Rooster to Hen Ratio

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LadyVictorian, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. LadyVictorian

    LadyVictorian Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2016
    So, I recently found out of my 4 8 week old Silkies that 3 are males and I was pretty bummed but I want to keep all three of my roosters. In April I am getting 8 egg laying pullets which would make 9 hens in total. Would 3 hens per rooster be enough or should I get more hens in order to keep my roosters happy? So far Yuki and Aiko seem to be the only two who pick fights with each other. Sora will fight back if someone comes at him but he's more interested in just walking around. Aiko is 100% a rooster as yesterday morning he let out a very cute and pathetic first crow. Sora and Yuki have the same crest he does, a crest that moves back rather than over the eyes like the hen Hikaru.
  2. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal True BYC Addict

    May 4, 2016
    Somewhere in the Universe
    It would really depend on their temperaments. You could have two boys with that many, three is pushing it so be prepared to have a backup plan if it goes bad.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’ve been wanting to do this for a while so I’m just going to go for it. For those offended, get over it.

    Abra Cadabra! Shazam! Open Sesame! Yabba Daba Doo! There, I just took all the magic out of that magical hen to rooster ratio. Now reality rules instead of magic.

    Actually there never was a magic ratio. Breeders regularly keep one rooster with one or two hens throughout the breeding season without issues. These are usually adults, not immature chickens. People often keep one rooster with 20 to 25 hens and all the hens lay fertile eggs. Sometimes they also have barebacked hens or overmated hens problems. Some people regularly keep multiple roosters in a flock with no problems, sometimes the roosters fight to the death. The number of hens does not affect that, though a total absence of hens probably will.

    Some factors come into play. Hens and roosters are totally different from pullets and cockerels. Once they mature, hens and roosters generally form a really peaceful flock. Immature adolescents with their hormones flowing and lack of self-control or experience are totally different. Cockerels normally hit puberty well before the pullets do. They often have no control over their hormones. Those hormones are not just about sex either, a lot of them have to do with flock dominance. Mating is an act of dominance, the one on bottom is accepting the dominance of the one on top, whether by choice or by force. Trying to dominate also leads to fighting, chasing, pecking, and just bullying in general. The pullets are generally immature and have no idea what is going on so they run away or resist. As someone once said, watching chickens go through puberty is often not for the faint of heart.

    There is no magic number of hens that will make your situation paradise no matter how many you add.

    One factor in how keeping multiple roosters turns out is their individual personality. Some roosters and cockerels will fight to the death. No matter how badly they are getting beat, they don’t run away. Others, even if the other is running away, just won’t quit. Often when they are in these fights or even before they fight, one realizes it is better off running away. There may be some chasing and such, but the winner lets it get away. After a while they reach an accommodation and work together to protect the flock.

    I had an experience where one cockerel just hated another. I don’t know why. I had 18 cockerels around 15 weeks old. One specific cockerel took a pure hate toward another one and literally killed it. After that one was killed, the other 17 cockerels got along great together.

    A really huge factor in how this turns out, other than personality of the individuals, is room. They need room to run away and get away when they run. A normal occurrence with multiple roosters is that after they determine which one is boss, each rooster claims a certain territory, preferably out of line of sight of each other. The hens split up so each rooster has its own harem. Usually they can even share a coop at night, I’ve had some that could. If your room is tight you are very likely to have big problems. If you have a lot of space, you at least have a chance. But three males and one female just won’t work. You don’t need a lot of females per rooster but enough for them to form separate harems if they have room is really important.

    Many people in your situation that just can’t stand to part with a rooster keep bachelor pads, it sounds like your best option. If you create a pen and only put males in it, all females forbidden so they don’t have them to fight over, they are usually pretty peaceful. It’s usually not that different from having an all-female flock. It’s your choice whether you put all three or just two in there and leave one with the pullets.

    Silkies as a breed usually are pretty mild mannered, though there are some stories on here where a Silkie has been a murderous brute. Breeds may have tendencies but not every individual in that breed follows that tendency. It’s possible you could put one cockerel with your pullet and things would be OK, but I’d really want more. Part of that is that chickens are social animals. If you only have two together and one dies, the other is really lonely. I don’t know what your goals are or why you are keeping chickens so how many you add is up to you. I think you’d be OK with a couple more though if you want to add 9 or 19, go for it. No matter how many you add puberty may be rough, but eventually you’ll have a nice flock.

    Good luck!
    3 people like this.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
  5. LadyVictorian

    LadyVictorian Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2016
    Well I am already getting 8 more pullets in April so the 4 silkies are not going to be my only chickens. I'll have 12 total. They will sleep at night in a 10x24 refurbished horse stall at night and free range our 20 acre's in the day. We are getting them mostly for egg production but the silkies I got as pets and companion animals as well. I believe I stated that up above. The silkies are only my current flock, not my total flock since my other chicks could not be delivered until April due to the fact I was only ordering 8 and 15 is the limit for winter (the silkies came from a highly reputable breeder as I didn't want hatchery quality silkies that charged just as much as the breeder did for lower quality birds).

    Only two of the roo's really fight, the third doesn't seem to care about it as much and fights normally end fast when the third gets involved and breaks them up. Not sure if it's because he's the biggest and they just don't want to get him into the fight. (Aiko and Yuki are much smaller than Sora who seems to hang out with the hen the most and protect her from the other two fighting). In the end I should have 9 hens total as stated above and possibly 3 silkie roosters unless one of the other two who haven't crowed turns into another hen. (Unlikely since they all have very roo looking crests and Aiko confirmed being a roo by crowing).

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