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Chicken Mating Habits: Learning About Roosters

4/14/2010 4:05:10 PM

Tags: Chickens, Hens, Roosters

A photo of MichelleHello Everyone! Spring is in the air!

How do I know this? Mating attempts have picked up with my 2 very fine boys. Now, growing up on a farm I have witnessed this wonderful time when the animals are feeling the love. Well, I am telling you right now, I am greatly disappointed in the roosters attempt to love their hens!

Let me go back a ways and tell you about Cashmere. He, as you know is my very aggressive Welsummer, which can be a good thing. But when he was just learning he was a male he was like a male dog out of control. Oh no, not with the girls, he decided my stuffed fuzzy teddy bear just had to be loved and loved a lot! When he felt he had done his job he would run over to the dogs bed and love on the corner of it. I must admit in some sick way it was the funniest thing I had ever seen, and he was so proud. He would prance around when he was done just singing like he was the “Man.”

Chatty, on the other hand never found anything interesting unless it was breathing and looked like a hen. I got to witness his first attempts, and I would say he just didn’t seem to get what needed to be done. My hen would watch him as he did what we call the “Happy Dance” around her, his head and body leaning in towards her. Once he got closer, she kneeled down like she should, and he mounted. Good so far. Problem was he didn’t know her tail needed to be up and out of the way. He sprayed my floor. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, I sure did. After a few times of him doing this over the next few days, he finally figured it out. We cheered for the boy, and the hen ran away.

Seems the 2 boys finally figured out what and who they were suppose to be mating with, so I was pleased. Chatty, being a Buff Orpington is a very big heavy boy, and he loves his littlest girls. Poor Bowzer who is as small as a Silky caught his eye on day. She was smart and got down quick but as soon as he put one foot on her a egg shot out! It hadn’t formed its hard shell so it exploded as it hit the ground. Bowzer was not a happy camper, I can tell you that. She ran over to the egg and put up quite a fuss. She learned when he does his “Happy Dance” to run as far away as she can now. Well, until yesterday.

We finally went and did our taxes, and the weather was so nice, I put all the girls from the basement coop out into the run with Cashmere. Cashmere woudn’t stop crowing, so I had to bring him in. I thought this would be a good time for Chatty to say “Hi” to the girls again. While we were gone Bowzer must have forgotten to run. My poor little girl was limping, and he had put so much pressure on her that part of her vent lining was exposed. Normally I have Tucks for an old dog, but I couldn’t find them. But I have DMSO, which is used on horses for muscle swelling or damage. I first washed her back area, then put a warm wet washcloth on her vent area while I held her. She enjoyed this so much she fell asleep.

DMSO is very strong, so you need very little, and you do not want to touch it! Why, you ask? Any that gets on your skin will make you taste a strong garlic-like favor that takes forever to go away. I learned about this as a teen on our farm, we used it on our cows, sheep and dogs for sprains, muscle tension or swelling. This morning when I checked on Bowzer, her vent was back to normal, but to be on the safe side I fed her greek yogurt and very wet feed last night. I knew I could handle the diarrhea much easier than her having to strain and injure herself more. Now she is still limping, so will retreat the leg with the DMSO and keep her quiet in the bathroom. Chatty did this to Mae-Belle also, not the vent injury but the leg injury so bad she could no longer use it. Mae-Belle was bigger but didn’t know to get down as quick and suffered for it.

Cashmere, on the other hand, is still doing fine with his mating, no teddy bear for him now. Though he is very tall, he weighs next to nothing, so the girls handle him well. Plus some of the bigger girls just peck at him to chase him off if they are not in the mood. His poor crown area is always scabbed up from the bossy girls in his bunch. I have decided now that Chatty, though a sweet boy, has got to have the heavier girls who can handle him. If you have ever heard the term “Big Lug” that fits him to a T. So once Bowzer is better she will go back with Cashmere until I get my Silkie male, and any other little girls I have or get will be with him. I know chickens really don’t have expressions, but I swear when that egg shot out of Bowzer  she was in shock and her little face got this distressed look of “My baby!” You couldn’t help laughing, but I did pick her up and remove her from the area while I cleaned up the egg. She’d had enough stress for one day.

I never realized the roosters will mate with whatever size hen that gets in their way. There were 4 larger girls in there with Chatty, but he had to pick on Bowzer. Well, I have learned another chicken lesson, fit the hens to the size or weight of the rooster! Even though it’s entertaining I hate the fact they end up with bad leg injuries. So it’s another day, and I will be getting 5 new hens from my neighbor soon. These girls are about 2 yrs old and big enough to handle Chatty (I hope). But I am sure I will see more eggs fly across the run eventually. Too bad he doesn’t understand “Bad Boy!” Or is a tad bit pickier about who he mounts.

Until next time, have a great chicken day!



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michele' preston
3/7/2011 7:45:29 PM
Teddy that is one question I am unsure of...does he do it just before he mounts the hen? or is this something he is just doing? is he also moving the rest of his body differently....I know when they decide to mate they will do a funny little dance sliding up to the side of the hen or dance around them....they sometimes move their heads differently as well.....he could also have something stuck in his throat that he is trying to loosen...I have a little crippled female that does that after she has eaten too fast or got too much water at one time...its very weird to see & a bit scary as it is so adnormal....You may have a rooster with the same thing mine has..... but watch him if his comb starts turning purple he is not getting enough oxygen....check his crop & make sure the feed in it isn't rock hard...if it is get water in him...use a turkey baster, eye dropper whatever you can do to get water in him...then massage the crop to loosen the food so it can move...if you know its been in there a long time or his mouth smells rotten....get as much water as you can in there, massage it til very lose then turn him upside down by his feet & force the food out by pushing on it to make him throw up.....but to be honest it sounds like my hen & she is fine...just weird to see...good luck with your boy...Michele'

Teddy and Tina
3/3/2011 8:10:31 AM
Why has my rooster started swinging his head from side to side? He is moving it side to side like a snake. Really weird looking

Lori Harris
7/7/2010 9:08:28 AM
We are new to raising chickens and have 2 roosters and 4 hens. Our largest hen today looked like she had all the feathers plucked from her back and some raw places that had some larva all over it. She was not this way yesterday evening. She was resting/hiding for a bit, but is now up walking around some. I am concerned and am wondering if this is mating ritual. Our rooster is very large and has been trying to mate with her. Any advice to how to care for her back and if we need to seclude her for a while?

michele' preston
5/7/2010 12:47:27 PM
thank you for the comments, yes Rodeo princess the roosters can damage a hen...you are lucky that you have not had to experience...if you have a bantem size hen & a large weighty buff Orpington get on top of the hen when she hasn't gotten down, the legs can & do slip out from under them causing some minor legs injuries sometimes...as for the vent..have you heard of a prolapsed vent? that is what occurred...if you are lucky it can heal itself & the swelling goes down...hens can have this happen if they lay a too large egg as well. Its sometimes so bad they have to be put down but I have been blessed by isolating my girls & keeping them away from the rooster for a bit. I can not free range my girls so they are in large runs & when my rooster(s)get feisty sometimes small injuries happen, I just happen to see a lot more than most because I spend so much time out with my chickens & record what I see happen. Thank you Dave for the nice note, yes the boys have finally figured out the mating & everyone seems quite happy now....Chatty & Cashmire both have a special girl that follows them around....very cute....M'

Rodeo Princess
4/28/2010 12:10:06 PM
Are you sure that the roosters are causing your leg injuries? I have no experience with anything like that - and we have every size rooster and every size hen as we have for twenty five years and that has just not been my experience at all. The vent injury confuses me also, as the vent is resilient and expandable enough to push out an egg. So --- how is it possible that a rooster damaged it? The only thing that ever happens to our hens is a few lost feathers. We find that the roosters are excellent fathers, wondrous at guarding the flock and with minimum interference from us, the flock just percolates along, we have a steady stream of healthy babies and fine healthy adult birds. Our chickens are free to roam anywhere.

Nebraska Dave
4/14/2010 5:19:41 PM
Michele, I didn’t know that chicken mating could be so stressful. I can’t remember having any roosters in with the chickens when I was growing up. We had chicken just long enough (6 weeks) to make fried chicken out of them. Mom did all the processing herself and I’d get to clean out the coop. I take it you want to hatch the eggs into little chicks. We always mail ordered ours. It was an exciting day when the chicks arrived. In my experience chickens aren’t the brightest animal on the farm. If frightened,they can cram into a corner and suffocate. If left outside during rain they will look up which causes water to run down their beak nose holes and drown. They are truly amazing weed, seed, and bug eaters. It is soothing to listen to the hen chicken sounds as they scratch around the yard. I hope all your boy chickens learn how to be men and become the best roosters they can be.



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