Too many roosters

Ms Biddy

One chicken short of crazy
Dec 4, 2017
766
2,160
322
My Coop
My Coop
You're lucky if you only got 4 cockerels out of 12 chicks. I got 9 out of 15. You don't have to get rid of any of you don't want to, but 15 hens would not be enough for them. Choose one to keep with them and keep the others seperately. They'll probably be fine and if not, build them some separate pens.
 

GaryDean26

Chicken Czar
8 Years
Dec 22, 2011
1,824
861
271
McAlester, OK
My Coop
My Coop
Hi all....not sure I'm posting in the correct forum but here goes. We incubated a dozen eggs in September, 5 of which hatched, 4 of which so far are roosters. Everyone is telling my husband we must get rid of them or atleast 2 of them, now these people don't even have chickens number 1 so what the heck do they know. I know 4 roosters for 1 hen is too many so we are on our way as we speak to purchase atleast 10 - 4 mth old pullets to join our flock. I love my roosters, only one is snotty so far and has been since the day it was born, i do not eat my chickens so crock pot is out of the question for my roosters, i am attached to them already and do bot want to get rid of any of my roosters. Yes they all have names, they are for pets and eggs only. So what im thinking is keeping all my roosters and adding 10-15hens to the flock and if the roosters get too aggressive i will release them from the 10x30 pen and let them free range and just keep 1 in with my hens...does this sound logical or is it too far fetched...i need opinions as we are new chicken folks! Thanks!
Well you probably could get a thousand opinions about this on this forum so what I have to say may not mean much but here I go.

I grew up in the city where no one had chickens (this was 30 years ago before the urban chicken movement). I did about one Science Project type hatch a year starting when I was about 8 years old. My parents would always have me take the chicks to my uncle's farm four hours away before they were even 4 weeks old. When I was about 14 years old I did a hatch that resulted in a single pullet and four cockerels. It was one of my most memorable hatches because we got really busy that year and never made any trips to my uncle's farm. The birds grew to 8 weeks old then 16 weeks old then 24 weeks old etc. The cockerels all seemed to get along together. The pullet seemed to get along well with the males too. So...I kept them all together and never had any problems.

Fast Forward 30 years and I have now raised thousands of chickens and have been breeding my own flocks for the past 8 years (which means I have grown out hundreds of cockerels). I have found that cockerel (and even cocks) can live together if they have a lot of space. If they are confined in a small run or coop the weaker cockerels will not be able to get off the turf of the stronger cockerels and stronger males will constantly punish the weaker cockerels for it. Once one cockerel is bloody or wounded everyone will pick on his. They like to hit the weak birds while they are down. Once they get to that point the only options is to remove the weaker bird from the group and put him in isolation so he has heal and recover. So...give the cockerels plenty of space. I would give them at least 100 square feet for each cockerel. Also put the food and water in multiple places. the dominate cockerel will claim the main food/water bucket as his turf and he will guard it. Any time a lower ranking cockerel gets hungry or thirsty enough to step on the turf he will get punished. If you have food and water in two locations then the food locations will not be a source of fighting in the flock because the dominate male can only guard one location so the others can still eat and drink at the other locations.

As for the pullet...if you are breeding a large flock you don't need a lot of males to produce fertile eggs. One year I got some hatching eggs from a neighbor's laying flock. He said he didn't now how may would be fertile because he had 30 hens and just one cockerel. Well...we had and 88% hatch. So no, for breeding purposes you don't need a lot of cockerels. Since you are not breeding your flock and are just keeping them for eggs and pets the recommended cockerel to hen ratios can change. Four cockerels and one pullet might work. The one caution is that you don't want the cockerels mating the pullet relentlessly. If they are being rough on her and pulling out her feathers, cutting up her comb, not letting her come out to eat or forage with out being chased and mounted over and over then that is a problem. Some cockerels will over mate the pullet. If that is a problem then getting more pullets may or may not help. The cockerels that over mate the hens tend to choose a favorite hens and mate her non-stop while only mating the others enough to ensure that he is fathering the offspring. The same is true with just one hen/pullet. Some will only mate than one hen/pullet enough to ensure that he is fathering offspring and other will mate her non-stop. I haven't experimented with space on the hen ratios, but I have run 2-3 males with small group of hens (8-12) and they have done fine. They are still at the 100+ square feet per chicken so that may be part of our success.

I have found that even with the best management you can have a problem causing male that won't get along in a group of cockerels while all the other males do and that even with the best management you can have a male that will abuse the hens while other males won't. It is an individual thing. Some breeds or lines of a breed will have more problem males and some will have fewer problem males but in the half dozen breed we have bred (with a half dozen line fore each) we have found that chickens are individual and their behavior is independent of their breed.

We have also found problem hens. You may have a flock of 4 cockerels and one pullet that never have any problems. Then you introduce 10-15 hens and all of a sudden your pullet that was fine with the males finds that the hens abuse her. This is almost certain to happen any time you put birds from two flocks together. The hens have a pecking order just like the males do and they will fight for a week or more when they are put together. The problem hens are those that will abuse other hens even when they are raised together and are from the same flock. That happens too. So... you can't avoid problem hens or problem males. They could could be in any group that you raise or bring in. You can do things quite different in a pet flock than you do in a breeding or production flock though. You just need to give the flock a lot of room so they can establish their natural hierarchy in the flock without being constrained bycoop space, feeding areas, etc. You also need to watch for the bad apples in the flock because they will spoil the whole barrel.

Oh...and you may hear this a thousand times on this forum too, but if you want to have a flock of pet chickens that you can enjoy (I do....and yes I have names for my chickens, and I can name all of them by sight and usually tell which one laid each egg in the nesting box too) you need to get rid of the problem birds. It wouldn't be prudent to keep a pet Dog that you know will attack any children it can get to or that you know will attack the mail man every day, or that you know will kill other neighbor's dogs, cats, etc. That would land you in court with serious charges against you. So...why would you keep a pet chicken that you know will attack or abuse other chickens (or small children, or the mail man, etc.)? No one should own chickens who is not willing and able to get rid of birds that are no well behaved in the flock and with people. It is not responsible and it will turn a wonderful pet flock into a nightmare. The crock pot will give the problem birds some meaning to its life. If you refuse to do than you need another plan. Letting it live in isolation might limit the risk, but the liability is still there and you can't shrug the responsibility. If you can't thin a flock of cockerels you may need to stick with the sexed pullets from the hatcheries. Being a owner of pet chickens comes with many responsibilities. Managing cockerels (and hens too) is one of them, but you probably have already heard that from a thousand other people and have a good method for managing your flock so I will leave it at that.
 
Last edited:

GaryDean26

Chicken Czar
8 Years
Dec 22, 2011
1,824
861
271
McAlester, OK
My Coop
My Coop
Fabulous post. :thumbsup Would you consider making this an article. I think it is that good.
Yes....will you be my editor? I will do the first pass if you read it and give it an honest and open critic (both grammar, wording, and content). I have written chicken articles for our breed association for club newsletter. Some had good editing. Other not so much and I am still finding errors in them 5 years later. :)
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,296
12,569
707
Southeast Louisiana
Yes....will you be my editor? I will do the first pass if you read it and give it an honest and open critic (both grammar, wording, and content). I have written chicken articles for our breed association for club newsletter. Some had good editing. Other not so much and I am still finding errors in them 5 years later. :)
I'll do the best I can. Send me a PM.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
12 Years
Nov 18, 2007
21,826
11,799
641
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
Well you probably could get a thousand opinions about this on this forum so what I have to say may not mean much but here I go.

I grew up in the city where no one had chickens (this was 30 years ago before the urban chicken movement). I did about one Science Project type hatch a year starting when I was about 8 years old. My parents would always have me take the chicks to my uncle's farm four hours away before they were even 4 weeks old. When I was about 14 years old I did a hatch that resulted in a single pullet and four cockerels. It was one of my most memorable hatches because we got really busy that year and never made any trips to my uncle's farm. The birds grew to 8 weeks old then 16 weeks old then 24 weeks old etc. The cockerels all seemed to get along together. The pullet seemed to get along well with the males too. So...I kept them all together and never had any problems.

Fast Forward 30 years and I have now raised thousands of chickens and have been breeding my own flocks for the past 8 years (which means I have grown out hundreds of cockerels). I have found that cockerel (and even cocks) can live together if they have a lot of space. If they are confined in a small run or coop the weaker cockerels will not be able to get off the turf of the stronger cockerels and stronger males will constantly punish the weaker cockerels for it. Once one cockerel is bloody or wounded everyone will pick on his. They like to hit the weak birds while they are down. Once they get to that point the only options is to remove the weaker bird from the group and put him in isolation so he has heal and recover. So...give the cockerels plenty of space. I would give them at least 100 square feet for each cockerel. Also put the food and water in multiple places. the dominate cockerel will claim the main food/water bucket as his turf and he will guard it. Any time a lower ranking cockerel gets hungry or thirsty enough to step on the turf he will get punished. If you have food and water in two locations then the food locations will not be a source of fighting in the flock because the dominate male can only guard one location so the others can still eat and drink at the other locations.

As for the pullet...if you are breeding a large flock you don't need a lot of males to produce fertile eggs. One year I got some hatching eggs from a neighbor's laying flock. He said he didn't now how may would be fertile because he had 30 hens and just one cockerel. Well...we had and 88% hatch. So no, for breeding purposes you don't need a lot of cockerels. Since you are not breeding your flock and are just keeping them for eggs and pets the recommended cockerel to hen ratios can change. Four cockerels and one pullet might work. The one caution is that you don't want the cockerels mating the pullet relentlessly. If they are being rough on her and pulling out her feathers, cutting up her comb, not letting her come out to eat or forage with out being chased and mounted over and over then that is a problem. Some cockerels will over mate the pullet. If that is a problem then getting more pullets may or may not help. The cockerels that over mate the hens tend to choose a favorite hens and mate her non-stop while only mating the others enough to ensure that he is fathering the offspring. The same is true with just one hen/pullet. Some will only mate than one hen/pullet enough to ensure that he is fathering offspring and other will mate her non-stop. I haven't experimented with space on the hen ratios, but I have run 2-3 males with small group of hens (8-12) and they have done fine. They are still at the 100+ square feet per chicken so that may be part of our success.

I have found that even with the best management you can have a problem causing male that won't get along in a group of cockerels while all the other males do and that even with the best management you can have a male that will abuse the hens while other males won't. It is an individual thing. Some breeds or lines of a breed will have more problem males and some will have fewer problem males but in the half dozen breed we have bred (with a half dozen line fore each) we have found that chickens are individual and their behavior is independent of their breed.

We have also found problem hens. You may have a flock of 4 cockerels and one pullet that never have any problems. Then you introduce 10-15 hens and all of a sudden your pullet that was fine with the males finds that the hens abuse her. This is almost certain to happen any time you put birds from two flocks together. The hens have a pecking order just like the males do and they will fight for a week or more when they are put together. The problem hens are those that will abuse other hens even when they are raised together and are from the same flock. That happens too. So... you can't avoid problem hens or problem males. They could could be in any group that you raise or bring in. You can do things quite different in a pet flock than you do in a breeding or production flock though. You just need to give the flock a lot of room so they can establish their natural hierarchy in the flock without being constrained bycoop space, feeding areas, etc. You also need to watch for the bad apples in the flock because they will spoil the whole barrel.

Oh...and you may hear this a thousand times on this forum too, but if you want to have a flock of pet chickens that you can enjoy (I do....and yes I have names for my chickens, and I can name all of them by sight and usually tell which one laid each egg in the nesting box too) you need to get rid of the problem birds. It wouldn't be prudent to keep a pet Dog that you know will attack any children it can get to or that you know will attack the mail man every day, or that you know will kill other neighbor's dogs, cats, etc. That would land you in court with serious charges against you. So...why would you keep a pet chicken that you know will attack or abuse other chickens (or small children, or the mail man, etc.)? No one should own chickens who is not willing and able to get rid of birds that are no well behaved in the flock and with people. It is not responsible and it will turn a wonderful pet flock into a nightmare. The crock pot will give the problem birds some meaning to its life. If you refuse to do than you need another plan. Letting it live in isolation might limit the risk, but the liability is still there and you can't shrug the responsibility. If you can't thin a flock of cockerels you may need to stick with the sexed pullets from the hatcheries. Being a owner of pet chickens comes with many responsibilities. Managing cockerels (and hens too) is one of them, but you probably have already heard that from a thousand other people and have a good method for managing your flock so I will leave it at that.
Well said... :goodpost:

I have a couple of coops and pens I use for the bachelors. There are females in the adjacent coops and pens. I have welded wire between my pens with 2 foot chicken wire along the bottom. I hog ringed it to the welded wire to prevent the males from fighting with the male in the adjacent pen and messing up their combs. The welded wire is 2x4 mesh. Everyone is different. Most of my birds are in breeding coops and pens. I do have a few special birds that have names but most don't. I do have some males in my freezer. I sell most of the males. I raise them for possible show quality. I keep the best as my breeders but sell many who would make fine breeders. More and more people are getting into raising pure (heritage) lines of certain breeds. I have been raising mine for many years. I had my first flock around 50 years ago. There were times in my life when we lived in an area for work that wouldn't allow poultry. Now for the past 20 years we have had our farm and I enjoy my birds.
 

GldnValleyHens

Crowing
Apr 21, 2017
978
2,117
262
Illinois
It’s such a pain when you have too many roosters. You either have become too attached to them or no one wants to take them off your hands! I have 3 roosters, and 2 of them are aggressive bantams who attack each other and innocent bystanders. Real pains in the rump.
But ( blame it on my weak heart) I am too attached to them to sell or cull. I love their names I think more than the actual bird haha. That’s kind of my problem, because once I give a chicken a cool name, I can’t bear not to have that bird in my flock!!!!
What I really want is a big, good ol rooster who crows mightily and is gentle. I had the best guy, but he was killed by a coyote.
instead I’ve got these pathetic screeching bantams running around as if they own the entire county, but when actual danger occurs, they scream and hide. :oops::lol:
 

Chaneys Ranch

Formerly jchny2000
Premium member
7 Years
Jun 30, 2012
10,055
2,943
552
Pendleton, Indiana, USA
Hi all....not sure I'm posting in the correct forum but here goes. We incubated a dozen eggs in September, 5 of which hatched, 4 of which so far are roosters. Everyone is telling my husband we must get rid of them or atleast 2 of them, now these people don't even have chickens number 1 so what the heck do they know. I know 4 roosters for 1 hen is too many so we are on our way as we speak to purchase atleast 10 - 4 mth old pullets to join our flock. I love my roosters, only one is snotty so far and has been since the day it was born, i do not eat my chickens so crock pot is out of the question for my roosters, i am attached to them already and do bot want to get rid of any of my roosters. Yes they all have names, they are for pets and eggs only. So what im thinking is keeping all my roosters and adding 10-15hens to the flock and if the roosters get too aggressive i will release them from the 10x30 pen and let them free range and just keep 1 in with my hens...does this sound logical or is it too far fetched...i need opinions as we are new chicken folks! Thanks!
You can keep roosters together away from hens. Its a bit expensive to continue keeping them but you have told us your comfort level. Consider the roosters happiness in this situation too. Yes he is still alive. He has no hens and will feel no purpose. Its better to rehome than to place him in a coop with no life. Consider quality of life before you make a final choice.
 
Top Bottom