new to the site but have a question about rehoming chickens. Possibly long post ahead...

Flock history: I have two 1 year old Buff Orpington hens (angels from heaven,) two 23 week old cockerels (possible Black Copper Maran and some unknown handsome fellow,) two 17 week old cockerels (unknown but still handsome,) two 10 week old Barred Rocks (unknown sex still), and two 10 week old Buff Orpingtons (unknown sex still.)

I'm thinking I need to rehome a couple of my cockerels.

Here's the problem: I was expecting two of my "teenagers" to be hens but alas, they are not. I have four cockerels that are getting quite vocal (at every hour of daylight) and becoming more aggressive towards my 10 week olds. The hens are housed with the 10 week olds and allowed to free range when I am home. The cockerels are housed together with relatively no issues and allowed to free range with the hens when I'm home. I'm working from home today and decided to leave the yards open for the 10 week olds to explore at will. I've done supervised outings but they seem to want more and today was a perfect opportunity. The cockerels have been away from the yards for most of the day. I went out a little while ago to check on everything and one of the babies has a wound on the back of its neck. I brought it inside, cleaned it up, and placed in isolation to prevent cannibalism. I've seen the cockerels begin chasing the babies in the last two weeks and I suspect it mostly has to do with the possibility that a couple are cockerels as well. When the babies were smaller, the boys enjoyed hanging around their cage and yard and never showed aggression. But with the wound today, I can't chance that one of them will kill a baby (that is potentially a hen.) Add crowing nonstop to this equation and I'm coming to the realization that I need to rehome some chickens. I have a friend interested in my Maran (but she wants to rehome her current BO roo.) I want to keep one of my 17 week olds (because he's the most gentle.) And I have someone interested in the other two cockerels.

So now my question: How traumatizing will it be to remove these cockerels from each other and then drop them into a new place with new chickens? They are all very attached to one another and are literally never more than 8-10 feet apart. I know that the two potential homes have ladies waiting for them. My career is in animal behavior (primarily dogs, cats, etc.) and admittedly, I don't know much about chicken behaviors. But because of that, I can't help but feel awful for removing them from each other and from their home.

Any advice is appreciated! I am not opposed to keeping them until they are eating size but since I have folks interested in incorporating them into another flock, I thought they might like that better haha.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
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How traumatizing will it be to remove these cockerels from each other and then drop them into a new place with new chickens? They are all very attached to one another and are literally never more than 8-10 feet apart. I know that the two potential homes have ladies waiting for them. My career is in animal behavior (primarily dogs, cats, etc.) and admittedly, I don't know much about chicken behaviors. But because of that, I can't help but feel awful for removing them from each other and from their home.
They tend to get used to new things pretty quickly (a few days, maximum a week or two.) Yes, chickens recognize flock members and interact with them, but they don't seem much affected when one goes missing. The only reason they care when one is added is because they have to figure out the pecking order again.

They are a prey animal--they have to be able to cope when a predator eats a member of the flock. And if a predator eats all the rest of the flock, they need to be able to join a new flock. (That's if they were in the wild, which of course yours are not.)

I would not worry about traumatizing them by rehoming.

I am not opposed to keeping them until they are eating size
two 23 week old cockerels (possible Black Copper Maran and some unknown handsome fellow,) two 17 week old cockerels (unknown but still handsome,)
If they aren't eating size yet, they never will be. If you want to butcher them, just do it now.

since I have folks interested in incorporating them into another flock, I thought they might like that better haha.
I agree they would probably prefer to be rehomed.
If there's any reason a particular rooster should not be allowed to father chicks (mean to people, rough to hens, crossed beak, etc): I strongly urge butchering any such bird.
 

lynseylou

In the Brooder
Jun 6, 2020
8
12
18
Great info! I never considered the prey animal thing and having to adapt if someone went missing.

I guess a couple of my boys are just smaller birds then. Again, I don't know their exact breeds. They haven't been overly rough with my hens (as evidenced by the fact that they still run away when the girls tell them to,) are easily trained (which all my chickens have been exposed to training of some sort because it's what I do), and have good health. Overall, they have good dispositions but I think having four cockerels leads to some testosterone-influenced behaviors.
 

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