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In defense of a Rooster

 
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Some Friday fun.  He's not Rex Harrison, but may be the next Dr. Doolittle.  In praise of defensive roosters:  
 
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Mark Tashjian wrote:    Thank you Marcus! I really enjoyed reading this.
Although I agree they will learn from the older roosters, they must also do all these things by instinct. I have 11 chickens. All are 12 weeks old. They have no older chickens around to learn from. My top, lead rooster comes out of the coop first, then signals to the others to come on out. At the end of the day, he will literally round them up if needed to get them all back inside. Then he will enter last, and I shut the door. And he definitely spends more time on the lookout.
Thanks again.



Part of their instinct is adapting/learning.  I have some chickens and I trained some of them to come when I call "Chickies!"  They learned to come to me when I call because I always have bugs or grubs that I have come across while doing permaculture stuff.  The naturally more social chickens were more easily trained than the others.  Also, I have found that having 3-4 bugs/grubs at a time is what keeps them coming when called.  When I went for a time calling them when I had just one bug/grub they weren't as eager to come running.  But then when I went back to always waiting until I had near a hand full before calling...wow, they came instantly running as fast as they could such a sense of urgency.
 
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A lot of great points are given here about the virtues of roosters. I'm currently transitioning over to ducks, though, as I don't want to have a rooster crowing where I'm at. I'm curious, do drakes have these same qualities and do they play a similar role in the flock?
 
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James Landreth wrote:A lot of great points are given here about the virtues of roosters. I'm currently transitioning over to ducks, though, as I don't want to have a rooster crowing where I'm at. I'm curious, do drakes have these same qualities and do they play a similar role in the flock?



I would suggest starting a new thread in the Ducks & Geese forum.
 
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I have to say that my family has had two problematic roosters in a row in their free range flock.
The first one was a white feed store rooster, and he did do some of the protective things people had mentioned.  Once he was full grown though, he started attacking - mostly my father.  It got so that we had to keep them penned in their tiny bad weather run whenever he was using power tools.
The second once came from a local breeder, and was a breed that is supposed to be gentle.  He was ok as a juvenile, then started attacking - any adult, even when being fed.  Then he tried to attack a 2-year old, and had to go.  And let me say, for a life long vegetarian to have to sharpen a hatchet and kill a rooster is a gut wrenching experience.
Once he was gone, all the hens, who had been skittish and standoffish, relaxed and became quite friendly, and now follow us around.
The local dairy farmer had a story of his wife having to shoot a rooster that was going after one of their kids - they have a multi rooster free range system, while we've only had one at a time. Quail Springs Permaculture in California, when I took a tour, said that they keep one rooster per 8-10 hens, but kill anyone that starts showing aggression toward humans.  They are butchering for meat anyhow, so it isn't hard for them.
So, while I'm not saying all roosters are bad, I will say that it is very possible to get one that turns dangerous, especially if they are free range.  Rooster spurs will cut through jeans, and they can fly to attack the head if they are so minded.  Just be prepared to deal with it if you get a mean one, even if you aren't intending to butcher your chickens.
 
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Lina Joana wrote:I have to say that my family has had two problematic roosters in a row in their free range flock.
The first one was a white feed store rooster, and he did do some of the protective things people had mentioned.  Once he was full grown though, he started attacking - mostly my father.  It got so that we had to keep them penned in their tiny bad weather run whenever he was using power tools.
The second once came from a local breeder, and was a breed that is supposed to be gentle.  He was ok as a juvenile, then started attacking - any adult, even when being fed.  Then he tried to attack a 2-year old, and had to go.  And let me say, for a life long vegetarian to have to sharpen a hatchet and kill a rooster is a gut wrenching experience.
Once he was gone, all the hens, who had been skittish and standoffish, relaxed and became quite friendly, and now follow us around.
The local dairy farmer had a story of his wife having to shoot a rooster that was going after one of their kids - they have a multi rooster free range system, while we've only had one at a time. Quail Springs Permaculture in California, when I took a tour, said that they keep one rooster per 8-10 hens, but kill anyone that starts showing aggression toward humans.  They are butchering for meat anyhow, so it isn't hard for them.
So, while I'm not saying all roosters are bad, I will say that it is very possible to get one that turns dangerous, especially if they are free range.  Rooster spurs will cut through jeans, and they can fly to attack the head if they are so minded.  Just be prepared to deal with it if you get a mean one, even if you aren't intending to butcher your chickens.



Hi Lina,

I can sympathize with your experiences!  My situation may be a little different than many people's.  Because my chickens range over a fairly large area, I prefer a little fight in them.  I have a host of wildlife and stray dogs to deal with on a routine basis.   I'd rather have one or two that think fight first and run second.  Roosters will test you because they see you as part of the flock and want to establish their dominance.  If I have a rooster that is making it difficult to work in and around the coop, I'll keep a broom with me as I feed and water, and if he attacks or starts to, I knock him down to the ground with the broom.  Usually after picking himself up two or three times, he steers clear and won't try it again for about two months.  If he's really aggressive and keep coming at me, I start knocking him down a little harder and chase him a little when he runs and give him a couple more whacks as he's trying to get away.  At this point he'll start giving the "I give up" cry. Not sure how to describe it, similar to a hen that's getting impatient waiting for her favorite nesting box, except a little more sad.  If you whack him till he makes that sound, he probably won't go near you for a year or more.  He won't lose his place in the pecking order, he'll just know that he shouldn't mess with you.  I know this might sound a little cruel, but I can assure you that they are tough animals and there is no such thing as "rooster whispering".  There is no positive feedback you can give him to not attack you if he feels you are a competitor.  They have very simplistic brains and only understand whose the boss through conflict.  If he is the dominant rooster, he will still run the flock and as I said, his standing with the other chickens will remain the same.  That's the paradox of their intelligence, they know individuals on sight, but don't know that you don't present a threat.  Give him the broom and he will know you are the one not to mess with.  

Granted, this is more work than many folks would like to do with a rooster, I know.  But killing him because he's really good at his job has always seemed counter intuitive to me. And I wholeheartedly believe that roosters help the flock in so many ways.

On a side note.  I really believe that chickens should be considered livestock just like sheep, cattle, etc., not pets.  You wouldn't let your two year old daughter run in the pen with the 1,800lb bull and his harem. I don't let kids chase my chickens, even though they all want to. It's bad for the hens in terms of egg production and stress.  By having a "mean" rooster, it keeps the random chasing down.     Chickens are basically dinosaurs with feathers, they are not nostalgic or sentimental.  The same loving hen that tends her eggs so carefully, will eat that same egg if it cracks, and not blink an eye.  Chickens live by certain rules.  And one of those rules is that roosters sometimes need to be shown who's boss.
 
Wes Hunter
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Marcus Billings wrote:Granted, this is more work than many folks would like to do with a rooster, I know.  But killing him because he's really good at his job has always seemed counter intuitive to me. And I wholeheartedly believe that roosters help the flock in so many ways.



You make some good points here.  I've never been too bothered by an aggressive rooster.  I can kick with the best of them.  But the one that I felt I had to end up killing was just way too consistently aggressive toward my kids.  I tried training him to respect them by getting behind them and pushing them toward him, causing him to associate them with me.  This worked temporarily.  

Finally my oldest got up the courage to start chasing him with sticks.  I had a pile of 1x4 slats that the kids started referring to as "rooster sticks," as they would grab one each time they walked by in case they had a run-in with The Meanie.  This was fine, and worked for a while really.  But when my youngest, then about 2, was starting to venture out further by himself, I realized, after seeing the rooster challenge him a couple times, how easily he could put out an eyeball.

He made good coq au vin.
 
Marcus Billings
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[quote=

He made good coq au vin.

I agree with this whole-heartedly Wes.  You can't take any chances with small children!  This guy had it coming.  I haven't had too many roos go after small kids, but I know they're out there.  
P.S. I have a "rooster stick" too!
 
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I always keep too many roosters because I find their posturing entirely too entertaining. Plus, with my semi-feral flock, the roosters definitely cut down on the frequency of my hens being eaten by predators!
 
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I like roosters, and usually have three or four (I think I'm down to two now, but we are moving across country in a couple of months so they will all be going to new homes soon anyway).  I even like their middle-of-the-night crowing.  Unfortunately, my youngest daughter, who still lives with me and always will until I can't take care of her, is autistic and a light sleeper, and very often I'm awakened to her shrieking at the crowing roosters to "BE QUIET!!!"  I can sleep through the crowing, but not through her shrieking, LOL!  The chickens have been free-range here for the last couple of years, but I think I'm going to have to keep them at least semi-confined and farther from the house after we move and replace this flock.

Kathleen
 
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I can sleep through the crowing, but not through her shrieking, LOL


Isn't that the truth! I can sleep thru' roosters crowing, coyotes howling , high winds and trains hooting but the sound of a voice, even my husband's walkman (and he uses the earbuds) will keep me awake. (Actually, I like the outdoor sounds at night.)
 
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Cd Greier wrote:
When I was confining my chicks before I got a fence up, I put a makeshift chicken wire door inside of their shed. Every morning I'd  go in to sit on the feed can and watch the chooks crowd the "big screen" to see what was happening outside. For me, it was better than TV!



I used to watch the chickens graze for about an hour after work every day. Best de-stress strategy I've ever found.

With our last flock we got rid of the roosters due to noise. We had a few turkeys though, and they provided top-notch flock security. They are a noisy bunch too, but not at 4 AM, nor from a 1/4 mile away. The neighbors (and kids walking to school, and every visitor, ...) loved to mimic the gobble - trying to get the turkeys to answer back. Perhaps not the most natural of solutions, but all parties seemed satisfied.
 
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christine shepherd wrote:Ah, if only they were not illegal in my city.  I got several "extra males for warmth" with my order from the hatchery this year, and I'm dreading the day the neighbors complain about the crowing, as I know they will.



If you have extra eggs, and not too many noisy neighbors, I'd suggest giving a dozen eggs every once in a while as an olive branch to the neighbors that might squawk [] the loudest. Funny how self interest works in some folks.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Totally agree with the value of a rooster from Marcus Billing. I have heard my roo make an electrifying screech call when he saw a hawk. I came from around the coop and saw all my hens rushing to the coop in 3 seconds flat. He was the last one in. The hawk went away.
Another time, silly me, I closed the door to the coop and forgot one hen outside. How did he know? Must have been the call from the hen when she realized she was locked out. I could not hear it at first. The others were already roosting, and he was preparing his spot on the perch. He jumped off the perch sounding quite alarmed and walked to the door in distress, calling to her. He pecked at the door, and that is when I realized that one hen was still out. I opened the door and there was the hen, looking pitiful.
She was escorted to the perch by a scolding roo.

But today I'm writing because I've got a problem: My roo has become so aggressive with me that I'm wondering what I can do. I think he is objecting to my taking their eggs. I did notice that the hens are following me whenever I walk from nest to nest. They don't peck, but they make like a mournful noise.
If the hen is in, I usually will not disturb her but a couple of times, I had to lift one gently while she was sitting on a nest full. She was not brooding, just preparing to make her daily egg. This morning, as I was looking in the nests, he deliberately attacked me from behind, unprovoked, in a big raucous of wings flapping and pecking at my calves. I pushed him away. He came at me again and again. He became so intolerable that I placed my shoe on his neck, preventing him any movement for a whole minute. I then let him go and he moved to the other end of the coop, still sounding outraged, but he did not come at me.
I'm not sure what to expect this afternoon when I go again to pick up the rest of the eggs. If I had 2 roos, this one might have an early end in the pot. But after losing my best roo, this one is the only one left and I will soon have brooding hens. This one is the only one who could become a proud father so it is too early to sign off on his demise. I'm thinking of entering with a butterfly net and at the first sign of aggressiveness, catch him and suspend him in the net until I'm done taking the eggs.
Do you have any solutions?
 
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:Do you have any solutions?



The long and short of it is he needs to be put in his place.  You need to establish that you're at the top of the pecking order.  If he attacks, you ought to be able to get in a good kick and send him on his way.  You need to do it hard enough to send a message, but gentle enough not to hurt him, which is really quite easy in practice.  You might also carry a long-ish stick, say four to six feet, and give him a healthy whack each and every time you're close enough to do so.  He'll learn soon enough to keep his distance, though you should be prepared for his periodic retesting of the pecking order.
 
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I have had a couple roosters like that.  I culled them and hatched new ones.  I have 4 now and all of them and fine with me making my way around the coop and yard.

I've never had luck "teaching one who's boss" or anything of that sort.  You can make a rooster afraid of you but he will still attack from behind or attack other people, and I'm not willing to actually hurt one to try to make my point.  I managed to turn one around somewhat by carrying him around.  At first he fought and tried to get away, but then he gave up.  I carried him every day for a few weeks and he got better, but he would still occasionally attack when you weren't looking.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Cecile, I agree that he needs to be put in his place.  He sounds like a good rooster, watching out for not only the hens, but their eggs.  This is something you want to keep.  What you don't want is to have him attacking you.  The last time I had a rooster who would go after me, I started catching him as he came at me, and I'd tuck him under my arm and carry him around while I did what I needed to do (it actually wasn't that hard to get things done with him under my arm, but I did have quite a bit of practice carrying things around with my three babies!).  It took a little while, but eventually he got the idea and -- while he would watch me -- he stopped attacking me.  He did attack a guy who was helping at my place, but I wasn't going to fault him for that as he was protecting the flock from a stranger.

 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:Cecile, I agree that he needs to be put in his place.  He sounds like a good rooster, watching out for not only the hens, but their eggs.  This is something you want to keep.  What you don't want is to have him attacking you.  The last time I had a rooster who would go after me, I started catching him as he came at me, and I'd tuck him under my arm and carry him around while I did what I needed to do (it actually wasn't that hard to get things done with him under my arm, but I did have quite a bit of practice carrying things around with my three babies!).  It took a little while, but eventually he got the idea and -- while he would watch me -- he stopped attacking me.  He did attack a guy who was helping at my place, but I wasn't going to fault him for that as he was protecting the flock from a stranger.



He was the more puny of the two. With the big roo gone, he slowly took ascendancy. He was really bad at it at first and was rarely successful at mounting the hens. Now he stops any quarreling among the hens at the feed trough with an angry call and gets between the hens.
I am grateful for all he does for the hens and I agree that he needs to be put in his place. Folks who have had an aggressive rooster , even if they found a trick to stop them still seem to report that every once in a while, they can still get an attack. Which leads me to the next question: dogs can be trained. Can chickens? I feel that all I could teach him is to fear me, which may work as long as I don't turn my back on him.
I don't want to risk breaking a wing or leg by kicking him or whacking him with a stick. This afternoon, he stayed out while I picked up the eggs and this evening, they were already roosting when I closed the coop. At 70, I'm not sure I could grab him easily when he comes at me but I have this baggy, loose fishing net that I've used once in a while to catch a hen that had flown the coop. It was a problem to try and catch her, but with the net, it gave me an extension. I also have a number of hooks that I could hang the net from, with the rooster still in it. Getting him suspended in the net would not hurt him and would give me 2 hands to do my work.
I think I'll bring the net to the coop and hang it so that if he gives me trouble, in the net he goes until I have harvested the eggs!
It seems like the most humane and practical solution. I'll let you know if it works.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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The net sounds like it might work!  At 61 I'm not all that much younger than you -- we have to figure out ways to make things work for us!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:The net sounds like it might work!  At 61 I'm not all that much younger than you -- we have to figure out ways to make things work for us!



Yep. To boot, I've had a motorcycle accident in 2007 that fixed my ankle [lots of hardware in it] and left me unable to run. [I can shuffle pretty fast but my life would have to be on the line (;-)
Pursuing a hen outside, I can usually push her towards a 'chute' of sorts [a narrow angle], where she is cornered. I place the fishing net in her way and she ends up rushing into it head first. I figured I could use that even more easily on an aggressive rooster as it lunges at me. I thought the advantage of the net is that it will not crush or injure the bird and it will save me a lot of time pursuing the critter. I'm not sure I can train this one if he feels he is doing this in defense of his hens. If and when I get another rooster, the old one will be culled if he has not calmed down.
 
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I guess I'm going to be the fly in the ointment so to speak.  I think everything you said is valid and wonderful, but.....  It depends on the situation.  If you can you should let nature be.  We got chickens about 15 years ago.  My daughter Sara helped hatch chickens in her kindergarten class and the teacher and Sara talked me into taking two.  I got 4 or 6 chicks at the feed store and a "how to book".  The two that were hatched turned out to be roosters.  Beautiful roosters!  I thought its ok, they love us, they come when we call and eat out of our hands, something raised with love and care will be kind.  No!  No matter what I did, or how hard I tried I couldn't stop the ambush attacks.  My children were small then, the youngest two were 6 and 4, and they couldn't play in there own back yard.  I couldn't get anything done because I had to always be ready.  We ended up deciding to get rid of them, it was too hard on the family who love to be outside, and honestly it just wan't safe for my kids.  We aren't farmers and even as mad as I would get couldn't eat them.  No one wanted them so I took them to the swap meet.  We were barely our of the car before we had several people want to buy them.  I charged 10.00 each and was sick when it was paid.  I rarely talk about it because it upset me so much.  I cried all the way home.  I could not have them harming my children any more, but I never wanted those beautiful roosters to be treated badly, and I always felt the way it happened so fast, they didn't even have a chance to look at them first, I figured the were bought to be used as fighting chickens.  It's a black mark on my soul, that makes me sick inside to think of it even after this time.  I would caution you to think carefully if your chickens will share the same space as your children.  Most roosters no matter how much love and affection you give them can not be trusted with young children (It was a cut across my sons face that was the last straw for me, we are lucky it wasn't his eye)  I have heard of the stories of the rooster that was sweet and tame, but that was not my experience.   I am not trying to take away from everything that was said in this forum, I actually don't mind the crowing, and thank goodness I don't remember mine every crowing in the middle of the night.  They are beautiful birds with a purpose, and if you are going to get a rooster more power to you.  I just felt a little warning should be given to those with small children.  (My youngest son hates roosters to this day, they terrorized the little guy)  
 
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Roosters loose in the yard when you have small children is dangerous.  When my kids were young, someone gave us an old rooster, and we (not knowing any better at the time) accepted him.  He spurred my oldest daughter in the chest hard enough to leave two bloody marks.  If she'd been two instead of eight, he would have put her eyes out.  For those who need a rooster for breeding, and also have young children, it's best to keep the roosters penned up and keep the little ones out of the pen.  

This is a good reminder that animals are not people, and we can't treat them like they are.  No matter how much love you lavish on a chicken (or many other animals as well), its instincts are what controls its behavior, not any affection for you.  This may not be the case with a dog or a cat, but it definitely is with any of the domestic poultry.  Likewise, adult males of any type of livestock (goats, sheep, cattle, horses, etc.) are motivated by hormones and instinct, and -- while they can usually be handled safely by an experienced adult -- children should only be allowed around them with close adult supervision.  And they should only be owned by adults with some experience.  
 
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Interestingly with my Bourbon Red turkeys the toms aren't an issue.  The 2 smaller hens are very friendly and will readily submit to me.  But they will fly up to my shoulder every time I go into their area.  Then they pick at any button, sunglasses, ear, cord or whatever they can reach.  I worry they'll go after my eye just because it's there.  It's not malicious at all, but a peck to an eyeball could still be serious.  And the scratches I'm getting on my back and shoulder would be suspicious to my wife if she didn't know it was the turkeys.

The toms could fly up on my shoulder too if they wanted to.  They regularly fly up on top of their shelter to roost at night and that's taller than I am.  But they're generally happy to just do their feather displays and gobbling.  
 
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After holding him under my boot for a full minute, he did relent, but he is still attacking anyone else whose intentions are not clear[to him]. Lately, he has taken to standing in my path, in fact forcing a confrontation. So I will carry the butterfly net in the coop with me. If he attacks, I am ready to repeat treatment [holding him under my boot until he calms down], but he is still a pest: I have to warn visitors not to look angry at any of the hen's antics or he will attack. My hubby was attacked yesterday because the rooster just would not get out of his way as Ron was going out. So he is definitely stewing chicken material as of today. I refuse to be chased out of the coop.
Someone on this thread suggested that this aggressiveness might be bred in and the rooster needs to be culled. I am more an more siding with her! Even if it is not bred in, just like we have bad personalities in humans, so do we in any other farm animal, I suspect.
Also, I have a brooding hen that has accepted a chick [I will be replacing more or less the entire flock this fall] and I'm thinking of giving her more. Just wondering how many is too many? I still have a pen in which the new ones can be confined for a while, but I don't want to give her some 32 new chicks!
I was thinking of giving her 10, keep the other ones in the coop, rooster-less, and see what develops.If the mama is by herself with a few chicks, when they are placed all together, [Momma, her adoptees and those that were not adopted],she would be able to defend her babies for pretty sure against the smaller non adoptees?Just thinking...
 
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:After holding him under my boot for a full minute, he did relent, but he is still attacking anyone else whose intentions are not clear[to him]. Lately, he has taken to standing in my path, in fact forcing a confrontation. So I will carry the butterfly net in the coop with me. If he attacks, I am ready to repeat treatment [holding him under my boot until he calms down], but he is still a pest: I have to warn visitors not to look angry at any of the hen's antics or he will attack. My hubby was attacked yesterday because the rooster just would not get out of his way as Ron was going out. So he is definitely stewing chicken material as of today. I refuse to be chased out of the coop.
Someone on this thread suggested that this aggressiveness might be bred in and the rooster needs to be culled. I am more an more siding with her! Even if it is not bred in, just like we have bad personalities in humans, so do we in any other farm animal, I suspect.
Also, I have a brooding hen that has accepted a chick [I will be replacing more or less the entire flock this fall] and I'm thinking of giving her more. Just wondering how many is too many? I still have a pen in which the new ones can be confined for a while, but I don't want to give her some 32 new chicks!
I was thinking of giving her 10, keep the other ones in the coop, rooster-less, and see what develops.If the mama is by herself with a few chicks, when they are placed all together, [Momma, her adoptees and those that were not adopted],she would be able to defend her babies for pretty sure against the smaller non adoptees?Just thinking...



The number of chicks a hen can care for depends quite a bit on how big she is.  But usually a mama can cover around a dozen babies of her own breed (a banty hen might only be able to cover half a dozen large-breed chicks).  My great-grandmother once had a Leghorn hen try to brood fifty new chicks that Great-grandma had purchased, way too many for her to cover and keep warm, LOL!  (Also very atypical for the breed.)

And temperament is largely genetic in chickens as well as in all other animals.  It's a good idea to make sure you like the temperament of any animals you plan to breed, because you will get more of it.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Thanks for the info, Kathleen Sanderson. I will give her 2 more. The babies are not of the same breed, but very comparable. Also, as I enlarge the paddock in the forest, I will keep the aggressive roo for now, but he is toast before this winter. I got 7 offsprings from him. I have not sexed them but there will be a likely rooster or 2 carrying his genes, so I may choose to dispatch those early.
 
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Interesting thread. I'm planning on only 4 hens to start, but I've y aware of the advantage of a rooster in the flock. So we might make some adjustments depends on our success with the four . . .
 
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Roosters are great, tbh I am really frustrated by the fact that almost all local ordinances in residential areas prevent them. Roosters are prevented just because they crow, which to be honest is not that loud in today's modern society. The suburbs even have huge trucks, loud machinery etc, I think its bullshit most Americans who own property (8% of which own chickens) can't really keep a rooster. When you factor in the modern windows can block sound really well, I really wish it would change.

Not only do roosters provide all the above benefits but they are just critical to proper flock care and human understanding of their life cycle. If you don't keep roosters you can't maintain your own flock, and might as well use hybrid chickens which is depressing.

One other benefit of roosters: they are really pretty and raising them for their plumage is really satisfying. As explained in the post above they also have unique and facisnating behaviors which ironically are quite chivalrous (chickesn are kind mean otherwise).
 
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Lucas, I tend to agree with you, but you and I like roosters.  A lot of people don't, and a lot of people find a rooster crowing to be really annoying at oh-dark-thirty in the morning.  So we have to be considerate of our neighbors.  I am thankful to live in a rural area where some of my neighbors also keep chickens, and where I only have one neighbor whose house I can even see, so having roosters hasn't been a problem.  I suspect my neighbors also have AC and don't keep their windows open at night (we don't have AC, and do keep our windows open at night).  That's good in that the roosters crowing are less likely to bother the neighbors, but kind of a shame in a way, because the neighbors miss hearing all the neat night sounds that I get to hear!

Kathleen
 
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Priscilla Stilwell wrote:Interesting thread. I'm planning on only 4 hens to start, but I've y aware of the advantage of a rooster in the flock. So we might make some adjustments depends on our success with the four . . .



You might want to have more hens. The ratio is about 1 rooster for 10 or 12 hens. Otherwise, the hens may not be making the weight gain: The rooster will pursue them all the time and it is sometimes hard on the hens: They try to get away from him so they don't stay foraging like they should.
I have one rooster for 25 hens and he is still able to service most of them. He is starting to get bigger spurs so I may have to file them so he does not hurt one.
 
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Lucas, I share your frustration that there are so many ordinances in the "burbs" even that forbid roosters. I understand it more in town. That is a question of politics really, and you may address your municipality about that.
I have discovered that many times, such ordinances are written by one person on the board who is totally uneducated about roosters, so first, find your target. I have found my town board responsive to the idea of bees and chickens but I do live a long ways from town, so that may not count.
The second thing is to educate your target, either privately or if you must, publicly. Bring your arguments and be ready. Be kind and patient. Most of the time, it is not hostility. It is sheer ignorance.
If you wish to have your own flock to breed for a profit, then their ordinance may be in contravention of free commerce laws. You'd have to check.
 
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Priscilla Stilwell wrote:Interesting thread. I'm planning on only 4 hens to start, but I've y aware of the advantage of a rooster in the flock. So we might make some adjustments depends on our success with the four . . .



You might want to have more hens. The ratio is about 1 rooster for 10 or 12 hens. Otherwise, the hens may not be making the weight gain: The rooster will pursue them all the time and it is sometimes hard on the hens: They try to get away from him so they don't stay foraging like they should.
I have one rooster for 25 hens and he is still able to service most of them. He is starting to get bigger spurs so I may have to file them so he does not hurt one.



Yes, that's why I mentioned I might reconsider the size of the flock after we get comfortable with the first 4 hens. If they do well, we will add a few more and perhaps can sell eggs here. Few people raise hens for eggs here. They are almost all strictly breeders and meat animals.
 
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Justyn Mavis wrote:

Anna Tennis wrote:Roosters = illegal in our city. I'd love to have one. Anyone know of a way to keep a Stealth Rooster? Are there quiet roosters?

Would a gander serve any of the same functions, particularly where security is concerned?



I do, it depends on how super nosy the people around you are. You can make a No Crow Collar. It's velco collar you put around your roos neck under the feather which makes him sound like he has a smokers cough. Super easy to make. You do need to give him special attention because just like any collar it can get caught in things. You play around with the tightness enough so he can breathe healthy but tight enough so we can't draw in air to crow.





Have people had much success with the collar? I feel like it could cause other issues...

I have a lovely rooster on a property I lease that I would love to bring home for the winter but I live in the middle of a residential area. There are no bylaws and other people have rooster but I'd prefer to keep good relations with my neighbours. I have 40 hens so I'd love some balance to my flock. My hens are noisy enough already so a muffled rooster would be perfect.

His name is Romeo and he's great with the younger birds and is always on patrol. That and he's sure is a looker! He like to attack my Dad but he's afraid of me I'd love to keep him but would rather dispense of him that torture him through my velcro experiments.
 
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In August of 2018 my cousin moved her little hen house and 5 hens onto our property after a falling out with her father in-law where they were being kept. A month later another cousin got 3 hens and a rooster off of Craigslist. Already having a roo he asked if I would take him so of course I did. I named him Brutus The Rooster Chickencake (any Wrestling fans will understand) and he became my favorite. He was close in size to the hens but for what  ever reason he would not stand up to them. He was completely hen pecked, it was so bad I would chase the girls into the house so he could eat. All the poor guy would do is sit in a corner of their little yard looking like the saddest thing. He wouldn't even crow, I actually was beginning to think he was damaged somehow. This stayed the same through Christmas but then little by little he started to insert himself. Then early one morning in February I heard him crow. Within days he was a brand new bird crowing non stop from 5am on. He would mount any girl anytime he wanted but at the same time they ate first, he always came outside to make sure things were cool before letting them out and once when a squirrel got inside their fence he killed it.
Then in late April my cousin decided to move her hens to her new place. I decided to keep Brutus so we built him a coop and run. He would cluck and Crow and look all over for his girls. I felt so bad. Finally in May I found a hen and 2 pullets for free in the local paper. They was as wild as could be, in fact we had to use a box trap to catch them. Brute was the happiest rooster ever to have a new family. He tolerated the little ones but completely doted over Mama chicken. She stood up to him too, they was a perfect couple. Then one day she got spooked by Brutus while I was tending them and flew out of the coop. I tried for a week to catch her but couldn't and then one morning she was gone. I couldn't find any sign of her demise but we have not seen or heard her in over a month.
At first Brutus was devastated. He would stare at the tree she had been roosting in and cluck like mad. He wouldn't hardly eat. After a week or so he snapped out of it. He still tolerates the young ones except when it's feeding time. He is a jerk then lol. I'm hopeful once they reach breeding age he will be better.
That's my crazy rooster story!
0514191615a.jpg
[Thumbnail for 0514191615a.jpg]
Brutus "The Rooster" Chickencake
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Kj Koch wrote:In August of 2018 my cousin moved her little hen house and 5 hens onto our property after a falling out with her father in-law where they were being kept. A month later another cousin got 3 hens and a rooster off of Craigslist. Already having a roo he asked if I would take him so of course I did. I named him Brutus  He was completely hen pecked, it was so bad I would chase the girls into the house so he could eat. All the poor guy would do is sit in a corner of their little yard looking like the saddest thing. He wouldn't even crow, I actually was beginning to think he was damaged somehow.



Since Brutus was an "add on" to a flock, his shyness and henpecking was predictable. The recommended ratio is 10 to 1, so 8 hens and 2 roos, one of them [I suspect] younger or smaller than the first, the poor guy didn't know where to hide for a while. Do you know if he was sexually mature at the time? If he was not quite there yet, he must have been bullied mercilessly.
I too had 2 roos, one of which was larger, and even though the ratio was 'right', [25 hens to 2 roos] the smaller roo was not allowed to mate by the bigger roo and I did observe the same behavior of bullying. It was only when the bigger roo died unexpectedly that the smaller roo 'came into his own' within 3 days.
If you think about the situation in evolutionary terms, it makes perfect sense that the strong are allowed  to procreate and the weak are not. Being human, we feel sad and afraid for the weaker roo, but for the health of the flock, that is actually a good thing, and when he became able to 'hold his own', he became integrated and respected as a valuable member who could contribute good genes to the group. Notice that actual killing of the weak is rare. It may be the natural order of things that the weaker roo has to live on the margins until the leader fails, in which case here is a new roo willing and able to assume his responsibilities.
In human terms, the system of monarchy was quite similar: the Prince was allowed to succeed his father only when the King failed. Siblings jockeyed for position, sometimes killing siblings or aunts/uncles perceived to be "in the way". Sadly, we were no more civilized than chickens.
Right now, I am trying to integrate a number of young chicks [32] and a generous mama who was broody and adopted them all {!}, into a flock of 24 birds and one roo. Mama escaped my attention and found herself with the main flock for a few minutes and I saw that it might not end well for mama. One of the roo's favorites went on the attack. The babies followed mama into the main enclosure and I feared for them although nothing happened.
They can get familiar with each other that way. When I put them together, I will make sure that there is plenty of space and food and I will monitor so that any 'weakling' I want to keep is safe.
I now have them separated by a common fence.
 
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Have people had much success with the collar? I feel like it could cause other issues...


We have tried it for several years, and every rooster who wore it died young--the oldest one was about 16 months old when we found him unexpectedly dead.  After the last one died at just a year old, having adjusted his collar that morning, I decided we just could not do the collar any more.  I found him collapsed and still warm;  I did chest compressions on that beautiful bird for ten minutes trying to get him going again, and I felt so terrible as he slowly cooled off in my arms.

I cannot say for certain it was the collar that killed my roosters (four altogether), as we have had other premature deaths too, including two Australorp males who died before the age of six months, never having worn a collar.  However, it was a strong enough correllation to convince me.  We don't keep a rooster and get fertilized eggs from elsewhere.  Any cockerels hatched get to live unencumbered by a collar, and we eat them when they begin crowing.
 
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I have a question about roosters. Our hens are now laying, which we enjoy eating their fresh eggs. But the hens have been wandering too far for comfort so we got a rooster to help keep them in line. How quickly do we need to collect their eggs and refrigerate them now that we have a rooster fertilizing them? We don't want baby chicks.
 
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Hi Jamie, welcome to Permies. I wouldn't be overly concerned with it. Eggs will only hatch if a hen goes broody and she sits on them for approximately 21 days, or they are put in an incubator to mimic these conditions. I have chickens and a rooster, and I just collect my eggs once a day in the evening and refrigerate them.
 
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Great, thank you! The last thing I want to do is crack open an egg and have my 6 year old see a dead baby chick.
 
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