Roosters at 18 weeks - do they ever grow out of it?

batten down the hatches

In the Brooder
Dec 26, 2020
New Hampshire
I'm unfortunately beginning to have a more serious rooster problem. I hatched eggs this spring and have been thinning the rooster ranks each month or so as specific roosters became aggressive or problems within the flock. I started with 12 and am down to 6. The remaining 6 (1 New Hampshire, 1 Welsummer, 3 Easter Eggers, 1 Mosaic) are 18 weeks old. All birds are the same age.

My plan was to keep the top 3 over the winter and make a final decision next spring to keep just one, but in the past two weeks 5 of the 6 have turned into hellions with the pullets. None are human aggressive but they are certainly not gentlemanly to the pullets and it is distressing to the flock. I have 16 pullets in this coop/run, and I let 4 or 5 of the boys out to free range every day to give the hens a break (hens stay in the run). When the boys rejoin the hens in the evening, no matter how late, there is always much scuffling. The hens are afraid of the boys and I've noticed they will not willingly go into the coop in the daytime if rooster is in there (even if only 1 rooster is still in the run/coop and the rest are out). There is no dancing, tidbitting, or escorting, it's just grabbing and dragging.

I am considering permanently removing the five who seem unable to control themselves, but they are young boys and this is a rough time for them hormones-wise. I am wondering if they will grow out of this stage, or if this foretells their adult behavior toward the hens. Ideally I wanted to keep a few in case the one polite boy (the Mosaic) turns into a monster after his first spring, but we can't go on like this (for pullets and myself). It is also pretty easy to find a polite rooster, so if the situation is unlikely to improve I'll remove the five, but I really wanted to keep some of my own boys.

Thoughts, experiences? Do rough boys at 18 weeks ever mature into gentlemanly roosters with hens?


Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
You do not have 16 hens and 6 roosters, you have immature pullets and cockerels. Will your pullets and cockerels eventually mature into adults? Yes, at some point they will leave puberty behind and act like adults. That doesn't mean your problems are over but things usually settle down when they mature. Right now their hormones are driving those boys crazy, telling them to dominate the flock and especially dominate the girls. At that stage the mating act is not about fertilizing eggs, those pullets are probably not laying eggs. The one on the bottom is accepting the domination of the one on top, either willingly or by force. What you describe is by force which is typical at that age. It can get pretty violent.

There are problems trying to pick a permanent rooster at that age. One is that they can and usually do change as they mature. A strong aggressive cockerel can mature into a very nice rooster. The rooster will be the dominant flock master, it's just the way things work. A good mature rooster will win the girls over by his magnificence, self-confidence, and strength of personality, when he and they finally get there. A weak cockerel may not have that self-confidence even when he matures so he may have to rely more on physical strength to gain and maintain the dominant position. It doesn't always work out that way. Each cockerel has its own personality. An don't ignore the girls. They also have their own personalities and they have a say in how peaceful this all works out. Some hens will squat for about anything in spurs (or future spurs, those cockerels probably don't have much spurs) while others don't want to accept being dominated by any other chicken, male or female.

Another big problem in picking which boy is that the more dominant cockerel can and usually does suppress certain behaviors of the others. He may be the one that crows. He may not allow the others to mate, tidbit, or even hang around the girls. If he's removed the other boys' behaviors around the girls can dramatically change. Or the boys may form a pack and feed off of each other's behaviors. That can get pretty wild. Removing a ringleader can calm that down.

So what can you do? You can roll the dice, pick one to keep and get rid of all the rest. Lots of people do that, quite often you guess right, probably because quite often any of them are pretty likely to work out if they and the girls ever all mature. But occasionally one doesn't.

You can build a bachelor pad and keep the boys separated from the girls. They can't harass the girls if they are fenced out. Maybe let the boys (or all but one) free range and train them to sleep separately. Since they don't lay eggs you don't need a nest in there but a second coop or shelter with a bit of run can come in really handy when managing the flock later. You might try each cockerel with the girls by themselves to see how they interact, but remember that interaction can change as they mature. I never said this was easy.

Or you can try some combination. Get rid of some and keep some to see how they work out, just keep them separated from the girls as a pack. Eliminate one or two at a time until you get to your best candidates. By then either one that is left is probably a good one.

Good luck!


5 Years
Nov 12, 2017
Western Ohio
When all birds are the same age, it is harder -there are no older roosters or hens to teach them manners. Still, with 6 males and a smallish flock, it would be hard to keep 6 in line.

word of caution on keeping only the current nicer male. Once the other 5 are out if the way, his true colors may be worse! He is currently dominated by the other 5, or has figured out how to keep quiet and avoid attention and fights.

what are your rooster goals? That will also help determine what direction you go in.

if your preferred one or two males are only being hormonal/brainless/can’t handle the hormone surge at the moment, BUT are NOT aggressive to you-that is best. You do not want a human aggressive male. Winter is coming, light is decreasing, and so will their hormones. It is natural to have fewer issues in late fall winter, as the males hormones decrease similar to the females who may stop laying.

Mrs. K

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
I think I might separate all of the roosters away from the coop. I am a believer in solving for peace in the flock. And I am betting that even when they are not actually creating chaos, the tension in the coop is still quite high.

I am also a believer in the idea that flock mate roosters often times do not turn out well. I like a multi-generational flock that has a truer chicken society, and manners. Older birds ARE bigger than the cockerels, and thump some manners into them.

However, time, can make a difference. If you have another set up - put them all in there and wait.

If you don't have another set up, what I would do is cull all of these boys, and look around your local community of fellow crazy chicken people. Look at the feed store. I am assuming as you have several breeds of roosters, that breeds are not a main reason for your choice. People always have too many roosters, and need to thin them.

What you want is a rooster, that has been raised in a multi-generational flock, by a person that does hatch out and culls regularly. You want that extra rooster that is just so darn nice to people and chickens, that is has not got culled. If this bird has experience free ranging in like country to you, so much the better. I would not add this bird until your pullets are laying.

There are a lot of roosters out there, a lot of roosters do not work out. While it is fun to have a closed flock, raise your own, yada, yada, yada - sometimes you have to work with what you have. The best roosters come from people with a sharp knife, they do not keep trouble.

Always solve for peace in the flock!

Mrs K

batten down the hatches

In the Brooder
Dec 26, 2020
New Hampshire
Thank you all for the insights. I will probably remove the top three offenders from the premises, and see how things go with the last three with the changed dynamics. If they are both still being rowdy, we'll go right down to 1. Until we are down to 1 all the other boys will free range all day and come in only at dark.

I considered a third coop with an auto door for the boys, but I just cannot absorb the workload of a third setup for some boys who may or may not knock it off. I already have a second coop/run, for a Polish whose head feathers were snacked on by the rest of the main flock, along with her non-snacking Wyandotte friend and some 8-week bantams to make a small second flock. Summer is easy, but winter is always coming.

I suppose even if they do eventually shape up, we have to get through the now, and it's currently untenable. I've tried not to get attached, but they are all good with people and it's still a bit difficult knowing their fate.

I'll see how the winter goes with the 1 or 2, and possibly in the spring reach out to the chicken groups on FB for pleasant roosters if it comes to that. I just loathe intros so much, and the quarantining, etc. Realistically I don't need a rooster, but we have space and ordinances allow and there aren't so many homes for them, so I thought we'd have one as long as they meet the two rules (not human aggressive, good to the hens). I am hoping the Mosaic turns into a good boy; his father appears to be a gentleman so fingers crossed it passed on.

batten down the hatches

In the Brooder
Dec 26, 2020
New Hampshire
I have a two-part update: three boys went to the processors' this morning. Our primary and secondary option for excess roosters was to give them to laypeople who would process and keep them, but these were both unable to take them, so we had to do plan C, a small commercial processing farm.

It was very difficult to make the decision, but the transport went smoothly. We caught them at dawn with minimal stress, the hour long trip was calm and the processor was respectful and knowledgeable. There was no extreme panic or stress for the birds. For anyone considering (or deeply dreading, as I was) this option, I would do it again. It was a humane end and I feel I did as right by them as I could.

We had a fourth boy in the crate, but my partner uncharacteristically asked for clemency for him at the last minute. It was the New Hampshire, our favorite boy who we called Buff (I thought he was a Buff Orpington as a day old hatchery mystery chick). We let Buff out of the crate at the last minute and he got to stay.

Unfortunately, today at lunchtime Buff met the end of his journey. He didn't do his usual greeting scream and sprint over when I rounded the edge of my car and I thought it was odd, so went looking for him and eventually found a small trail of feathers. We hadn't had any predator losses yet, but these things happen. We are fairly devastated, but it appears old Buff went out protecting a hen that slipped out this morning. Our beloved Buff until the very end. The boys free range an established cottage garden with a lot of thick rosebush and plant cover, and Buff and all the chickens are very careful and vocal about hawks, so I suspect a fox may have moved in.

Everyone else is on run lockdown, which is easier without a half dozen boys. We are down to only two cockerels and will probably be down to one by October.

Folly's place

11 Years
Sep 13, 2011
southern Michigan
So sorry for your loss, it's always hard, and a favorite. May your flock stay safe, and one of your cockerels turn out to be a super rooster.
Do keep everyone in, maybe for weeks. Set out a live trap or two, only if you will shoot any varmit who gets caught.
And trail Cameras are great! Also electric fencing...

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