Young Rooster getting Beat-up

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Omnifowl, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. Omnifowl

    Omnifowl In the Brooder

    Jan 22, 2017
    N.W. Florida
    I have a young rooster (12-14 weeks old) that I want to put with three Buff Orpington hens. I put him yesterday and all three hens jumped on him and started kicking his butt! I had to save him.

    Is he just too young? Will he defend himself once he matures? How do acclimate them to him and vice-versa?
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017

  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    What you have is a cockerel - still a baby at this point. If you put him in with adult hens (over a year old, otherwise they are pullets) it's no wonder they kicked his butt. He's just a little punk in their eyes. It would probably be best to keep him separate at least until he's closer to reach in sexual maturity (somewhere around 6-8 months) before trying to integrate him. It would be great if you could keep him where they could just be separated by a fence so they could see and interact with one another until then.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yep, cockerel.
    What you are doing is introducing a single bird into a small flock.

    It's all about territory and resources(space/food/water).
    Existing birds will almost always attack new ones to defend their resources.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best if mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no copious blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down and beaten unmercilessly, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide 'out of line of sight'(but not a dead end trap) and/or up and away from any bully birds. Roosts, pallets or boards leaned up against walls or up on concrete blocks, old chairs tables, branches, logs, stumps out in the run can really help. Lots of diversion and places to 'hide' instead of bare wide open run.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading, tho some info is outdated IMO:
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There could be a combination of things going on. Often mature hens require a certain behavior from a male before they accept him as a suitable potential father of their chicks. Immature cockerels can’t cut the mustard. I’ve had cockerels as young as 4 months manage that, I’ve had some not measure up until 11 months. Each cockerel has his own personality, each hen has her own personality, and each flock has its own dynamics. I can’t tell you what age he may measure up to your hens. Immature cockerels are more likely to be attacked by mature hens, those sexists, but pullets can also be the target but for other reasons I’ll get to.

    Mature chickens outrank immature chickens in the pecking order. That’s just the way it is in chicken society. Mature roosters are complicated, sometimes they actually help, but you don’t have one of them. Mature hens can be real brutes about this. If a social inferior invades an older hen’s personal space, she can go ballistic at that breach in chicken etiquette. Often an immature chicken just does not invade the private space of its betters and get away with it. The key word is can, it doesn’t always happen. I’ve had some pretty young chicks being raised by a broody hen or that I’ve raised in a brooder mingle with the other adult flock members without issue a lot more than many people would believe possible, but I’ve also had some of them pecked and chased. Once the immature chicken matures enough to be able to force its way into the pecking order things normally calm down tremendously, but until that happens there are certain rules of chicken etiquette that should be obeyed.

    Sometimes integration goes just absolutely great, no real problems at all, whether you are integrating a male or female. But often you can get a chicken, usually a hen, that goes out of her way to attack any new chickens, especially if they are immature. It can be a dominant rooster, it can be a dominant hen, but often it’s a hen that is fairly low in the pecking order that seems jealous of what little social rank she has and just goes wild, chasing and attacking. Sometimes when it starts the other mature chickens pile on, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, not always.

    One big issue in how successful an integration goes is how much room you have. I don’t mean that 4 square feet in the coop with 10 in the run, it’s the quality of that space. Can a chicken avoid the others if it needs to? Can it run away and get away if attacked? That lack of space is what often makes integration of any chickens regardless of sex and age challenging for small suburban backyard flocks. People do it and do it quite successfully on a regular basis, but the risks and challenges go up the more that space is limited. Most of the horror stories about integration are from those small suburban backyard coops and runs.

    So, what do you do from here? Aart’s got a pretty good list for general integration of any chicken but a single young cockerel into a flock of mature hens adds another wrinkle. Housing them side by side while separated by wire is a good thing, but in your case he also needs to mature. From your experiences I’d suggest at least another couple of months. Even that may not be enough because of the maturity issue but I’d probably try it then. You may find the roles reversed if he is then bigger than the hens. If the hens don’t accept him as dominant, he may start mating them by force to show them he is dominant. Usually the hens don’t get injured because of this, but since force is involved they could. This can be pretty difficult for some people to watch. As always it depends a lot on the individual personality of the individual hens and the male, even a relatively immature cockerel. Sometimes it’s just not that bad but the transition from immature cockerel to dominant male can be rough. Again more space helps.

    So provide as much room as you can. Don’t leave them locked in tiny spaces where you force them to be close together when they are awake. Places to hide behind, under, or on can help a lot but don’t create a trap. Something leaning against a fence they can run behind is great, they can go in one end and out the other. Different feeding and watering stations can help. When I’m integrating younger chickens I often find my immature ones on the roosts while the adults are on the coop floor. They are avoiding the adults.

    Introducing a mature rooster to a flock of adult hens is about the easiest integration you can do. He has reached a level where he mates a couple of hens to show he is dominant and they usually accept him, though occasionally the dominant hens requires some convincing. But an immature cockerel to a flock of adult hens can be quite challenging until he matures, that’s probably the hardest. Since it is based on the personality of the individual hens and the cockerel, I can’t tell you when he will become mature enough to accomplish that.

    Good luck!

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