Rooster/Hen ratio

Traci(z3 MN)August 16, 2005

Can anyone tell me what the proper rooster to hen ratio is? We have 23 hens, one rooster that is 1 1/2 yrs old, and two that were just hatched this spring. I am wondering if we can keep the two young ones, or if this will be to many roosters for this amount of hens. Any advice is greatly appreciated.



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I have had that many, and they get along, but I think the proper ratio for a healthy young rooster to hens is about 1:20 to 1:25. Younger roosters are preferable to sire if you are thinking of incubating or letting your hens sit. Therefore I let the rooster population go a bit to the heavy side if my main man is aging. Too many roosters doesn't automatically spell trouble as far as fighting.....I've been lucky that way. But, too many roosters are hard on the hens. You'll start to see your hens backs go nekkid and when the competition is too stiff the hens can actually be so overwhelmed by roosters they receive lacerations to their backs and deep ones at that. That can lead to death.

Another factor to consider is that roosters are like drone bees. They contribute little to the flock in greater numbers than you need. They eat. A lot. Why feed them through the winters. Chicken feed is not cheap. I keep one rooster per twenty hens and if I let my flock get small (less than twenty five hens) I keep a cockerel as a spare.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 2:08PM
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If you really, really want to hatch out chickens - and ask yourself why, and is it sensible, economic, advisable, "do I have space" etc. etc. etc., then keep one. Otherwise, eat all three. As Calliope says, they are like drone bees. Only needed for one purpose, and once only. BTW I am a male chauvinist of the first order, but having bred my successor now concentrate on the finer things of life. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 4:37PM
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Well, I sorta agree. LOL. Half the joy of having a large flock is the morning serenade of the roosters. I also have egg customers who expect/demand fertile eggs. It's sort of hard to do that without a rooster. Selling eating eggs is not the only way to make a flock pay their own way. I have demand for the fertile eggs for people to incubate, and I have sold chicks as well. Not everyone wants to go the trouble to buy day olds from the hatcheries and then go through the brooder box routine, and chicks just out of the brooders and on their own are quite sellable.

Now, maybe I am reading more into the little chicken brains than is there, but I am positive the hens are happier having a fella around. rofl. I'm really serious, although I am laughing. My hens seem calmer with roosters in the coop. At least once the rooster has prevented a predator from slaughtering amid the hens. One of my old favs took on a coon who got into one of the holding cages when a door wasn't properly locked. The rooster lost a toe but lived to tell about it and held his own. A hen would've screamed and just lay down and be eaten.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 10:44PM
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ncflowerpower(z8 NE NC)

We always have one rooster and a young one coming up. The old guy keeps the younger one in check and then you always have a back up. We keep approximately 15-30 chickens and have never had a problem with more than one rooster, cause the older one is always dominate over the other and the younger usually knows it's place. If one of the roosters becomes a problem, fights, into to stuff, mean, we just put him in the pot and keep the next guy in line.

I love having a rooster crow and taking care of my hens, also it's cool to have a hen come out of the woods with a surprise bunch of biddies : )

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 10:18AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Your ratio sounds OK if you allow lots of room for the birds to roam and be able to run away from each other. It also depends on the breed and individual bird. You may find when the roos mature that they get along great, all three fight all the time, just scuffle occasionally or there may be one problem child. Be ready for anything and to have to make some tough, quick decisions.

We currently have a flock of 37 chickens, three of which are roos: 1 Americaunas, 1 Millefleur/Frizzle mix banty and 1 Silkie. They get along fine with the Americaunas as Head Roo, he will chase the other two roos once in a while to maintain his status but no serious fights. I have had to get rid of a bad roo in the past, though.

I feel that roos do serve a purpose beyond simple reproduction. They are also great watchdogs for the hens, providers, and complete the social structure. I watched my original roo, a Barred Rock, beat a Sharpshin hawk off of one of the banty hens one day. He was fine and she limped for a few days. I was about 15 feet away and it was over before I could move--he earned his keep that day! I've tried it both ways, and my hens are definetley happier and better off with roos than without. :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 4:54PM
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Traci(z3 MN)

Thanks for all of your opinions. I think we will keep all three for now and see what happens. So far it seems that this springs Americauna rooster is gaining dominance over the older rooster. Thanks for all the opinions.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 1:54PM
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