Fighting roosters in the homestead flock

A little experience and some more tips and insights on multiple rooster management in the flock.

Some of you may remember Cutie-Pie and Lucky, 2 of many  hen-hatched “roolings”  in 2013. Of all the little roos from that summer, I still have 4, 3 of whom are destined to go to the feed-store like their brothers,  as soon as the weather gets better. After some observation, a coincidence and some sentimental input, I decided a while back to keep Lucky, one of the mixed breed roos (Andalusian dad and Buff Catalana mom), and he has been with the main flock at night, and spends most of his days in a special hangout.

Lucky and Cutie-Pie

All 4 remaining cockerels had been doing fine with the hens, pullets and my 3 remaining roos from 2012 in a flock of 39 total. However, the youngens became very very interested in the girls, and so I separated out the ones I was not going to keep.

If you have multiple roosters – it is highly advisable to have the option of separating them if needed. That need can arise suddenly.

Moving a group of roosters out to separate quarters – prompts them to establish a new pecking order and territorial claims – or so it has been my observation.

It is good to keep in mind that  “fighting” means –  establishing pecking order. In healthy roos, once one of them starts running and is able to keep a distance, the fighting stops. Any rooster that turns out to have the habit to pursue and pursue even after the other roo has given up – is built in such a way that his genes will not be allowed to continue in my domestic flock.

Once you separate out roosters from the flock – they WILL  re-establish pecking order if you put them back together.

Last evening, Cutie-pie, a beautiful spunky Blue Andalusian, so far content in his enclosure, really wanted to join the flock in the main coop, and I decided to give him a try with the rest of the flock today – and if all went well, I would let him join the main coop in the evening. One time he had gotten out by accident and was fine, with Lucky being daytime separated for hen protection.

So this morning I let Cutie-Pie join the flock and found out: He and Lucky are very evenly matched young roos who had some things to work out. I wish I had a camera when they first started “fighting” because it was an amazing dance performance – without getting tough or too serious, – they got under each other, over and sometimes went front to front. Cutie-Pie, the Andalusian,  eventually did (sort of) start running, and Lucky even gracefully stopped chasing, but when they came close to each other again, they’d start over. Cutie Pie hadn’t really conceded. So here is another point to remember:

When 2 cocks, or, as we politely say in the United States – roos 🙂 are evenly matched, they tend to –  keep on fighting….

Lucky is bigger, and at this point is second only to the main ruler of the flock, but Cutie-Pie is high in spirit. I was not gonna wait till the end – when and whatever it might have been – because I already knew that I was keeping Lucky in the long run.

So Lucky went into his daytime pen, Cutie-Pie was given a chance to roam and be out another day with the flock, but, as you can see in the image, they were still holding each others attention. So in his generous pen with run Cutie-Pie went too. I threw them all some grains and they were all happy picking and scratching. Eventually they would get used to each other and would work it out …but….not without some comb and wattle damage.

I do know from past experience that roos go through phases and, at least with my roos (and I had 32 last year)  – this too would pass, but again, I know they will go soon anyway.

Just a quick word on the natural chicken keeping and roosters: In true nature, the males don’t get killed at birth  and they also are not locked up separatly from a main flock. however, they do have a pecking order, they DO have a way to get out of the way (space) and, maybe most importantly – for MOST of the time during a year, the hens are not laying eggs, so there is not much reason to fight. Have you ever seen a rooster chase a molting or non fertile hen? At least mine don’t. So  apart from aggressive breeds and individual roosters, we have the inherently UN-natural situation of females who lay eggs most of the year – something to fight about ….

None of my roosters are aggressive to people – and I find what I wrote last year on the topic on how to deal with roosters, is still true.

Do roos calm down – oh ya, my 3 main roos are nothing like last year. They surely seem to go through adolescent hormone spikes and have a lot of energy then :).