Too many roosters


6 Years
Feb 6, 2013
Springfield, Ohio
I'm starting my first flock and I ordered 25 brown egg laying females and 25 random assortment straight run. I ended up with 10 roosters which is obviously too many. We slaughtered 1 already and it really upset me. I was crying before I even took him out of the coop to put him in the carrier. My husband said he'll do the killing, but he needs help holding them and I am just torn up over it. Obviously I am never ordering straight run again.

I was thinking I'd keep 4, which would be 1 per 10 hens which I read in multiple sources was a good ratio. Yeah, not a good ratio in my case. The roosters are so mean to the hens. And not even when they're trying to mount them, but they just attack them - especially the littler and/or weaker ones.

So I have decided to cull all 10 roosters. They make the hens nervous and I am treating a hen injured by roosters now. I am posting this because I am curious about others' experiences with roosters. Do they always attack then hens? I had one who wasn't attacking hens so I left him in the coop but pulled the others and then all of a sudden he started attacking hens - I guess he saw an opening and filled it.

How do others handle killing them? Am I just green and/or a tender heart about this? I want it to be fast and humane, so we are planning to use a hatchet to chop off their heads. To me slicing their throat in a killing cone and letting them bleed to death seems cruel.

Thanks everyone for your advice and tips!

There are good and back cockerels. But, what you are probably experiencing now is the teenage hormones, where if you can work through them, some of them might settle down to be nice adult cock birds. Are you hoping to have fertilized eggs? If so, I would try to keep one or two of the nicer ones. I personally love having roosters for their flock protector qualities as well as the egg fertilization, eye candy, and I love the sound of the crowing.

Processing is hard. I've had my emotional moments too, but in the end I realize they lived much better lives with me than any of the commercial meat birds ever do, so I am okay with it.
My question is do you eat chicken? (If not then the rest of this really isn't relavent, sorry) Do you plan on continuing to eat them after feeling this way? As hard as it is to process your own I actually think it is FAR more kind than what happens to commercial birds and just because you do not have to watch does not mean that you are not participating. This will be ten birds that are far healthier for your family and ten less birds that you purchase commercially. Also, when you process your own you can make sure that nothing goes to waste. To me, it really can be an act of respect for all involved.

I watched a lot of videos on how to process for my first attempt and this I think is the best. WARNING: a chicken is killed in this video. It is two parts. The first is killing the bird and the second is breaking it down. I like her method and her overal philosophy about it as well. When she does it, she tears up a little. I generally do too.

Before I processed my first bird I told my partner that this was either going to make me a vegetarian or a farmer so watch out.

Good luck!

edited: I forgot to actually put the link. Here it is:
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In my farm only I and I only do the killings... just because i know how to do it and I have come to terms with this action. I think coming to terms with it is just as important as doing it right.

Coming to terms takes time and thought. It deals with your personal/family value system (and in case you have not thought about it in detail, it does matter)... I raise rabbits, ducks, chickens and turkeys at a small scale for meat and eggs. ALL OUR ANIMALS ARE TREATED LIKE PETS and if my kids want to name them they can. I disagree with the idea that you just don't name the ones you are going to consume. That has the underlying idea that you are not emotionally involved or that you don't care about the ones that you will eventually slaughter.

Please keep in mind every household has its value system... in ours we do not kill because we don't like the animals or not care about them. We decided as a family we would take great care of healthy animals that would eventually be humanely slaughtered for family sustainability and consumption. Of course, if kids want to keep a certain animal (NOT ALL) and commit to taking care of them for 10 years (meaning the rest of their lives) they can keep them and it will NEVER be slaughtered. These live with the rest of the animals too.

ALL our animals have playtime and regular "pet like" lives. Well, as normal as we can manage with the space available.

So... what I wanted to share w/ you is just a little about our mindset regarding these actions in our farm. Kids discuss w/ us every doubt, concern, etc... they have, about all we do and before anything is done it has to "fit" our value system of care, love, dedication to the familiy and farm...


I always "disconnect" at the brain level before chopping necks or cutting heads or anything. With poultry you take a small pointy knife and push it through the upper part of the beak (the roof of the mouth) going in the direction of the brain or imagining that you try to reach the space between the bird's eyes with the tip of the knife going though the roof of the mouth... this should be done with enough force to get to the brain w/ a sharp motion. I immediately chop the head off and let the bird bleed.

if you can't to this you can always smash the head at the eye level with a very heavy hammer. You can cover the head w an old sock or a small bag. But be sharp and strong... then proceed with head chopping.

I learned this in a youtube video. I always "wrap" a bird's wings either with a bag, tape etc... the goal is preventing wing flapping. I do it loosely enough for the bird to be comfy and allow me some stability. I take a string and loosely tie it around the neck of the bird. This string needs to have a long end that you can step on. I place the bird on its side in my cutting surface, have my heavy knife ready and my small knife in my hand.

Step 1: Hold the end of the string w/ your foot in a way that you force the bird's neck on your chopping board (not strangling but restraining movment... they can't lift the neck if you have the string securely under your foot on the side )...

Step2: Disconnect brain as I mentioned and place your small knife on the floor (I usually just drop it so I can get the other one fast)

Step 3: Chop head

Step 4 : bleed

This is the more humane I have seen a bird go.

With my rabbits I just allow them to go out and eat and when they are calm I shoot in between the base of the ears with a pellet gun. They go very fast with very little stress and have never heard them make a sound.

Hope this helps.
PS: You should not push yourself do something you don''t want to or that just does not feel right. You can always pay someone to slaughter them .

TOO MANY ROOSTERS: About this I just have to say ... too many roosters for me is too much trouble. And I looooove roosters!!! They are such beautiful creatures!!! But in the flock having more than one (at least) for me has always been a problem... If you can afford to separate them maybe you can keep more than one or two...
I think you're making a good step, just in asking about it. I grew up a city girl, married a farmer. He grew up butchering chickens. I love having my laying hens and pretty roosters. Over the 30 years we've been married, I have finally - within the last year - become OK with butchering the "pretty" roosters. We have done it in the past, but I haven't liked it. My DH also chops the head off while I hold their legs. I usually turn my head away while he does it (yeah, I'm pretty trusting!). Once the head is off, I'm fine. For me, I just had to make up my mind that this is what we're doing, and that's it. I don't let myself get attached and I don't give them names.

The one you decided to keep was maybe just trying to establish his place in the pecking order. If you want a rooster with your hens, try leaving him in there for a couple of weeks and see if he settles down.
Dear OP,

I am just going to be honest with you as I would want people to be honest with me. I would rather someone tell me what I'm facing up front, rather than try to spare me a hard truth. That being said, I think maybe 4 roos will be too many for your 40 hens. I have also heard of the 1 roo to 10 hens ratio, but in my personal experience that is still too many roos. I hope I'm wrong in your case, but I think you will probably end up with stressed out and bare backed hens.(from over mating) I run with 1 roo for every 20 hens and I still end up with the occasional hen with a bare back. Usually because a particular hen squats easily making her a convenient target.

I can tell that you want your chickens to have the best, most peaceful existence possible and unfortunately that can be difficult at times. If I were you I would only keep 2 roos with that many hens. You could give 3 a try to see how it goes, but you would probably have the happiest hens with only 2. I wish you the best of luck!!!

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