Rooster problems....overly mating, rough on certain hens.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kidhenduckohmy, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have three roosters. Buff Orpington, Blue Orpington, and Ameracauna. I have 30 hens. About a week ago, one of my hens sides was ripped open. We figured it was from the rooster. I looked at all the spurs and none of them are over a half an inch. Checking over the rest of the flock, I noticed 5 more hens with broken feathers, and wear spots. Also a Buff orpington with a scratch on her side. So I separated all these hens from the rest of the flock to give them time to heal and rest.
    One evening while raking, I heard my son screaming. All THREE roosters surrounded my five year old son. They were jumping up at him and trying to attack. Good thing I had the rake. I never thought roosters would work together, is this a common thing?
    My Buff Orpington rooster attacked my five year old the next day. He snuck outside one evening, just to come running in crying saying the chicken hurt him. He had scratches on his back.
    The Buff orpington is going to get the axe today as he seems to be the most aggressive. But I do worry about the behavior of the other two also. The other two have not yet, singly attacked my son. But all three were there the day they were attacking together. I only saw the orpingtons jump at my son, but the Ameracauna was there too. Is this normal, for them to work together?
    Also last night we thought we were going to loose a hen. My daughter brought a sex link hen in, her eyes were closed, my daughter said she was just laying on the ground. We could see no wounds. So I had my daughter bring her in the house in the dog kennel. Today she seems alert. My daughter said the roosters were all mating with her and she was crying. What the heck!? Is this normal behavior? It seems they just mate with a few hens.
    So now, in the next hour, we will be down to two roosters. Chicken soup for supper tomorrow. But will this solve my problem? It will be a 1 to 15 ratio. Should I separate the roosters until mating time? I do want to hatch eggs. I have a separate area that was intended for injured or mama hens. The coop part is 2x8 the covered run 5x10. Could I safely keep two roosters in that area? Or should I see if with the most aggressive rooster gone, if things calm down?

    Never thought roosters would be such a pain!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I recommend never keeping a free range rooster because of what you have seen. I wouldn't keep any of them at this point, they all have attacked your child, so they shown a willingness to do so. Keep only hens until your kids are older and can handle themselves, or keep your roosters penned up as you mentioned and put hens in with them temporarily, it's not worth it the risk, hopefully your son is okay.
     
  3. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will do more research on how to keep two roosters locked up without them killing each other.
    My son is doing good, just a few scratches on his back. He is scared to go outside though, which makes me mad. The one rooster is now in my fridge. When my son saw the rooster, he asked me why dad killed it. I told him it was the mean rooster and now it will not hurt him anymore. I asked him if he would like to eat the rooster, and he smiled and said yes.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I have kept two roosters penned together, sometimes it works other times they fight, you won't know until you try. Roosters have been known to go for children's eyes, so definitely keep them apart. I don't eat meat but that rooster I might. Good roosters will never do that, though I know sometimes children will trigger attacks because of the way they move and scream, perhaps they remind roosters of a predator. I was terrorized by roosters as a kid, now I don't put up with that behavior.
     
  5. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So far the two roosters are doing good penned up together. My hens seem happy too! I am going to just keep them in the sectioned off part and keep a close eye on them.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Let that one sit in the fridge for at least 48-72 hours before cooking, for the rigor mortis to pass....you'll enjoy it more, won't be as tough.

    How old are these birds?
    How long have you had them?
    Their toenails can cause injuries too, not just the spurs.
     
  7. Kidhenduckohmy

    Kidhenduckohmy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The orpingtons will/would have been one midsummer. The Ameracauna will be one early summer. I got them all as chicks. The meanest one, Buddy, was played with the most. He was held a lot and he was not afraid. He was pecking at me before he crowed. Nothing too bad, usually just once. It has progressively gotten worse over the winter. The blue orpington has never shown aggression to me, just my son. And the Ameracauna is the most timid of all.

    I have wondered about their toes too. And my one blue Orpington is HUGE! So I was wondering if his size contributed to my hens injuries? I am thinking after I breed a few times and get some chicks, I will keep my best looking blue orpington rooster and cull the one I have now. I just want to get some chick's from him first.

    Currently, my plan is to keep the roosters locked up away from the rest of the flock and not running in my yard. They can see the hens and can sleep next to them, with wire in between, but will not be able to mate. When it's time for chicks I will put them together briefly. I will see how it goes.

    Wish I would have read this before I put him in the crock pot. :( I was wondering why his legs were stiff, not like in the store. Well, I hope because hes going to be soup he will still be good.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Oops... yep, that's rigor......meat will be probably be very tough no matter how long you cook it, but stock should be tasty.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    In a crock pot he should be fine. Just give him some extra time. Save the liquid and use that as broth.

    I’ll copy something at the end of this that may give you a little insight into what is going on with them mating. I wrote it for another post but a lot of it might apply to you or help you.

    You were right to look at their legs and feet. If you compare the number, size, and sharpness of the spurs with the number, size, and sharpness of the claws you can easily see where the damage is coming from. Spurs are dangerous weapons once they grow, but roosters use the claws to hold on.

    Roosters will often work together to protect the flock. That’s not all that unusual. Young children are especially vulnerable. Not only are their eyes fairly close to the ground, chickens seem to instinctively go for the head when they attack. That’s where they can do the most damage and even kill smaller predators or each other. Children often provoke an attack, chasing hens or with their actions appear to be a threat. Young children can’t protect themselves or impose their will on a rooster.

    Like many people for thousands of years I was raised on a farm with a free ranging flock of chickens, including roosters. My siblings and I never had a problem, even at a pretty young age but there were some differences with you. We did not play in the areas where the chickens were. We did have chores in the area where they were but we went about our business, did not play with them or chase them. They were certainly not pets, pretty much raised by broody hens and never held or cuddled. A few times Dad brought home a few hatchery chicks which were raised in a brooder on the back porch and turned loose with the flock at three or four weeks. Regardless of what you read on here, those chicks did fine with several acres to range. Those roosters had, except for the hatchery chicks, come from generations where any rooster that showed human aggression was eaten, not allowed to reproduce.

    Most of us don’t raise roosters like that. I support you keeping your children separated from the flock until they are of an age to take care of themselves.

    I don’t know how those other two will behave around your son. Were they following the lead of the other rooster or now will they attack him on sight? Personally I would not take the chance. I’d either keep them penned up so they are separated or get rid of them and start with new ones. If you get on your state thread in the “Where am I! Where are you” section you might find someone close by with what you want.

    I know this is a long post, hopefully you are reading it on a computer instead of a small device, but I’ll go through this. It takes about 25 hours for an egg to go through the hen’s internal egg making factory. That egg can only be fertilized during the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Friday, Friday’s egg will not be fertile. Saturdays; egg might or might not be fertile, don’t count on it. Sunday’s egg will be fertile. After a mating a hen normally lays fertile eggs for about two weeks. Some stay fertile for over three but don’t count on it.

    Now that other post.

    Typical mating behavior between mature consenting adults.

    The rooster dances for a specific hen. He lowers one wing and sort of circles her. This signals his intent.

    The hen squats. This gets her body onto the ground so the rooster’s weight goes into the ground through her entire body and not just her legs. That way she can support a much heavier rooster without hurting her legs.

    The rooster hops on and grabs the back of her head. The head grab helps him get in the right position to hit the target and helps him to keep his balance, but its major purpose is to tell the hen to raise her tail out of the way to expose the target. A mating will not be successful if she does not raise her tail and expose the target. The head grab is necessary.

    The rooster touches vents and hops off. This may be over in the blink of an eye or it may take a few seconds. But when this is over the rooster’s part is done.

    The hen then stands up, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake gets the sperm into a special container inside the hen near where the egg starts its internal journey through her internal egg making factory.

    With five month olds you are not dealing with consenting adults. You are dealing with adolescents that have no control over their hormones. The cockerels normally mature earlier than the pullets and are being driven mad by their hormones. The pullets have no idea what is going on so they certainly are not going to cooperate.

    At that age most of this is not about sex either. The mating ritual is about dominance. The one on bottom is accepting the dominance of the one on top, either willingly or by force. It’s not about pecking order either, but total flock dominance. The cockerel’s hormones are screaming at it to dominate the pullets but the pullets are not ready for that. It takes both to do their part, pullets as well as cockerel.

    To do his job as flock master, the cockerel has to be the dominant chicken. How can he keep peace in his flock if he can’t break up a fight without the others beating the crap out of him? What good does it do to warn of danger if no one listens? How can he fertilize the eggs if they don’t cooperate? A cockerel is usually bigger and stronger than the pullets. If they don’t cooperate willingly he is going to force them. That’s part of his job, to be the dominant chicken.

    Part of being the dominant chicken is that he has to act like a mature adult. He needs to dance for the ladies, find them food, watch for danger, keep peace on his flock, and do all the things a mature rooster does to take care of his flock. He also has to have enough self-confidence to win the hens over by his personality. It takes a while for most cockerels to get their hormones under control enough to be able to do this.

    Normally the pullets and cockerel will mature enough to play their part in the flock. For the pullets that is often about the time they start to lay, though some take a few months longer. I’ve had a cockerel do that at five months but that is really rare. I’ve had some that took a full calendar year to win over all the ladies. Normally around seven months a cockerel will mature enough to start getting his hormones under control and act like a flock master should. Normally the pullets are ready to accept him at this time but more mature hens may hold out a little longer. It’s going to vary with each flock, depending on the personality of the individual hens and rooster.

    Until the cockerel and the pullets mature enough to fulfil their duties in the flock and learn proper technique, it can get pretty rough. Normally neither the cockerel nor the pullets are harmed during his maturing process but since force is involved injury is always possible. The big problem for a lot of people is that it is just hard to watch, especially if they don’t understand the dynamics of what is going on. I don’t see anything unusual or out of the ordinary in what you describe.

    You may hear that disaster is assured unless you get more pullets. Some people believe that a magic ratio of hens to rooster will solve all these types of problems, ten to one is often quoted. It doesn’t work that way. Many breeders keep one rooster with one or two hens throughout the breeding season without any problems. One secret though is that they use roosters and hens, not cockerels and pullets. That makes a big difference. You can have the same problems with very small hen to rooster ratios as you do with very large hen to rooster ratios. If you want to use this as an excuse to get more pullets by all means go for it. But it is an excuse, not a real reason.

    Some cockerels crow a lot. Some don’t crow much. It varies a lot by the individual. I don’t know of any way to control that during the day. Often if they are crowing at night they see a light. Maybe you have a security light or street light shining in a window. Maybe a car passing on the road will light up the coop. Maybe it is just a full moon. If you can keep the coop dark at night you can usually reduce the night-time crowing.

    Good luck! It’s probably going to be a messy down there for a couple of months, but if you can get through this phase, you should have a nice flock.
     
  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I have found that locking up young roosters can often turn what appears to be a poor rooster into one that is a good rooster. In their first spring they get hormonal and can become only interested in the act of mating and not in taking care of the hens. And can be destructive and as you have seen just too much on them.

    I have a pen where they go and they will stay in there for a few months. I usually leave them in there during spring and summer, and towards fall I will start to try letting them out to see how they behave, in the fall and winter hormones wane so often the roosters are more mellow by then. I have successfully kept many roosters this way and I like to give them all a chance to mature and settle down before deciding their fate. It can also help me determine which rooster is best for the flock.
     

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