Restarting Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gachknmom, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. gachknmom

    gachknmom New Egg

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    I have been reading and learning from BYC for over a year. Last spring I purchased by first set of chickens I ordered 6 and ended up with 2 roosters. I lost my 4 hens to the neighbor's dog and now only have the 2 roo's (Barred Rock and Ameraucana). I am in the process of ordering chicks for the spring. My plan is to get about 18 chicks (hopefully I will get all pullets) and get another coop to split up the roos and the pullets once they are old enough (9 pullets in each coop with 1 rooster). My question is what is the best way to introduce the roosters to the pullets once they are old enough? Is the 9 to 1 ratio (pullets to roo) adequate? Thanks in advance for the advice!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I assume your management system will be that the two different flocks never mix, that you will permanently have two separate coops and runs for the two different flocks. They will not free range together.

    What I suggest is that you raise the pullets separate from the roosters until some of the pullets are laying. Don’t be in a hurry to mix them, give the pullets time to grow up a bit. Several of them need to be mature enough to be laying. Then select which pullets go with which rooster and put them together. What should happen is that the rooster immediately mates with some of the pullets to establish his dominance and claim them as his flock. The rooster will be very mature so the pullets should accept his dominance without much resistance. If they are the same age or the hens are more mature than the male that might not be the case. There could be some running away and chasing, then forcing, but it should go pretty smoothly. There could be some infighting between the pullets to set up the new pecking order since the old established pecking order has been destroyed by separating the pullets, but the rooster should break up any bad fights. The more room they have in the coop and run the smoother this should go.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. gachknmom

    gachknmom New Egg

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    Thanks Ridgerunner,

    I did not know that the two groups needed to remain separate. I assumed that they would be able to free range together without problems. Guess that is not a good idea. I have a large enough area that I can run a cross fence to keep the groups separated or just free range them on different days. My plan was to locate the new coop near the existing one.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I am not quite sure if that is what Ridgerunner meant, two separate flocks forever.

    Many people do run 2 roosters in a single flock of 18-20 hens. And roosters that have been raised together, generally, kind of, sort of, well maybe will live together and run the flock, with a top rooster, and a corporal. Sometimes roosters that have been without hens, in a bachelor pad then added to hens will fight, and can fight viciously even to death. They are establishing who will be the top rooster. Sometimes even if they are separated with a fence, they will fight through the fence.

    A lot of this will depend on what you really want, and some of it will have to be figured out through trial and error. If you want pure bred chicks, then of course you need to separate them. If you do not want to risk roosters fighting, then you need to separate them.

    Your original question, "is this a good ratio?" Yes, I think it is a good place to start.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You can let then free range together as long as you have sufficient space. That changes the dynamics though. I’d still keep the pullets separate from the roosters until several of the pullets are laying. When you put the two roosters with the pullets, the two roosters will probably fight to determine which is to be flock master. How bad will his fight be? Who knows, certainly not me. It may go so smoothly you never even notice. It may be a fight to the death especially if one gets injured or if space is tight.

    What will normally happen, especially if the two roosters were previously being housed together, is the two will face off and probably fight some, but one fairly quickly determines that they are better off running away instead of fighting. There will be some chasing and maybe a rematch or two, but they soon learn to get along. I’m going to keep mentioning space. It is important that the loser has enough room to run away and get away from the winner.

    Once they have determined who is boss, each rooster will probably collect his own harem. You won’t have any say in that, the hens will decide which rooster they want to go with. The winner does not always get the most hens either. And just because there are two harems don’t assume the hens will be fertilized by that rooster. Neither hens not roosters put much faith in marriage vows. There is often a lot of hanky panky going on. It is also possible some hens will not go with any specific rooster but will form an all-hen flock. Flock dynamics can be really complicated.

    The different flocks may at times mingle without any problems, but often the roosters keep their flocks well away from the other rooster. Here is that space thing again. If the two roosters are forced to stay in each other’s area because there is not enough room to get away, there is a greater chance of conflict and more fighting. They may be able to co-exist in a smaller area but your risks go up.

    The two roosters and the hens should be able to share one coop. It needs to be fair sized and don’t leave them locked in there for a long time after they wake up in the morning, but they will probably be OK together. You can try to have two separate coops and have each rooster use his own coop, but don’t be surprised if they don’t go along with your plan.

    If you want to control which rooster fertilizes specific hens, you can lock them together. It takes about three weeks or more for that rooster to be the for sure father of any chicks that hatch, so wait for at least three weeks before you collect any hatching eggs. When you combine the chickens again after separating the roosters, the two will probably fight again to reestablish which is flock master. People do that all the time and it generally works out OK, but there is another chance for one of them to get hurt.
     
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  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Ridgerunner is a very experienced poultier, and gives excellent advice.

    I too would emphasis space is crucial, and waiting till the pullets are laying.

    Mrs K
     
  7. gachknmom

    gachknmom New Egg

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    Thanks Ridgerunner and Mrs. K

    I didn't know chicken/rooster dynamics could be so complicated. I am going to keep the new pullets separate from the roosters until they after they start laying and get more mature. After watching the roosters in the yard today I think it might be a good idea to keep two separate flocks once I start to integrate the pullets. The Ameraucana rooster is very aggressive towards the BR. Whenever the BR is not looking the Ameraucana roo is on the attack--when the BR turns and face him they have a sort of stare off and the Ameraucana will walk away. I want as much peace as possible. I appreciate the advice it will be a long time before I will integrate the pullets at least now I have a better understanding of what to do and a good plan. THANKS!
     

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