Yet another rooster question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kris Hughes, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. Kris Hughes

    Kris Hughes New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Mar 26, 2012
    Hi - I'm new here. I see that there are a number of discussions about this already, but since my situation is a little different, I'll just go for it.

    We have a flock of about 50 hens, who began their laying careers this winter, and 4 roosters. The breeds are Brahma, Araucana, and a white breed that I think were called "White Rock" (maybe a Plymouth Rock crossed with some commercial white breed? They're fairly heavy.). The roosters are two Brahmas and 2 of the whites.

    These guys are free range (we live on 160 acres, but don't really farm - we have horses) by day and are shut in a boxcar at night. The roosts are probably a little crowded at night, but other than that, it seems like plenty of space. What we're noticing is that recently the testosterone is really rampant. We don't see a lot of fighting, but it must be happening. One of the Brahmas now has most of his neck feathers missing, and one of the whites also looks a bit bedraggled. The crowing is pretty constant and has a slight air of desperation. The hens are, I think, getting too much attention, too. I'm not upset by barnyard sex, but many of them look pretty roughed up.

    I don't have previous chicken experience, but do have a lot of animal experience, and my feeling is that the whole flock is a bit stressed. The weather got hot very suddenly a couple of weeks ago, much earlier than normal, also very windy, so maybe they've been spending too much time huddled together, even though they're free? Egg numbers were increasing nicely until recently, and have now dropped off a bit, too.

    We're wondering about culling a couple of roosters, but there are predators around, so not sure how much this will decrease the protection element. Any thoughts appreciated.

    Kris
    in hot, dry and windy SE Colorado
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,532
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Your hen to roo ratio sounds good. The thing that jumps out at me is the warmer weather, crowded nighttime conditions, and the closed boxcar. Do the have ventilation at night in the boxcar? All being shut in together with no air flow, that could be a lot af ammonia build up.
     
  3. Kris Hughes

    Kris Hughes New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Mar 26, 2012
    The ventilation is really good, and there's certainly no ammonia smell in the morning when we open it up. Also, night time temps here are always MUCH lower than daytime...

    When I say the roosts are crowded, I just mean the actual roosts - we need to build a few more. The boxcar itself is quite roomy for them.

    Thanks for your reply, it's good to learn more.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  4. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

    1,314
    43
    171
    May 11, 2011
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    Were all of the birds raised together or were there some that have been introduced at a later age/time?
     
  5. Kris Hughes

    Kris Hughes New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Mar 26, 2012
    They were pretty much raised together. There is a few weeks difference in age between the breed groups as I recall. (The chickens are really hubby's thing - but he would never post on an internet forum!) They have been together for most of their lives, though.

    Please don't ask me which group came first!
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  6. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    63,889
    9,674
    766
    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    [​IMG] The greatest 'protection' roosters provide is as an early warning system. If fertile eggs are not your primary goal, I would separate out two of the roosters leaving two with the flock. Although your hen to rooster ratio is fine, frequently roosters will 'gang breed' certain hens causing an increase in the stress level and resultant decrease in egg production.
     
  7. your roo - hen ratio seems good, but roosters will pick their fave hens and breed mostly with those, so if I were you I would cull 2 roosters like how SourLand said
     
  8. Kris Hughes

    Kris Hughes New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Mar 26, 2012
    Yes, I think that's what we'll do. Probably won't happen 'til the weekend, unfortunately.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by