Three cockerels, five pullets

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Catmoose1347, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. Catmoose1347

    Catmoose1347 Chirping

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    About five months ago I got my very first chicks. They were only two days old and peeping and cute. Of the six bird I got, one died (idk how, I tried to save her/him, but s/he starved him/herself and died :( ), and two turned out to be boys. One of them started crowing and acting in charge. He wasn't too bad with the girls, occasional chasing and all that, but not too bad. The other male stayed in the background and GREW. At about four months old he was about twice the sized of the other birds and started seriously beating up the other birds (girls and boys). I now have him separated from the rest of the flock and all was calm, until yesterday.

    You see, upon realizing that I had a ratio of three girls to one boy, I decided to get three more hens to even things out. One Americuana, a silver-laced Wyandotte, and a golden laced Wyandotte. I got them as chicks and they are about three months old now. For a while now, the americuana has pecked the other two wyandottes and chased them, but not to a point where I gave it any serious thought. But the other day, the thought that she could be a he struck me like a lightning bolt. Sure enough, that bird had the pointy saddle feathers. No crowing yet, and I'm hoping against all odds that I'm mistaken, but it doesn't look good.

    All the birds except the giant cockerel are living together. However, I really don't know what to do. The older cockerel isn't being aggressive to the americuana, yet... I don't want to get rid of any of them, because they're good birds and I don't want them going into a stewpot. (No, I will not kill them, either.) Thoughts?
     

  2. keesmom

    keesmom Crowing

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    Build a separate bachelor coop/run for the males or rehome 2 of the cockerels.
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    I hate to say it, but you are kind of in that wishing stage. Wishing they would all be nice and live together in perfect harmony. And the reality is that they are not going to do it. In fact, the wreck is going to very probably get worse. Your roos are just teenagers, just starting with the hormones.

    If I have the count right, you have 3 roosters (possible) and 5 hens. And your roosters are juvenile which makes them more crazy with hormones and less sense. At that age, they are only interested in the sex, and with no older birds to give them some nicer manners, they can get aggressive, often times to people and hens and each other. This set up is going to bring on a lot more fighting.

    You have the one rooster separated, you could add the other two roosters to him, and have a bachelor pad. Unless you have a great deal of space, this always seems worse to me than culling them, but to each his own.Later when they are close to a year old, pick the nicest one for your flock. This will let your girls grow up with out constant hassling. I have never done a bachelor pad, (but am thinking of adding one here shortly, but just as a grow out pen) I think they need to be out of sight of the other flock. Or the roosters will still fight.

    While culling the roosters may not be your thing, one of the reason that it is effective, is it keeps flocks peaceful and in balance. Too many roosters over-mate chickens, fight sometimes to death with each other. While a balanced flock is a joy to be around, one in tension is not. It is not a good way to live for any of the birds. The constant tension in your flock, can and will probably reduce egg production, interferes with consumption of feed and water, and often times a hen is literally worn out to the point of death.

    You might find someone else to take one or two of the roosters. That might be your best bet. Don't ask what they are going to do with them.

    Mrs. K
     
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  4. Catmoose1347

    Catmoose1347 Chirping

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    Would it be possible to keep the two cockerels together (as long as they get along) if there are only five pullets? I mean right now the older one mates only with the older birds and leaves the little ones alone. They don't have feathers missing right now and seem okay. The younger one hasn't mated yet. In general, how well do Americuanas treat their girls? :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  5. keesmom

    keesmom Crowing

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    For a backyard flock I think 2 cockerels for 5 pullets is just way too much testosterone. You'll likely wind up with harassed and stressed out hens. If you just want eggs there is no real reason to have a rooster anyway.
     
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  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    Not really a good chance. Your flock won't be happy, even if they are not killing each other, there is always that "there is going to be a fight soon" feeling. You don't mention how much space you have, but if you really want to keep two roosters, you need a lot more hens...... like about 20 all together. Most backyard people are not quite set up for that, it really needs a lot of space, and you need a lot of feed, and you have a lot more cleaning to do.

    I have had 1 EE rooster, all of his girls were bare backed, but they adored him, and I did not have a predator loss for a year and a half.
    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  7. Catmoose1347

    Catmoose1347 Chirping

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    I'm probably going to wait until they're older an see which one has a better personality. The Americuana has a lot to live up to so far! The older Welsummer already vigilantly stands guard, breaks up squabbles, and doesn't injure or pull the feathers of his girls. (His three have not a feather out of place. :) )

    Mrs. K: you mentioned having an older bird to keep the sex- crazy younger ones in line. How old would the older one have to be?
    I know a lot of people have said keeping all the males together works, but if they are older/the same age will they still fight? For example, if I stuck two three year old roosters together, they would fight even if there were no hens, right? Idk if you have answers to all of these, but any help would be appreciated.

    Btw, thank you Mrs. K and keesmom for your help so far. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014

  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    About a year old, in my opinion is a fully mature bird. They start laying way before that, but from 5 -12 months, I tend to think of them as teenagers. At a year, they have things figured out, and most roosters you know how it will go, as in good or bad. What I was referring to is a multiple age flock, as in some of the birds are going on 3 years, some are going on 2 years, and some are going to be 1 year and this years chicks. In an established flock, with a rooster and a broody hen in the flock, she will hatch out eggs, (or just a broody hen, you can slip eggs or chicks under her) she will protect them from being killed, but they learn their place in the flock, growing up in the flock. Personally, I don't handle my chickens too much, a broody hen does all the work, and the pecking order keeps the flock in harmony. A rooster growing up like this, is submissive to the older birds. His hormones will explode too, but the older birds seem more able to control this.

    What often happens, and had happened to me, is that one starts out with chicks, and one or more is a rooster. All is fine until about 12 weeks, give or take. Then the roosters start out growing the pullets. They become bigger and stronger than the pullets and only have one thing on their mind and are very bully like to the pullets. These birds can often times become very aggressive, and if they have been handled a lot by humans, they are not intimidated by them, and often will attack the humans too. Usually they attack small children first, then smaller women, but eventually will attack all humans.

    Generally speaking (but no guarantees) the best pairs of roosters are roosters that are raised together, and roosters that have enough hens for both of them. Many people keep a bachelor pad for roosters, where they are kept totally away from any hens. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, again it works best if they have been raised together. Roosters that get along, do happen, but more often they don't. Often times roosters raised together will get along, and then one day they don't, and the battle can be ongoing from that point. Sometimes they settle it for a while, and then start to fight again. Strange birds (hens and roosters) will fight, peck, chase and confront each other in a bid to be higher in the pecking order. Strange roosters with or without a flock of hens, may fight to the death, a very ugly, bloody battle.

    Personally, if you are determined to have a rooster, I would keep the Welsummer and let the other roosters go. You are new to chickens and there is a learning curve. The Welsummer is giving indications of being a good rooster, but he is still pretty young yet. Roosters are a crap shoot, some work well, some don't ever work, and some go from a darling to a nightmare in a heartbeat. People who do not have a lot of experience with chickens often times miss the cues that a rooster is getting out of hand, and are in a full fledged attack before they know it. If people ask me, I strongly recommend going with just a hen flock for a couple of years, then adding a rooster to the flock. One that grows up in the flock works best. However, people always have extra roosters, and often time they hate to cull a nice one, so getting a rooster later on is generally not hard to do.

    You have years to have this hobby, most of us do not have the same flock for years, birds are added, and birds leave the flock. If you look at it not so much as individual birds, but rather a happy flock of birds, you enjoy this hobby a lot more.

    Mrs K
     
  9. Catmoose1347

    Catmoose1347 Chirping

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    :goodpost:
    I was hesitant to ask this as it sounds vaguely idiotic, but what do chickens without human caretakers do? As the hatch rate male:female is 50:50, what happens to the extra males? Do they get killed in fights to the death for control of the flock, or do they get driven out by more dominant roosters? If they get kicked out, do they die from lack of flock protection or no food or what?
     
  10. keesmom

    keesmom Crowing

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    It's not a dumb question at all. You are correct. When the juvenile cockerels begin to mature they are driven out. That isn't a death sentence, they can forage for themselves just fine though there are fewer eyes out for predators. Eventually after they mature they may challenge the dominant males, and win or not. Humans often pen in flocks which creates an unnaturally small territory so it isn't possible to have many males.

    If you really are interested in chicken behavior you should check out some of centrarchid's posts. He has games kept in a natural setting. He has some very interesting threads on their behavior, including one on the interaction of cockerels and the mature flocks. He has one on a cock bird nesting with his hen and offspring too.

    Here is one you may want to read.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/662108/rooster-hen-interactions
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014

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