There is nothing I love more on a warm Sunday morning than eating eggs and toast out on our back deck in the sunshine.
Having chickens was always something I planned on doing. I longed to homestead and after a garden, chickens seemed the logical next step.
I quickly learned just how vulnerable chickens are and decided after a few seasons we would add a rooster to our hen house.
But roosters seem to get a bad rap.
So many people see them as an aggressive unnecessary part of the chicken coop and for the longest time, I tended to agree.
My first experience with a rooster was at a neighbor’s home. We were going down to visit her goats and she greeted me at the end of the driveway.
“I just want to warn you, we have a rooster and he is meee-eeen.” Dragging the word mean out like it had 27 “e’s” in it.
And boy was he! As I got out of my car he took one look at me and charged!
I decided not to ever own a rooster.
But once I got my own flock of hens and learned of the advantages of having my own protection 24/7 for my gals I changed my mind.
Roosters act as a warning system when there is any chance of danger to my flock. They have this instinct to warn and protect their hens and will do that very thing at the sign (any sign) of what they believe is a danger.
Not only that, but roosters call the chickens into the coop at night. Which can be quite helpful if free range your hens.
After a few seasons raising our own birds, we decided to get a rooster. Lucky for us our first rooster was a sweetheart and we never had a problem with him.
We are currently on our 3rd rooster now and each one has been nice to me and very helpful with our flock. When I got my new chicks back in February I did not get any roosters.
The same does not hold true with my youngest son. For some reason, our first rooster did not care for him at all and would come running just as soon as he saw him.
There is nothing quite as amusing as watching a teenaged boy scream like a girl as a hate-crazed rooster chases him around the yard.
If you have an already established flock of hens and are thinking of adding a rooster to then, there are a few things you can do to make that transition for comfortable.
Chickens do not take kindly to new birds being added to their flock. They will hen-peck a new member either a little or even a lot depending on the atmosphere. This hen pecking is necessary to establish the hierarchy of the coop. After all, that is where the term “pecking order” came from.
If you are new to chickens this can be pretty brutal. Chickens does not just happen when a newbie enters the flock, a sick hen or even a weak hen may just become a target.
Just because this is normal behavior for chickens does not mean you need to allow it.
How to add a rooster to your hen house
Step #1. Slow and steady
I have found that patience is the key to just about anything when it comes to chickens or any animal for that matter. Rather than toss my new rooster in and hope for the best, we instead decided to build a pen withing a pen. A holding cell of sorts where we could put our rooster so he could get used the hens and they, in turn, get used t him.
My Hubby built a small room that extended into the hen house and opened up to the outdoors. It has a slanted solid roof to discourage the hens from roosting on it at night. (Chickens will do anything to get up off the ground while to sleep.) And had chicken wire walls so they could easily see, smell and hear each other.
This allows the rooster to feel part of the flock giving both sides time to adjust to the other.
Step #2. Let them explore a bit
This is easier to do if you free range your birds if you do not just skip over this part and move on to step #3.
We allowed our rooster time to get the “lay of the land” so he could learn what was a safe place to scratch what was not. By giving him time to move around it helped him to feel a bit more confident in his surroundings.
Each night I would call our new rooster in and he knew right off where his safe place was. He would walk right into his little room and we would close him inside so he would be safe.
Step #3. Take your time
The key to this working is to not rush it. Take your time and allow both sides to become accustomed to each other. We took a full week before we decided to add our rooster in. For me, a calm transition was incredibly important.
Few people know that chickens have a cannibalistic nature. Once they taste some blood they will peck and peck and peck to get more of it. Not only that, the red color of blood really calls to them making them peck even more. For that reason preventing blood from the get-go is my main objective.
Step #4. Make the move at night
I learned this tip years ago from an old farmer and it works like a charm. When a chicken is up on the roost at night they will allow you to do just about anything. Pick them up, tag them, clip their wings, move them around. This always amazes me but chickens are fearful at night of predators and for good reason. They prefer to be up high off of the ground where they feel safe. Couple that with their inability to see well in the dark and you have the perfect time to do any hen moving or maintenance.
Chickens also have very short memories. If you add a new rooster at night they will simply wake up in the morning assuming he was there the whole time.
Make your move at night and see just how easy it is.
Don’t just use your “Rooster Room” for your roosters.
We also like to use this little room when we have a sick or bullied hen. This allows them to recuperate safely and still feel like they are part of the flock. After our hen has recovered we can add her back in at night just like we did with our rooster.
More often than not the bullying is a one-time occurrence.
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