You Don’t Need a Rooster Rescue, Set Up a Bachelor Pad Instead

Tips For Managing Rooster Behavior in a Bachelor Colony

rooster-rescue

Unless you buy sexed day-old chicks, chances are you’ve got extra roosters this spring! Finding a rooster rescue can be difficult, especially during the spring when extra, unwanted roosters start to appear as for sale or free. Many end up in soups or stews and some actually find their way to rooster rescue organizations or good homes. Some end up in horrible situations in cockfighting rings or as bait birds for other sports. What do you do when your rooster population explodes but you’re not ready to start looking up recipes or placing ads for free roosters?

The Problem of Extra Roosters

Many people don’t want to get rid of their extra roosters and assume they can just put them in with the flock. The optimal ratio for roosters to hens is one rooster to every 10 hens. In an environment where one rooster rules the roost, the flock is content, happy and free from stress. Insert just one or two extra roosters and it can be a recipe for disaster.

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Normal rooster behavior is to defend the flock from all comers. Other roosters who attempt to join the flock will be fought and destroyed because the head rooster must protect the flock. In this heightened sense of anxiety that the fighting causes, hens may stress to the point to where they stop laying eggs. Too many roosters can be hard on your hens’ feathers as well, as during multiple matings from multiple roosters, often their head and back feathers will be pulled out. Keeping extra roosters with the flock can also cause aggressive behavior toward humans as they do their job of protecting their hens. It’s often after aggressive rooster behavior that chicken keepers begin to think about eating or rehoming or finding a rooster rescue. Other chicken keepers are tired of their rooster causing damage to their hens’ feathers and rescue the girls by moving the rooster or extra rooster out of the flock.

Creating a Rooster Rescue Refuge

There are those who feel adamantly that excess roosters should be culled. On the other side of the fence, are those that appreciate their roosters, but can’t keep them with the flock because they already have a head rooster or don’t have enough hens to keep multiple roosters busy. Rehoming or finding a rooster rescue has failed and eating them is not an option for many people, as the roosters have become pets by this point. So, what can be done with a bunch of rowdy roosters to rescue them from the stew pot? They can live peacefully in a rooster bachelor colony.

rooster-rescue

Creating a bachelor colony is as easy as finding free chicken coop plans that will support the number of roosters in your bachelor flock. The roosters will need an adequately sized chicken run and pen so that they don’t feel crowded. Even as a bachelor colony, although there are no hens to fight over, roosters can still become territorial about their home. It’s important to have multiple feeders and waterers so that the roosters at the top of the pecking order allow the lower pecking order roosters to have access to food and water. It’s also a good idea to trim or remove all roosters’ spurs to minimize the amount of damage that they can do to a coop mate. After the initial pecking order is set within your bachelor colony, the roosters should be able to live together peacefully.

It’s important for the chicken keeper to understand something about rooster behavior so that accessing the bachelor colony is possible. I have a bachelor colony of three roosters and they know when I come into the run, that I am the head rooster. I’m able to access their feed and water without threats or attacks. I also know the signs of when they’re agitated (picking up bits of straw and twigs and breaking it on the ground signals anxiety) and if I pick up signs that they’re wound up, I might wait until they calm down before entering the run. They are, after all, still roosters and still have all that instinctual male behavior. Some say that keeping them in a bachelor flock isn’t natural for a rooster and will rotate their roosters through their flock of hens just so all the roosters get a chance to be a rooster. However, there have been studies that show that in the wild, roosters will willingly spend time together in a flock away from hens, so being sequestered in a bachelor flock is not completely unnatural for them.

Roosters as Companions

If you’ve got too many spurred fellows at your house, consider putting them in a bachelor colony. Roosters, when trained and treated well, can become excellent companions. You can train them to jump for a treat held just above their head and soon they’ll recognize you and your treat container as a pleasant way to interact with you. Be sure that you maintain your head rooster status with the flock by picking them up frequently and carrying them around or stroking their chest and wattles. If the rooster is excited, hold him until his heart rate slows to normal before putting him back down. Handling your roosters frequently and gaining their trust will make them happy, calm members of your rooster flock.

Spurs, the long sharp growth on the side of the rooster’s leg, can be extremely sharp and dangerous. Always use care and safety when working with your roosters to prevent injury from their spurs. Have you ever wondered do hens have spurs like roosters?

If sending your birds to a rooster rescue isn’t an option, what have you done with your extra roosters? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments
  • Denny S.

    This seems to be a lot of ongoing work. What’s wrong with butchering the extra roosters. One day’s work and many day’s meals. This is starting to sound like a cat lady.

    Reply
    • Chris T.

      You’re right! I never thought of the Crazy Cat Lady aspect! Crazy Rooster Lady instead! Nothing at all wrong with butchering roosters! I hear if you simmer them long enough, they’re pretty tasty!

      Reply
  • Great advice. Didn’t think of it. But definitely doable. Thanks

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  • This is the most ridiculous article I have read on your site. Depending on the breed, roosters will often become cantankerous and dangerous even with access to plenty of hens. We have had several roosters who have been trained, picked up and carried around (and were my daughter’s pets), yet for some reason they turned on us. Roosters get two chances to attack, and there is a strong show of dominance on our part after the first. When a second attack occurs, it is “off with his head” as my daughter says. Bordeaux, Chorizo, Fuego and others all had their time and were loved by a little girl. But the wounds and scars from a rooster attack are not something to be taken lightly. At the first sign of aggression we become wary. At the second they become coq au vin. No one would write an article about keeping pet dairy bulls because it is cruel to kill them. And they are very adorable when babies too.

    Reply
    • Britt M.

      No need to be rude here. The article is not ridiculous, and offers some great alternatives to killing off too many roosters. There is nothing wrong with deciding to cull roosters and eat them if that is your choice, but there is also nothing wrong with a rooster bachelor pad. We each have our own way.

      Reply
      • I totally agree. I have two Sicilian Buttercup Roosters.. one stays n and one drew the lucky straw..all the girls r 10xs bigger than him.

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    • So much for raising kids with an ounce of compassion for animals. Any child who taks joy in saying “Off with his head” will probably grow up to be a serial killer. No wonder our society is going to hell in a handbasket.

      Reply
      • “So much for raising kids with an ounce of compassion for animals.”

        are you serious? nothing else to say so you attack a little girl? i think i know who has nefarious tendancies. good for the little girl. sounds like she is able to make some hard decisions. if more children could do that, they wouldnt be passive aggressively attacking children when they grow up.

        Reply
        • And this little girl also knows that meat doesn’t come from a plastic package in the grocery store. I believe people have more respect for their food when they know where it comes from

          Reply
  • I’m new to chicken raising. Can a rooster be butchered at any age? Does the meat get stronger tasting or more muscle?

    Reply
  • I had one hen up up being a rooster. Then the next year we had a surprise hatch with 5. Six roosters in my small flock was not working so we did the separate coop run are where they still can see everyone.

    Reply
  • You guys missed the point of the article – it suggests alternative ways to NOT have to kill off the roosters. If you want to kill them, have at it. But don’t criticize the content for other people who see value in the article. I have two roosters who have never attacked in the 5 years I had them. I’m not the equivalent of a “crazy cat lady”. I just enjoy their personalities and keep them as pets. Not a big deal.

    Reply
    • I am new to this. I am learning so much from you. Please continue to share your knowledge. I am so grateful for every little bit I learn.

      Reply
    • Britt M.

      Thank you for pointing this out to people. Alternative is the key here!

      Reply
    • Well said. I have 3 roosters now with only minimal problems….will separate when and if necessary

      Reply
    • I agree that they have good personalities. I have one now that actually is docile towards me.

      Reply
    • I think your article is great. I have ducks instead of chickens and half of my flock were adopted. Most of the adoptable ducks are drakes. I would really rather not eat and of my babies and, if I could and my husband was willing, I would have a drake pad.
      If someone wants to eat the extra roosters or drakes, that’s up to you. To me they are pets and I couldn’t eat them.

      Reply
  • I currently have a bachelor pad with 2 Silkie roosters and a Polish rooster. I want to keep them and they are fine in their pen. No fighting and I can enter with no problems. They do occasionally mount each other but they never fight! I personally can’t butcher any of my chickens. No, even if I found a butcher I still couldn’t eat it!

    Reply
  • I’ve had 4 bantam roosters. 3 were brothers. There was never a problem with them fighting with eachother. And never seen any messed up feathers on my hens. I had 12 hens and 1of them was a bantam silkie. Its like they are well behaved birds. And we do not eat my birds. They are my baby’s.

    Reply
  • Thank you for posting this article. I just rehomed a 7 week old rooster yesterday, that came from a “pullet” order. In my search to find him a humane home, my daughter and I decided we want to start a rooster rescue someday. They are beautiful animals and I love the dynamics they have with the flock. We already tried having 2 before, and too much blood was drawn. A hawk solved our dilemma before. Our little Remaining Silkie rooster is the best. He doesn’t like being held, but definitely isn’t threatening to humans,and he sure looks out for his girls.

    Reply
  • Is it better to have the bachelor flock where it can see the other birds (hens and rooster) or not?

    Reply
  • thank you so much for this article. we are going into our second year as chicken collectors, we started with 2 chicks last year who both turned into fighting roosters. when we added hens we gave both boys some girls and have to let them out to roam on separate days. i have just hatched 3 week old chicks in an incubator and its looking like 2 of the babes are boys. as a family we have been trying to decide what to do with these new guys and your article came just in time. Wish us luck in starting up our rooster colony!

    Reply
  • I raised a flock that included 2 roosters, from the day they arrived as chicks. Gently handled each several times per day. The hens remained docile, but as soon as puberty hit the rooster became impossible to handle. They were beautiful birds, but they were too dangerous to have around, for me or the hens.

    Reply
  • I have 5 roosters in a flock of 30. Fred is a Rhode Island red and Floyd, pretty boy, snipe and Spartacus are all bantams… Fred he keeps them in line but I haven’t noticed them fighting to much… it’s like father son type thing between them and Fred he keeps them safe.

    Reply
  • I keep a silkie bachelor pad. It works just fine with that breed. Great article.

    Reply
  • I have two D’uccle roosters in a pen with 4 girls..all OK. I do only let my “families” out on a roster, some get on well (or at leST STAY OUT OF Ech other’s way. I have one beautiful D’uccle rooster who came as a rescue, and Boy oh boy, does he have “attitude” This is what I love him for. He knows I AM the boss and is starting to comply..I AM the food sourceafter all. People come to take photos of my beautiful boys and fortunately I live where 14 rooster songs in the morning doesn’t offend the neighbours (I do give out eggs), Yes, some of us are a bit like “cat ladies” but what’s wrong with that? Loving the creatures God put on this earth is a “positive” in the lives of many..me included. Happy crowing!!

    Reply
    • Happy crowing indeed..i have 17 boys,love them all..and my morning choir ❤

      Reply
      • Are any of your boys mean or try to attach you? I’m guessing no since you said they’re nice. I have 1 roo and he has started to come after me and me only. I’m not sure why.

        Reply
  • Apologies for typo’s…Forgot to say..I’m known as the “Chook Lady” in the district…

    Reply
  • Very good article – thank you! I have hatched 5 roosters this year so far and I really don’t want to kill them. A bachelor pad sounds ideal! I was actually thinking about this yesterday and wondering if it would be feasible – now I know.

    Reply
  • Thank you for sharing your information. Chickens and rooster can coexist but sometimes roosters do need their own space. I have 45 hens and 6 roosters (ages 2 yr to 7 mos). They all live together under one roof (a 8’x48′ box trailer with a 60’x80′ fenced yard). The key is to have enough space for all of them to move about freely. I have not had any aggressive behaviors directed towards me. However, from time to time the roosters will test each other for their ranking.

    Reply
  • I inadvertently wound up with 5 roos to my 6 hens. Luckily, they were all hatchedv and raised together, so there’s very little fighting, and so far no injuries to anyone
    I’m slowly building my flock so ill have 4-6 hens per roo which I’ve read elsewhere can be a good ratio to give the girls a break from the ganging up that sometimes occurs when the ratio is off……

    Reply
  • Don’t keep the sweet rooster if you want chicks. I did and my eggs aren’t fertile.

    Reply
  • I currently have three roosters that I have not been able to find homes for. Two of them have their own coops and the third sleeps in a kennel at night and is moved into a pen during the day. I let one of them free range and found that he tries to fight through the fencing of the other two. If they don’t get along now, how do you incorporate them into one coop without them tearing each other to shreads?

    Reply
  • Sharon S.

    I found the article very informative since I am new at having chickens. Since some of my chickens was a straight run I may have a rooster or two not sure yet. So having some ideas is nice if there is more than one rooster. I have 25 chickens and all but one kind was suppose to be hens. My chickens are only 6 weeks old so don’t know if I have a rooster. Thankk you for the info.

    Reply
  • We have a bachelor pad for our roosters. It is not the rooster’s fault he was born a rooster. I do, however, have a comment regarding aggressive behavior mentioned in the article. I’ve raised chickens for almost 40 years now and my flock stands at about 130 right now. The roosters that turn on people tend to be the ones who are a little too comfortable with people. It’s the reason WHY he’s aggressive; he thinks you are a chicken competing for dominance. When I notice that one of my chicks is a rooster, I do stop coddling him as “special” and put a little healthy distance between us. If I do notice the early signs of aggression, either toward humans or toward hens, the rooster goes into the bachelor pad cage and a nicer one from there comes out. In my experience, it solves the aggression because there are no hens for which to compete and the other roosters put him in his place.

    Reply
    • And regarding the “crazy cat lady” comment above, my chickens are a business. I sell eggs and chicks professionally. I happen to have solved the rooster “problem” in this manner and it is refreshing to see others have arrived at a similar conclusion.

      Reply
  • What a great article! People need to know there are more options out there than just killing, or giving away. I could never give mine away. Because after all, how do you know their true intentions? I have many roosters. I find if they all come from the same run, that they usually get along pretty well. You introduce a different one, and size and age will play a huge role. I do have multiple pens, but there are plenty that free range also. Mine are bantams, so there are plenty of baby brawls. But with anything, a true leader usually emerges. I don’t usually pick them up, but I don’t too much with hens either. Also none are usually aggressive with me. Because as someone said earlier, I provide the food. Just know this can be done, and pretty easily with just a few materials. I love to watch and listen to all my birds. They all have their own distinct sounds and behaviors. So just know with a bit of effort, you can keep your roosters. And enjoy them daily.

    Reply
  • I wish I had the room and fencing for a rooster pad last year when 5 out of 9 hatched chicks were roosters. I tried so hard to rehome them but it just didn’t work. We ended up butchering them and it was really sad. We fed the meat to our dogs so it was put to good use but I really love all my birds and enjoy them so much. We have our 3 year old barred plymouth rock rooster Raven who is a great guardian for our hens and very respectful of me. He has a wonderful song that I find to be so relaxing first thing in the morning! Thank you for your articles. It is always good to read another person’s opinions!

    Reply
  • This is great information. Just a means to solving a minor rooster problem. I have 6 roosters in my backyard, free ranging. 2 large fowls and 4 Bantam roosters! They all get along. Roosters become ruthless during mating season. People forget that roosters are doing what roosters are suppose to do!!! So the next time your rooster attacks you, stop and think what month is it. Then ask yourself, how much time do you spend with them? Spending quality time and handling them daily, makes a big difference in the way they’ll act towards you.

    Reply
  • Say What you want, this does work. I have a large chicken enclosure with one central main pen, with six 10′ x 15′ side pens. The hens stay in the side pens, with one rooster per pen. The central pen has 23 roosters, no hens. There is an occasional pecking order squabble, but nothing serious. If one rooster is getting picked on too much, he gets rotated into a hen pen. I have only had one rooster try to attack me, he was given to me because he was attacking the original owner. He was soup within the week. I have nothing against culling excess roosters, but I keep a breeding stock of a bunch of different breeds, and I never like to have less than 2 of a particular breed.

    Reply
  • It is true that more than one rooster in a flock is a recipe for disaster. However, I have learned the wisdom of having one or two “backup” roosters in case something happens to Big Daddy. It is also not a bad idea to put Big Daddy on vacation and let one of his underlings run with the flock for a while. All this requires SECURE chicken housing and judicious use of pasture.

    If you can maintain a healthy flock of chickens…your family will always have something to eat.

    Reply
  • This was a very informative article. I have chickens and roosters, and I expect my latest hatch has another roo. I had no idea I could set up a bachelor pad, and I intend to do so this spring. Thank you for the tip. I never eat my chickens!! They are wonderful and very useful in the garden, yard, and pasture. If I am having a rough day, I sit out and watch my flocks for a half hour or so and I feel so much better. Wonderful creatures.

    Reply
  • Loved this article! We have about 75 chickens on our farm, which includes a Bachelor group of seven roosters. They live together and share a fence with our hens (plus our main rooster), and are kept separate uhtil we decide which ones we want to use to increase the size of our flock. Three of these seven boys are pets that we thoroughly enjoy! Our interactions with them are frequent and entertaining, and –yes– at this point it would be impossible to eat any one of the three. Thanks for considering all sides of the coin!

    Reply
  • Thanks for this article.

    I am a vegetarian and have been keeping chooks for 3 years now, usually around 10 chooks and 1-2 roosters (pythons in my area have caused a little “turnover”, and caused me to design increasingly secure pens, but that’s another story).

    I have no issues with killing excess roosters and either feeding them to my dog, or using them as compost under fruit trees (1 rooster = an extra 5 kilos of citrus…) but I have decided, upon reflection, that it’s morally inconsistent to do anything other than what is suggested here.

    So, a rooster batchelor pad it shall be.

    Reply
  • Would this work if I occasionally take a rooster out for breeding for a week or so and then place it back with the bachelors? I want to keep the roosters to breed, but I have different breeds and need to control the mating.

    Reply
  • While visiting, our son came upon 3 chickens in the road. He thought there was 2 males and a hen. He caught a rooster and brought it to us. We had to quickly build a temporary pen, as we were not set up for chickens yet. The next day 2 more were at the back door way up away from the river where the first one was. He caught them and is bringing them to us. So by default we have a bachelor pad. Looking to re-home them, but no one wants roosters at all, even for the hens protection. Looking for some free hens so if y’all have some out there in Texas near Boerne.. Oh my son had a man come by when he was trying to catch them and asked why he was catching them. At the time he thought there were a few hens. The man said nope, all roosters, and I dumped them. My son was quite angry, not legal to dump animals( why we have a bad feral hog problem) and raised domestically they didn’t have a chance in the wild. They should at least have a fighting chance. Article was great and I’m not against eating them, but re-homing them would be ideal.

    Reply
  • I do this also with the roosters. Most of the heritage breeds don’t have enough meat on them to be worth butchering, but they can provide fertilizer for organic farms by being put in large chicken tractors and moved every few days around the field. They can be fed whole corn and table scraps, in addition to the greens and bugs they get from the field, making it much cheaper than feeding hens since the hens need more protein.

    Reply
  • I have 300 hens and 6 roosters. Each of the roosters have their favorite hens, that being said if I.e of the guys tries to horn in on one of the fav’s the boys fight. I have only had 2 of the roosters try to hurt me, the old adage of carry a big stick has worked wonders. My black copper Moran ee mix is the only rooster I had to fight with my big stick. knocked him out and he rolled down the hill, he got up 15 minutes later and he’s never tried to hurt me since. All of my rooster watch out for my girls. If one roo makes the call all the others start getting the girls to the coop. None of these animals are pets, they are working animals but for ME eating them is not an option..

    Reply
  • I have about 300 hens and 6 roosters. My guys only fight when some one tries horning in on a favorite hen. Each of the guys have their fav’s. I have a Black Copper Moran EE mix that tried to hurt me, the old adage of carry a big stick worked when I had to defend myself and knocked him out. He rolled down the hill, 15 minutes later he got up and hasn’t tried to attack me since. None of my birds are pets but for ME eating them is not an option.

    Reply
  • I incubate eggs every spring so around half of the offspring are roosters. As soon as they start crowing, I start butchering the juveniles. Usually, 2 or 3 at a time. I leave the most desirable roosters (size, disposition, looks) alive. Eventually, only one (the best one) remains. He will father next year’s offspring (unless I get a new rooster to prevent inbreeding). This is a rite of passage. It has been for generations.
    My older son is 10. He’s been asking me for at least 3 years to show him how the butchering is done. Finally this year, I reckoned he was ready. I explained to him that God put many animal species on the Earth to be food for humans. I said that why we respect and appreciate these animals. I also said that butchering is a necessary act and should be done in the most peaceful way possible. My son witnessed his first butchering and was ok with it. We was moved but I talked him through it. He has satisfied his curiosity.

    Reply
  • Chu Hua L.

    I have total 14 bantam Serama and Serama mixed breed roosters, because every time I hatched the eggs, I got a lot more roosters than hens, 14 rooster v.s. 6 hens. Since I am a vegetarian, I will never kill them for food. I might re-home them in the future, but right now I am keeping them in 3 separated pens. One roosters attacked me many times, but I just train him to respect me as “head rooster”. Other roosters are living peacefully with each other, at least they haven’t hurt each other too much that would cause big injuries.

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  • I am not allowed to have roosters in my suburban neighborhood because of the crowing. I have three cockerels that just began crowing last week and one younger chicken that I am sure is a cockerel. I have had no success finding homes for them. I was wondering if keeping them inside at night and early morning (most annoying crow time) in a large aviary with time outside during the day in a “bachelor pad” separate from the hens (they free range) would work. We have a neighbor with dogs that bark all day and macaws that make noise all day. Certainly crowing can’t be worse.

    Reply
  • Thank you for the article. I am against killing animals simply because of their gender as each has a purpose and function to perform. This is the first time I have seen anything to address what to do with the roosters. Currently, we are not allowed roosters in our city but we are moving out of the city with the intent to raise our own meat and egg birds. Again, thank you! One more thing to consider and prepare for.

    Reply
  • I raise, breed and show, and sell bantam australorps. I have to keep them until they havetheir adult feathers before culling ( someone takes them from me) for color. since I need males to sell with the females ,I have to keep them. I have10 roosters right now that run in a 10′ by 20′ pen during the day. at night I have to put them into separate cages or they fight. my roosters have never tried to hurt me. The most some have done is grab my hand, when I’m putting them up at night, and hold on as if they had a females neck and they are trying to mate. this doesn’t hurt since they are under 2 lbs.

    Reply

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You Don't Need a Rooster Rescue, Set Up a Bachelor Pad Instead

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