5 rules for keeping multiple roosters October 26, 2012

Handsome Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster

Roosters can be a challenge sometimes. Don’t get me wrong–I love roosters! But they can be territorial and protective of what they regard as “their” hens. That’s part of their charm, of course, but when they compete with one another too much, they can hurt each other, or even hurt the hens! When you have multiple roosters in your flock, that protective instinct can get out of hand.

Still, I currently have three roosters in my flock of 30, and that’s my normal mode of operation. In addition to my Favauacana, I have a mixed breed named Francis, and a Black Copper Marans named Gerard.  I tend to keep two or three roosters in my flock at a time–peacefully. If you want multiple roosters in your small flock, here are 5 simple rules to follow that will help keep the peace.

Lots of hens = happier roosters

1. Have plenty of hens for each rooster. If you only have a flock of five or seven birds, you don’t want two (or more!) of them to be roosters. Generally—and especially when you want to keep multiple roosters—there should be 10 or 12 hens for each male in your flock. That will enable the roosters to have plenty of hens each, without worrying too much about competition from their rivals, and it will also be enough so that the hens dont’ get too overbred. When there are too few hens for each rooster, a hen can be mated too often, resulting in broken feathers, bare backs/necks, or even injuries.

This run has a ton of room

2. Have plenty of space in your run. When you have multiple roosters, there will be the occasional squabble, and for the most part that’s okay. Those squabbles can get dangerous if there’s not enough space, though. If your birds are too crowded together—even when there are plenty of hens—you may see serious problems. With multiple roosters you will need more than the bare minimum of space. You’ll want to double or even triple the minimum space per bird for your flock. If you get too many roosters competing together in a confined space, testosterone-fueled aggression  and territoriality can boil to a head. Remember, roosters don’t have impulse control like (most!) humans do; someone could get hurt! If there is plenty of space, when one rooster becomes tedious in his showmanship and flirtation, generally the others will just lead “their” hens to a respectable distance away, so they won’t feel threatened by the boor and serious fights won’t break out.

3. If you have neither plenty of hens nor plenty of space, you can keep multiple roosters together by having NO hens. This is an arrangement you might have, for example, if you keep a flock of roosters for exhibition (rather than having a flock of hens for the purpose of laying). With no hens to compete for,  multiple roosters often live together in relative peace.

4. Raise them together in your flock. Roosters who are raised together establish a pecking order between them as they are growing up. Because they have already established that order, there is less incentive to fight when they are older and more likely to hurt one another by sparring. Alternatively, you can add new roosters to your flock relatively painlessly if they are raised by a hen in your flock, or if they are introduced to your flock when they are young, before reaching sexual maturity. It will be difficult to maintain the peace if you add an adult rooster to your flock that already has roosters, because that new rooster will be regarded as an invader—not just by the other rooster(s), but also by your hens!

You really don’t want your roosters crowing and fighting all day long!

5. Some roosters are too aggressive to get along with other roosters, no matter how ideal the conditions are. There are some breeds that tend to produce very aggressive roosters that are prone to fighting amongst one another, and other breeds with more genteel reputations. For example, game breeds often have aggressive roosters. Rhode Island Reds have notoriously aggressive roosters, too. We’ve also found that Easter Eggers and Ameraucanas don’t always get along well with multiple roosters in the flock, either. That said, most backyard chicken breeds do fine in flocks with multiple roosters. Favorite breeds for roosters (and multiple roosters) include Salmon Faverolles, Plymouth Rocks, Marans, Orpingtons, Australorps, Silkies and Brahmas.

Do you have any tips for keeping multiple roosters–or any favorite breeds for roosters for the home flock? Please let us know your opinion in the comments below!

George Castonguay October 26th, 2012

I bought a dozen pullets last April, two of which turned out to be cockerals instead and to make it worse they were two out of the three so called ‘Ameracaunas’. I had hoped that they would co-exist peacefully and they did with each other but not with me. One of the roosters is a sweetie who will perch on my knee and eat out of my hand while the other would be as happy to eat of my hand when in the mood. When the second rooster started to ambush me I knew he had to go.

I first tried to put him into a mixed aviary but he is being picked on by several banties a quarter his size so now he is being moved to a farm with just six Golden Comet ladies. I hope he will work out over there for the next stop is the stew pot, not that I would eat him but others would.

Gust Front Farm October 26th, 2012

The only roo I have at the moment is a 7 month old Buff Orpington. Unfortunately, he is one nasty guy! He has 15 hens to himself and yet 10+ of them have to wear saddles because he has torn up their backs. He fought endlessly with my tom turkeys until they were butchered. He will not tolerate my children going into the chicken run, so sadly he will too will be turned into soup once I get some new cockerels to take his place.

It just goes to show that even in supposedly docile breeds, you can get a bad roo every once and a while and you need to be prepared to deal with it.

Heather Puzig October 26th, 2012

We have, hmmm…7 roos – 3 have their own flock with their own runs, the largest flock of whom the roo is a wheaten Americauna, Rufus, usually get the run of the yard all day and our other roo “free roaming” roo, although he’s definitly mature, he is the son of Rufus and when he tries to get near Rufus’ ladies, he is run off, no fighting – yet. I have two yound silkie roos, they “play” spar, but they are no where near mature yet. Then I have a bantam cochin roo who lives with his father, Poppy. My other roo, who is half Rufus and Half banty RIR has two ladies of his own, in his own pen, he used to be the love of my life and I the love of his life, now it’s only a one way street and he attacks me anytime I go into his pen… We live in Lithia Springs, Georgia. Anyone have any ideas of a place where I could take some of these gorgeous guys for sale that they won’t end up for dinner? I’ve listed them on craigslist, but I’ve only had 2 offers, both recinded later because they couldn’t have roos. Thanks!

Lissa October 26th, 2012

Heather, you might try your local 4H Club. 4Hers are often raise roosters for the learning experience. We have more advice on how to rehome a rooster here on our website.

Sharon October 26th, 2012

Learned about #3 completely by accident. The boys were being to ruff on the ladies & we separated them into a different run we dubbed “The Cockpit”. They quickly became big buds!

Ellen Green October 26th, 2012

I always enjoy your articles Lissa! And that roo is one handsome boy! We acquired two new chicks this summer and the White Crested Black Polish turned out to be a roo… 4 hens and our other boy Vern, who is as sweet as pie. I raised both from chicks and Vern has never been the least bit aggressive to us…The chicks were in the coop, separated, from day one and I physically introduced them at about 12 weeks. they do seem to be integrating into the flock well, they all free range together….I do let them out early in the morning so less confined time. The Queen Mother does like to take pot shots at both of them but all in all, it seems to be working. We will be getting more hens in the spring. I appreciate some more info on the subject!

Beth October 26th, 2012

We have always had at least two Polish Roosters together with Polish hens. Even without a large number of hens, they seem to get along okay if they are raised together. In general, they are my most peace loving chickens. Right now, there is a mixed breed in there who is much larger and heavier. He was slow to mature, but is now laying down the law and getting a little too aggressive with everyone in the pen. He is either getting re-homed or will be visiting my freezer in the near future.

Ronali October 27th, 2012

I have a Golden Laced Wyandotte roo, who while is not overly people friendly he is respectful and does not act aggressively. I also have 2 EE roos & a bantam roo. They were all raised together and have their pecking order. The GLW will chase off the other roos if they get too interested in his ladies, but the other roos have their girls too, all in all they seem happy. I did not choose to have so many roos, but that is the problem with buying straight run chicks!

sara November 3rd, 2012

I have a question about a rooster..We now have only 1 rooster, our other was eaten by something in our woods, but anyway. My question is how do you stop a rooster from attacking your kids..Ours goes after my 4.5 yr. old son…any help would be nice..thanks. Sara.

Lissa November 4th, 2012

Gosh, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having trouble! We have advice for dealing with human-aggressive roosters on our website (click on the link). You may also want to think back and see if you can determine what it is that may be making your rooster afraid. For instance, it could be something as innocent as your son taking off his jacket and throwing it onto a porch or a lawn chair. That might trigger the protective instincts your rooster has to defend against flying predators. It could also be nothing your son has done. If your other rooster was killed by a predator, it could simply be that your remaining rooster feels he needs to be especially vigilant, and is using your son to relieve those instincts–misdirecting his fear at your son. Until you’re sure you’ve got the problem taken care of, of course be sure to keep your rooster away from your son. Even once things have settled back to normal, you will probably want to supervise any possible encounters.

Eleanore November 16th, 2012

I know a man named al watts and he has kept chickens all if the eighty years of his life and he says if your roosters fight let them fight for an hour (unless it gets too ugly) and. If they don’t let up they’ll never work it out but if they give up and make peace it will work out just fine. -Nell

Amanda November 16th, 2012

Last fall we got a dozen chicks. Now that they’re full grown we have 3 roosters and 9 Hens. The roosters are fighting, among each other AND with the Hens. I feel really bad for the Hens. I have emailed every Farm around my area and cant seem to find a home for my roosters. I wouldnt mind keeping 1 of the Roosters, but obv 3 is not going to work out. I refuse to put them on Craigslist for fear some creep will do something bad to them. Any ideas ? I’d really appreciate it, were kind of at a loss.

Lissa November 16th, 2012

We also have suggestions for how to rehome extra roosters on our website.

debschickens February 14th, 2013

I have a small backyard flock of golden laced wyandotte hens. Unfortunately, I found my rooster dead from a broken neck. I am searching for another roo.

Lissa February 25th, 2013

So sorry to hear about the loss of your rooster! We sell Golden Laced Wyandottes on our website; you can choose to buy females or males.

Becky Johnson April 20th, 2013

I have 2 roosters – a 2 year old Brown Leghorn (Cogburn) and a 9 month old Lavender Orpington (Skye). Cogburn became aggressive at about 6 months old. He went from a lap-chicken to a feathered tiger in the pen. One day my husband caught him and pinned him to the ground for several minutes. He never bothered my husband again. As for myself, I started carrying a Super Soaker water gun every time I went in the pen. It has kept Cogburn at bay, but occasionally he needs a reminder. Skye flogged me once, about a week ago. I chased him until I cornered him, held him down, and he hasn’t bothered me since. He’s never bothered my husband. Establishing the human-chicken pecking order is critical, but even then, some birds just never give up. They both take really good care of their girls, though!

Hepps April 25th, 2013

Hi, I have 4 older hens and 2 roos. They are really taking a toll on my girls so I would like to seperate them for a while. I was wondering if keeping the roos away during the day only would be enough. I don’t have two chicken coops so I am not sure how to keep them apart at night. I just got more chicks so I would like to keep both roos, but need to keep them away from my older girls!

Lissa April 26th, 2013

You might have some tension in the evenings before they settle down, but try it out and let us know how it goes!

Victoria May 7th, 2013

I have a bantam cochin frizzle Roo, and a French black copper marans Roo confirmed. But know a suspect frizzle bantam Roo growing. I have 12 hens. Will this be ok? I hate to choose who to get rid of!

Lissa May 8th, 2013

As the post explains, usually you’ll want to keep a ratio of about 10 or so hens for every rooster. That means two roosters is too many for only 12 hens, much less three. Keep your fingers crossed that your suspect is a hen so you’ll only have one rooster to rehome! Alternatively, if they start fighting and injuring the girls–it is an “if,” but it’s pretty likely to happen under the circumstances you’re describing–you can try housing your extra roosters separately.

Tucker May 15th, 2013

I’m new to this and have raised 27, day old chicks, to their current age of 14 weeks. I ordered 25 hens and one rooster. I ended up with 24 hens and 3 roosters. They free range all day, with not many episodes of rivalry. Mostly just bumping chests then having a stare down until one blinks 🙂 They are all friendly to me and come running when they see me, but they all run if I try to catch one. A few will come close to check out what I’m doing when I’m working in the yard. They are very inquisitive. I love to watch their antics. Will they become more trusting as they mature? Anyway, within the 3 rooster pecking order, there is definitely a top dog, a Buff Orpington, who watches over the entire flock. He will come and check me out but runs if I move at all! I’m concerned he’ll become aggressive when he’s older if I can’t get him to trust me at this age. Also, what are your thoughts on the humaneness of removing spurs. Thanks!

Lissa May 16th, 2013

Hens seem to calm down and get more friendly once they reach maturity. Roosters tend to be more friendly as young birds, and stand-offish when they’re older and their primary job is to protect the flock. Some will disagree with me on this, but honestly, you don’t necessarily want to be snuggle buddies with your rooster. When that’s the case, it’s more likely that your rooster will be comfortable being aggressive with you later, in my experience, if they have learned they can be dominant with no repercussion around you. (By “act dominant,” I mean dancing and mating in front of you.)

If they are friends with you when they are young, they can come to see you as a rival as they get older. It’s not that your roosters should never be able to dance or mate in front of you, but you normally want it to be at a “respectful” distance, several yard away, and you do NOT want it to be motivated by your rooster’s desire to demonstrate his dominance in front of you, if you get what I’m saying. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize the difference.

As to spurs, all my own roosters have their full spurs. But blunting spurs is not a terrible idea in some situations. Done properly, it’s not painful; it’s akin to clipping your dog’s nails. However, it’s a lot easier to clip dog nails at home than it is to deal with spurs at home. Generally you would want the advice or supervision of a vet the first time around, to make sure you don’t trim too much, accidentally hurt the rooster–or accidentally get hurt yourself!

Susan wilson November 16th, 2013

I have 2 Easter egger roosters I need to find a home for. I really hate to get rid of them but I’ve got three with six hens. They were hatched together and have been raised together but I’m afraid they will fight as they get older and kill each other.
Anyone interested ?

Lissa November 16th, 2013

Susan, you might also contact your local 4H club. 🙂

lisa glidewell January 2nd, 2014

HELP I have 6 hens about year old. I decided last may I wanted more chickens so I bought 2 silkies and 2 frizzles and I thought I would get all ladies but wound up with both frizzles are roosters and 1silkie is a rooster. My 2frizzles do good together with all the girls but my silkie rooster seems to fight with both of the other boys. Really don’t want to get rid of him due to I want to breed him. Any suggestions??? Any suggestions will be very helpful.

Lissa January 2nd, 2014

Can you tell me which of the “5 rules” above you have tried so far?

Andrew May 19th, 2014

I was wondering how the roosters behave with these techniques on a breed I’ve decided on raising. I want to raise and maintain a flock of Chanteclers. They are great for my region. I’m also wondering how many roosters and how big the flock would need to be to maintain genetic diversity. I’m guessing maximum would be 30 to 50 chickens that I would be willing to take care of. I’m trying to do things completely natural without heated coops,incubators or anything. I grow all my own food and I’m trying to get to the point where I’m growing all supplemental feed as well. Anyone who is thinking is this direction I’d appreciate any insight you may have. Thanks

Lissa May 21st, 2014

Please let us know how it works out for you! Line breeding is common with chickens, so you probably don’t need to maintain a huge flock so long as you add a new rooster every so often. My own flock hovers closer to 20.

Garnent June 16th, 2014

Thanks for your article, it answered several questions I had. Specifically, the fact that I have 6 or 8 roosters to a total flock of about 60 chickens. 19 of those are from last year and are currently laying quite well. The rest including the cockerels are just over a month old and are growing nicely. If I am reading your article correctly, I should keep 5 or 6 of the roosters for a flock that size, and get rid of the others. Also, you satisfied my concerns that my roosters are growing up with the flock is a good thing. BTW my hens are all Rhode Island Reds and the roosters are New Hampshire Reds (quite frankly, because I thought the NHR roosters were prettier, at least from the pictures I have seen).
This is only my second year raising chickens, and so far, I love it.

Becka-TN June 21st, 2014

Great article!! I am expecting an order of 33 chicks in 22 diff breeds from mcmurray the end of the month (i like a mix of breeds for variety). I ordered all hens, except for 3 which are roos. I found this page buy googling if my 3 roos would fight if raised together with around 30 hens. My reason for purchase – My husband and I met in elementry school, married in highschool and have been married 18 years this December. We have 5 children ages 7-16. So as you could imagine, it takes A LOT of eggs to make breakfast! After to many mornings of emptying out 2 – 2 1/2 dozen store bought eggs from the frig, (yes that many for one meal, that also included meat and pancakes!) we decided to get some chickens. Thankfully we dont have eggs every morning so I thought 30 hens would be good. Since my first question was answered, I have another….. many ppl state they ordered hens but recieved roos. How likely is that to happen ordering from mcmurray? As u know, hens cost more. and i did not buy straight run. Am I going to get roos instead of the hens i specifically bought and if so, will they correct it or am I just stuck with them? Thank you.

Lissa June 24th, 2014

Most hatcheries guarantee sexing accuracy at around 90%. (You’ll want to check McMurray’s specific policies to see what their exact guarantee is.) A 90% accuracy guarantee means that if you get more than 10% errors, you will get a refund for the cost of the chick (or whatever remedy their specific policy offers). Our hatchery is unusual in that we have a 100% sexing accuracy guarantee. That doesn’t mean you would never get errors; it just means that all errors are covered by the guarantee. Actual vent sexing accuracy by most hatcheries (including ours) is expected to be around 90%, overall, on a hatch day.

Becka-TN June 21st, 2014

Just went ahead and explored your site and now wishing I found you b4 i made this years chick order. :/ Plan to make and order with you my next time around…. maybe a few more hens next month 🙂 Really love your site. very helpful. thank you.

Aleza August 5th, 2014

My chickens are free range. They are 5 month old jersey giants. I’ve got around 20 roosters and less than 10 hens that will be for egg production. Some of my roosters are starting to get little nubs where their spurs(?) will grow. Tonight 2 of them were fighting, usually they fluff their necks jump around a bit and the loser runs away, winner struts, the end. This time the winner chased the loser, who decided to hide in the coop, and cornered him and was attacking him when I arrived to save the loser. There was a small amount if blood. They are free ranged on a large rural farm and often go to the neighbors(she likes to watch them), so there is no lack of space. There were no hens nearby. Is this just an overly aggressive rooster or is there a way to fix this without butchering soon.

Lissa August 7th, 2014

Your roosters are going through “chicken puberty.” They will get more aggressive at 5 – 6 months old. If you don’t also keep hens nearby (where do you keep them?), there will be less for them to fight about certainly, but they will still need to establish their pecking order. That typically happens about this age, too. Or rather, there may be a tentative pecking order, but as the hormones come, some of your birds will want to test their place. It is not especially common to have serious injuries from fighting when there is plenty of space (and plenty of space at feeders, waterers, on roosts) and no hens around. However, it’s also possible to have a jerk of a rooster who doesn’t know when to quit. (Chickens can be jerks just like humans can be!). It’s not possible for me to know from here if this is just a normal pecking order thing, or if you have a bully, but confrontations should not usually end in serious injury in the situation you’ve described… unless there is another stressor. You might check them for external parasites like mites, or internal parasites like worms.

Faye October 18th, 2014

We got our first chickens in April of this year. They were about a week old when we purchased them. They are 3 beautiful bantams. Two of them turned out to be roosters. They are now about 6 months. We then hatched 8 other full-sized chickens (unsure of the breeds) in June. They are now about 4 months old. We discovered last week that 5 of our 4 month old chickens are in fact roosters. We knew they looked like roosters but I had tried my hand at feather sexing them when they were a few days old and thought they were all hens. I guess I need a bit more practice!! We knew for sure last week when they started crowing that I had made a mistake. Unfortunately, I don’t have any space to separate the roos (7 total) from the hens (4 total). They free range in my front yard during the day and all go into the coup together at night. The coup is an 8 X 8 building that my husband built. There’s really not enough space to add more hens (especially 10-12 per roo). They are getting along okay at the moment and I’m not seeing any pulled feathers or bare spots on any of them. I have seen a few scuffles, though. My biggest concern is that one of the big roosters is going to do some serious damage to my bantams if they start fighting. The bantams were raised in our house until they were 2 months old then moved outside to a large hutch (they free ranged during the day and went in the hutch overnight to protect them from predators) since they were still a bit small for the big coup. We raised the other chickens in our home for a month before moving them to the outside hutch. Once they started to outgrow the hutch, we moved the hutch into the coup so they’d still have the comfort of what they’d known but have the space of the coup if they wanted it. Of course, since they free range all day and only go in to perch at night, the coup is plenty big enough. We would love to keep all of our roosters but I’m really not sure that’s possible from everything that I’ve read. If anyone has any suggestions for solutions other than giving them away, please let me know. They have been raised together so maybe they’ll get along okay? However, I do feel bad that we only have 4 hens for 7 roosters and don’t want the hens to get overbred. I will greatly appreciate any help with this matter! Thank you and God bless!

Lissa October 21st, 2014

You will probably have some problems if you can’t come up with a solution to keep the extra roosters away from the hens. When they’re raised together, and depending on breed, they may not fight TOO mush between themselves, but remember that it’s not only a matter of direct damage from overbreeding. Your hens are going to be very stressed; stress can make them more vulnerable to illnesses, and can also reduce the number of eggs they lay. Low-pecking order roosters will sometimes hang out near the feeder to try to catch a hen unaware, so hens may eat less and lay less. They need MORE to make up for the damage to their feathers. Even when the roosters aren’t fighting that much, a hen can get in the way of the battle, when one is mating with her and another jumps him to try to claim that hen. It’s just not good flock mojo. You’ll have problems especially when it gets cold or snowy enough that everyone is trapped inside the coop… and then especially in the spring, too, when the drive to mate is at a high. Our recommendation would be to separate your extra roosters into a different enclosure, and locate that pen away from your main one.

Manny Ibiayo April 5th, 2015

We have 6 hens and 4 cockerels. At first we had 6 – two cockerels and 4 hens which got at the same time. 3 months later we got 4 more chicks which we thought we hens only to find out two were cockerels.Anyway all was fine for about a year. Now the younger one of the younger cockerels is now fighting the to cockerel and seems to have usurped its position.This has led to the no 2 chicken now fight the previously no 1 cockerel.Now the no 1 cockerel is running away from the pack and staying on its own. Can someone tell me what’s going on?

PS I live in England.My chickens are just for eggs (and pets).

Lissa April 6th, 2015

When the pecking order is upset, former “ranks” are not respected. That means that now that the head rooster has been deposed, his former underling is also trying to prove he has a higher rank than the old leader. Make sense? That said, with so many roosters and so few hens, your hens are fairly likely to get injured from overbreeding, in addition to the risk to your roosters. We’d recommend either finding homes for all but one of the males, or creating a separate coop and yard for the others. Remember, ideally you want to have one rooster per each 10 – 12 hens to avoid infighting and injury from over breeding.

Alex April 17th, 2015

We have 3 cockerels and 3 hens, all French merans, the 3 cockerels get in fantastic but are really hurting the hens and taking the feathers off there back, we are looking to get more hens to try and help because we really don’t want to get rid of the cockerels but how many hens would you recommend us getting

Lissa April 21st, 2015

As per point number one the blog post, you need about 10-12 hens per rooster. If you mean to keep all your roosters, you should have at least 30 hens. Or you could consider keeping your roosters corralled separately. Take another look at the suggestions above to determine which works for you best.

Anonymous April 28th, 2015

We have 3 roosters and 6 chicken. Would a single chicken be in any danger only being with one rooster??

Lissa April 30th, 2015

Yes; one hen with one rooster would likely be overbred. Feathers on her back and head are likely to get broken and pulled, and she may get injured. As I mentioned above, typically you want 10 or 12 hens for each rooster.

Jen May 8th, 2015

We have 23 hens and 2 roosters – 2 year old Rhode Island Red and a 1 year old Brahma/EE cross. The roosters got along until the older one molted in early spring. He was getting picked on then so we separated him for awhile to let his feathers grow back without getting plucked by the hens. Now the younger rooster chases him away from the flock. Luckily, no injuries beyond an occasional spot of blood if a peck to the comb gets through the skin, but feel sorry for him being alone in the far corner of the run all the time. Run is about a quarter acre and occasionally let out to free range on 2 acres. Any ideas for encouraging them to get along? We already tried separating each in the back half of the coop for several days and same result.

Lissa May 8th, 2015

Sorry you’re dealing with some flock stress! It sounds like they have plenty of space, and plenty of hens. Make sure there is also plenty of space at feeders and waterers. And make sure the one getting picked on is not ill. If he’s ill, it could be that it’s not so much that he’s getting picked on as that he doesn’t feel up to standing up for himself in his normal way because he feels bad. Getting him feeling better should solve that problem. But if you’re good to go with all these issues… well, this may just be something they have to work out. It’s natural for minor scuffles to occur every so often, and particularly in the spring when their mating drive is in high gear. If no one is getting seriously injured, they may just be showing off a little to try to attract the bigger harem. Since you have plenty of hens for each of them, if this is what’s going on, they should settle down as they work out which hens are “theirs.” Best of luck!

Sara May 23rd, 2015

We have one two year old Silkie rooster, who had been bullied by others (presumably roosters) in his previous home. We would like to get a companion for him and are thinking possibly another rooster as we don’t really want to go down the route of getting a number of hens (which is, I understand, recommended – at least 5 or 6 per rooster?). We are wondering whether a young rooster of a docile breed, such as Orpington, would potentially be a good choice? Locally there is a 5 week old Orpington cross for sale. Or should we not be concerned about our Silkie being lonely? He shares his free range space with our three goats 🙂 I would appreciate your advice.

Lissa May 26th, 2015

You could go that way, but keep in mind you’ll have to introduce your chickens to each other quite gradually (see the link for details). Chickens are flock animals and usually will be much happier and healthier with other chicken company. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to make the introductions. Be sure to give them plenty of space, and plenty of time to get used to one another! I would also recommend getting another bantam, since your Silkie is a bantam (that way the feeder can be at a good height for both). A bantam Orpington could be a good choice, certainly, but another Silkie rooster could be a good choice, too.

Heather June 4th, 2015

Hi there! We have had a young pair of bantams, one hen and one rooster, free range in our yard for a couple of years. Eventually a neighbour’s free range hen started perching with our rooster at night and the kids joked about his 2 “ladies”. They all seemed perfectly happy. Does the 10 hen rule not apply to bantams? Or are the “ladies” being traumatized and I never noticed? They always have beautiful plumage. One of the hens just hatched her first clutch and so this is why I was wondering if we could try to keep one of the roosters if bantams don’t need so many hens. We have no fences so the chickens have unlimited range.

Lissa June 18th, 2015

The 10 hen rule applies to all chickens… but it is a rule of thumb, not a law of physics. It depends on breed, individual personality, space and so forth. Since you have unlimited space, that always seems to help, since the hens can get away if they need to. If the girls are getting too much attention, you would likely notice it in their plumage–on their backs and on top of their heads. You can, of course, try to keep one of your upcoming roosters. Just go in with your eyes open that there may be problems, and have a back-up plan. With so few hens, they may fight. This will probably start occurring as the young rooster is reaching maturity (which will depend on breed, but roughly 5 months). In most cases when there is plenty of space there will just be scuffles rather than duels to the death, but birds can still get hurt, so keep an eye out, and have a prepared place to isolate a hurt or aggressive rooster if it comes down to it. Best of luck!

Gabrielle June 23rd, 2015

A good list not only for keeping roosters but for good flock management. BUT! Number four has not worked out for us, twice. A young rooster, raised with the flock, has waited til he was old enough (7-8 months) to kick the older roosters butt–in the last case, a gentle, 7 year old rhode island red twice his size. Now I have the old rooster, “Rex Tulip” free ranging in the yard, while the young rooster, “Othello” stays in the pen with the hens. Not an ideal situation, but how long can a rooster live??

Lissa June 23rd, 2015

Sorry to hear that! Yes, it’s definitely not a sure thing, raising them together. It just helps. Once the young one matures (5 – 7 months… but things usually come to a head in the spring), they’ll still have pecking order scuffles. It’s just that when they’re raised together, it’s more like family members fighting than strangers, so the fights tend to be a little less desperate. Still, there are plenty of jokes out there about heads butting at family gatherings. But yelling at your crazy uncle is a different sort of fight than it would be if a stranger ran in to your Thanksgiving dinner and insulted your mom’s pumpkin pie and made passes at your aunts or sisters. 😉 As far as how long they live, this may be longer term than you were thinking. Most backyard chickens live 5 or 7 years… but they CAN live to be 20 or so. In the hierarchy of chickens, it’s normal for the old king to be deposed by the young prince. Then the retired king has a new rank, and it’s usually pretty sad to watch, from the perspective of human beings. But it is the way it works for them. If you ever decide to try to bring them all together again, you may have to go through “introductions,” as if the separated bird is new. Best of luck and many sympathies!

Fallon July 4th, 2015

Hi Lissa,

I have 4 almost 4 month old roosters and 1 hen of the same age. I purchased them straight run from my local Tractor Supply, and this is my first time raising chickens. I wanted to do so for the eggs (and didn’t have much luck the first time around, ending up with only 1 hen!), so I purchased 4 additional pullets, which are now almost 3 months old but I haven’t yet formally introduced them to the other chickens. They are currently in a large dog crate within the chicken coop and I let them free range in shifts. I know I will not have enough hens to fix my rooster problem (and I do not want to purchase any more), and I have contacted several rooster rescues groups in my area with no luck. No one is able to take them. And honestly, I am very attached to them. They run up to me when they see me coming in the yard and are very tame. I am not comfortable listing them on Craigslist. So, my question for you is, since my boys were raised together from Day 1, if I were to build a separate coop (we live on 3 acres) on another part of the property that is fenced in and would be separated from the hens, would the roosters coexist peacefully together? Or would they still be aware that there are females nearby? I’m having such a hard time with this and I just don’t know what to do. One of the local rescues suggested that I build individual enclosures for each of the roosters for the day, but allow them to roost together at night with the hens, but that doesn’t make sense to me. How would I round them up in the morning and force them into individual quarters? And wouldn’t they still ‘bother’ the hens too much? That seems impossible and quite time consuming to round them up and separate each rooster every morning! Any suggestions would be immensely appreciated!

Thank you for your time!

Lissa July 6th, 2015

Fallon, that’s a tough one! But I think you’re on the right track in keeping them in a separate area. They may still be aware that there are hens nearby, but if they have no access to the girls, then they shouldn’t have too much reason to compete. I agree about the difficulty of trying to gather the boys into separate daytime enclosures. Your resource was probably thinking about the importance of having a communal roosting space in the winter cold… but I think having the roosters together in a separate area should be enough. Just make sure their area has plenty of space for them, including plenty of space for roosting, and at feeders and waterers. In most cases, if they don’t have a reason to compete, they should be fine. They will still have a pecking order among them, but the hens won’t be getting overbred or caught in the middle. Best of luck!

Brandi F. August 17th, 2015

Hey, I found this blog in an internet search. We just began raising backyard hens again and a friend of ours gave us our current flock of two hens and two roos. They are about two months old now and were raised together. They are all mixed with the two hens and a roo being americauna/gold laced wyandotte. The other roo is grey. When we got them the grey (Stormy) was the head roo, but that has switched and the other roo (Beau) is now the head. We’ve only had them a few weeks and my husband is building them a run. For now they are kept in a large dog kennel at night and then I let them free range in our backyard during the day.
I thought Stormy had been hurt in whatever dominance fight they had as two spots of red appeared on his back, but now I’m actually thinking that may be his mature feathers coming in as I have not yet found a wound.
So far all of our birds tolerate being held. My eight year old rocks Emma and Lily to sleep or swings with them in her lap. The roos let us all hold them and pet them as well.
I was getting worried about having the two roos and we are planning to add a few more birds to the flock, but now I’m thinking my husband is going to have to make a ‘Cockpit’ like an above poster mentioned. Thanks for the tips!

Keely August 31st, 2015

Hi, I’ve come across this while trying to find a solution to a problem we have. We got 5 chickens in May and they were about 10 weeks old, so about 23 weeks old now. We thought we got 1 boy and 4 girls but definitely have 2 boys and one of the 2 silkies looks much larger than the other so now we are worried we have 3 boys and 2 girls. The largest about who cockadoodles every day is a Peking, there’s 2 bantams (1 boy 1 girl) and 2 silkies. We have had no problems until last weekend when the female bantam had her neck pecked bare and bloody in one day. We have used anti peck spray and she has not been pecked again but she feels very down. We are now trying to figure out what the next best step is, either re home 2 of the boys, or have 2 separate pens, one with 2 boys and the other with a boy and 2 girls. Is this an option, and if so, do we have to make sure they can’t see each other? We don’t have a massive garden. Any help would be massively appreciated!!

Lissa September 1st, 2015

If you decide to do the two pens, it would probably be better if they couldn’t see each other, or if they had at least a bit of separation so it’s obvious to them that they are not in competition. At that age, just coming into maturity, their hormones are running high, and their instincts are telling them to assert their dominance. That said, continue to keep an eye on the two hens to make sure they’re not getting overbred. With just two in the pen, they will still get a lot of attention from the rooster they’re with, especially when he’s that age. Some roosters can be quite gentle, but others are jerks. So carefully choose the rooster you want to keep with them. As humans, we tend to want to choose the lowest on the pecking order–the underdog, the one who is getting picked on. But that’s not always going to be the one who is the most gentle with the hens. So don’t look necessarily at the roosters’ interactions among themselves so much as you look at the way they interact with the hens.

Elizabeth September 16th, 2015

Hi, thanks for all the great advice! I have trouble, 1 golden Wyandotte rooster and 1 arucana rooster for 15 hens all raised as chicks together. They are now 5 months old and I notice the arucana rooster is getting chased away with a bite on the back so he spends a lot of time roosting to stay out of the way. I don’t want to get rid of either but is that the only choice for no blood shed? Thanks for the help! Elizabeth

Lissa September 17th, 2015

Hopefully, I can help.
First, consider that at five months old, your rooster have just reached the age at which they’re becoming mature, so their hormones are driving them to really establish a hard pecking order between them. There WILL be some scuffles–especially when you aren’t providing enough hens for each–but the trick is to mitigate them. You won’t be able to eliminate scuffles entirely. Just as it’s in a dog’s nature to bark from time to time, it’s in a rooster’s nature to try to dominate the flock. The mere fact that one rooster is lower in the pecking order and one is higher isn’t any cause for alarm, in an of itself. If you ave two roosters, one will always be the king… and one will always be scheming to overthrow him. It’s a bit of a Game of Thrones situation. 😉
Chickens prefer kings to oligarchies, and hierarchies to egalite.
You don’t mention your space situation, either… are you giving them enough? Is there plenty of room at feeders and waterers? If they don’t have enough space, those lowest in the pecking order will suffer.
You also mention bloodshed… but has there actually been any, or are you just worried? If no one is getting hurt, then you may have to just get past your discomfort at the way a pecking order works in a chicken flock. If you’re a human being–that is, if you’re a GOOD human being–you don’t want society to work that way. Good people don’t claim things just because they can; they don’t bully people to follow their personal rules. Good people value compassion and kindness. They don’t crow: “I am the most powerful, so I will bring the hammer to anyone to challenges me!” like roosters do. But when we’re talking about chicken society, rather than human society, what it comes down to is that the flock follows the cock they perceive to be the bad-assiest, and a couple of goofy birds falsely screaming that the sky is falling can really terrify everyone.
One last thing you’ll want to know if you do have to make the choice to rehome: it’s possible you have an Araucana, but not very likely. Hatcheries don’t sell them, although some claim they do. If you got your “Arucana” from a hatchery, you may be a victim of their dishonest marketing strategies.
on the other hand, if you bought a real Araucana from a breeder, then if you DO have to consider rehoming one of your roosters, you’ll probably want to rehome the Wyandotte, rather than the rare, tufted Araucana… especially if you got any Araucana hens at the same time. You may be able to breed them! But do be aware that it’s a difficult bird to breed, since the tufted gene is a fatal one (read details at the link above).
Best of luck!

Elizabeth September 17th, 2015

I thank you soooo much! I love my chickens (and roosters) and don’t want to rehome anyone! Everyone is in good shape, getting enough food and water. No blood, just chasing and getting a mouthful of feathers. I know this is more of my issue than their issue so thank you for reassuring me that I can let them be. Very interesting about the breed Arucana? Makes me wonder what I have? Thank you you’ve been very helpful.

Michael October 10th, 2015

I got a Rhode Island Red rooster who is about 1 year old for my small flock of 6 hens. He is very aggressive! I can’t really go outside without a stick or he’ll attack me. I am sure he is doing a wonderful job protecting the hens but I am afraid I’ll need to find him a new home. I honestly cannot imagine picking him up…

Lissa October 12th, 2015

Michael, unfortunately Rhode Island Red roosters are notoriously aggressive. On our website, we have advice for rehoming roosters, as well as recommended breeds if you want a docile rooster. Keep in mind that individuals in any breed can vary, the same way personalities vary with other pets. For instance, with canines, English Bulldogs are typically stubborn while Golden Retrievers are typically eager to please. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a stubborn retriever! It simply means that if you get a retriever, he’s less likely to be stubborn than a bulldog is.

Sarah December 8th, 2015

I have multiple roosters and multiple hens, and plan to breed them. I have separate coops and runs for hens and roos, with the intent to let out just the roo for his breed hens on alternating days. Should this plan pose problems?

Lissa December 9th, 2015

That’s difficult to answer, based on the little you’ve said here. If you’re not ever keeping any roosters together, of course there can’t be a problem between roosters. However, depending on the way you manage it, you could have issues with the hens not accepting the rooster/s you want to introduce. If you have a flock of hens and simply let a rooster out among them rather than taking the proper steps to introduce a new chicken to your flock, he’ll most likely get injured, as they’ll view him as an invader and attack. The hens won’t see him as a member of the flock just by virtue of his rooster-hood; he needs to be accepted and established with a position in the hierarchy/pecking order first. So, keep that in mind! Managing breeding flocks can be quite tricky and time consuming if you don’t plan correctly. It’s a lot like managing Reality Show personalities. (“Real Roosters of Suburbia” hm… ). In any case, I wish you the best of luck!

Cheryl December 13th, 2015

Hi Lissa – I have 3 silkie roosters – 1 that is 4 years old (the father) and 2 (the sons) that will be 1 year old the end of this month. The 2 sons are from different mothers. Up till now they seem to be getting along fine – we do have the minor sparring between the 2 young ones and then dad breaks it up by chasing one of them and then everything settles down. Today I notice the 2 younger ones being more aggressive with one another and biting each other’s combs until they drew blood. Dad didn’t get between them as much as he usually does. The 2 young ones were also crowing a lot more today than normal. Do I need to separate them or just let them work it out as long as no one gets seriously injured? I have 1 buff orpington hen and 4 silkie hens. the hens are 4 years old and one silkie is the same age as the young roosters (hatched at the same time). I also have 10 8 week old chicks that I keep separated from the rest of the flock – they are in the same room (24′ x 12′) but have a wired divider between them and the older chickens. I do socialize them all together during the day with my supervision. They have a 12′ x 10′ outside run also they have access to – so I don’t think space is the problem. I would rather not separate the 2 roosters and re-homing them is not an option.If they need to be separated for awhile from the rest of the flock we will work something out. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

Lissa December 14th, 2015

It’s difficult for me to make an accurate judgement without having seen the behavior. However, I can say that with 3 roosters, you’ll want about 30 hens, and–presuming your 8 week olds are all hens–you’ll only have half that. That means that it’s fairly likely that unless you add hens, you’ll need to rehome or house separately at least one rooster. And since you never really want to leave a chicken quite alone (they are flock animals), you’ll probably want to pen two of them together.
A few things concern me. This isn’t a time of year (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) where roosters normally start testing each other; they’re usually more active in the spring. And they’re not at an age where that behavior usually develops, either. Sparring usually intensifies when they’re 6 months old or so. That they drew blood is concerning, too. And that Dad stayed back suggests he may have sensed more tension than normal.
What might be influencing them is the presence of the new chicks. Since you’ve got part of the coop closed off for them (which you should), the space the rest of the flock has is reduced. It might be creating a bit of tension. For myself, I might adopt a wait and see attitude, but use your best judgement. You don’t really want to wait until someone is seriously injured; ideally you take action when serious injury is threatened. But if you can wait until the entire space is opened up again, you might see things cool down again.
The last thing to remember is that chickens just necessarily don’t get along in a way that’s full of kindness and fellow-feeling. It’s hierarchical, and that hierarchy is created by a certain amount of physical prowess and bluster. Mature humans don’t (ideally) relate that way, but mature chickens do. So, sometimes people will mistake normal exchanges of, well… of rooster swagger as something dire when it’s pretty normal.
I wish I could give you a hard answer, but without being able to really observe the behavior, I can only suggest a few things to bear in mind as you make your decision. Fingers crossed that everyone will get along in the end!

Vivian Hair December 19th, 2015

I recently got chooks, bantams, I got 2 roosters, to about 9 hens, now when I put them in the pen, the tinniest rooster was fine, and then something happen to it at, he is still eating and drinking, but he is very still, quite, and not making his funny little noise he used to when he saw me…. there was little blood and just a couple of feathers near fence where I found him, and after all that he just isn’t the same, its like he is frozen stiff with fright, literally, PETRAFIED

Chris January 8th, 2016

Vivian Hair, Any news on the two roos? What did you end up doing?

Red January 10th, 2016

Our 7 roosters were being pretty aggressive with our ladies and each other also…so we have them together in a pen now, and they are actually getting along now….funny how that works!

Simona January 19th, 2016

I have 6 silkie hens and 1 silkie rooster (he is about 2 years old) that have their own pen about 8×16. I also have a “big girls”pen 8×16 with a run attached that is separate from the silkie coop and has 11 hens of different breeds and 1 Black sex link rooster. When I come home from work I let them free roam in the backyard and also in the weekends. The silkie rooster is attacking my 6 months old rooster. The 6 months old rooster always ran from my silkie rooster but now he’s fighting back and I keep having to split them up and none of them want to back down once they enter the fight. The silkie rooster got injured on his comb and bled a bit but I cleaned him and locked him in his coop by himself. What do you suggest I do? I want thinking of just locking the silkie rooster up in his pen from now on but I just feel bad since he used to roam the backyard for 2 years…

Lissa January 21st, 2016

You may not be able to keep this sort of fighting from happening in your current set-up. The main problem is that you have two different flocks that you let mingle from time to time. They don’t see themselves as your chickens, in different coops. They see themselves as two different (hostile) clans forced to share territory. So… every time the roosters come into contact in the backyard, there is the danger of competition and fighting. Your silkie rooster in particular, because he only has six hens in his flock, will want to attract some of the other girls. Naturally, your other rooster doesn’t want an “interloper” coming in and stealing his girls! At 6 months old, he’s just come into maturity, so it makes sense that he’s now fighting back. You may be able to ease the squabbles by adding 4 or 5 hens to your silkie’s flock–but housing them separately, there will always be some tensions over which rooster’s flock reigns supreme in the backyard. Unless you change your set-up to one coop, fix the rooster-hen ratio, and carefully spend weeks with proper flock integration, the best alternative in your current set up will probably be let the two flocks roam freely in the backyard at different times, rather than at the same time.

Jen February 4th, 2016

I have a bantam frizzled rooster that I took in for a friend (after my lavender orp rooster died) because he was getting beat up on her property. I ordered another lavender orp rooster and received him at approx 12 weeks of age. I have 15 hens, some are lavender orp and some or a mixture of other full sized breeds. Everything is peachy right now, but I am wondering how this is going to go when my orp rooster reaches maturity. They are known for being docile BUT I am assuming because of his size that he will become the top dog (so to speak) I am hatching more chickens and will be keeping approx 20 hens total and rehoming any young roosters…but I kind of like my frizzle Dobby the house elf….and if they could get along without trying to kill each other that would be great, otherwise poor Dobby is going to have to go

Lissa February 10th, 2016

Your roosters sound lovely–and of course I love the name “Dobby!” 🙂 Believe it or not, size doesn’t necessarily dictate who will be the “top roo.” Sometimes the larger, imposing fellows are secure enough that they don’t feel the need to compete as hard as the little Napoleon-complex guys do, hahaha. Having 20 hens with two roosters who were raised together can work well. Having an orpington is especially promising, as they typically aren’t known to be prone to fighting. It depends on personalities, of course. Make sure there is plenty of space in the coop, run, and at feeders and waterers. There will be the occasional scuffle as they determine who’s boss, but some breeds–like the Orp–are more likely to leave it at a chest bump than go all in and regard it as a life-or-death struggle. You can be optimistic here!

Chasity March 2nd, 2016

Why won’t my rooster crow.

Lissa March 4th, 2016

Hi, Chasity. Since I don’t have any details about your rooster–his age, his breed, his health, what the rest of his flock is comprised of, etc.–I can’t answer that question. However, you can write our experts with all your details, and we can try to help! Email your details and questions to info@mypetchicken.com.

Kira March 2nd, 2016

Great article!!! I have a few questions though. I am going to start my flock by ordering a few dozen straight run chicks, both bantams and standards. I love roos, that’s why I want straight run. I do plan on having a cockpit for them. My questions are: 1) how far should the cockpit be from the main flock? 2) should bantam roos have their own cockpit or can they be housed with standards? 3) is bantam or standard better, or is there a specific breed of roo that would be better to keep in with my girls? I love both sizes of Phoenixes, but my main concern is overall flock health and well being. Thanks so much!

Lissa March 4th, 2016

Hi, Kira! First of all, I should preface by explaining the terms I’m using to talk about chickens, because otherwise it might be confusing. It’s common to refer to the large sized birds as standards, but it is not technically correct. On our website, for example, we list “Standard (Large Fowl)” because calling them “standards” is such a common mistake… but “standards” technically does not refer to the size of a chicken. “Large fowl” is actually the term used to refer to a regular sized chicken, and “bantam” is the small size. So when I say “large fowl,” now you’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂


I’m glad to hear you love roosters, but I would (personally) still advise against getting straight run, because you are very unlikely to get a good ratio of hens to roosters. You say you’re wanting “a few dozen” birds. But think: if you start with three dozen, for example, you’re likely to get around 18 roosters… and cockpit or not, that’s really A LOT! Plus, you could conceivably get a worse ratio. My own luck almost always has me with more roosters than hens when I hatch at home (which is essentially going “straight run.”) So you might end up with, say, 25 roosters–or worse! I love them, but feeding and caring for that many extra birds, birds that are not producing any eggs to sell that can offset the cost, birds that you have to build or buy extra housing/fencing for, is going to be expensive and significantly increase the work you’ll have to take care of your chickens.


On the other hand, if you order three roosters and 33 hens, you will be set, and everyone can be housed and run together. Most families won’t be able to eat all the eggs produced by that many hens, so–check your local laws to be sure–you can probably sell any extra eggs to cover the cost of feed and bedding.

As for whether you can keep bantam and large fowl birds together, this is not usually a problem–except you’re right to consider it when you’re talking about hens v roosters. Personally, I don’t like to keep bantam roosters with large fowl hens, because in my flock they have caused some damage as they tried to mate, since their size won’t keep a hen from fleeing. A rooster will normally peck a hen to let her know they will be mating; then he mounts her, and holds onto her head or neck with his beak while he does. I also don’t like to keep VERY large roosters with VERY small bantams, again because when mating they can cause damage–if she’s very small, she may not be able to breathe very well when he’s on top.


I would go with large fowl roosters that are of moderate size. Phoenixes are a nice size, but would not be the best choice of rooster for a beginner, mostly because the long tails of that breed require special care, including special housing. My personal favorites are Faverolles roosters, which tend to grow to be about 7 pounds or so. They can look quite large, but their feathers are very fluffy; they’re actually a relatively moderate size. Easter Eggers, Favaucaunas, Ameraucanas, Super Blues, and our Olive Egger crosses are very nice, too. You want a rooster that will be 8-ish pounds or less. If you are keeping bantam hens, I would stay away from roosters like Jersey Giants, Brahmas and so forth. Although they are usually calm and gentle, they are just too large. Brahma roosters can be 9 or 10 pounds, and Giants might be 10 or 11!

Heide April 2nd, 2016

My grandma has 2 roosters and 2 hen, and they don’t fight! The red one is very protectivr, but the other rooster is just a scaredy cat and only wants to mate the hen ????. The only time they ever fought is when the scaredy rooster tried to mate the hen, and he ran away. I REALLy eant the hen to go broody and raise chicks, but how?

Heide April 2nd, 2016

Oops i meant 1 hen

Karen June 11th, 2016

Hi, I love the advice on this site. I live in England and have been keeping hens for a while now. I have a 6 year old light Sussex, 2 Marans bantams, and a buff Sussex bantam who is sitting on 6 Dutch bantam eggs at the moment. They’re due to hatch next week. Now here to my question. Obviously I’m hoping only one chick will be a rooster and the rest hens but I know that’s very unlikely to happen (my light Sussex hatched 3 eggs and all were hens, she’s outlived those chicks!)

How many roosters in a separate pen works best? Should it be even or odd numbers? I’m wondering if I have 3 roosters or more should they all go in the rooster pen together or should I keep 1 rooster with the girls and the rest in the rooster pen. We will be able to build a run and coop for them behind our log cabin at the bottom of the garden so they wont be able to see the hens but they will be able to hear them. They will also be able to hear about 8 roosters that our neighbour keeps (each with their own pen and ladies)on the land at the rear of our property. Will this affect them even though they wont be able to see them?

Sorry for all the questions but I want to get it right and give the new additions a happy life.

Lissa June 14th, 2016

I don’t know that it matters too much how many you have in a separate pen, so long as there’s plenty of room for the number you’ve got. If you do end up with a very aggressive rooster, it can help to have at least three birds–and that goes for hens, too. Having three means that the aggression is spread out a little, instead of directed at just one target. But in most cases, if the roosters are kept away from the hens, they should be able to get along. Unless one of your roosters is a real jerk–that does happen sometimes!–they don’t tend to be too aggressive with one another when there aren’t any hens to compete for. As for hearing the other roosters, it will affect them in that it’s possible you may end up with crowing contests, the same way one dog barking can start the whole neighborhood of dogs barking. And it’s possible that hearing the other roosters could even help yours get along better. Fear of the “other,” unfortunately, is one way of promoting cooperation. Humans can use reason (or some can) to evaluate the difference between something that’s an actual threat and something that is simply different or unfamiliar. Chickens, not so much. So hearing another, larger group of roosters crowing–announcing their territory–off in the distance might make your roosters less inclined to squabble amongst themselves. That would make for an interesting behavioral study!

elizabeth barnes July 1st, 2016

i started with 6 chicks that were “supposed” to be hens, 2 are roosters, they are easter eggers, today one of the roosters is hiding in the coop, he didn’t come out, the other rooster has a bigger comb and bigger body and is the one that crows all the time, they have free range of the yard, not penned, is the other rooster sick? or just hiding from the big guy?

Lissa July 5th, 2016

Hi, Elizabeth! It’s difficult for me to guess whether you have a sick chicken without examining him. However, this Help topic outlining what symptoms to look out for with your chicken may help you decide whether your boy needs a visit to the vet or not. It is certanly possible he’s hiding out from the dominant rooster, but before determining if that’s the problem, make sure you evaluate whether or not he could be ill.

[…] Having too many roosters in the flock (leading to too-frequent breeding and wear on back feathers) can be more of an issue […]

Mer July 13th, 2016

What about 2 white leg horn roosters? They have been together since birth, morning/all day/nights. Together all the time with the hens. They are about 5 months old. We also have 19 hens. How do white leghorn Roosters behave together? We have a really big yard that they all hang out in during the day. They are def free range.

Lissa July 14th, 2016

If you have 2 roosters (raised together) and 19 hens with plenty of space, you probably won’t have many problems–if any. The ratio is just about right, and the free ranging should keep them occupied. Of course, it’s always possible your rooster/s will be a jerk… but its not especially likely under the circumstances you’ve described, and leghorns don’t have a reputation for that like Rhode Island Red roosters do. Just make sure there is plenty of space at feeders and waterers, and that there is plenty of space for roosting. 🙂

Steph September 28th, 2016

I’m just looking for a bit of advise – I had 1 rooster and 6 hens, one hen went broody and we allowed her to have 4 eggs to hatch. 2 turned out to be roosters, 1 hen and 1 died. We managed to rehome one of the roosters when he was still young and kept the other young rooster. Our older rooster is a really lovely boy and has always been really good with him – we have never seen him do anything towards the younger one who is just about 12 months old now. Last weekend the older rooster (bit over 2 yrs old now) became unwell, we are still not sure what was wrong with him, he didn’t want to eat, was very quiet and kept to himself for 2 whole days and just wanted to sit inside all day in front of the fire or in my lap. When he recovered and returned to the flock the young rooster has started attacking him and will not let him get anywhere near the hens. Nothing too serious but distressing to watch him get chased around. Is our only option to rehome the younger boy?

Lissa September 29th, 2016

It’s definitely a tough call. When a chicken who is high in the pecking order has a setback and then comes back to the flock recovered, the dynamics may have changed. It sounds like that’s what has happened with your flock–my sympathies! Now you have to make a decision as to whether to rehome a rooster or not. Or you could also house one separately. If you keep them together, though, there WILL be some scuffling. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily the end to peace in your flock. The boys will work out who is the cock-of-the-walk, and it’s possible that your younger rooster will be the new chief OR that your older will re-establish his place. The concern is just that the scuffling not result in serious injury to anyone… and that’s just a call you’ll have to make based on your observations. Some will briefly test each other’s mettle and there will be no real harm done. Others will want to fight to the death! Clearly, if they are trying to really hurt each other, you’ll have to take steps to rehome or rehouse. And don’t forget to keep an eye on your hens. Roosters will not generally be scuffling with the girls, but they WILL try to mate in front of each other… in essence trying to claim the hens for their own harem. Since you have only 7 hens and two roosters, it’s not really enough between them. (We recommend 10 or 12 per to keep competition at manageable levels). Best wishes to you and your flock! Please let us know here how it turns out.

Lauren Kitchens October 24th, 2016

I am new to having chickens and roosters,I have a black rooster and a black hen that were given to me about 2 months ago, the rooster is BIG,he and the hen were always together and get along great. I am known to take in any furbabies, feathered babies, any babies that need a home. About 9 last night a man came to my home with 2 beautiful
hens and a beautiful rooster that his neighbors moved and left behind.I put the 2 hens that are quite a bit smaller than my rooster in the pen with my rooster and hen, I put the new rooster in a small pen by himself, I am not sure if my big rooster will get along with the smaller rooster, how handle putting them together? Suggestions please. Thank you, Lauren.

Lissa October 24th, 2016

I’d follow the method we recommend on our website when introducing new birds to the flock. Take it extra slow, though, because roosters are far more likely to be territorial, and more likely to fight for longer than hens are. And as I mention above, what you have is not an ideal ratio of hens to roosters which will ass to the tension. To have two roosters, you really want closer to 20 hens.

Joe November 20th, 2016

I raised two full brothers my friend gave me they were silverduckwings but had blue legs and a tassels on its head. they lived fine till they turned about 7 months one of them killed the other over night. Then he started getting ultra aggressive with my other male roosters at about 10 months he cornered I assume and killed all 3 remaining roosters. the funny thing is he is so gentle with me and his hens. What do I do?? he is such a beautiful bird.

Lissa November 21st, 2016

Oh, gosh! You must be heartbroken. It’s tough for me to tell from here what may be going on, but it’s possible that you just had too few hens for the number of roosters you had. That can work in some circumstances as I outline above, but they often need to have lots of room to roam, and plenty of space at feeders and waterers. It’s also possible you have all those things, but your rooster just doesn’t want to have any male competition. If that’s the case, you can keep him as your only rooster, or you can re-home him and find a rooster more willing to play with others.

Pamela Boundy December 27th, 2016

I have a Rhode Island Red, and 1 Americana that are roosters. I have a Rhode Island Red, and a Polish hen. All were raised together, until I find a home for the roosters should I keep the seperated?

Lissa December 28th, 2016

If they’re very young, you may be able to keep them together. If they’re six months or older, separate them if there is tension, before anyone gets hurt. Some roosters will get along, but Rhode Island Reds aren’t known for having easy-going dispositions.

Heidi April 5th, 2017

I have an existing flock of 12 hens. I have 14 pullet/hens in my brooder/The other hens have been able to see them and know that each other are around. Anyways I will be going to get a rooster (totally new to my flock)….my question is do I get two rooster(they will both be from the same place)? Do I stay with the one?

Lissa April 6th, 2017

Well, not entirely sure how to answer your question. If you’re hatching eggs, you might want two, because each rooster can cover 10 – 12 hens. But if you’re not hatching eggs—or if you’re hatching them for yourself only and don’t mind having to discard infertile eggs—then one rooster is fine. Remember that you don’t need a rooster for your hens to lay eggs! They’ll do that without a rooster around. Their eggs just won’t be fertile without the rooster.

Donna Millermcnutt April 24th, 2017

I just became a “chicken farmer” … quite by accident, sorta. I had my grandbaby with me and we stopped at Tractor Supply to LOOK at the baby chicks. I walked out with 6 baby chicks. So now I purchased (the box says anyway) 3 pullets (which I later learned meant FEMALES. And 2 Bantams (which are…idk…rooster, hens, I have no idea) and then another something.(The guy told me that I was REQUIRED to buy at least 6…so, 6 it was) I have them in my x-large dog pen (inside, on my back porch) right now. I went to the Amish builders today and purchased them a house. So it is being built and will be delivered next week. They are soooooo adorable, I go talk to them and hold them. I have read the stories on here, and I am almost in tears. If I raise these things and love them, and then THEY KILL EACH OTHER, I am going to be devastated!! I live on 3/4 of an acre so they will have room to “roam” and they will have a heater in their house, oh and I found a heated perch that I’m getting for them as well. I’ve raised just about every animal there is (both big and small) and I raised ducks a few years back, I’m hoping this won’t be more difficult than the ducks (they were pretty easy.) They were spoiled to death, but not difficult. I may have to stop in and ask a few questions….

nikki June 27th, 2017

Thank you for this article. 🙂 I have a small new flock with 10 hens and 2 roosters and 3 chicks. we had 5 girls and 1 rooster but recently bought chicks and ended up with the rest one being an amerucna rooster. they are teenagers now. I noticed the amerucana rooster started crowing 3 weeks ago and tried mating one of his girls. she dosent seem to like it though. we also have two silkies one being small. I noticed the americauna this evening not allowing any of his girls to eat. As soon as he would notice them eating hed run over and peck them then maybe take a little food for himself but i could tell it was to stop them from eating not so he could eat…why is he doing this and should i be worried about the little silkies?

Lissa July 19th, 2017

It may be that your girls are not ready to be bred quite, yet, while your rooster is. When that’s the case, the rooster may indeed hang out at feeders because he knows they’ll come close eventually. This could also happen if your Ameraucana is the lowest-ranking rooster, and the girls don’t want to be bred by him because they belong to the “flock” of the other rooster. So he’s not strictly trying to keep them from eating, but the result winds up being the same as if he is.
Sometimes you can help relieve the tension by putting another feeder in a different area. Put it far enough away from the first feeder so that he can’t guard both! It’s definitely important to provide plenty of feeding space when you have multiple roosters.

Desiree November 8th, 2017

I have a mixed flock of adult hens and one roo- 2 Black Australorps, 3 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Mille Fleur D’uccles, 2 Brahmas (one hen & one roo), one Egyptian Fayoumi, one Easter egger, one Easter egger bantam, and two 3-month old cochin chicks (plus 5 bantam cochin eggs in the incubator)- my question is: will my brahma roo try to mate with my smallest bantams when there are other larger girls available? I have read so many different opinions about this, and this is my first flock and my first roo. They all free-range om about 1/3rd acre of fenced-in backyard (except for the 2 chicks) and all roost together in one coop as it is getting cold here in New England. I do not want to separate any of them as they all get along, aside from one of my Mille Fleur D’uccles who cannot STAND my roo! She takes him on like she’s bigger than him! In the spring I will be using 2 coops and can split them up then, but they need each other for warmth in the winter. Will this work out ok?

Lissa November 14th, 2017

Yes, they will usually try to mate with any hen, no matter their size. But generally they will not try to mate with young birds until the girls are mature. I can’t predict whether it will all work out, I’m sorry! But I don’t see any immediate worries from your description of the situation. Give the Fayoumi extra care, if possible. They don’t usually do very well in cold weather.

Robert November 26th, 2017

Ive had multiple chickens over these last 4-5 years, and my latest flock has a big Americauna rooster and a Phoenix rooster; I did have a second Phoenix rooster, but I lost him a while ago. Anyways, both of the roosters have their picks out of 11 hens, 3 of them are Buff Orpingtons, and they’ve all got a lot of space. They actually all get along quite well, so yeah. It’s a good idea to introduce new roosters before they’re sexually mature, right?

Lissa November 27th, 2017


Nassim December 14th, 2017

Thank you for this explanation, you seem to be savvy in this matter. Others I’ve found with google search are just too stupid. My two roasters have fought and almost my pet died, break his beak, his face and head all covered with blood. That was horrible. and guess what other articles suggest: hmm, let’em fight! distract them with a herb.

thank you again, your explanation makes sense because you don’t fight till death if you don’t see you territory threaten or your chickens, that was the case, of my roaster who was so fierce even if bleeding…

Have a good day!

Lissa December 15th, 2017

I’m so sorry to hear that your rooster got hurt! In most cases, if there is plenty of room for everyone, they won’t do much more than scuffle, if that. But do keep an eye out, because chicken personalities vary, and even when everything is set up just right, you can end up with a relentless bully. That’s very unusual, but it does happen sometimes. Best of luck with your flock!

Rick March 27th, 2020

Hi Lissa, We have a small flock of 4 hens. We will be adding 4 more this summer. Our rooster is a red laced blue wyandotte. He was injured fighting off a predator. It has changed his disposition. He shows NO aggression anymore, and never leaves the coop due to the pain of walking. He was very protective of the 6 hens we had. Since he cannot go out and free-range with them, we have lost 2 to predators. That never happened before. we want to add another rooster who will protect the hens, but want to allow the current one out live out the life he earned. I’d like to add another RLBW rooster, since our 1st one did such a good job, but don’t want him getting hurt by the new one. What do you think?

Jimmy Tillery June 30th, 2020

We bought six baby chicks not knowing what they will turn out to be, but we have 5 rooster and one hen! What should we do? Yikes!

helen steiby-tuilau July 12th, 2020

i have 6 bantums beligum now 12 weeks old i cant tell if female or male

Forest July 21st, 2020

Hi Helen,
Send us a photo so we can take a look and try to help. info@mypetchicken.com

Karen October 20th, 2020

I have 26 hens, LF and bantam with 1 bantam cockerel, I have hatched 3 Silver laced Orpington’s, 2 girls and 1 boy, I’d like to keep all 3 and introduce them to the rest of the flock, I’m in two minds, whether or not to try and rehome the Orpington Cockerel, or should I keep him in the hope he will get along with my bantam cockerel, I worry there may be fighting and my bantam will be injured with him being so small compared to the Orpington, what would be the best time to introduce the 3 Orpingtons, they are 12 weeks old at the moment, also with the Orpington being so large is it likely he will try and mate the bantam hens even though there is enough LF hens for him?

Forest October 23rd, 2020

It would be best to wait until the bantam rooster is bigger in size if possible. A slow introduction is also best and can be done through a wire fence so that they can see and get to know each other without being able to physically get at one another. They can work out a lot of pecking issue orders this way first in a safe manner.

Alicia February 6th, 2021

I bought 4 Silver Australorp straight run chicks from the local feed store and I mail ordered 15 Black Australorp chicks. I ended up with 5 roosters, 3 were from the feed store purchase. The 3 Silvers were hand raised. The Black were not hand raised. The roosters live in separate 2 pens and see the hens running around them and roosting nearby. The roosters don’t fight at all. But the largest of the 3 Silver does try to mount the smallest of the Silver rooster. I am trying to rehome three of of the 5 that we don’t need for breeding. They are all very docile with me and my husband.

Sue March 9th, 2021

I decided on getting a rooster, a year ago, for my hens and was into Orpingtons. Thinking it might be good to up our sustainability at the time. Due to the pandemic, I had to buy a batch from a large breeder, could only get buffs, although I was holding reds, so got 15 cockerel chicks, plus one bonus chick. Raised them up, separate from the red Orpington hens, butchered the batch, but held onto the 2 most promising Roos plus the oddball, plus the two who turned out to be hens. So I have 6 red Orpington hens, 2 buff Orpington hens, I remainder 7 year old guinea hen, 2 buff Orpington roosters and the oddball rooster. The roosters all get along. The buff roos only recognize the buff hens as hens. The two buff hens are over-used. Still looking for a way to make the flock work. I should add that Orpingtons do not make a good meat bird, in my opinion, but I would like to raise more egg layers through mother birds. I don’t need three roosters, but I have three beautiful roosters. I’m putting saddles on the buff hens tomorrow.

Kristin Hasselblad March 29th, 2021

Yes, we have the ‘younger rooster usurping the older king’ going on here… we LOVE both of these roos and don’t want to see them go! The younger one has severely injured the older one, and if left alone, the older one will wedge himself in between hay bale and the fence and just stay stuck there. Our flock of hens has dwindled down to 7 I think…not enough!

We are looking into getting more hens to help this situation…but, older ones, because we don’t need more eggs. Would this work? Will the roosters want to protect the older hens and see them as part of their flock?

Bambi April 19th, 2021

Having a higher hen to rooster ratio can help, with proper introduction.

White May 24th, 2021

My two roosters get on very well (father and son) my youngster knows the order and does not push his luck, he dust baths with his dad, they follow each other about and get on well. Sometimes there’s a little spat but nothing serious and the girls all get on well too! My youngster was raised as a baby in the flock. I have 8 in total, so they can get on

Patricia Hubbard August 18th, 2021

We adopted two bachelor roosters. The pecking order from day 1 was clear, Reggie was in charge. Monday night we closed the coop not realizing that Reggie was not in the coop. Tuesday morning we discovered that Reggie had spent the night outside. I thought that he must have been taken by a hawk or had some other equally happen. Then as I was finishing morning chores, Reggie appeared, feathers ruffled but seemed okay. Our other rooster, not the dominant one in the pair, chased him from the area. I know Reggie is out there as I see him often, however, we will not come to the coop. Do you think these two will “make-up” so they can live together again or should I begin shopping for another small coop? What could have happened to dramatically change the pecking order?


If you have neither plenty of hens nor plenty of space, you can keep multiple roosters together by having NO hens. With no hens to compete for, multiple roosters often live together in relative peace. 4. Raise them together in your flock.

If you have neither plenty of hens nor plenty of space, you can keep multiple roosters together by having NO hens. With no hens to compete for, multiple roosters often live together in relative peace. 4. Raise them together in your flock.

If you have neither plenty of hens nor plenty of space, you can keep multiple roosters together by having NO hens. With no hens to compete for, multiple roosters often live together in relative peace. 4. Raise them together in your flock. via

If you have neither plenty of hens nor plenty of space, you can keep multiple roosters together by having NO hens. With no hens to compete for, multiple roosters often live together in relative peace. 4. Raise them together in your flock.

1. Have plenty of hens for each rooster. If you only have a flock of five or seven birds, you don't want two (or more!) of them to be roosters. Generally—and especially when you want to keep multiple roosters—there should be 10 or 12 hens for each male in your flock.

If you have neither plenty of hens nor plenty of space, you can keep multiple roosters together by having NO hens. With no hens to compete for, multiple roosters often live together in relative peace. 4. Raise them together in your flock.

You'll want to double or even triple the minimum space per bird for your flock. If you get too many roosters competing together in a confined space, testosterone-fueled aggression and territoriality can boil to a head. Remember, roosters don't have impulse control like (most!) humans do; someone could get hurt!

Glenn December 17th, 2021

I have 7 roosters in my flock – entirely by accident, since I thought 24 of my chickens were female when I bought them, and so I bought two Light Brahma roosters, intending to divide the flick between them. My roosters are Rhode Island Reds, Easter Eggers, and Light Brahmas. But my Brahmas are slightly younger than the the others, so they’re at the bottom of the pecking order instead of the top, which is somewhat annoying, because they don’t get to mate AT ALL, which is why I bought them. But, all in all, 24 birds, 7 roosters, and NO problems, so I guess it’s not all bad.

[…] If you have neither plenty of hens nor plenty of space, you can keep multiple roosters together by having NO hens. With no hens to compete for, multiple roosters often live together in relative peace. 4. Raise them together in your flock. via […]

Samantha March 2nd, 2022

So I have 3 roosters and 9 hens. I keep the hens in one big coop and let them roam everyday until dark. The roosters have their own coop inside a large fenced in area. I don’t let them out since they are the large area to roam. This spring I would like some baby chicks to raise with my kiddos. How should I pick one rooster from the 3? Once I choose one can I still keep him up with the other roosters at night or will that cause problems? Should I just keep the chosen one with the hens at night? Once we get chicks will the rooster be mean to the babies? Should I keep the babies and momma separated from everyone else or should I just keep the babies separated everyone else?

Bambi March 8th, 2022

Interesting fact…a hen can store sperm from one mating for up to a month! If you would like offspring from a specific rooster you will want to separate the hens from all roosters for 4 weeks. Putting the hens back with the rooster you have selected for breeding for a few days should result in fertilized eggs from that rooster. You would need to keep any other roosters separated while you collect eggs for hatching.

Debbie April 5th, 2022

I have 25-30 roosters. I have around 30-40 hens. They free range on 40 acres and they almost never fight. Never. If you want a lot of roosters to keep your hens safe or for pest control like us, just give them a huge place to roam and that should solve your problem.

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