Roosters as Chick-sitters?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MNchickaroo, May 17, 2019.

  1. MNchickaroo

    MNchickaroo Chirping

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    We have two adult Buff Orps, a rooster and hen. They were gifted to us last winter (along with a second hen who didn't survive a dog attack). Since she is the only hen, her shoulders and head are getting very bald and she needs a break, so we were going to try and keep her or the rooster penned in the chicken tractor for a few days. The hen and rooster live in the chicken tractor, as up till now, it has just been them. They free range, early morning till dusk...and they love it!

    However, we also have 22 5-week old chicks who are using the larger permanent coop at night and in bad weather. With that many little bodies (which seem to move at jet-speed) we have been putting them in a large free standing pen and moving it around every two days, afraid if they're free-range at this point we'll never be able to catch everyone. (This will be easier once we have the run all finished and connected to the coop...we'll be able to herd them in). The chicks are mixed sexes, 19 of them came in a SR order.

    I was wondering if I could take advantage of the situation, and leave the hen in the free standing pen and let the little ones out with the rooster? She always wants in the pen anyway, because she sees the food! She has also shown aggressiveness towards the chicks (again, because of food). While the rooster seems to be just fine, letting the chicks pick at him through the fence and showing no signs of aggressiveness. In fact, he got upset when I had a little escapee I had to catch and return to the flock, and he came after me.

    Has anyone ever used a rooster as a chick-sitter? Should I be worried he won't let me have them back! Would 22 chicks be too much for one rooster to watch over? I'm mostly hoping he'll just keep everyone together. Anyone done this before, advice would be great...maybe it's the dumbest idea ever!! Also, will he try and copulate with any birds that young?
     
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  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    I do although most of time the group is confined to a pen that is roughly 4 feet by 10 feet. Chicks need to be big enough to thermoregulate properly. Make certain the rooster gets along with them before you leave them alone. Problems will become evident in just a few minutes if they are to be realized.

    I like to restrict free-range time to when I can supervise if dog issues likely.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Not sure about the rooster 'chick-sitting', I have had cock/erels protect chicks from the flock, also had them be aggressive to them.
    .....but multiple feed and water stations would be good for the aggression you are seeing.
     
  4. MNchickaroo

    MNchickaroo Chirping

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    The bigger chickens have their own sweet food set-up, but the hen thinks whatever is in those magical red chick feeders must be better than what she has! They will for sure have multiple stations when everyone is put together, although I have a vision of hen making circular stops at each station to make sure there isn't a better tidbit elsewhere.

    It's been cold and rainy, so I haven't let the little ones outside for a few days (while very feathered, I wasn't willing to expose them to the elements quite yet). Today I'll try some very supervised free range time with the rooster, and leave outdoor free standing pen wide open in case they feel they need to be "safe"...and if I need to corral them!
    Thanks for advice!
    Dog problem isn't here during the week, so should be fine. Unfortunately, this bird dog found his first encounter with chickens almost impossible to resist. The attack came about 30 seconds before collar went on for in-ground electric fencing. So close!!
     
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  5. MNchickaroo

    MNchickaroo Chirping

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    So what I though would be a disaster and complete failure actually turned out okay.

    Lesson learned: Don't let the rooster see the crazy baby chicks flying like feathered tennis balls out of the coop like a chaotic maelstorm...he will NOT like it. Let chicks out first, let them calm down from the exhilaration of first moments of complete free-range, then introduce rooster. Once he slowed his Mac truck instincts down, he did just fine, even trying to keep little stragglers close to the group. He would walk back and forth between confined hen and chicks, he had a hard time deciding where he'd rather be. Extra food stations and treats to keep everyone occupied were good idea. Little SLW pullet is infatuated with his waddle, he is a good sport.
    The rooster did something, ( a sign of dominance?) when he was first introduced. He did this little side step with one claw, reaching it out and "grabbing" sideways for 2-3 steps, lowering the same sided wing as he did this. Usually toward a chick...what is that strange dance step? It disappeared after the first hour, and didn't see it again rest of the day.
     
  6. DellaMyDarling

    DellaMyDarling Songster

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    Aww, what a gentle roo!
    :pop
     
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  7. Roo5

    Roo5 Songster

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    It’s a dominance thing.And when it’s done to adult hens it’s usually a courting behavior
     
  8. MNchickaroo

    MNchickaroo Chirping

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    Who could resist that suave move?? Lol, initially I thought there was something wrong with his leg!
     
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  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    It also can be a prelude to an attack.
     
  10. MNchickaroo

    MNchickaroo Chirping

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    So if the leg twitch threat disappeared pretty quickly and he is now content among the chicks, he should be good? This morning he was warning everyone about squirrels and came barreling over to make sure all was well.
     
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