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The simple and straight forward process for selecting a rooster or rooster to introduce into an existing flock of laying hens.
I have chronicled my journey as a backyard laying hen for the past 10+ years on this blog.
It’s been a fun and highly successful endeavor that has provided our family with the highest quality eggs and minimal problems for over a decade.
Contrary to the old adage, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” my husband and I recently decided to add a rooster to the mix…
The following reasons are why we made this big change after so many years:
- I want to hatch my own chicks to ensure the long-term viability of our flock without depending on the increasingly dystopian chick hatcheries.
- Raising my own chicks from fertilized eggs to adult chickens will produce healthier birds that will not be traumatized by the medicalization of chick hatcheries and the inhumane shipping process.
- A rooster’s watchful eyes will help protect my hens from red-tailed hawks that have migrated to our area over the past year.
- I want to take our home egg laying operation to the next level of sustainability without depending on the commercial egg industry.
Choosing the best rooster
When choosing a rooster for your laying flock, it is very important to make a wise choice.
I am fortunate to have a rooster sanctuary not far from my home.
This farmer takes in young roosters from people who have been raising chicks and accidentally gotten a rooster instead of a hen from a feed store or hatchery.
This gave me the opportunity to observe numerous roos before settling on Rocky (picture above).
Rocky is huge but very gentle and doesn’t burden people (a common aggressive behavior to watch out for).
Because I wanted to introduce Rocky to an existing flock of adult hens with an established pecking order, a rooster or small rooster would not make it.
I needed a big guy who could keep up from day one.
I also needed a big rooster that could repel hawk attacks on my girls. This has become an increasingly distressing problem for me over the past year (never has been a problem in previous years).
Although Rocky is barely a year old, he fits in every way.
Is quarantine necessary? Yes and no
Many online sources will tell you that a two week quarantine is necessary before introducing a new chicken(s) into an existing flock.
However, the farmer who runs the rooster sanctuary told me that this might not be necessary.
First, my flock was all hens with no existing rooster to compete with Rocky.
He would be the alpha from the start.
Second, since he had been caring for Rocky for many months and his chickens were all healthy (they lived in the same community as mine), I was able to immediately introduce Rocky to the chickens with very little to no chance of communicable diseases.
Third, Rocky is huge and could easily hold his own against any bullying tactic a grumpy hen might try.
Introduction of a rooster into a flock of chickens
After considering what Farmer Del had told me, I decided to introduce Rocky right away, even though I had already set up a quarantine area for him if needed.
I also decided to introduce him in the middle of the day instead of at night after all the hens rested as some sources recommended.
The reason for this was based solely on Rocky’s size.
He wouldn’t be bullied, so there was no need to sneak him into the coop at night while the chickens were sleeping.
How did it go?
Rocky’s introduction to my chickens was nothing short of hilarious.
When I opened the travel cage and released it into the pen, the hens looked completely shocked and amazed.
They literally didn’t know what to do with themselves 😂
Rocky fit right in. No ruffled feathers or feelings at all.
My one grumpy hen has tried to challenge him a couple of times, but Rocky’s size handles the situation with no worries.
In the coming weeks I will be writing about my adventures with Rocky and the chickens.
I look forward to collecting fertilized eggs to compare to unfertilized eggs for differences in taste and storage.
I am also looking forward to starting hatching my own chicks.
What is Rocky’s race?
By the way, if any of you have any idea what Rocky’s breed might be, please let me know in the comments below.
Bauer Dell considers himself a blend.
My guess is an Orpington/Plymouth Rock mix?