Ask Our Experts

Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.

Introduce a Rooster to Your Flock

10/30/2012 1:02:00 PM

Tags: Roosters, Hens, Poultry Flock, Chickens

Rooster And HensI have a small, established flock of hens and would like to add a rooster. What’s the best way to introduce a rooster? 

Including a rooster (cock) in your flock is beneficial for several reasons. A rooster will act as caretaker, keeping the flock together and protecting it from predators when the hens roam outside the coop. With a rooster in charge, bossy hens will become more mellow. Keeping a rooster also means you’ll have fertile eggs from which you can raise chicks if you’d like (read Raise Your Best Flock Using Broody Hens).

Whether you’re adding a new rooster or hen to the flock, the process is essentially the same, says Harvey Ussery, author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. Introduce a rooster to the poultry flock at midday inside a large, enclosed space that provides plenty of room for the rooster to retreat if attacked. Then, monitor the rooster and hens’ behavior.

“Expect some sparring initially,” Ussery says. “In my experience, this is not much cause for concern. There will be a hazing period until the hens find their places in the new hierarchy. Within a short time, the hens will naturally accept him.”

If, however, the flock acts more aggressively toward the rooster — pulling tail feathers or drawing blood — take things more slowly. Keep the rooster separated but within view of the flock (you could let them roam in separate outdoor enclosures during the day, for instance) until the hens become more comfortable.

For more information on how to maintain harmony within your flock as well as how to breed and raise chicks from eggs, check out Ussery’s book The Small-Scale Poultry Flock.

— Vicki Mattern, Contributing Editor 

Above: Hens can learn to accept a rooster if he’s introduced carefully. 

Photo By Dreamstime/Lilya 


Vicki Mattern is a contributing editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, book editor and freelance magazine writer. She has edited or co-authored seven books on gardening, and lives and works from her home in northwestern Montana. You can find Vicki on .



Related Content

Bickering in the Flock (Children and Chickens)

What to do when the hot, humid days of summer create constant bickering in your children and in the ...

Stop Putting off Chickens, Seriously

It's possible to live without chickens in your back yard. But why would you want to?

Photo of the Week: A Hen and Her Friend

This hen catches her rooster off-guard in the summer season.

Know Your Egg Shed, Part II Egg Production

Egg production in family flocks vs. factory farms.

Content Tools
RSS




Post a comment below.

 







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.