A few weeks back we moved four young cockerels up into one of the stables. Three reasons. One: they had started fighting with each other and they don't hold back. Two: they had started harassing the hens too much. Three: they needed to fatten up.
Too many cockerels in the chicken pen just causes stress for everyone. As soon as we remove a few, the whole place settles down. Calm pecking about takes over from manic chasing around.
We have left two cockerels. One, the big white one, tends to stay in the chicken pen and keep the girls in order there. The other, the barred grey one which used to jump into the food bucket as we carried it along, hops the fence and spends the day wandering the farm with his harem. Together they do a good job. They are bossy enough to keep everyone in order, but gentle enough to look after their girls.
As for the cockerels which moved into the stable, don't worry. It's not like some fenland cockfighting pit! For once removed from the girls they settle down and chill out ... and fatten up.
But the boys have been ejected from their stable again since it is needed as a lambing pen and the other two stables are occupied by the geese. Enter at your peril as there are three nests set up within.
Fortunately we have acquired some moveable fencing which means we can easily build extensions and partitions in the chicken pen. And so last weekend I set them up a new home. It's got all the conveniences a chicken needs - a house, a feeder and a water trough. It's got grass, even a couple of small trees, fresh air and sky.
All in all it's a more interesting place for the cockerels than the stable. In fact it's a little too interesting for them because, just on the other side of the fence cluck the hens and strut the two chosen cockerels. It's like letting a child look at the toys but not touch.
I was a little worried that all of this would get their testosterone going again and, to begin with, it did. But after a few hours the four boys settled down. They all went into their house together on the first night and they haven't looked back since then. What's more, I swear that they have grown noticeably since moving back outside.
Once the boys are gone (don't ask where!), I'm planning on using the new extension to house a trio of Ixworth chickens which will give us a constant supply of meat birds. There's also enough fencing to build a nice new enclosure for the three turkeys which should be coming soon.