Spring is a heady time of year on a farm. Everyone gets enlivened with the warm weather and start trying to propagate their species. You might be struggling with broody or over-mated hens this time of year, or you might have a rooster battle on your hands.
Roosters are naturally protective animals. They have two missions in life: to protect their hens, and to help create baby chicks. A rooster will do its best to fight off any predatory threats to their flock, even sacrificing themselves in the process, and they also want to carry on their lineage. Even a rooster who is tame with its people and hens might be aggressive when another male chicken is introduced, or become an instigator in spring when he knows that the hens are sitting on eggs.
We have had two roosters living in harmony for the past year, a beautiful mottled cochin and a diminutive Old English Game. Unfortunately once their hormones started raging this spring, they were tussling constantly. Because of the size difference between the two, it was hardly a fair fight and our Old English Game had to be removed to avoid a bloody end.
There are some things you can do to help keep more than one rooster peacefully together. The first rule is to make sure you have enough hens for a rooster. You want about 6-8 hens to a single rooster for several reasons. Not only will it help them to feel they have their own harem, but also it will prevent over-mating where a hen can start to suffer with scratches and bites on their back and neck.
You need to make sure that you have enough space for two roosters, and even if your chickens are free-range they need a large enough yard to be able to avoid each other. Many farmers who keep multiple roosters have completely separated flocks with their own runs and shelters. This is ideal if you are trying to breed your chickens, as it ensures a purebred result.
Unfortunately if you don’t have the liberty of a lot of space you may have to make a choice between your roosters. That is the situation we have found ourselves in, and we will have to say good-bye to our mottled cochin roo. It is sad for us to see him go after a year, but no doubt he will be happier with his own private group of ladies instead of sharing with Little Roo.