Roosters, you either love them or hate them, there is no in-between. What to do with the male chicken? In some city areas, the choice is pretty clear, roosters are banned. But for those who live in the country, we have a few more options than our city-dwelling counterparts.
I am on the lover side of the rooster debate. I marvel at them as a creature and value them as an asset for my large free-ranging flock. What are the best ways to manage roosters in your flock? In this post, I will list my top three rooster management techniques.
1. Establish a bachelor pen:
After this past spring chick pick-up at local feed stores, I ended up with 7 roosters. This is the most that I have ever had in one season. I already had 6 roosters in my established flock, bringing my total rooster count to 13! But I did not freak out, why you may ask. I had a plan – A bachelor pen. Picking chicks out of the straight-run bin has its associated risks. 😊
You may be surprised to know that roosters when living together, can and do exist peacefully. Most people associate roosters with fighting when near one another. This is true if and only if hens are present. Roosters will fight to establish dominance in the presence of hens. The coveted position is that of the alpha rooster 🐓, or top dog. However, if there are no hens present, there is not much to fight over. Roosters in a bachelor pen will still maintain a pecking order but fighting will not be an issue. No hens to fight over, no problem.
I have 13 roosters, 7 free-range with the hens, as for the rest, the bachelor life it is. The 6 residents in the Coop De Ville (bachelor pen) can see the hens, but they have no contact with the girls. Because there is no contact with the hens, there is no fighting for position. I plan to leave them in the bachelor pen. If I need an individual to perform a task such as breeding or protection, I can select from the bachelor pool.
Having a few roosters on standby is an asset. If you free-range your flock, it is possible to lose a few roosters. A good rooster will often give his life for the flock. They are biologically wired with this protective behavior. It is for this reason that many keepers who free-range their flocks will have multiple roosters on guard. For example, I free-range my flock daily. Daily, I have 7 to 8 roosters in the yard with the girls. To date, I have never lost a rooster to a predator. I have had to nurse a few back from the brink due to injuries from an aerial attack by a raptor, but that is the extent.
2. Re-home extra roosters:
In the past when I only had one coop, I re-homed roosters that I could not keep. This is what it sounds like, finding a new home for your surplus roosters. In my experience, it’s easy to find a new home for your extra roosters. However, when doing this, you have to understand that the new owner may see him as dinner or a fighting contender rather than a pet.
I was not aware of this when I first re-homed some of my boys. If you list your rooster online, it is possible that he will be used for illegal cock fighting. So, it’s best to take care to find a good owner for your extra boys. If you know a friend who has a large farm, they may take him for protecting their flock. Or if you know someone who is looking to breed, this is also a good re-homing choice. If you live in an area of the country where keeping chickens is very common, it’s easy to find a home for your boys. If you are a city dweller, this may be harder to come by. You may be forced to cull him or call your state veterinarian for the best option given your area.
Another option is to connect with other chicken keepers. Join a poultry club if your area has one. The backyard chicken-keeping movement is exploding all over the country. In response, many poultry clubs are popping up in every corner of the United States. A simple google search or Facebook group search will yield plenty of options. Many of these clubs offer trading/swapping/rehoming services. By connecting with other keepers in your area, you will be able to easily find a good home for your extra boys.
3. Sell them.
On my farm, I raise rare breeds. I have the standard Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, and Australorps that you find in most feed stores. I also have other breeds that can only be purchased from specialized hatcheries. For the rare breed boys I end up with, I find that I can sell them to others who want to breed. It is these circumstances that allow me to sell one or more of my surplus boys. The same goes for my White Crested Polish, Silver Lace Polishes, Silver Lace Wyandotte, and Buff Laced Polish roosters. They can at times go for as much as $100, especially if I throw in a few hens to seed a good starting flock.
Buying from specialized hatcheries is expensive, additionally, you have to order a mandatory minimum and then pay to ship. For those who want to expand their flock themselves, this saves a lot of money. So really, it’s a win-win-win situation. They win, I win, and the roosters win by going to a good home.
You may have noticed that none of my techniques include killing my roosters. Those are viable choices as well, for me though, I love roosters and choose to allow them to live out their natural lives. For those who can process extra roosters, a freezer camp is an option. Many people use this method to manage rooster populations in their flocks. I have nothing against this, however, since I don’t butcher my boys, I cannot speak by experience on this matter. There are many videos on YouTube on how to successfully butcher and process a rooster. For those who need tutorials, this is a great resource.
I hope that you found this post helpful. If you have any questions that I did not cover, please leave them in the comments. You can also drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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