Too many roosters

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
529
352
186
Southern Berkshires, MA
One of my hens had 4 chicks last May and 2 are males. Our existing rooster has maintained his alpha status and the 2 younger roos stick together and so far just get run off of the food and water until the flock has finished. Today, though, 1 of the roos had a bloody neck and we assumed he got attacked by the alpha roo but I've never seen either act that aggressively. I'm wondering if the young roo tried to assert himself, idk, but clearly it's not going to work out and both the young roos should go. Thing is, nobody wants roos. I was hoping they'd all get along. I have 11 hens. The blood scared the children but he was acting fine so I think it's probably from his waddle and he's white so it's very shocking. He wasn't hand raised so I can't get near him to inspect. I was going to separate him tonight but my 2nd coop isn't predator proof so they're all in the coop together and I figure I'll separate the injured one out in the morning.
 
Jul 15, 2020
1,297
1,743
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Washington State 8a/8b
Did you clean up the blood? Chickens really think the color red is just delicious and they'll keep pecking at him if the notice he's bleeding or has a particularly scrumptious scab somewhere. I don't really have any insight on what happened today in your flock but I would say at least one rooster has to go, I think the general running number is like 5-6 hens per rooster? Someone please correct me if I'm wrong : D
 

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
529
352
186
Southern Berkshires, MA
Did you clean up the blood? Chickens really think the color red is just delicious and they'll keep pecking at him if the notice he's bleeding or has a particularly scrumptious scab somewhere. I don't really have any insight on what happened today in your flock but I would say at least one rooster has to go, I think the general running number is like 5-6 hens per rooster? Someone please correct me if I'm wrong : D
I've always heard 10:1 is perfect. I could keep his brother but I don't want the same thing to happen to him. They used to spar when little but now they just hang out. It would be nice if they could go somewhere together. I did not clean him up. I separated him from the rest of the flock while they were out foraging and then let him in last at night so they wouldn't see him. The coop is dark; they won't see the blood, but they will tomorrow when I let them out.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
14,238
19,493
822
California's Redwood Coast
I figure I'll separate the injured one out in the morning.
How much space do the subordinate boys have to get away from the alpha? Sorry for your kids, please let them know that it usually looks much worse than it is.

Identify the cause of the bleeding.. was it a confrontation and between who if so? Or was it an accidental scratch or catch on something?

Small battles can appear MUCH bloodier than they are.. and behavior is a good indicator of what happened. Is anyone hiding, got black eyes, not eating or drinking, not going to roost, etc? Sounds like it was VERY minor. Morning feed time is when antics are often rowdiest among boys HERE. Roost time is often brutal, but quickly a routine is established that minimizes them.. subordinates *usually* go up early to stake a spot or late to fill one in without too much picking. I have boys at times.. battle it out.. and go to bed together at night withOUT a lady between them. :rolleyes: Even the best of friends will have disagreements at times!

Inspecting after dark using a flash light is ALWAYS the easiest way to catch and look over an unwilling bird. Keep it dark and they won't require ANY chasing. Hold their wings tight to their back to prevent panicked flapping and keep them calm as you proceed.

Do NOT separate the scraped up boy.. or they will NOT go back together again. Most often, as long as there is plenty of room.. it will resolve itself.. If separation is preferred, do so IN sight of the flock.

However, with spring approaching.. antics are likely to increase.. and with kiddos in the mix.. I would definitely be seeking alternative options for 2 if not all 3 boys.

Craigslist farm and garden section is where I see them for sell cheap and free.. for flock master OR supper table, sometimes requesting not to be told IF that IS your intention.

Two of local feed stores would take roosters.. and give store credit for $5-10 IF they have the space. They all also offer free posting boards.

Predator boost your second coop security system and let the 2 subordinate boys stay there as a bachelor pad IF you have the resources including time, energy, etc to allow for that.. Many of us keep stag pens for different reasons.. eating, breeding, or simply those who cannot find other homes, or face the alternative that their chicken lived a good, shorter life than SOME, and had ONE bad moment that was over before they could process what happened to them.. and WAY better than factory chicken.. I'm not saying they are wrong if they feel that way! It's a personal choice.. I WISH I knew earlier in life about where food really comes from! But thankful for my understanding now and appreciate that each family's journey is unique.

You boys *may* still work it out if you give them time. :fl

Adding in extra visual barriers.. a chair on it's side, a bale of hay, cardboard box, etc.. and some enrichment like hanging corn on the cob or heads of cabbage in multiple locations where they have to jump to get it.. (during summer ice cubes with frozen peas), a compost scratching pile to look for bugs.

Hen to cockerel/rooster ration needed depends completely on the individual and even a rooster given plenty of hen access may over mate their favorite.. while I have kept others in a 3 pullet/2 cockerel ratio and had ZERO issues with over mating.

I disagree about red being of any interest unless it's out of place and looks like a bug or actually gets it's deliciousness discovered. I doubt it will be of any concern in THIS instance the way it may be in a crowded brooder. Otherwise.. every single chicken comb and wattle is red as are their vent when they poop and so on.. :sick

ETA: Remove one expect pecking order to change and antics to increase short term at least.

Hope this helps a little. :fl

ETAA: one day is usually not enough separation time to realize a pecking order difference in my stag pen or breeding flocks.. ie: one day is usually a safe return.
 
Last edited:

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
529
352
186
Southern Berkshires, MA
How much space do the subordinate boys have to get away from the alpha? Sorry for your kids, please let them know that it usually looks much worse than it is.

Identify the cause of the bleeding.. was it a confrontation and between who if so? Or was it an accidental scratch or catch on something?

Small battles can appear MUCH bloodier than they are.. and behavior is a good indicator of what happened. Is anyone hiding, got black eyes, not eating or drinking, not going to roost, etc? Sounds like it was VERY minor. Morning feed time is when antics are often rowdiest among boys HERE. Roost time is often brutal, but quickly a routine is established that minimizes them.. subordinates *usually* go up early to stake a spot or late to fill one in without too much picking. I have boys at times.. battle it out.. and go to bed together at night withOUT a lady between them. :rolleyes: Even the best of friends will have disagreements at times!

Inspecting after dark using a flash light is ALWAYS the easiest way to catch and look over an unwilling bird. Keep it dark and they won't require ANY chasing. Hold their wings tight to their back to prevent panicked flapping and keep them calm as you proceed.

Do NOT separate the scraped up boy.. or they will NOT go back together again. Most often, as long as there is plenty of room.. it will resolve itself.. If separation is preferred, do so IN sight of the flock.

However, with spring approaching.. antics are likely to increase.. and with kiddos in the mix.. I would definitely be seeking alternative options for 2 if not all 3 boys.

Craigslist farm and garden section is where I see them for sell cheap and free.. for flock master OR supper table, sometimes requesting not to be told IF that IS your intention.

Two of local feed stores would take roosters.. and give store credit for $5-10 IF they have the space. They all also offer free posting boards.

Predator boost your second coop security system and let the 2 subordinate boys stay there as a bachelor pad IF you have the resources including time, energy, etc to allow for that.. Many of us keep stag pens for different reasons.. eating, breeding, or simply those who cannot find other homes, or face the alternative that their chicken lived a good, shorter life than SOME, and had ONE bad moment that was over before they could process what happened to them.. and WAY better than factory chicken.. I'm not saying they are wrong if they feel that way! It's a personal choice.. I WISH I knew earlier in life about where food really comes from! But thankful for my understanding now and appreciate that each family's journey is unique.

You boys *may* still work it out if you give them time. :fl

Adding in extra visual barriers.. a chair on it's side, a bale of hay, cardboard box, etc.. and some enrichment like hanging corn on the cob or heads of cabbage in multiple locations where they have to jump to get it.. (during summer ice cubes with frozen peas), a compost scratching pile to look for bugs.

Hen to cockerel/rooster ration needed depends completely on the individual and even a rooster given plenty of hen access may over mate their favorite.. while I have kept others in a 3 pullet/2 cockerel ratio and had ZERO issues with over mating.

I disagree about red being of any interest unless it's out of place and looks like a bug or actually gets it's deliciousness discovered. I doubt it will be of any concern in THIS instance the way it may be in a crowded brooder. Otherwise.. every single chicken comb and wattle is red as are their vent when they poop and so on.. :sick

ETA: Remove one expect pecking order to change and antics to increase short term at least.

Hope this helps a little. :fl

ETAA: one day is usually not enough separation time to realize a pecking order difference in my stag pen or breeding flocks.. ie: one day is usually a safe return.
That's a good idea to check at night and if the roo looked at all bothered by his injury I would've been more hands on. Their run is not that large but it has a small coop inside that the hens sometimes go into - I find an egg in it here and there, so they do have escapes. Usually, I have them out most of the day but with winter and not being out there as much I haven't been letting them out as often. We have hawks. They often go into the large coop to hide as well. I have a bunch of veggie scraps I plan to give them tomorrow and I'll let them out more. That might do the trick until I figure something out. Thanks for your help!
 

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
529
352
186
Southern Berkshires, MA
That's a good idea to check at night and if the roo looked at all bothered by his injury I would've been more hands on. Their run is not that large but it has a small coop inside that the hens sometimes go into - I find an egg in it here and there, so they do have escapes. Usually, I have them out most of the day but with winter and not being out there as much I haven't been letting them out as often. We have hawks. They often go into the large coop to hide as well. I have a bunch of veggie scraps I plan to give them tomorrow and I'll let them out more. That might do the trick until I figure something out. Thanks for your help!
I really don't want to get rid of the head roo. He is great with the hens and is no threat to us. Plus, babies ❤️
 

Shezadandy

Crowing
5 Years
Sep 26, 2015
2,211
2,800
377
Portland OR
Grab him up in the dark. Wrap him in a towel so he can't flap and do a bunch of crazy moves. Look for the injury and rinse off the blood.

While of course chicken combs are red, as are wattles- the SMELL of blood is intense and they LOVE IT. A weaker or submissive bird might even just stand there while their friends rip off chunks of flesh. As you wash off the blood, notice the smell.
 

ehoneybee

Songster
Apr 22, 2017
529
352
186
Southern Berkshires, MA
Grab him up in the dark. Wrap him in a towel so he can't flap and do a bunch of crazy moves. Look for the injury and rinse off the blood.

While of course chicken combs are red, as are wattles- the SMELL of blood is intense and they LOVE IT. A weaker or submissive bird might even just stand there while their friends rip off chunks of flesh. As you wash off the blood, notice the smell.
I'm still not convinced it was from a fight but I'm keeping an eye on them today. Maybe if he did fight with the alpha he knows his place now and it's done but there wasn't blood on that one so it's really hard to know what happened. I'll try to grab him while he's in the coop.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
14,238
19,493
822
California's Redwood Coast
I really don't want to get rid of the head roo. He is great with the hens and is no threat to us. Plus, babies ❤
Since you will be hatching more, consider learning to harvest the extras yourself.

I did have a source that would harvest for me for only $5 a head or take any freebies.. ultimately I wanted cleaner carcasses and learned to do it myself plus raising heritage boys cannot be for free so giving them away was not going to be sustainable long term for me. But the main factor being.. convenience.. working with someone else's schedule and life changes happen. etc.. EVEN when I've planned ahead for all boys, people change their mind, get injured, face illness, job loss, moving, divorce, etc.. Always good to have a plan B and C... which could be your extra coop or what have you. You do YOU.

I'm too rural.. but some places even have livestock auctions where they home their extra or unwanted birds, cattle, etc. I see a few folks on here that use them regularly... NEVER buy, only sell.. for YOUR flocks' bio security!

Might not have been a fight with the head cock.. could have been an attempted mounting and a gal stood up for herself. Could have been a squabble between the two buddies even. Some folks use game cams or others in their coops to help see what might be going on.

I acknowledge that what shezadandy is stating CAN be a reality.. and the advice may be valid (even wise :thumbsup ).. I never ever clean up blood, but usually leave the body alone to work it's magic, including after having a duck scalped by a raccoon.. with a flock of 82+. The duck was stiff for several days and made a full recovery. I DO watch for flock antics though before making a decision like that.. and also continued observation.. I WILL intervene if deemed needed.. NO relentless bullies tolerated here, EVER.

When my head roo had some comb wounds, the ladies would groom the scabs daily.. making the wound heal quite slowly. The rooster invited the attention and appreciated what they were doing.. sometimes things can be itchy when healing.

A good head rooster.. is worth his weight in gold actually! Not for protection because they can't compete with most my predators and one rooster can never protect 10 hens escorting them all to and from lay boxes, etc. No wonder so many are out of balance with ALL we expect out of them! But yes for babies.. and also for ruling firmly but from a well balanced state of mind.. not over reactive and with discernment to actual threats. Once they've set the expectation they can back off instead of needing to push.

Flock dynamics are a thing of constant change.. don't expect a cockerel to know his place permanently.. chickens are ALWAYS looking to elevate their status in the flock.. higher status means first access to food, best roosting spot, choice mates, etc..

A challenge or first test.. is just that, a feeler.. does one need to get stronger and more confident before stepping up again or are they content with their place??

It's not the size of the bird in the fight .. it's the size of the fight in the bird.. at first an elder will almost always have the upper hand.. due to confidence. But with hormones and age (plus spring and summer daylight hours) comes strength and confidence plus desire to spread seed..

I've had Silkie boys put Marans and other large fowl on the run, It's kinda hilarious at times.

I enjoy chickens. I'm not claiming to have all the right answers. I KNOW especially with people and animals all being individuals.. what works with some won't work for others and maybe not even a second time. So please always use YOUR best judgement and don't get STUCK on one way only! :)

Do your kiddos have a favorite bird? :pop
 

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