To few hens?


6 Years
Jan 5, 2016
My second question stems from my addiction to incubating eggs. I find myself unable to confine myself to a single breed of chicken. I don't know why. I might have to seek therapy. In the mean time, I five or six breeds of chicken I plan on hatching and, silly me, I do not want "mutts" so that means five or six roosters with five or six little harems.

On the other hand, even though a rooster can manage as many as 10 hens, I do not want 50 or 60 hens (yet ;). What is the smallest number of hens I can keep with a rooster that will spread his attention around enough that they hens won't be worn out by his attentions. The answer might be out there but everything I've read talk about the MAXIMUM hens-to-rooster ratio.

I've found 3 hens per rooster, provided each group lives apart, works well.
In my experience having more hens doesn't necessarily mean the rooster will spread his attentions around evenly. Roosters usually have favorite hens and they mate with these most often.
Below three hens, say one is sitting on a clutch of eggs and another laying, the rooster hasn't got any hens to boss around so he actively looks for more. In the free range arrangement I have this means conflict with other roosters. There are no unspoken for hens.
Keeping breed with breed works well, but with lots of breeds this means lots of coops.
This article may help you with the roosters.
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.
As Aart said, breeders often keep one rooster with one or two hens through out the breeding season. Thee is a secret to that though. They keep roosters and hens, not cockerels and pullets. There can be a world of difference in behaviors of roosters and hens versus cockerels and pullets. While you may be OK with one cockerel and one or two pullets as they go through puberty, don't be surprised if they get really rowdy. The same thing could happen with one cockerel and twenty pullets. It's a maturity thing, not a ratio thing.

There are different ways you could approach it. If you start with adults try keeping them in the breeding pens and see how it goes. If you start with chicks or other immature chickens, I'd give a lot of consideration to having a bachelor pad for all the boys and whatever you'd call something similar for the girls. Only let the right ones together when you are ready to hath eggs in their breeding pens.

My absolute minimum of females would be two of a breed, with three being preferred. That's not because of any ratio, but if one dies the others would still have a buddy. Plus some hens don;t lay good hatching eggs or lay very many of them. An extra hen allows you to be more sure of getting eggs in the incubator.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom