Roosters to hens ratio

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
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Montgomery, TX
What about the pet food industry? Don't a lot those males and layers, after their prime laying yrs, go into the pet food industry? The pet food market is a multi billion dollar business annually. It's hard to imagine that commercial chickens producers don't find a profitable way to make use of all those birds that are either not laying or not large enough for the meat market.
I do feel that our food production, whether for people or pets, is somewhat of a paradox. On one hand we are told that there is an abundance of food produced that is wasted annually. And, on the other hand, we are told we have to use potentially harmful farming methods because we have to feed the world. And, yet there are still masses of starving people throughout the world, including right here in the USA. Go figure.
Absolutely there could be uses for lots of chickens. However, it is ALWAYS cheaper to use a hybrid broiler type meat bird for anything meat related, and a hybrid layer type for anything egg related. Someone has to pay for things.....

layers that are then sold for processing have already yielded eggs for over a year or more and already turned a profit. They are streamlined birds with smaller bodies and their feed conversion rates are established so the lifetime of their egg sales versus the cost that goes in turns a profit. These birds are most often sold as stewing birds.

But at even 2-3.00 a bird plus processing costs, you’re approaching the cost of a commercial finished Cornish. The meat to bone ratio is nothing anywhere near a meat hybrid, so the numbers would never add up to grow out male layer-types and sell them for meat because they don’t produce eggs to offset the cost of feed. Those male layers would be solely based on cost of feed and the meat cost, and it would always, no matter the age or size, be 3-4 times more expensive than a Cornish.

They only can sell these spent layers birds so cheap because they have already turned a profit on eggs. I’m sure they use these birds for bone meal perhaps in dog food? I’m not too sure.
 

Katejc

Songster
Sep 17, 2019
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Shuswap, British Columbia
I’ve got a ration of 5:2 right now and things are ok. 1 silkie roo and 1 bantam wyandotte. The girls are 2 sebrights, a bantam wyandotte, a silkie and an american game mix. Nobody is older then 6 months. Its the motley crew of chicken flocks but so far everything works. The silkie tries to mate the american game and the silkie regularly but they just ignore him. The wyandotte is afraid of his own shadow and wont go near any of the girls.

I had to re-home a rooster and decided to just keep the silkie since I had him from being naive and buying straight run. I learned from my mistake and bought the wyandottes as pullets though I went above my better judgement and believed the seller over my own suspicions as I am a newbie.

Turns out i’m pretty good at sexing chicks.
 

Manhen

Songster
Jul 15, 2019
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Illinios
I’ve got a ration of 5:2 right now and things are ok. 1 silkie roo and 1 bantam wyandotte. The girls are 2 sebrights, a bantam wyandotte, a silkie and an american game mix. Nobody is older then 6 months. Its the motley crew of chicken flocks but so far everything works. The silkie tries to mate the american game and the silkie regularly but they just ignore him. The wyandotte is afraid of his own shadow and wont go near any of the girls.

I had to re-home a rooster and decided to just keep the silkie since I had him from being naive and buying straight run. I learned from my mistake and bought the wyandottes as pullets though I went above my better judgement and believed the seller over my own suspicions as I am a newbie.

Turns out i’m pretty good at sexing chicks.
I like to play on words, and sometimes get snarky. I like you calling them Sebrights, I am not sure why they were renamed, but really how to muddle an issue? Change what words mean what. So I have three Sebrights, one black laced silver, and two black laced gold. Do the bantams mix well with the standard breeds?
I am not good at sexing chicks. Get it wrong every time so I have ten roos.... :)
 

Katejc

Songster
Sep 17, 2019
204
271
101
Shuswap, British Columbia
I like to play on words, and sometimes get snarky. I like you calling them Sebrights, I am not sure why they were renamed, but really how to muddle an issue? Change what words mean what. So I have three Sebrights, one black laced silver, and two black laced gold. Do the bantams mix well with the standard breeds?
I am not good at sexing chicks. Get it wrong every time so I have ten roos.... :)
I think they were always called Sebrights? Or am I missing something? I only have one standard and she gets along great with all the bantams but she hates the Sebrights. The Sebrights cause the most trouble in my flock, they are little jerks. My american game hen actually changes the shape of her body around them. She makes herself look like a Turkey. The roosters are both sweet. It helps that one is a silkie and one is totally submissive. But I want people to know it can work!
 

BigBlueHen53

Fragile, Beautiful, Strong
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Mar 5, 2019
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SE Missouri, USA
If you were raising them commercially you would obviously need a lot more than three cockerels to support your family. Assuming you bought most of the food they ate, how much did it cost to raise those three to your butcher age? If you had been raising Cornish X you could have raised three batches to butcher age in that time for approximately the same cost of feed for those three. The carcasses would have been much larger and they would be butchered young enough that you could fry, grill, or cook them any other way, not be restricted in how you can cook them.

If you plan on raising to forage on pasture in the numbers required to support a family how much land would that take? How much would it cost to purchase that land, pay taxes on that land, and provide predator protection. If you keep one rooster for every hen to fertilize those hatching eggs how much extra in feed or housing costs would that take.

The factors are different but the same type of questions could be asked the commercial hybrid laying chickens. How much would you have to charge per pound of meat or dozen eggs to make enough to live on?

Now assume a competitor were willing to raise the Cornish X for meat or the hybrid egg-laying hens instead of dual purpose under the conditions they do today. You can see the prices they charge. You may be able to find a niche market that could support a few people trying to raise them this way, but which prices do you think the majority of consumers would be willing to pay if they have that choice? The meat and eggs sold as free range organic is raised closer to the commercial market than what I described above. While you are thinking about it, think about how many people in the US are hungry today because they don't have enough to buy food. This is the real life dilemma in the world today facing people trying to make a living in the chicken meat or egg industry.

I choose to raise dual purpose for my use but I can afford to. I'm not trying to make a living off of it.
I was not raising them commercially. That was a lot of speculation based on three cockerels I got accidentally in what was supposed to be 24 pullets! I have a limited amount of space and am a long way from raising enough birds to feed my family for a year. But thanks for the effort you put into your response!
 

RoostersAreAwesome

Free Ranging
May 21, 2017
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What about the pet food industry? Don't a lot those males and layers, after their prime laying yrs, go into the pet food industry? The pet food market is a multi billion dollar business annually. It's hard to imagine that commercial chickens producers don't find a profitable way to make use of all those birds that are either not laying or not large enough for the meat market.
I do feel that our food production, whether for people or pets, is somewhat of a paradox. On one hand we are told that there is an abundance of food produced that is wasted annually. And, on the other hand, we are told we have to use potentially harmful farming methods because we have to feed the world. And, yet there are still masses of starving people throughout the world, including right here in the USA. Go figure.
I think a lot of 18 month old hens and cockerel chicks are used for fertilizer. And a lot are also put into landfills.
 

Manhen

Songster
Jul 15, 2019
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Illinios
Not sure what what a 'meat locker' is....do they slaughter birds, and other animals, for meat?
This particular one does deer for hunters (my neighbor referred me to them). I guess beef as well, it sounded like he knows what Kroger buys and the place is not a hole in the wall. According to him it was illegal for him to take chickens. Because of the other meats and how his facility was built and worked I imagine. Anyway, I did the math on what it takes to get as many eggs of the variety I wanted and now I realized it's a lot lot lot of birds. So the ratio of roosters will be high unless I can do something besides let them loose on the farm. Those EE roos are quite....active. Just not top in the flock is all.
 

Jac Jac

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May 6, 2019
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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.
Thank you for an on time and detailed response. I have several "bachelor' pads myself to keep peace. My 12 new chicks were obtained as young rescue "pullets" - after puberty -9 unhappy roos. So grateful for our bachelor pads right now.
 
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