Testosterone Roosters and what to do if you have too many roosters

Big Black – roo at 12 weeks – he is a Blue Andalusian

My straight run (more on straight  vs sexed run chicks later), 3 month old chicken flock is now, and has been for about 1 week, split into 2 flocks: 11 roosters, separated from the 9 hens, and there are 5 or 6 more roosters with but 4 of those are golden polish, and they seem to be low on the pecking order and so far have not chased/terrorized any of the hens. I still cannot tell for sure if all the golden polish are roosters. The 2 flocks are going into the coop at separate times into separate areas. I am making a much smaller coop for the roosters, which will stay in the orchard, their daytime hangout place. Hopefully this will simplfy the morning and evening chores. When the big black “blue andalusian” roo gets to the buttercup hens ….they they run away almost terrorized, and I won’t tolerate that. I am thinking that if he is still with us in the spring, I might get some female chicks from the local store which will grow into very big chickens – and they can be his flock …..

Rooster tips (chicken tips) from experience so far:

– do not try to chase chickens – you loose trust and they don’t forget.

– get them to take treats from your hand, things they really want. It will go a very long way for an amicable relationship.

– spend as much time with them as you can and handle them gently. With 26 chickens, I did not do enough of that, but they all will take treats from my hand. However, only a few will let me pick them up without fuss.

– be patient if you want them to go somewhere – they will not let you herd them, trust me. ..but they will go through open gates and follow the treats they see thrown.

– you MUST have space and hiding places if you have more than 1 rooster, or 2 or 3 who might not get along. Sometimes it is so clear and accepted who is boss, they might be ok with more than 1. This is a MUST, the space thing. I had to let them out and free range in the garden, which they needed, even though they don’t actually go all that far. Depending on your set up and preferences, it will be better to fence in the actual vegetable garden part and let them be everywhere else than fence them into too small a space.

Ideally, they would all have their 5-8 hens and space enough to be. But how to get that many hens unless you get a sexed run? Without predators ….there’s simply TOO many of them roosters ….

I love them – they are all beautiful and have their own beingness and character. And they are creatures of habit and instinct – and testosterone. They remind me very much of humans – no offense, but it is true.

So one of those roosters, the largest, is starting to try to shove me off when I come into the garden area where they hang out, only I always have little treats – and he wants those too. I am not exactly looking forward to the actual breeding season. That is the Blue Andalusian, the one that ran around like a headless chicken for 3 days a couple of weeks ago and I handfed him on the roost inside the chicken house the 3 days he was unable to normally walk.

I am convinced at this point, after observing the various roosters, that when they get testosterone surges, or reach certain developmental levels, they act out for a day or 2 ….show off, want to be bossy, crow more and actually seem to loose weight..

…and I feel bad for the roosters on the low end of the pecking order. They don’t ever seem to feel quite safe ….and really, you MUST have a large enough area where they can all be and forage – otherwise death might be the kinder option.

Some of them seem smarter than others 🙂

You can see him in the center – having manage to get with the hen flock

There is the Egyptian Fayoumi, the chick that was the first to crow. He is taken with this one buttercup hen, who wants none of it and runs screaming. At first he would manage to get through the barriers of the 2 areas I keep the 2 flocks, but now I added a 6 foot reed fence and he does no longer take that route. Yet, he did manage to get to the hen side of the garden twice now…and I saw today how: he walks all the way around the greenhouses and gets to the other side of the division that way. Well, smart Alec. I would not mind it if he wasn’t chasing the hen. Little bugger. The big black boss roo does not like him, and he’d be much happier with the other flock. He also knows that I will interrupt his chase, and generally does not bother the hen when I am around doing work in the garden. But once out of sight – I hear the kafaffel  – and sure enough, he is chasing her. The buttercup rooster who stays with the hen flock is sooooo laid back. Even though he was the first to establish himself as the top rooster and is the one to come sit on me still, he seems to not have a very high testosterone level, at least he is not acting like it.

When/if I get the Buff Catalana chicks, I will hopefully be able to tell the males from the females at about 4-6 weeks and they will go to a friend’s at that time, except for 2 of them. But these guys here, who were supposed to go there also, I might be stuck with  them for the moment.

The flock(s) inside the coop – 3 months

What I do know is that multiple rooster management adds a whole lot of work and time into the chicken keeping adventure. From this vantage point,  having just hens and maybe 1 rooster, seems like a breeze. It sure is a learning experience – and they are only 3 months old 🙂

Why I have that many roosters: because where I get my chickens from, they only do straight runs – and if you know what happens to the males when you order only hens – ….

No matter what happens – these guys had a life on earth that was more that just getting chopped up as baby chicks.