Keeping Multiple Roosters in a Flock
Do you believe a chicken yard isn’t a chicken yard without a rooster or two? When I first started out in the wonderful world of chickens I didn’t want a rooster. We ended up with a rooster in our original 10 chicks and I discovered roosters don’t only crow in the morning. A year went by and our flock tripled in size, and I realized I wanted a rooster in my flock. I had about 30 chickens with no plans to add more anytime soon, so I brought in an older cockerel to introduce to my girls.
Now a few years later my flock has grown to almost 200 chickens, and at any given time I’ve had 5-20 roosters on my farm. I’ve had some trial and error with this number of roosters, but have learned to follow a few general guidelines so my chicken yard remains peaceful. Here are some tips for keeping multiple roosters in your flock that I find helpful.
Plenty of coop and run space:
If you decide to keep multiple roosters in a flock, you will want to double or triple your coop/run space. The general rule for space per hen is 3 square feet of coop space and 10 sq feet of outside run space. Of course the more space the better, but if your space is limited, these are the guidelines for happy birds. Roosters who are competing against one another in a smaller space, without a place to escape, can lead to someone getting hurt. Having more space available does help out when there is a little fight, so the rooster getting picked on can escape to safety.
Correct ratio of hens to roosters:
Keeping a larger ratio of roosters in your chicken yard can cause unnecessary fighting in your flock. A good ratio is 10 hens for every 1 rooster. Roosters are very protective of “their” hens, and if there are too many roosters in your flock this can cause fighting over another rooster mounting a hen that is not “his” hen. Also, another reason for keeping a larger ratio of hens to roosters, is your hens can begin to lose their neck and tail feathers from being mounted too often.
Keep roosters separate from your hens:
Did you order straight run and end up with quite a few roosters? Or maybe you ordered our fry pan bargain and are raising those roosters for meat. Either way, if you keep these guys separate from your hens, they will establish their own pecking order and learn to coexist. A word of caution though, if you do try to place them back in the chicken yard where there is already a rooster or two, there may be some serious fighting and injuries. They will see the new guy(s) as a threat to their hens and won’t want them interfering.
Introducing a new cockerel to your flock
If you want to introduce new chickens, including roosters, to your already established flock, follow these steps for an easy transition period. First, be sure to introduce the new chickens to the yard over a period of time, where they can see and hear one another, but are protected by a fence. The two different ages will establish a new pecking order and the transition will go more smoothly. The second tip is to introduce the new cockerel(s) before they begin to crow and their wattles are red. This will help the new pecking order and the other established rooster(s) in your flock will accept the new cockerel(s) without fighting/sparring.
Remove any aggressive roosters from your flock
I give my roosters a few chances before deciding to find them a new home or purpose. However, sometimes they are too aggressive towards me or the chickens in my flock. Getting chased or attacked by a rooster is not one of my favorite activities, so in those cases they must leave the farm. There are some breeds of roosters that are calmer than others, but just like any other animal they all have their own personalities and those calmer breeds can still become aggressive.
Following these few suggestions will hopefully ease any rooster aggression issues and help transition new roosters into your flock. If you are thinking about adding a rooster to your flock be sure to take a look at our blog on the many great reasons for owning a rooster. We would also love to hear any tips and tricks you have for keeping multiple roosters in a flock, so please comment below!
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