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Rooster in the flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Parahawg, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Parahawg

    Parahawg New Egg

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    I have a Question about having a rooster with the flock ...?
    Im a bit confused as to were to keep the rooster !!!.
    Do I keep him separated from the hens,or are there specific times when he is going to fertilize my hens, will that make the eggs unedible...or does it even matter ...
    do I just keep them altogether all the time,,,and let him mount the girls all day, every day.
    Or will they not let him... until they are ready .. is there a certain time of year when this mating season occurs or Does it happen all the time .....
     
  2. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello! Welcome to byc!

    Make sure to check out the learning center- there is tons of good info there!

    Roosters can easily be kept with the flock, unless you are looking to do a specific breeding program. I let mine roam with the hens all the time. I keep roosters because they play an important role in my flock- they watch for and defend the hens from predators along with having fertile eggs for the next generation.

    A healthy rooster will mate and fertilize eggs most of the year, once they are sexually mature. Occasionally during extreme weather or times of stress a roo may be temporary infertile. Dur ring the coldest months some of my eggs were infertile.

    Fertile eggs are perfectly fine to eat! They won't start developing into baby chicks until a hen decides to sit on them for at least 3 days, or if they are incubated.

    As for mounting/mating- a good rooster will dance for the hens and let the hens decide to mate. A hen will squat to show she is willing. Some hens are particular and wont mate some roosters. A young, aggressive or virile rooster may over mate favorite hens, or all the hens if the balance is off. Generally you want at last 6-8 hens per rooster. If the hens are showing signs of over mating you can put aprons on them or separate the roo.

    Some breeds of roosters can be aggressive, and I have found in the past that roos that are overly babied as chicks generally will see people as competition and may attack. There are some ways to try and rehabilitate them, with varying degrees of success. I personally don't tolerate mean roosters. A good rooster isn't all that hard to find. They will call the hens to treats, gently mate, watch for predators, and are non- people aggressive.

    If you do keep more than one rooster make sure you have enough space and hens for each to have their own territory and little harem.

    Also roosters should not eat layer feed long term. It has too much calcium. Instead feed a grower or all flock and have oyster shell available free choice for the hens.
     
  3. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Let me preface this by saying....you do not need to have a rooster in your flock, and adding one is likely going to upset the pecking order amongst your hens for a little while. They don't make particularly great guardians ( though they do, sometimes, make great alarms to trouble).

    That being said, I love my roosters, they're full of personality. He can stay with the girls all the time (which is best, so there not constant change in the flock by taking him out and putting him back). He'll pretty much mate the girls all year round, with the exception of molting and maybe during the short winter daylight hours. As for whether they'll let him....that ones harder to answer. Some roos are gentlemen, not pushing themselves on the hens. Others are terrors, who will chase them down, pull feathers and make them submit. A rooster will not make your eggs inedible. Actually, most people can't tell an unfertile eggs from one that's fertile.
     
  4. Parahawg

    Parahawg New Egg

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    Thanks for the replys...
    I dont have hens yet,,, I have 13, day old chicks coming and I just want to be sure, as there will likely be a rooster in there.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    That's a different situation, did you order a straight run batch?

    The cockerels will mature before the pullets, and can cause much stress, chaos and even injury.
    You want to have a plan in place for what to do with the males as they grow and when they mature.
    A separate enclosure, or wire dogs crates, are a very good thing to have when raising chickens.
     
  6. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can keep a roo with the flock all the time or if you are using him for breeding then you can either separate him with a few hens that you want to breed or you can use a bachelor pad and keep him by himself if he gets too ruff with the girls. You can eat any eggs as long as they have not been incubated or are rotten.
     
  7. galefrances

    galefrances Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello,

    I'd like to jump in here with a question of my own. I've been raising hens for about 4 years now, never a rooster until now. Here's some background info: I have 3 hens left from the original flock of 12. Last spring I added 6 pullets. One turned out to be a roo, a beautiful speckled Sussex that my husband insisted on keeping. My first flock was a blessing. I never had any of the issues I saw people having and they all got along well. They were raised in a 80 sq. ft. Coop with a 200 sq. ft. Attached run and had access to a large paddock area with a huge elderberry bush for cover. Last spring I culled the original flock of 12 to 4 then I lost one to a predator which left 3 hens. I had added the 6 chicks last spring, had to cull one with a bad cross beak, one turned out to be the roo the remaining 4 pullets and 1 roo were integrated into the original 3 hens without a problem, or so I thought. I decided to free range the flock last fall. I figured they had the roo for protection and I truly feel it's the healthiest way to raise them. What I noticed is my flock isn't integrated at all. I essentially have two separate flocks. The roo hangs out all day with the 4 pullets (actually they're hens now) free ranging on nearly 2 acres. The 3 original hens stay in the run or paddock area, they never free range by their own choice. I've also noticed that the roo and new hens eat at one end of the trough and the older hens stay at the other end. I tried putting out 2 troughs, but that didn't work. You know how chickens are, they think the other guy has something better. It's obvious they don't particularly like each other, hence the two separate flocks. Now I thought the roo would have 7 hens, but it turns out he only mates with 4 and of those he prefers 2. That's the problem. The two he favors have feathers missing on their back. One especially is almost bald. I don't think he's being rough. I've noticed when he mounts them he has a problem keeping his balance. It's because he is so much larger than the two hens he favors. The other two are a bit larger. Here's my question:

    Should I try adding more pullets so the roo has the usual 8-10 ratio or would he most likely reject any new pullets? And, should I try putting an apron on the two that are losing their feathers or just keep an eye out.

    Also, is this pretty much normal behavior when integrating two groups with such a disparity in age? What is the suggested age difference if any? I'd appreciate any advice you could give me and any tips I should know about having a rooster. Thanks so much.
     
  8. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can add more pullets and see if that helps, and get chicken saddles for the two bare back hens.
     
  9. galefrances

    galefrances Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks.
     
  10. Monguire

    Monguire Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To the OP, you've received some GREAT tips from others. The only thing I can add is to emphasize @aart 's comment on same-age cockerels. Our first go-round with chooks saw us ordering 6 female day-olds. We ended up with 2 of 6 being cockerels. We let them both grow up with the girls, eventually adding 3 more pullets from a local farmer. The two cockerels were fairly peaceable with each other once they sorted out the hierarchy. There was definite harassment by the alpha to reinforce the status quo but it never turned vicious so we let the beta take his licks. He eventually got smart and gave the alpha a VERY wide berth to minimize lessons.

    Both cockerels treated the girls well from a food-calling, predator-lookout perspective but the mating was hard on the girls. There was VERY little dancing/wooing from either Alpha or Beta. Beta snuck in quickies anytime he thought Alpha wasn't looking often taking any/every opportunity to jump on the nearest pullet out of Alpha's watchful gaze. Alpha would often catch him in the act, interrupt and then chase Beta off...and then chase the pullet until she finally relented and submitted to Alpha's affections. It was a less than happy dynamic. When Alpha started human-stalking (never a direct confrontation, always from behind and then he'd run away when we turned to face him) I'd had enough and introduced both cockerels to the stock pot...but not until we'd put 7 eggs in the incubator.

    We hatched 3 pullet and 3 cockerels out of the 7 eggs. We kept one cockerel. Son-of-Alpha and his three hatch-mates had their own clique for about six months. The original old battleaxe hens took every opportunity to thump manners into his young skull anytime he even looked at them crosswise. He pretty much stayed tight with his three hatch-mates and as he matured, started forcing himself on them before they were really ready. After enough time of playing "top cock" in his own little harem he tried forcing the issue with some of the older ladies. That went very badly for him and after all his feathers grew back in he had matured into a very well-mannered young man having learned from the business-end of very cantankerous old biddies how to properly bust a move, drop wing-tips and dance like a fool to win the ladies permission. Eventually, as he took over the roosterly duties of the flock, the clique-iness subsided and they were all now one flock with him at the lead.

    I am thankful for the luck of the genetic-lottery that he is fertile, human-wary but not human-aggressive and very even-keeled as compared to his daddy. I am thankful for the cantankerous old biddies for teaching him to rooster the right way while he was still young and impressionable.


    To galefrances, most folks recommend introduction based on like-size versus like-age. As long as they are of like-size, they have a pretty good chance of fending for themselves in the brutal "negotiations" of the pecking order. That said, there is nothing wrong with introducing smaller/younger chooks to an existing flock if one has taken precautions to provide enough hidey-holes/escape routes/safe areas for the wee bairns to retreat to if things get out of hand. Observation is key.

    As chickens are VERY social critters, clique-iness is common in merged flocks. It is normal and could possibly disappear as time goes on and they forget that they haven't always been together.
     
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