Do your roosters need their own pen?

Anybody that has raised a mixed flock of chickens will tell you that the roosters can be quite a problem for the hens some times! It's kind of an art to get your ratio of roosters to hens just perfect. Too many roosters and they're rough on the hens & they fight, but too few roosters and not all the eggs will be fertilized.

extra roosters in a bachelor pen to keep them from fighting

If you're hatching or buying straight run chicks you can easily end up with too many roosters. Straight run is supposed to be exactly how the chicks hatch, which is usually pretty close to 50/50 ratio. You will most likely end up with more roosters than you'd like. 

Problems with too many roosters

As mentioned above it's not a good idea to have too many roosters in with the hens because they will over breed them. A hen that is overbred can have the feathers on her back pulled out by the roosters claws and once her back is bare the spurs and claws of the rooster can dig into her bare back actually causing skin damage.

A cut on a hens back made by a rooster claw that has walked through poop can have enough bacteria on it to cause an infection. Once infected the skin will look red and swollen which can cause other hens to peck and pick at it making her bleed. They can actually get cannibalistic, so it's best we just don't let that happen!

You can easily remove your roosters spurs if they cause problems, but that only helps so much when over breeding is a problem.

A hen saddle will help prevent wounds on her back, but you definitely want to avoid the hens becoming over bred to begin with. One of the ways I keep extra roosters around with out them causing problems for the hens is to give them their own coop! A bachelor pad if you will.

silkie roosters in their rooster pen

The roosters pen

Fighting amongst the roosters and over breeding the hens are the main reason why I move my extra roosters to their own coop. Roosters will beat each other up over the hens but the weirdest thing is, if there are no hens they will not fight! It's like an out of sight out of mind thing.

I tend to move the roosters in with the guinea fowl because the chickens usually don't bother with the guineas. If you have a separate coop you can put them in though, that would be ideal. Preferably a coop far enough away from the hens that they can't interact even if one group is free-ranging.

Of course when the roosters free range they will go hang out by the run of the hens coop if they can. Interestingly enough, they still don't start fighting! They hang out and 'chat' with the ladies, then they take themselves back to their coop for bedtime!

Why keep extra roosters?

I like to have a backup rooster because it just seems like every time I am down to only one rooster something happens to him! That will be the time we have a predator attack or he'll get sick. It's nice to be able to replace your rooster especially if you're breeding.

Lots of people allow standard sized rooster chicks to grow out completely then butcher them for meat, they are made of chicken after all. Or if you need to switch one to the breeding pen for some reason you'll have one available.   

I like to rotate my rooster out sometimes in my breeding pen. I write about breeding in the article How I make $1,000 a month with just 15 chickens. If you want to keep some pullet offspring from your hens to breed, you're going to need a new rooster for them as you don't want to just let everybody breed all willy-nilly!

We can get into various types of breeding in another article but the easiest way to keep your breeding group unrelated is to bring in a new rooster. That way you can keep some chicks you hatch to add to your group, as long as you switch roosters before they are old enough to breed.

roosters in a rooster pen

Setting up a rooster coop

All you have to do to set up a rooster coop is do everything exactly as your regular chicken coop but you're going to put all your extra roosters in there. You'll probably have to install a roost for them to sleep on, but they won't need nest boxes just food, water and bedding material.

For the first day or two they might be a little ornery, but they will shortly settle down and get along just fine! I've had as many as nine roosters in a pen by themselves and have not had one fight!

One of the benefits of having a rooster pen is that if you ever have a question as to whether an adolescent chicken is a hen or a rooster you can take it over to the pen and if it's a girl they will immediately try to breed her and might start to fight over her, and if it's another rooster they'll just ignore him.

That little trick is very helpful for me with silkies as you often can't tell until there old enough to lay eggs if they are a male or female. Unless they start crowing! 

I've been using this method for many years and it works great for me. Some people like to get a large dog house (or even a few smaller ones) and put it in a large dog pen. I'm talking about the giant chain link 10x10 cages you can buy for dogs. This works good for a few roosters. 

Related reading: Which bedding material is best for a chicken coop?

The rooster pen can also work as a quarantine area if you're bringing in a few new hens at a time, or if the rooster pen is empty. It's actually not a bad idea to have an extra coop & run area for this reason anyway...but don't quarantine while the roosters are there obviously!

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