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Annabel

Cockerel over treading?

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My cockerel was hatched out the end of July and a few weeks ago he has started mating (treading) the hens he has.  We are at a low number of hens at the moment (only 3) - looking to get some more in the summer.  One he does not mate as she is not in lay (21 weeks) but the other two he mates with incredible frequency.

I know ideally he should have around 8-10 hens and so will mate more frequently the two he has because of that.  I have the run set up right next to the house and see the chickens from my kitchen table - so I have a good eye on them.  He is a cross between cream legbar and marans and because of this, is a very big boy and heavy to pick up.  

Tonight I decided to seperate him from the two he mates to give them a break.  He is now housed opposite with the hen he does not mate, and can clearly see the two he does tread easily.  

I plan to keep him here for a few days at least - can you forsee any problems with this (I'm assuming I will not have problems reintegrating?).  I do think the fact I can see the chickens so easily means I probably take more issue with his frequent treading than I would do if they were down the bottom of the garden, he isn't rough with the hens (though they have scabs on their combs where he holds them still) and it is obviously over quickly but he is young and I am guessing his sex drive is higher than it will be as he ages.  I know I can get saddles, but do you think separation will be ok for him (he is obviously desperate to get back to them) and also potential problems with the flock?

I might add, the two hens separated from do not seem to be trying to get back to him.  The hen that is also now separated from the flock had started to be picked on by one of the hens (the cockerels favourite mating partner who up until he started mating, was the bottom of the pecking order even when we had five hens- and now I expect has risen the ranks) so she also doesn't seem bothered by the separation.

 

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The only problem I can really foresee is for the younger hen. If she’s already picked on that could potentially become worse once they’ve been apart a while. However, she will likely come into lay soon at which point she’ll be more likely to hold her own, and the cockerel ought to sort out squabbles between them.

Im by no means an expert where this is concerned but as long as they can all still see each other I wouldn’t have thought you’ll have a massive problem.

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thank you Mullethunter- I wonder whether I might just put her i the walk in run with the other two for a few hours of every day.  That may help her and the cockerel could manage without her for a bit.  I also noticed the last couple of days, as I was shooing the hens and cockerel away from the door as I was walking in, that the cockerel turned to face me and looked like he was going to 'take-me-on'- I then continued to shoo him and he bit my baggy (luckily) trousers - didn't fly at me or anything, but again today he did the same.  I've read I should not accept this behaviour and carry him under my arm and go about my chores to show him I am boss - have you ever had experience having to exert your dominance on your cockerel?  I know he's just protecting his ladies but I have two girls under 9 and he makes me a little nervous when he does this, so don't want him to get away with too much especially if he starts flying at people.

 

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You probably should try to assert your dominance somehow. I have two friends who’ve had to get rid of their cockerels because they started having a go at the children (and in one case the wife 😳)

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I'll have to see what I can do.  I think the chicken lockdown hasn't helped as normally they are free ranging, and I'm not shooing them one way or the other!  Problem is, the kids do like to catch the hens to have a cuddle and I'm not sure he'll be accepting of it.  Have to see when the lockdown for them ends and they are back to free ranging whether he chills out more with the extra freedom and space.

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You might like to think about plan B.  Rehoming him.  I had three elderly hens living with a young Cockerel.  Apart from a mismatch in hormone levels, I was concerned he’d end up alone as they died.  At the time, I wasn’t in a position to build a new flock for him.  So, I found three FB Pages which are, essentially, Cockerel dating sites.   These are HPG Cockerel Rehome, Red Rooster Rescue and Cockerel Direct.  They work in partnership.   To cut a long story short, he is now living in a National Trust property with 10 younger ladies.   I left him strutting his stuff!   I wish I’d done it earlier.  

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9 hours ago, Patricia W said:

You might like to think about plan B.  Rehoming him.  I had three elderly hens living with a young Cockerel.  Apart from a mismatch in hormone levels, I was concerned he’d end up alone as they died.  At the time, I wasn’t in a position to build a new flock for him.  So, I found three FB Pages which are, essentially, Cockerel dating sites.   These are HPG Cockerel Rehome, Red Rooster Rescue and Cockerel Direct.  They work in partnership.   To cut a long story short, he is now living in a National Trust property with 10 younger ladies.   I left him strutting his stuff!   I wish I’d done it earlier.  

That is a lovely story.  I haven't discounted rehoming him but we would like to keep him if we possibly can.  Two of the hens are less than a year and one is 2.5 years (although not that old, she came as a trio from BHWT and the other two died of what appears 'old age' a few months apart having never been ill, free ranging happily and even laying that day- their life expectancy isn't the same so may well be approaching what she may consider old age).  We are also going to get some young girls in the new season, so he should have a good flock.  But I am very tempted by your story.  I am also very lucky to have a friend who has told me (when I was hatching him out) that her gamekeeper friend has said he would take an unwanted cockerel and that still stands.  We don't want to lose him though unless things really don't work out here at home - which would include attacking the children, our current pets or stressing out the hens - so for the time being I'm hoping his separate pen will be ok.  This morning the two hens he mates, are pacing their walk in run to get to him which I found surprising!

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And thank you Patricia - I've just looked at those rescue sites just in case - and one is quite close to me.  Amazing work those ladies do.

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Hi, so I had a similar thing happen to me but I have a silkie rooster (small -ish) and one older hen and a younger hen, what I suggest is letting them free roam the garden for about 30 minutes a day and that will give him the idea that the time for mating is when he has access to roam-this worked very well with my flock as my rooster now only mates when I let him out to roam as it isn’t easy for him to do so in the coop, which allows my hens to get away if they don’t want to be mated. I guess it depends on the type of coop you have but I recommend giving it a go, as it worked very well for me and now he doesn’t bother my hens in the coop. If that doesn’t work I also would try to get a few more hens that are of a different breed that might assert dominance over your rooster, as this will lead him to not have the confidence to mate your hens as much. This happened with my flock of silkies and I added two hybrid hens and my Silke rooster doesn’t  mate my silkies when he is around the hybrids. I hope you find a way, it would be a shame to have to get rid of him!  Good luck :)

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7 minutes ago, ellasflock said:

Hi, so I had a similar thing happen to me but I have a silkie rooster (small -ish) and one older hen and a younger hen, what I suggest is letting them free roam the garden for about 30 minutes a day and that will give him the idea that the time for mating is when he has access to roam-this worked very well with my flock as my rooster now only mates when I let him out.

Well as all chickens in most of Europe are under lockdown due to avian flu, there is no option for free ranging right now. And as Annabel suggests, the problems started after starting confining her chickens.

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1 hour ago, ellasflock said:

Hi, so I had a similar thing happen to me but I have a silkie rooster (small -ish) and one older hen and a younger hen, what I suggest is letting them free roam the garden for about 30 minutes a day and that will give him the idea that the time for mating is when he has access to roam-this worked very well with my flock as my rooster now only mates when I let him out to roam as it isn’t easy for him to do so in the coop, which allows my hens to get away if they don’t want to be mated. I guess it depends on the type of coop you have but I recommend giving it a go, as it worked very well for me and now he doesn’t bother my hens in the coop. If that doesn’t work I also would try to get a few more hens that are of a different breed that might assert dominance over your rooster, as this will lead him to not have the confidence to mate your hens as much. This happened with my flock of silkies and I added two hybrid hens and my Silke rooster doesn’t  mate my silkies when he is around the hybrids. I hope you find a way, it would be a shame to have to get rid of him!  Good luck :)

Thank you for this idea - it is certainly an interesting one.  As Cat tails points out, unfortunately they are all in lockdown at the moment however I did prepare something in advance of this.  I bought a second hand Eglu Go with run and moved it onto the grass (ground sanitised and run covered plus mesh so small birds can't get in the sides).  I have been using it as an extra run to let them out into for 2 hours a day to enjoy the grass and to break the boredom.  I do find he mates with them less (in fact I have never seen him try in this grass run) which I think is due to the excitement  and wanting to scratch away- he also barely crows in this run (in the walk-in he crows around once every 4 minutes - I'm not joking!).  So I am hopeful that when he is back to free-ranging, he will not mate as frequently as I am sure it is partly boredom.

I have also spent a lot of time in with them today, picking him up and feeding him meal worms and corn by hand to try and exert my dominance and show that I have great treats.  I haven't been attacked today but I'm sure that will be on the horizon!

I have also put my name down for some ex-caged (hyrbrid) hens which in my experience are extremely fiesty and so far always ranked 1,2 and 3 in the pecking order so again it may be there is less opportunity for him to mate with them around( as with your silkie) if they exert some dominance, but it not at least the attention will be more evenly distributed.

 

Thank you for your ideas

 

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Yes of course, definitely wait until after the lockdown (I completely forgot! :)) mine are in all the time at the moment (because of the lockdown, and because I am trying to control their diet) but anyway, what you have done sounds great! Good luck with it all. Hopefully you get some hybrids because mine are actually really friendly but it has taken some time to sort their pecking order out.

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2 hours ago, Cat tails said:

Well as all chickens in most of Europe are under lockdown due to avian flu, there is no option for free ranging right now. And as Annabel suggests, the problems started after starting confining her chickens.

Yep, I am really starting to think this is a natural behaviour increased through boredom because the crowing is almost constant.  But if I move things around in the run or do anything remotely interesting, he barely crows.  There is the possibility of a charity rehoming hens in 2 weeks which I am on the waiting list for and that would certainly help with the boredom and the hen's unwanted attention - but good chance of cancellation due to the lockdown restrictions too!

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6 minutes ago, ellasflock said:

Yes of course, definitely wait until after the lockdown (I completely forgot! :)) mine are in all the time at the moment (because of the lockdown, and because I am trying to control their diet) but anyway, what you have done sounds great! Good luck with it all. Hopefully you get some hybrids because mine are actually really friendly but it has taken some time to sort their pecking order out.

We got three back in Feb - and that is the first time I saw a pecking order sorted out (previous chickens I've had over the years came together with this already done between them) - anyway - it was so viscious!  I had to look away - went on for 2 days until the baldest, skiniest one managed to rise to the top and all three had bleeding combs.  God it was awful.  They are really friendly though, mine scratch at the backdoor and walk in the kitchen if the door is open, mug me for food if I go in the garden - right characters!

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Oh wow! That’s an experience I don’t wish to encounter. Hopefully when the chickens are allowed back out to roam it would make the process a little easier as my hens didn’t have a very good time establishing a pecking order when I introduced my cockerel. Thankfully it’s all done now, glad that your flock is all okay, and hopefully your rooster doesn’t carry on trying to mate with your hens as much. However you could end up with some cute chicks! I am in the process of hatching which is one benefit to having a cockerel.

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5 hours ago, ellasflock said:

Oh wow! That’s an experience I don’t wish to encounter. Hopefully when the chickens are allowed back out to roam it would make the process a little easier as my hens didn’t have a very good time establishing a pecking order when I introduced my cockerel. Thankfully it’s all done now, glad that your flock is all okay, and hopefully your rooster doesn’t carry on trying to mate with your hens as much. However you could end up with some cute chicks! I am in the process of hatching which is one benefit to having a cockerel.

Good luck with your hatching - post pictures when they arrive!  Hope they manage to stay warm this early on in the year!

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Just an update on this situation - after our cockerel was over treading his females and then really quite agressively attacking my young daughters and husband, flying at their backs and drawing blood through my daughter's tracksuit bottoms and pulling at their hair - we decided Pippin had to go.

We were so lucky to find a local man who rescues chickens for the love of it who was happy to have him (not for the pot) and he now lives in a much much bigger run than I had for him, with around 70 hens to tread to his heart's content, sharing them with around 3 other cockerels.

The man was so nice that he even said we could visit anytime.  Luckily he is not breeding his chickens as I wouldn't want Pippins agressive personality to be passed on.  After reading a lot about cockerels before my decision, I did find quite a few people commenting on Black Copper Marans cockerels being one of the most aggressive breeds they had (whilst the hens are sweet).  Pippin was mixed BCM and Cream Legbar.

So a happy ending for him and for us as now no one is scared to go in the coop and having chickens is enjoyable again!

 

On 12/26/2020 at 11:38 PM, Patricia W said:

You might like to think about plan B.  Rehoming him.  I had three elderly hens living with a young Cockerel.  Apart from a mismatch in hormone levels, I was concerned he’d end up alone as they died.  At the time, I wasn’t in a position to build a new flock for him.  So, I found three FB Pages which are, essentially, Cockerel dating sites.   These are HPG Cockerel Rehome, Red Rooster Rescue and Cockerel Direct.  They work in partnership.   To cut a long story short, he is now living in a National Trust property with 10 younger ladies.   I left him strutting his stuff!   I wish I’d done it earlier.  

It was actually one of your sites you recommended that helped me find a home Patricia, so thank you for that!

 

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21 hours ago, Annabel said:

So a happy ending for him and for us as now no one is scared to go in the coop and having chickens is enjoyable again!

A lovely end to your story 😊

I'm glad he has found a good home and that you can enjoy your chickens again.

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