When to pick which roosters to keep?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kathys Coop, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. Kathys Coop

    Kathys Coop Chirping

    Mar 23, 2019
    So I have 26 chickens that I got all at the same time and they are 17 weeks old. Unfortunately I have way too many roosters not by choice. The roosters I have 2 Delaware, 1 Black Australorp, 1 white created black Polish and I think my 2 golden polish are roosters too ( one crows the other looks exactly like him). So 20 hens and 6 roosters. I have been dealing with a lot of drama. So at about 14 weeks old one of the Delaware roosters was pecking pulling chasing the hens for about a week or so ( I was separating him part of the day because he was just so annoying for the poor girls). Then he stopped and he has been totally fine. The last two weeks our black austrolorp “Doc” has really established himself as the king. He pulls and is starting to do his “thing”. He has gone after the Delaware rooster bad the other night he pinned him to the ground and did not stop and I had to pull him off. He does hang out with the girls outside and watch the skies but he is horrible with sharing treats they all walk away because they are afraid of him. In fact they seem to wall away from him all the time. My polish rooster’s head has a big bald spot in the middle. I have seen Doc pecking it not sure about others. At night everyone is pretty good at going in around 8-8:15 but lately several of the other roosters don’t want to go in if Doc is in there. I see them looking in the coop several times. I’m afraid there is a lot of stress going on in the coop. I still don’t have any eggs yet hopefully soon. Luckily it’s a big coop with two rooms and they free range daytime. Btw none of the roosters have shown human aggression towards myself or kids yet. I know I need to have max 2 roosters and one might even be better. but honestly I’m staring to wonder if I need any at all. When is the right time to start picking which roosters need to go? When do you know what their true temperament will be?
    Compost King likes this.
  2. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Free Ranging

    Jun 14, 2017
    Central PA
    I like to pick out my boys the spring after they hatch. Which works for me, since I have plenty of space for free-ranging and, more importantly, adult roosters to keep the cockerels away from the pullets while both mature. It doesn't sound like it'll work for your setup.

    In your position, what I would do is cull those who have bad behaviour. Bad behaviour as cockerels almost always translates into bad behaviour as adults, and it'll take the pressure off your pullets. Begin eliminating now, and if you decide you don't like any...Well, they're your chickens, and there are plenty of successful flocks that do not include roosters.

    You can get pretty sure of a rooster's temperament when he's a rooster—i. e., when he's over a year old. But you can be pretty sure of which are the boys you don't want in your flock before then.
    chrissynemetz likes this.
  3. Compost King

    Compost King Crowing

    Apr 19, 2018
    North Carolina
    Some things to consider which rooster to keep. How much does that breed eat. The less a rooster eats (smaller breeds) the less he costs to keep. How well does he forage? When picking a flock rooster I tend to want one that goes looking for new places to forage and also he has to call the hens because they need the nutrients more than he does because they make the eggs. I tend to look for boldness, hoping he is bold enough to sacrifice himself so the hens can find a place to hide when a predator shows up. There are many factors to consider most you already know or others will bring up, I just thought I would throw in something you may not have thought about. Your flock, your priorities, I wish you luck in picking out who you want.
    chrissynemetz likes this.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    There ya go!
    If you don't want to hatch chicks, you don't need a cock/erel.
    Put them all in the freezer.
    It's hard to tell temperament so young....
    ...and with multiple males, they can all act their 'worst'.
  5. CheeseandCackles

    CheeseandCackles In the Brooder

    Jul 16, 2019
    I’m in a similar situation. I have two roosters and need to get rid of one. One was more of an jerk for sure initially, but once they settled into their roles, now I see him play peacemaker. I don’t know how good he is specifically for watching for predators. I feel like all my birds take turns eating and watching. They successfully dodged a coyote the other day, but I don’t know who’s to take credit for that if any...My other roosters seems fat and lazy but I like him too

    Anyway, are there any of your roosters that you do like? Sounds like you’ll be able to count out one of them. What about the other 5? And really comes down to what traits you want more. A watchdog/protector or a gentle roo? I’m sure one of your Roos is some happy medium.
  6. hkirchn

    hkirchn Songster

    Feb 17, 2014
    Canton, MO
    It is difficult to judge temperament when you have so many roosters. The most aggressive will quiet down and even the most timid will show a different personality when there is less competition.
    aart and Ridgerunner like this.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Why do you want roosters? What are your goals for them. The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs, everything else is personal preference. Personal preference can be a strong motivator but it should be your preference, not someone else's. I suggest you should keep as few males as you can and still meet your goals. That's not because you are guaranteed problems with more males, but problems are certainly more likely. For many people the right answer is zero. From what you said I think the right answer for you is either zero or one, but that is your decision, not mine.

    You have immature cockerels, not mature roosters. There can be a world of differences in behaviors between cockerels and roosters. As they mature their behaviors often change dramatically. Usually for the good, but maybe not so that complicates choosing which cockerel will mature into the best rooster.

    Something that makes it a lot harder is the social interaction between cockerels and eventually roosters. The dominant male suppresses behaviors of the not-dominant males. They mature at different rates so you can see shifts in dominance. Cockerels often fight to establish or maintain dominance. They often go after the pullets or even grown hens to mate them. That's more about establishing dominance than sex. A cockerel's hormones can be and often are out of control telling him to go dominate and he tries. Competition from other cockerels can increase that behavior. A flock with several cockerels going through adolescence is often pretty wild. Having a dominant rooster in the flock can sometimes calm it down a little but it can still be hard to watch.

    A dominant male has certain responsibilities and perks. If a non-dominant male tries to behave dominantly, he shuts it down. That can be anything from mating, finding treats for the girls, or even protecting the flock though when they mature multiple roosters often work out an accommodation on how they work together to protect the flock if they don't kill each other first. Social interaction can get complicated and each chicken has its own personality. When a male goes from being non-dominant and suppressed to being the one in charge his personality can undergo a huge change. He may make a great rooster or he may become brutal to the girls or human aggressive when he wasn't before.

    You can't tell ahead of time how any cockerel will turn out until he is a mature male and in charge. I struggle with that and don't always get it right. The way I approach it is to know my goals and eliminate any that don't meet those goals. That normally eliminates the majority of them. Some of them eliminate themselves by their behaviors. At some point I have to make a decision but by then I usually have it down to two or three to choose from.

    I don't have any magic ways to tell you how to choose the best or if you even want one at all. My goals are different from yours. My suggestion s to know your goals and use them to help you make your decisions.
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I agree with AArt, and really yourself. If you get rid of all those roosters, you are going to be amazed at the peace in your flock. You are going to enjoy it much more, and so will your pullets.

    There is no need to do this hobby at full throttle. Work your way into it, get some experience. IMO roosters take some experience. And culling roosters is one of the main steps in successful flock keeping. Not every bird will work in your flock. Even some hens will not work in a flock.

    In my experience, roosters that are raised with just flock mates tend to do just exactly what yours are doing, add a huge amount of stress to the flock. Cull these, and wait a year. If you decide you want a rooster, start looking around next spring or summer. Contact your local poultry club, county extension agent, look on the walls at the feed store. What you want is a rooster that is close to a year old, that has been raised in a multi-generational flock and that is so darn nice, that the owners really don't need him, but did not quite get him culled.

    Then maybe you will get a broody hen.... my point is, there are lots of aspects to this hobby, work into them.

    With kids, with inexperience, I would strongly recommend an all hen flock the first year.

    Mrs K

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