Roosters and hens do not always coexist peacefully, especially when there are multiple roosters in the henhouse fighting for recognition as the dominant specimen.
Running a chicken coop without paying attention to the number of roosters and hens in it risks resulting in inconveniences that can undermine the success of the breeding project. What is the proper ratio of cocks to hens to be respected in the chicken coop?
How many hens are needed per chicken coop
In general, we can opt for a rooster to hen ratio of 1 to 10 or 1 to 12, that is, maintain one rooster for every 10 to 12 hens (in the case of heavy breeds we can go down to 1 male for 5 females). This will most likely result in a hen house that tends to be quiet with no particular cause for wariness. Males will be able to mate quietly with females without fear of competition, and females will not have to undergo continuous mating, reducing risks to their health (injuries, feather damage, denudation of neck and back). Overstuffed hens are more prone to disease and drop in egg production.
An increase in the number of roosters should be accompanied by an increase in the number of hens, and similarly as the number of males declines, the number of females should decrease.
A lower ratio, on the other hand, risks disturbing the peace of the hen house. If there are too few hens in relation to roosters, males may attack females they find helpless away from the dominant male, counting on the fact that sooner or later they will have to head to the feeder to feed. This may lead the attacked hens to feed less to recover from feather damage. This could be remedied by adding a second feeder away from the first so that the hens can direct themselves to both, making it impossible for the rooster to control them at the same time.
The situation can escalate in spring, when sexual instincts are at their peak, and when the winter cold forces all the poultry to be together in a small space.
How to insert new hens into a chicken coop
To ensure genetic variety in the hen house’s offspring, it is advisable to keep more than one rooster within each group of hens. This will result in a series of chicks that are offspring of the same hen but different roosters.
If you want to introduce new hens into the coop, it is best to do so at night when the pre-existing ones are asleep, so that the transition will be less stressful. It is advisable never to introduce a single hen but to add several together , so that they can ally and resist attacks from those already present.
If the introduction of new hens causes too much stress, we can separate the area with a wide-mesh net so that the two groups can get to know each other and reduce the difference in each other before hatching together. A couple of weeks with this treatment should be enough to calm tempers!
When are there too many roosters in a coop?
Lack of space is one factor that leads to feeling that there are too many roosters in the coop, regardless of whether the ideal male/female ratio is met.
If the males increase, the hens must also increase, and therefore the space available must also increase accordingly. In this way, the non-dominant males can move their females away from the main specimen.
Depending on the number of roosters present we may find ourselves in the condition of having to double or triple the number of boxes in the coop.
If we do not have enough females available, we can opt as a last resort to put all the roosters together without any hens to compete for, or approach roosters who have grown up together and thus have learned to respect a shared pecking order, reducing the risk of serious fights.
What happens if you put two roosters in a chicken coop?
The life of a chicken coop involves the presence of one rooster as the official “head,” the only dominant male, to whom all the hens present defer, and to whom the other males are subordinate. It may happen, however, that two roosters of a lower hierarchical level compete with each other to achieve a higher position.
Two roosters however can coexist, provided there is plenty of space within the roost, otherwise they will fight each other until they kill each other, as not all roosters accept the subordinate position.
If two roosters are present in a chicken coop, the others may equally try to mate with the hens present, which they may accept, but run the risk of giving birth to chicks that will not inherit the characteristics of the “more prestigious” male refuse, incurring the wrath of the rejected rooster, which may assert its right to mate by violence at all costs. This could lead the dominant rooster to intervene to defend “his” hens. The hens also are capable of shedding much of the seed they receive, to avoid being fertilized by a less strong than the best specimen.
Of course, it can also happen that the dominant rooster dies or is moved: in such a case another specimen takes its place and is recognized in its hierarchical position by the hens.
How to keep two roosters in a chicken coop
Keeping two roosters in a chicken coop is a goal that can be pursued by taking into account all the factors that can increase quarrelsomeness: the space and food available, the number of females available.
Typically one rooster can handle 8 to 10 hens, sometimes as many as 15, so associating something like 15 to 20 hens with one rooster could prove problematic.