Roosters to hens ratio

BecKen Acres

Chirping
6 Years
Jul 23, 2013
5
13
74
I am looking for advice please. I thought I had five hens and two roosters. It turns out I have four hens and three roosters! They are in a large pen in the barn in the winter. I haven’t observed aggressive behavior yet but are there enough hens to keep the roosters happy?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
Nov 27, 2012
71,021
71,819
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
are there enough hens to keep the roosters happy?
No.
How old are your birds and how big, in feet by feet, is your coop?
What are your goals for chicken keeping?
I'd get rid of all, or all but one, of the males.


The 'rooster' to hen ratio of 1:10 that is often cited is primarily for fertility efficiency in commercial breeding facilities.
It doesn't mean that if a cockbird has 10 hens that he won't abuse or over mate them.
Many breeders keep pairs, trios, quads, etc
It all depends on the temperaments of the cock and hens and sometimes housing provided.
Backyard flocks can achieve good fertility with a larger ratio.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
Feb 2, 2009
24,129
12,144
707
Southeast Louisiana
are there enough hens to keep the roosters happy?

I don't think happy roosters should be the goal. I'm not sure happy hens should be the goal either. Maybe a peaceful flock?

I don't know what you are seeing right now or how old your birds are. If they are fully mature and peaceful life is good, at least for now. But if they are pullets and cockerels things could go bad pretty fast as they go through puberty and get to adulthood. It is quite possible things will stay bad and never get peaceful. You never know with living animals.

One thing that can go bad is that the boys may fight over the girls. It doesn't matter if it is one girl or fifty, they may fight. Adding more girls won't change that if they are going to fight. Sometimes these fights are just skirmishes and one quickly decides it is best to run away. As long as he has room to run away and get away (the other may chase him) these skirmishes might end peacefully. They decide who is boss and get along afterward. Or one may never decide to run away and they fight to the death. Or one tries to run but can't get away so the winner keeps after the loser until he is dead. How much room they have to run away and get away, then avoid each other in the future, is important. So is the personality of the individual boys.

Another thing that can happen and often does with cockerels going through puberty is that they may (and probably will) force any female to mate. At this age mating is not really about sex, it's about dominance. The one on bottom is accepting the dominance of the one on top, either willingly or by force. With immature cockerels it is usually by force. It can get pretty violent. Again, if the boys are going to do this it doesn't matter if it is one or fifty girls. It is going to be violent. That's with just one boy, you have three.

Something that can happen, one boy with one or fifty girls or three or more boys with any number of girls, is that they decide to pick on one girl especially. It might be a meek mild girl that is easy. It might be one that is definitely not easy, she resists their attempts at dominance and may even fight back, though often she just runs away. They try to beat her into submission to their dominance and have a tough time of it. Adding more girls won't help this if there is something special about her that makes her a target. Sometimes the boys are so rowdy that most or all of the girls get so stressed they spend all day in the coop or even up on the roosts where it is harder for the boys to get to them. Some of this can happen with adults too but it is usually much worse with adolescents.

I've tried to use weasel words like "can" and "sometimes" throughout. You never get guarantees with living animals, it is possible things may not get bad, especially if one of the males is so dominant that he keeps the other two in check. But with three boys and four girls I do not like your odds at all.

So what can you do? I don't know what your goals are with those boys or why you are keeping chickens. The only reason you need a male is if you want fertile eggs. Anything else is just personal preference. Nothing wrong with personal preference, that can be a pretty strong reason. But that is a choice, not a need. My general suggestion is to keep as few males as you can and meet your goals. That's not because you are guaranteed problems with more males but that the more males you have the more likely you are to have a problem. I don't know what the right number is for you, 0, 1,2, or 3.

If you decide to keep more than zero, what can you do? I'd have a place I could isolate one or all of the boys at a moments notice if you need to. Even if you try to keep just one, things can possibly get pretty violent with the girls. You can try leaving all three with the girls, it might work out, but I'd have a Plan B ready to go instantly.

You can keep extra boys in a bachelor pad. That's where they have their own coop and run with no girls to fight over. Several people successfully do that, just give them enough room like you should for any flock.

Or you can get rid if 1, 2, or 3 of the boys. You can sells them, give them away, or eat them. Your choice.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
2,789
4,102
351
North-Central IL
I would get rid of all three males. Obviously they're young, since you've just determined their sexes. When their hormones fully hit, you're going to have them fighting with each other and breeding the pullets half to death.

Personally, I would not keep a rooster under the age of 18 months with fewer than 5 hens/pullets.

If you want to keep all three males, I would add approximately 25 pullets. And hope you have a very large area for them all the range.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2009
7,307
7,054
536
western South Dakota
You need a plan B set up and ready to go. Roosters are crap shoot, and IMO take experience. The more roosters you have, the greater chance of it going all wrong.

Roosters need more space than hens. People that are the most successful with roosters generally have multiple flocks, multiple runs and multiple coops. Roosters are problematic in truly backyard settings.

Mrs K
 

VictoriaTemple

Songster
Aug 27, 2018
220
387
122
Southern Chester County, PA
I am (as usual) the minority voice here, but please, if you have any love for your birds at all, give the roos a chance. The horror stories you have read on this thread are NOT common occurrences, and frankly, if you can’t handle roosters you should not have chickens. SOME roosters are mean. SOME roosters are aggressive. SOME roosters over-mate hens. SOME are the most affectionate members of your flock, excellent lookouts, food scouts, social mediators, and chick daddies. You want good chickens? Keep multiple roosters and treat them right. I currently have 3 roosters and 14 hens, and people on this forum constantly tell me I’m nuts. They also complain constantly about all the funky things (social, behavioral, medical, and genetic) that happen to hens who live without enough sexual stimulation and varied options, not to mention predator attacks. Hens need roosters to be mentally and physically healthy, without them they are depressed and die much too easily. I am seriously considering adding at least 1 more roo in the spring, maybe more. Are there trashy roos out there? You betcha. Know what makes a good roo? Same thing that makes a good hen...owner attention. You set the terms of your relationship with each bird individually and enforce it with kind and careful handling. No, if all you want is egg-machines, you should not have roosters. You should not have hens either. You should buy your eggs at the grocery store like everyone else who does not think animals deserve to be treated as living loving creatures.

I apologize to the OP if this post offends them personally, that is not my intention. I am just so sick and tired of defending roosters against people who consider them disposable life. There are few rehoming opportunities for roosters, so for God’s sake take responsibility for the animals you purchased. Multiple roosters CAN work. If anything, mine let out their aggression on each other and are much MUCH kinder to the hens because of it. Not a bare back among them, except for my very peculiar Jersey Giant whom I have witnessed actually clipping her back feathers deliberately and then going out of her way to attract my head roo’s attention. Why don’t you roo-haters stop counting combs already and think of your birds as puppies. If your dog gave birth to a litter, and half of the puppies were male, would you drown them? No? Why not? The social hierarchy in a dog pack is not at all dissimilar from a chicken flock. And too many male dogs in a given territory can certainly lead to fighting, fear aggression, over-mating, and other unwelcome behaviors. But somehow a dog breeder who puts down unwanted pups goes to jail, while a chicken keeper who kills every male chick he lays hands on is just building his flock responsibly. Animal cruelty is animal cruelty. Life is life. If you insist on culling males, at least give them the time to reach maturity and reward you for the life they had by being a tasty nutritious meal. If you can’t, get another hobby, one that focuses instead on nonliving things that can be controlled.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom