How Many Roosters Per Hen? Perfect Ratio You Should Know

Tanya Parkhi
Feb 22, 2023 By Tanya Parkhi
Originally Published on Nov 11, 2021
Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala
Colorful rooster trying to find food in grass.

Though chickens are able to lay eggs on their own, having a rooster is handy when you want to produce more chicks.

Besides helping to fertilize eggs, introducing roosters into backyard flocks can help to create a flock mentality, keep your hens safe and create a sense of security. However, it is important to get the hen to rooster ratio right in this scenario, as too many roosters may result in chaos and mayhem instead!

The number of hens needed per rooster depends on different breeds and flocks.

Smaller breeds usually need fewer hens, whereas energetic ones may need 12 per rooster! Roosters are also able to form peaceful flocks of their own, opposed to when they are kept with hens, which can cause them to become aggressive.

Though roosters in a flock may have an established pecking order, young males can always try to topple the alpha, which can lead to infighting.

If you have many roosters, it is advised to divide your chickens into several small flocks in your backyard and give them all their own space, keeping one rooster per flock. Keeping too many young roosters in a confined space can lead to competition and, as they are very noisy, complaints from your neighbors!

To know how you can home your roosters and hens in order to keep them happy, read on!

If you enjoy this article, check out more fun facts posts. We recommend that you read how many eggs do hens lay and how long do rabbits live.

What is the perfect rooster to hen ratio?

Though it is widely debated, people generally consider 1:10 to be the perfect rooster to hen ratio for backyard chicken breeds.

Though chickens lay eggs almost every 24 hours, a rooster is required to actually fertilize these eggs.

The eggs which we eat as a part of our diet generally come from chickens that do not mate; hence these eggs are unfertilized. Roosters are kept when a farmer wants to increase the population of egg-laying chickens or produce many chickens to sell as poultry by obtaining fertile eggs.

Hens get along fine without roosters, as they do not feel the need to mate frequently and are able to lay eggs regardless.

Roosters, on the other hand, are infamous for their constant need to mate, which is why they should only be kept with chickens if you wish to obtain fertilized eggs.

Roosters can mate 10-30 times a day, which is why it is crucial to keep track of the male to female ratio when keeping roosters with laying hens so as not to cause the hens any distress or exhaustion.

Keeping the recommended ratio in mind, the ideal example is 8-10 hens for every one rooster. However, this can depend slightly on the type of chicken breed.

Lightweight chickens, such as leghorns and Fayoumis, can have a higher ratio (12 hens for every one rooster) as they are more active, and keeping fewer hens may cause them stress and injury.

Mellow breeds, such as bantam, silkies, and Orpingtons, can be kept with six chickens per one rooster, as the roosters are much less energetic, and keeping more hens may lead to some of them being ignored. Otherwise, the ideal number of hens for every one rooster is considered to be ten when it comes to standard backyard chicken breeds.

Though small bantam roosters are unassuming, they may attack bigger roosters. This is also true for other smaller breeds, where the roosters end up being quite headstrong.

Even when keeping the ideal ratio, some roosters may be overzealous or aggressive while mating.

This is more commonly seen among younger roosters, who may accidentally injure hens while mating. It is important to keep an eye out for any battered-looking hens in case this happens, and then separate the roosters from the flock to let them take a breather.

In case you notice that any girls have broken feathers or seem to be avoiding the rooster in question, it may be time to change out the rooster for another one.

Roosters and hens must not be kept together full time, as it may produce an excess of fertilized eggs (leading to chicks), as well as tire out the hens.

Roosters can be let into the hen's enclosures once or twice a week, or healthy free-range chickens can be allowed to mate with neighboring roosters occasionally in order to obtain fertile eggs.

These eggs typically hatch in 21 days.

The rooster to hen birth ratio is 50:50, in which male and female chicks can be obtained equally. After hatching, the young chickens must be separated, as an equal number of males and females can cause chaos and mayhem due to heightened competition.

What is the pecking order?

The pecking order refers to a complex social hierarchy that chickens have among themselves. Each chicken in the flock has its own place, which it should be able to recognize and act according to. Though it is a quite complicated structure, it can be broken down in terms of three distinct relationships.

Rooster to rooster relationships are those in which the smarter and more mature roosters are on the top of the hierarchical ladder. These are called alpha roosters.

These roosters are considered the strongest of the flock and take the helm when it comes to protecting the flock and finding food sources. In return for the security that alpha roosters provide, they get benefits such as having the first pick when it comes to perches, posts, food, and hens.

Any roosters weaker than the alphas are called secondary roosters. They receive no such benefits as the head does and can only choose hens to mate with after the alpha gets his pick.

Once in a while, a younger, stronger rooster may come along and try to take the leader's place in the pack. They may be able to take him down if he is weaker, injured, or old at this point, and the new rooster then assumes the position of alpha.

Hen to hen relationships are when the hens chosen by the alpha rooster are not far behind him in the hierarchical order. These birds receive special attention from the alpha rooster, with the remaining hens coming after them.

The secondary roosters come last with regards to the flock. With regards to other hens, these hens receive better perches, the best bits of food, and are usually followed by the alpha when he wishes to mate. A secondary hen will not be pursued by the alpha very often.

Rooster to hen relationships are when roosters typically fight over hens when there are too many of them. When the ideal ratio is adhered to, the alpha will get the first pick of hens and will mate mainly with them.

The remaining hens are then chosen by the secondary males.

They may not be exclusive to a single rooster, and the secondary males may end up fighting over them. In cases of an excess of both hens and roosters, it is advised to divide them up further into smaller flocks to keep competition under control or separate the roosters from the hens several times a week.

In terms of hierarchy, the alpha male rules the roost, followed by his chosen hens, the remaining hens, and lastly, the secondary hens.

Having a rooster in the flock promotes more focused and peaceful flock behavior among free-range chickens.

A rooster works hard to ensure his place as alpha and will take extra efforts to make sure the hens are safe and well-fed and that everyone in the flock is safe. He provides extra security by making sure the hens are safe while feeding and by keeping a lookout for any predators.

Good roosters will stand their ground in the face of attack and fight any intruders as well as any rival roosters to keep the hens and chicks safe.

How many roosters should you keep?

The number of roosters you need definitely depends on the number of hens which you are planning to keep in your backyard. Though the recommended number of hens per rooster is 8-10, this may change from flock to flock.

So, for example, if you have 20 hens, it is advised to keep two roosters so that no hens are left ignored.

On the contrary, it isn't recommended to keep too many roosters either. If there are fewer hens in comparison to roosters, it may cause hens to experience exhaustion and stress due to frequent mating.

Healthy males are prone to mate at least 10-20 times a day, and having fewer girls will drive them to become overworked. Hence it is recommended to keep more hens so that roosters may mate with a different one each time.

Having too many roosters also leads to conflict and competition among the birds, as they may fight over hens and the right to become the alpha of the flock.

If you own an excess of roosters, you may want to separate them from your hens and keep them together in what is known as a 'bachelor pad'.

If you are planning to do so, then it is advised to raise them together instead of rounding them up together as adults. Roosters raised together will establish a set pecking order as they spend most of their time together, which will lead to less fighting.

It is also easier to add new members to these flocks, as they will assume positions at the bottom.

Raising roosters together without the presence of hens actually prompts them to get along very well with each other and keeps fighting to a minimum. When needed, they can be released into the hen's territory one at a time and can be changed out whenever necessary.

If you have more hens, you can also create several small flocks and assign a single rooster to each flock, which prevents conflict over territory, food, and mating rights.

Do note that if you are planning to create separate flocks, keep them in their own territories.

Adequate space must be given to each flock, and they must be separated by fencing or wiring so that competition does not ensue. Young roosters are also quite energetic when mating and can be aggressive, causing distress to hens, which is why you should always keep an eye out for destructive behavior.

Frequent rough mating can cause bald spots, broken feathers and other injuries to your hens, which makes them weaker and unable to lay eggs properly.

Tips For Keeping Roosters Together

When keeping roosters together, make sure that there are no hens present, as it will cause conflict and competition over who gets to mate with them, turning them aggressive. Without the presence of hens, roosters can be kept together quite easily, as they get along well.

If you have an excess of roosters, then you can construct a male-only coop separate from the rest of the flock, where you can raise the roosters peacefully.

When kept with hens, roosters have an inherent trait to try and provide security to the flock. This can make them quite territorial and competitive in nature, which is why it is advised not to add a higher percentage of roosters. It can cause an imbalance in the perfect hen to rooster ratio, which is around 1:8-10.

Penning up roosters separately from the flock a few times a week is also recommended to give the hens a rest from continuously mating. Too much mating can overexert your chickens and cause them to become weaker and undernourished, which is why it is important to give them a break.

Do keep in mind that a large space is required when hosting roosters, as they can be very noisy and hate being cooped up.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'How many roosters per hen?' then why not take a look at 'How many lives do cats have?' or 'Rooster facts'.

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Written by Tanya Parkhi

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya Parkhi picture

Tanya ParkhiBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.

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Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah Gulbargawala picture

Amatullah GulbargawalaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah is a passionate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from Ashoka College of Education. With a keen interest in literature, she has excelled in elocution competitions and is an accomplished writer. She has completed courses like "History of English Language and Literature", "Introduction to Western Political Thought and Theory", and "Development of Soft Skills and Personality". In her free time, Amatullah enjoys reading books and writing poetry.

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