February 1, 2015

Roosterless

Some folks seem to do well with more than one rooster. I've read of cases where roosters don't fight and actually help one another watch the flock. We have not had the privilege of such an experience.

Our flock consists of Buff Orpingtons, Silver Laced
Wyandottes, Speckled Sussex, and a few mixes.

This past summer we had two broody hens, each raising only one chick. Both turned out to be cockerels. Our Wyandotte rooster was pretty good with them as chicks. Unlike roosters past, he pretty much tolerated and ignored them. I compared the roosters of our experience in "Rules With An Iron Claw", and I hoped peace would continue in the chicken yard.

The Sultan with part of his harem. He had a marked preference for the Buffs

I called the two cockerels R2 and R3. As they got older The Sultan started chasing them away from the hens, food, and coop. R2 was pretty intimidated by him, but as time went on R3 got bolder. When The Sultan started backing off, we knew a challenge for the top spot would be going from a simmer to a full boil in a matter of time.

R3 in the background. R2 was usually hiding behind the coop.

Initially, the two young roosters kept their distance from one another, but eventually they paired up. Every morning The Sultan would chase them behind the coop where they would hide until the chickens were let out to free range. Then they would go back into the coop and wait for a hen to come lay her egg, where they would jump her.


The chicken yard was in a constant uproar. As the crowing, challenging, and chasing got worse, we knew it was time to do something. The Sultan too. For his good qualities he had some bad ones, particularly that he would bully the hens. They are the producers on the homestead and they needed a break.

So. We are currently roosterless, peace resides once again, and I have three roosters in the freezer. Such is life on the homestead.

33 comments:

  1. There is never a shortage of roosters looking for a home if you need to increase your flock again, well there isn't here in the UK

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  2. LOL that was kinda a severe scorched earth policy on dealing with the developing situation wasn't it?

    "OK you three boys won't get along so we are gonna kill and eat all of you" BAM....

    I agree with Dawn above roosters are pretty easy to come by as most people aren't as thrifty as you and don't want to be bothered butchering their own birds but why not have kept the two young roosters and see if their cooperative spirit would continue?

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  3. We found being rooster-less was a boon for us. The hens didn't have to put up with the bullying and we didn't have to worry about being spurred. It was just easier to buy sexed chicks as we were just after a few eggs.

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  4. Dawn, actually I'm thinking of trying Australorps this year. We just can't seem to settle on a bred we really like. Hopefully I'll have a hen go broody this spring and she'll get a batch of new chicks to raise. A new roo will come from them.

    PP, well, it didn't exactly go down like that! LOL I'd decided awhile ago that I wanted to try a different breed, so giving the hens a break this spring seemed like a good idea. Actually, our next door neighbors have an extra roo and I noticed him eyeing our hens this morning. If he's a fence jumper, we may have a new roo whether we're ready or not!

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  5. Judy, we were commenting at the same time. :) I have to admit it's a relief to not have all that crowing for the time being. I do want a rooster however, so we can continue to raise our own chicks. Just haven't settled on the best breed for us yet.

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  6. We lucked into an excellent roo the first time around. The search for a 2nd did not go well for the first 4 attempts. We finally have two well behaved, alert roo's for our 25+ layers. It appears the ladies made their choices and it's split about down the middle. It's been a year and all is well. Animals that disrupt the delicate balance in the barn need to go.

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  7. Have a look at Plymouth Rock too. We had a friend drop us some eggs for our broody silky that are Isa brown cross Barred Plymouth Rock. The babies are now starting to mature, 2 boys 2 girls and they are already the size of a mature hen and they can only be about 12-14 weeks. Good for meat and eggs I believe. :)
    I'm not looking forward to our next cull - we can't keep roosters here in town.

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  8. The freezer is a good place for onery roosters, Leigh. Are you going to get a temporary rooster to provide your broody hens with some fertile eggs? I guess it's good to know we aren't the only ones to have difficulty with roosters.

    Fern

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  9. Mz Garden, I absolutely agree. Disruptive animals put everyone out of sorts including production. Sounds like your roos have worked things out well. 2 is a good number for that many hens.

    Rabidlittlehippy, I'll keep that in mind. It always seems to boil down to the rooster, and gentlemanly types seem rare. Can't say we enjoy the culling either, but it has to be done. Our hens are definitely happier these days, and egg production is up!

    Fern, we're going to start with a fresh batch of chicks in the spring. In the meantime, I'll give the hens a break. I'll keep all our current hens at least until the new pullets are laying, and then cull the oldest ones. A dozen chickens seems to be a good number for us.

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  10. When a rooster (the non-dominant one!) ends up being bloody, the hens are getting beat-up and egg production goes down . . . yep, that's time to make a couple (or more) of the boys into stewing meat. (And wonderful broth!) With animals on the homestead, as I know you know, letting things get out of hand only leads to difficulties of one sort or another. Wise move.

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  11. At my house, you make eggs or you make soup.

    Period. We can't have roosters around here.

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  12. You gotta do what who've gotta do. I plan on starting out w/only hens & am even expecting some drama with them.

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  13. I've heard too many stories about cranky roosters. I've never had one that wasn't destined for freezer camp. We get eggs. Our hens seem happy enough and I don't have to worry about excess drama in the coop.

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  14. I love just having hens for eggs, nice and peaceful :)

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  15. I've only experienced bantam hens and my word they can be a viscous group of ladies. I use to cringe as they hopped on the back of each other and pulled the feathers of the one underneath. So unladylike. One was particularly nasty and it turns out she just wanted to be a Mum. The place they all went has had them almost constantly on the nest and they are wonderful mothers and get along happily with all the other.

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  16. LOL! I got a kick out of this post. Problem solved! We are and have been rooster free as well. Makes me nervous to introduce one...probably will purchase more chicks when needed. Enjoy those tasty birds!

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  17. Leigh,

    The freezer makes for a great referee.

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  18. Mama Pea, that's exactly the problem. This particular rooster was excellent for watching out for things, but he was truly a bully in the way he handled the hens. With the other two it was constant chaos. My hens are definitely happier!

    Barb, that pretty much sums it up. :)

    DFW, yes, there's always drama! Some breeds are considered mellower than others, but there are always individual exceptions.

    Nina, sadly, seems that's the case with the majority of them.

    Nancy, although I have had some really noisy hens. My Welsummers would make the longest egg announcements. Loud too. And they'd go on, and on, and on.

    M.E. thanks! We'll pick one from the next batch we rais and hope for the best.

    Sandy, LOL. Well put.

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  19. I noticed that you said the neighbor's roo is eying your girls. What does the neighbor think about this?

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  20. We are a rooster-less flock as well. I don't need them bothering my hens and chasing my neighbors. I don't set eggs, so they bring nothing to the "table" unless they are prepared for the "table". Hehe! We got a rooster in our last batch of pullets and he just went into the pressure cooker for chicken stew last weekend! He's serving us much more usefully in that capacity than he was chasing all the hens and eating TONS of feed! :)

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  21. Back in the day we used to get those dyed Easter chicks. Of course they were all cocks. We'd take them out to Granny's so "they'd have a good home." They'd last until they'd harass the hens or spur a grandchild. Then we'd have chicken & dumplings. That's life on the farm.

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  22. I'm guessing breed has a lot to do with it. My parents used to have a flock of 100 hens with 5 roosters that got along as long as they didn't mess with the dominate rooster named Rufus. Eventually time, coyotes and car traffic thinned the hens down so we had to get rid of the roosters to keep proportions. Rufus was the last one to go in a battle to the death with our new dog. The dog almost lost that one.

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  23. Our chickens were born at the end of August. They have just started laying eggs. One was a rooster. We didn't mind since it was only one. However, he goes through spells when he attacks me. Jumps at my legs. Hopefully he will stop.

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  24. We have two roosters right now, and for the longest time, your standard rooster, Henry, we afraid of our bantum, Sir Elton. One day my husband found Henry wailing on Sir Elton. I have not doubt he would have killed him because Elton is so much smaller. Now we have to separate them. Each day one gets locked up and the other gets to free range with the girls and vice versa the next day. It's a pain really but we like both of them for different reasons so we can't see getting rid of either.

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  25. Haha yes, such is life! Real farm life!

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  26. Renee, I'm not even sure the neighbors notice. :)

    the Goodwife, that's true about them eating tons of food. This go-round I just considered it fattening up. :)

    Amanda, I remember those! And chicken and dumplings sounds good. I think I'll put that on the menu this week.

    Ed, I'm assuming there's something to that as well. Have to say that's pretty amazing about your Rufus. Our first year with chickens a neighbors little dog ran into the yard and started barking its head off at the chicken yard. Our then roo, Lord B, was ready to take it on! I don't think that dog would have won.

    Karen, in my experience (which I admit is somewhat limited), roosters only get more aggressive as they get older. :(

    Candace, I'd really like to get down to one breed and stay there. One advantage to that (except for Ameraucanas) is that they all look alike so none end up being a favorite.

    Lana, you got it! :)

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  27. I've been roosterless for several years now, and have been looking for "Mr. RightRooster" for the past 2. Thought I had found the perfect candidate on craigslist last year...well-mannered, etc....but the day I was supposed to pick him up, he attacked his owner!
    I really would like to have my hens raising their own chicks, so I'll try again this Spring.
    Good luck with your next candidate :)

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  28. We've done pretty much the same, put on the table our excess roosters. We also have a quarantine area for the sassiest rooster. He's got a short time left, enough to have a couple of weeks with the girls, as I want more easter eggers, and then he's chicken soup.

    Our two White Orpingtons are darlings. They both hang out together and very rarely do they tangle, and when they do it's only a few seconds. It seems the girls have chosen their favorite guy and hang out with their dream boy.

    We've had all the horror stories, and I refuse to carry a shovel or rake with me to defend myself anywhere on my property. I can always hatch or buy me a new rooster when needed.

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  29. I have 56 chickens right now, and 14 of them are roosters. They are free range, so what happens is that each rooster develops his own harem and they go off into separate parts of the woods, coming back to the compound at feeding time. When the hens are laying they tend to congregate in the straw boxes, but I haven't noticed any conflict as a result between the roosters.

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  30. I usually have just one rooster, which works out just fine. However, I now have 3 for sure, with the possibility of a latent roo. Things have been fine so far - they are all dealing with winter and not each other. But I know that with spring's arrival, things will heat up. I have similar plans for the new two, but time will tell what happens to latent boy.

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  31. We had a second rooster for a short time as we were raising our chickens up. (We're still on our first flock.) It became clear that our Gold Lace Wyandotte Henry (who was supposed to be a Henrietta) wasn't going to make peace with anyone before he was really big enough for freezer camp. De found a place that needed a young roo and off he went.

    We've seen our Golden Polish roo herd the hens to cover when loud tractors go by, I'm mowing the lawn or, when he determines there is some other risk to the flock - so that's all good. His chivalry apparently doesn't garner much respect however, and there are of couple of hens, a Buff Orp and a Red Star, that tend to pick on the rooster. It's not too bad when everyone is free ranging much of the day, but we've had to treat the top of the head for wounds recently when winter keeps them all in the coop. He's a bit smaller than some of the hens, and our lesson-learned here is that our next rooster needs to be of a breed at least as big as the biggest variety of hen.

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  32. I really appreciate posts like this! My city won't allow roosters within city limits, although I can clearly hear several in the area (I secretly admire these rebel rooster-keepers). Alas, it's only hens for me, and a dozen of them. That is plenty of drama, but I would LOVE to have a rooster one day.

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  33. I appear to have neglected to reply to all these comments!

    Quinn, I'm looking for the perfect rooster too! Seems they all come with pluses and minuses.

    Izzy, I so agree about feeling safe around one's animals. We've gotten rid of roosters and bucks for that reason. So nice you have some that get along.

    Harry, that's a lot of chickens!!! Interesting that the roosters would divide the hens up like that, but it makes sense if there are plenty of hens to go around.

    Mark, sounds like your boy is a keeper, but it's too bad he gets no respect from his flock!

    Melanie, having lived with crowing wars I can understand why some urban areas ban them! It's nice that you get to keep so many hens.

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