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Author Topic: How many cockerels to keep?  (Read 2663 times)


  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Wicklow, Ireland
    • My Overcrowded Garden
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How many cockerels to keep?
« on: August 21, 2013, 10:50:49 pm »
I bought 12 day old la bresse meat birds earlier in the year and planned to breed from the best of this batch. I now have 5 hens and 7 cockerels at 15 weeks. The time has come for the surplus cockerels to meet their maker. I had planned all along to keep the best cockerel for breeding to a few of the hens. I am now wondering what if the one cockerel I keep turns out to be infertile, gay, dies etc? Should I keep a second cockerel as a back up?

I don't have a huge amount of space. I have a laying flock in an enclosed run which i had intended to add these birds in with over the winter and then separate them out when i want to breed from them next year. The birds are already fighting a bit and I can only see this getting worse as time goes on. Is there a feasible way to keep two cocks with the one flock or am I just going to have to keep my fingers crossed that the cockerel I pick has enough in the trouser department to keep me in meat birds for the next year?


  • Joined May 2013
Re: How many cockerels to keep?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 10:56:47 pm »
if it was me id keep the best 2 then decide which is the keeper in new year.
my favourite potential cockeral last year ended up with crooked feet so we kept the 2nd choice bird. id have been gutted if i only had the one bird.


  • Joined Apr 2012
  • Wicklow, Ireland
    • My Overcrowded Garden
    • Facebook
Re: How many cockerels to keep?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 11:07:29 pm »
That is what I was worried about. I don't want to isolate one of the cockerels but I don't know if the two will get along in the same enclosure. There are 9 hens and 4 ducks in the laying flock. I wonder would there be enough ladies for the two of them to not to fight too much? At least til the new year anyway


  • Joined Aug 2009
  • North East Fife
Re: How many cockerels to keep?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2013, 10:44:25 am »
is there anyway to separate one of the cockerels with a few girls - or move to the laying pen for a few months. My experiences of multiple cockerels in an enclosed space has not been good!

if the birds were free range i would think they would manage to keep their distance of each other - i'm currently running 3 adult, 2 youngsters and probably three chicks along side my 15ish layers and the ducks, but mine only have to sleep in the same house - during the day they have 360 acres to spread across. and have very few issues (though this number will be getting seriously reduced)


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: How many cockerels to keep?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2013, 03:25:41 am »
We were in a similar position earlier this year FrostyM. We ended up keeping two cockerels separately just as a backup to the ageing cockerel with the three hens. The idea of two was to keep each other company.

We have been in the position of having 3 cockerels and 'losing' them all. The first one was sold to a breeder who had just discovered her cockerel was infertile, the second died in a fox attack a few weeks later and the last badly injured himself (twisted leg), went onto anti-inflammatories and subsequently had a heart attack. We had to buy a replacement.

That was just bad luck Frosty and two should be fine. Problem is with just 5 hens two cockerels with them will probably fight. If you split them up into two flocks you will get over-trodden hens. So I think with limited space you will, as you say, have to pick one and hope.

You could pick one and try him out before despatching all the rest perhaps. Keep two more, as we have done. Then when the hens start to lay and the chosen cockerel is treading them you could check the blastoderm, which we have found is very noticeable after a few days of egg storage at room temperature. Darkbrowneggs has a site showing the blastoderm which should come up with a Google search.



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