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Back Garden Chicken Keeping Series – Issue 6

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Article written by 30 August 2012

Cock-a-doodle-DO or Cock-a-doodle-DON’T?

We currently have three cockerels living with us at Warwickshire Chicken Coop. Each cockerel is kept in a separate pen and has between 40 and 15 hens to himself at any given time.

The obvious downside to the cockerels is the noise they make, which is clearly not ideal for you or your neighbours. However if you don’t mind, and  if you do not have neighbours (or do not have neighbours that will object to the noise) a cockerel is a lovely addition.

In my experience of keeping ‘boys’ as they are affectionately known, is that they only crow when they are trying to impress then hens, asserting their position in the flock and around regular meal times (breakfast, lunch and supper) Today my boys have been very quiet and I suspect this is because the sun is shinning, they have the hens around them and they are contented. I am lucky enough to have one cockerel who I haven’t yet heard crow! They usually find their voice around 16 weeks old and most start shouting about it straight away. Some are naturally quieter and buying from a reputable breeder will hopefully ensure honestly about the volume!

The huge bonus of keeping a cockerel is that he will keep your hens in order. He will automatically be the top of the pecking order and he will ‘break-up’ any squabbling that happens lower down. I recently added a cockerel to my flightiest flock of hens and within a week or so they had settled down completely, to the point of letting me fuss them, which was previously impossible. The hens seem more content with a male around, and he is a fantastic defender against Mr. Fox as well.

Like all birds, the male is incredibly handsome and he is a huge source of entertainment and quite a spectacle as he valiantly struts about amongst his ladies. Some cockerels can be vicious and aggressive (a bit like humans!) and it is not wise to take on a cockerel of this nature. However with enough space, enough hens and enough to occupy them, cockerels are generally friendly creatures, although they are unlikely to let you pick them up or leap on your lap that often.

If you are considering keeping a cockerel, you will need at least eight hens per one cockerel and you should never keep more than one cockerel per hen flock.

Jenna Jack

Owner and director of Warwickshire Chicken Coop "We are a family run business who is passionate and knowledgeable about all things chicken! Our love of chickens started when we had four in our own back garden to supply us with daily eg.. Read more.

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