Young rooster terrorizing my hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by semcat66, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. semcat66

    semcat66 Out Of The Brooder

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    Florence, Montana
    Newbie poster here, but I've been using BYC threads to educate my husband and myself ever since we decided to take the chicken plunge. We got 7 chicks right around Easter this year and one has turned out to be a beautiful Light Brahma rooster. About 2 weeks ago, he found out he had a voice and although it sounded pretty pathetic at first, he's warmed up now and sounds like a "grown-up" rooster - so far, only during the day which is why he's still around.

    HOWEVER, in the past week, he's starting trying to mount the hens and of course they aren't ready to start laying yet. He is ripping out their feathers when he grabs them (by the neck or whatever body part is near him) and chases them whenever the urge strikes. He "mounted" my young Australope and afterwards she wasn't moving - I thought he'd broken her neck - when I started over to check, she jumped up and ran off - seems fine now. The other morning we noticed that none of them had come out of the coop - DH looked in to see that he was perched right over the door and the hens were on the upper roost and wouldn't come down because they didn't want to get near him.

    We've started leaving him in the run and letting the hens have the yard to free range in. Last night, we put them all in the coop and he started attacking them in there (we had hoped since it was "bedtime" he'd just go to sleep) so we took him out of the coop and he spent the night on the perch in the run.

    I think I'm going to make stew out of him - I had hoped since he was raised with the hens that he would just be protective of them and we'd let him father a few new chicks, but I'm not willing to have him terrorizing the girls. I've seen a lot of people suggest separating them, but other than leaving him in the run all the time (even at night), that's not an option.

    My question is, if I go ahead and cull him now, when would be the best time to re-introduce a rooster to the flock - next Spring? Should I look for a younger rooster at that time so the hens can be dominate or will that matter as he matures?

    Is this behavior normal? I feel so sorry for the girls - they are terrified of him and are so much calmer when he's separated from them and I really don't want to have a repeat of this later with another rooster.

    Thanks for your input!
    Susan
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Normal.

    He'll be protective, find them food, keep watch while they eat, make the eggs fertile - AND breed them every chance he gets. When a cockerel reaches sexual maturity, they are awkward at breeding but get better and a little less violent with time. Chicken breeding isn't for the faint of heart. Kind of like horse breeding.
    Average ratio is 1 rooster to 10 hens.
     
  3. Summertime7921

    Summertime7921 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 12, 2014
    It's hard to say, without me seeing it, bc sometimes normal mating does look really violent if you're not used to it, but there is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and a jerky rooster.
    I won't let my girls be harassed, they deserve a respectful roo. Usually mine won't attempt to mate until the girls are mature though, is he the same age?
     
  4. Summertime7921

    Summertime7921 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh, and to answer your question, yes, I would start with a younger too next time.
     
  5. ShockValue

    ShockValue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm in the exact same position right now. 6 chicks raised together, and one turned out to be male. It wasn't intentional, but until this mating thing he's been a good boy. His crowing is infrequent, and he's very tolerant of my entire family. He'll even occasionaly jump on my lap when I'm handing out the treats.

    My girls are /almost/ ready to lay, but Ike the rooster is /very/ ready to mate. So far the girls are tolerating his presence, but when he tries to mount them they give a loud squawk and run off. If he's gotten a hold of their neck this sometimes leaves a trail of a few feathers.

    So far there doesn't seem to be any permanent damage (everyone is getting along and they're not naked necked yet), but I hope it resolves itself soon or I'm going to have to intervene.

    I could separate the roo completely by locking him in the garage, but it seems that might cause different issues with re-integration. I'm not sure.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  6. semcat66

    semcat66 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 14, 2014
    Florence, Montana
    Yes, he is the same age as the hens. I was hoping for all hens but of course we got one rooster...lol. Had chickens as a kid, but I'm pretty sure we only had hens, so I wasn't sure about rooster behavior - had really hoped since they've been together since they were a couple of days old that would help to ensure they all got along - the girls have bonded but no such luck with him. There's no fattening him up as long as he's out chasing them around, so I think I may just keep him in the run until the weather turns cold and then have a nice stew ;)

    I get the rough and tumble mating - country girl here, so although no prior chicken mating experience, I get that it may appear bad when it's not. I'm just worried about when and IF I decide to reintroduce a rooster for some fertilized eggs how to minimize the chances of having this happen again.

    Thanks for your input!
    Susan
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  7. ShockValue

    ShockValue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Came home today to find a bleeding comb on one of my hens. I assume this is from a failed mounting attempt.


    I remember being awkward the first few times I tried this with a girl in high school, but this is ridiculous. [​IMG]
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You can make stew out of this rooster, and make soup out of the next one, and after that, let's see, perhaps fried chicken. Because practically every young cockerel will behave, to some degree more or less, like this first one. They are all overwhelmed by a flood of hormones, can only think of sex, sex, SEX all the time, and will be clumsy and obnoxious and annoying, and even damage the hens from time to time. It's NORMAL, as Chickencanoe points out.

    The first year is the worst with a young roo. It gets better by age two. By age three, if he lives that long, you may very well be blessed with a gentleman roo, kind and protective of his girls, and cordial with his humans. But the main objective, if you want to have a rooster around, is to survive the first year with him.

    When I had my first rooster, I just let him have free reign, and that was a big mistake. He got the wrong idea, and decided he was in competition with me for the hens. It was exhausting with daily boxing matches, but eventually he calmed down and became manageable until he died suddenly one night at age two.

    My next roosters were an "accidental" pair, and they set about trying to kill each other as soon as the hormones began to surge. I decided early on that these two would not be permitted to terrorize the hens or me. They got their own pen, and were allowed only brief access to the girls.

    By the end of their first year, they had both calmed down considerably. One was killed by dogs, but the remaining roo grew into a calm, sweet boy, he was a Brahma, by the way, and by the time he was three, he was a true gentleman roo.

    I urge you to be patient if you decide to keep a rooster. Keep him separate for the first year, for the most part, and it'll be a lot easier on everyone. By the time he reaches a year old, you should see a big improvement.

    You do not need to build him a big pen. He will be content with a very small enclosure as long as it's adjacent to the main run. He will glue himself to the fence, caring only about watching the girls and talking to them. As for the coop, you can do what I did with my first rooster, just partition off one end so he can't terrorize the hens at roosting time. I would wait until the hens had roosted, then I'd let the rooster go in to his section. He learned quickly that this was the routine. This is a problem that is easily solved if you're determined.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  9. semcat66

    semcat66 Out Of The Brooder

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    Florence, Montana
    Thank you azygous! We are considering a more permanent separate arrangement because I really would like him to fertilize some eggs in the future - he's a beautiful boy! I have passed on your message on to DH and will see what he can come with as far as partitioning off part of the run/coop. The girls didn't even want to go back in the run last night, even though we had him in a temporary holding area - I think they were trying to stay out and roost under some of our shrubs rather than possibly dealing with him. Hopefully once they realize he is actually not going to be able to harass them, they'll go back to wanting to return to the coop in the evening.

    Shockvalue - I hope your hen recovers quickly. I remember awkward boys in high school, but nothing quite so harmful...lol.
     
  10. FowlmouthChick

    FowlmouthChick Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 22, 2012
    South Florida
    Thank you Azygous! We are going through a very similar situation with a young roo we hatched in April. He has just come into his own and has not given our ten hens a moments peace in the last two weeks. We only have one hen laying right now and that is because she refuses to use the nesting box and insists on jumping the fence and laying her eggs under a cushion on a patio chair. (Thankfully we discovered this habit BEFORE sitting on that cushion)

    Our handsome (but horny) black tail buff will be put into a separate area this weekend where he can see but not torment the ladies. This was some great advice!!!
     

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