Rooster rotation?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PeasPoultry, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. PeasPoultry

    PeasPoultry Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 31, 2014
    Iowa, Louisiana
    Hello all! I am contemplating rotating my 2 roosters between my 5 hens and wondering if anyone has done this before. The hens are being over-mated with both of the roosters in the coop. I want to keep both (need a back up roo, in case something happens to one) but am wondering if I could pull one out and house him in a separate coop that is right next to the others and then maybe let him have a week or two "off" and then switch him out with the other rooster. I am thinking this might improve fertility also. I don't want to cause the hens stress by disrupting the pecking order every couple of weeks though. Would it be best to simply leave one rooster out permanently, unless he is needed? Any advice and ideas would be appreciated! Thanks :)
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I have rotated roosters, make a pen within the coop or next to it and either switch them out or just keep one out until you need him.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    With that few hens I'd keep the cock/erels separate from hens..and maybe each other too.
    What are your goals for 5 girls and 2 boys?
    How old are these birds?
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    How old are they is the key question. Most of the time when people are talking about overbreeding they are talking about pullets and cockerels, not hens and roosters. I’ll copy something I wrote for another post at the bottom of this that might help you understand some of the dynamics that are going on.

    I see nothing wrong with your plan. Breeders regularly keep one rooster with one or two hens throughout the breeding season with no problems of overbreeding or barebacked hens. The trick is that they generally don’t use cockerels and pullets, they use mature roosters and hens. As OHLD said about the rotation she has done it.

    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.
  5. PeasPoultry

    PeasPoultry Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 31, 2014
    Iowa, Louisiana
    Thanks everyone who replied! One of the roosters is about 2 1/2 years old and so is one of the hens. Three of the other hens are a year old, and one hen is 9 months, and so is the younger rooster. The older, obviously dominant roo attacks the young roo when he tries to mate, knocking him off balance and I'm pretty sure the breeding isn't quite happening. I would like chicks from both roosters though, as they are both unrelated and I want my flock to be as genetically diverse as possible.
  6. GraceAndPickles

    GraceAndPickles Just Hatched

    Aug 11, 2017
    Hi! I know I'm resurrecting an older thread, but I was wondering if you tried and how it worked out, Peas. I've thought about doing the same sort of thing (keeping two roos in their own smaller enclosures but rotating them with the girls), but am not sure how it will work out with pecking order, etc. I would let 2-3 ladies visit around the clock in the roo's house for 5-6 weeks during breeding season to give me control over parentage, but the rest of the year I don't want to have to keep the boys isolated all the time. Thoughts?

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