Too Many Roosters

| 11/18/2015 10:11:00 AM

Tags: raising chickens, roosters, backyard chickens, Kirsten Lie-Nielsen, Days Ferry Organics, Maine,

Around this time of year, many of us find some of our spring chicks are starting to crow. Chickens hatch out 50-percent male and 50-percent female, so if you hatched your own chicks or ordered straight run, chances are good you have some roosters in the flock.

Old English Game bantam rooster

At first it is tempting to keep your roosters. Young roosters that have been brought up together usually do not start fighting right away, nor are their amateur attempts at crowing too loud or annoying. But come spring, the scene on the farm will often change.

Most farmers recommend 6-8 hens per rooster. This ratio is flexible depending on your rooster's libido and size. Why do you need to worry about too many roosters? The first answer is fighting in the flock. A rooster's mission in life is to protect and procreate, and they will see any other males as a threat to their ability to continue their bloodline. Roosters will fight each other to the death if necessary, and they will sacrifice themselves fighting off potential threats to their hens.

You may think that roosters only crow to greet the morning, but that is false. Roosters crow sun up to sun down, and if one guy is calling the rest are certain to answer. For this reason, many towns and cities specifically outlaw roosters on the homestead.

Too few hens to roosters also brings up the problem of over-mating. Roosters are not sympathetic to their ladies and will continue to attempt to mate even after they have scratched up a long-suffering hen's back. Even with only one rooster, if he doesn't have enough hens to spread his affections to, he may cause damage to his harem.

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