Introducing a New Rooster to the Flock
Kevin Felts 10.30.13
My wife and I recently obtained a Heinz-57 rooster for the purpose of building a self-sustaining chicken flock. The rooster is going from being wild, never handled, and roosting in trees at night, to being in a chicken house with a dozen hens who have socialized with people their entire lives.
The rooster looks like it has some Nankin in it. Its spurs were maybe one and a quarter inches long.
When introducing new chickens to the flock they should be quarantined for at least 2 weeks.
My wife and I broke protocol and introduced the roosters into the chicken house tonight. We don’t have a spare chicken yard to quarantine the roosters.
Both of the roosters are probably just as small or smaller then my smallest hen.
I suspect the small size is due to lack of a proper diet, or they are bantam. Unlike a lot of chickens that are sold on the American market (which have European heritage), Bantam originate from Indonesia.
It was not my intention to introduce a Bantam breed to my flock, but that’s the way it worked out. During the spring of 2014 my wife and I plan on buying 2 dozen more chickens — one dozen Buff Orpingtons and one dozen Dominickers, and a rooster for each breed. This will give us around 3 dozen chickens and around 3 roosters.
My wife and I arrived at home shortly after dark with the roosters in their own boxes.
Wearing red headlights, my wife and I used pruning shears to cut the tip of the spurs off, then scissors to cut the flight feathers off one wing.
The spurs bled a little bit, and I felt bad about that. But I saw it as the lesser of the two evils.
The rooster was set on the perch in the chicken house. There was no fuss, no nothing. It was like “this is new…” The only light entering the chicken house was from a security light several hundred feet away.
An Hour Later
I was checking on the chickens every 15 minutes or so using a red headlight.
The rooster had moved his way into the middle of the hens, then started making purring/cooing sounds. The hens puled in around the red rooster; maybe it was in response to the cooing/purring sounds.
The Next Morning
The first morning went well. There was no fighting in the chicken house as the sun came up.
I opened the door to let the chickens out. The hens dropped down from the perch, grabbed a quick bite to eat from the feeder, then out the door they went to start their day.
This has been their routine for over a year. But from about May 2013 – August 2013 there has been an attached 6×12 run the hens stayed in. After my wife and I got moved to the farm, the chickens have several acres to free range.
For the past month and a half, the chickens exit the house and the leave the chicken yard to start their day.
As the girls exited the house, the new rooster found himself alone and in a new place. He started making all kinds of noises. I figure once he gets out of the coop everything will be okay.
But when I got home the next day, both roosters were gone.
I found one rooster in a tree line around 150 yards behind the house. I got in the tree line and tried to push the rooster back to the hens, but he disappeared into the woods.
I looked until 8:30 last night with a flashlight and was unable to find the rooster.
Some hen scratch was thrown into the woods close to my house, so I left hoping the rooster would come back.
When my wife and I got home, I looked out in the backyard, and that red rooster was standing at the fence looking at the hens.
The hens were kept in the chicken yard because my cousin saw a chicken hawk attack one of my Rhode Island Reds. My cousin’s dog chased the hawk off the chicken.
Anyway, the red rooster was just standing there looking at the hens. As soon as he saw me open the back door. he took off running straight to the tree line.
I paid attention to where the rooster went into the trees, then set out a bowl of food, a bowl of water, and a closed live trap.
I made a plan to feed and water the rooster next to the live trap this week, then move the food into the trap this weekend. The idea was to see if the rooster lived until the weekend, and then trap him and put him in the chicken yard.
My wife and I got home from work. I went to the restroom while my wife went to see if the rooster was outside.
When I went outside, she yelled that she found him.
The rooster, even though one wing was clipped, had worked his way 8 feet up in a tree. He was in a spot where he could see the hens, but he was also well hidden.
After dark. my wife and I walked out to the tree where the rooster was. We were using red headlamps to cut down on the white light.
My dad told me that if I used a board to gently nudge the chicken off its perch, it will step off onto the board. I got a 1×4 6 feet long, reached up to where the rooster was at, gently nudged its claws, then its breast, and it stepped off its perch and onto the 1×4.
The rooster was slowly lowered down to where I could get it. Everything was fine until I wrapped my fingers around the rooster and took him off the board. He started screaming like I was killing him. After less than a minute of yelling the rooster settled down.
My wife and I checked his spurs to make sure they were not infected. They looked good, so we put him back in the chicken house with the hens.
He walked around a few minutes inside the chicken house, then jumped up on the perch to join the hens.
Ten Days After Introduction
The rooster is going into the chicken coop at night with no problems. In fact, sometimes he is the first one in the house in the evenings.
He has a certain spot on the perch he likes to roost on, which is directly above the trap door.
During the day, the rooster still keeps his distance from the main flock. There are a couple of hens he seems interested in, but no serious courtship yet.
I have a Rhode Island Red hen that goes broody from time to time. I hope the rooster and the hen can hook up to give me some chicks.
The white rooster has not been seen or heard from, so I seriously doubt he is coming back.