Guard dog hens (Chicken Little)
I have a Buff Orpington, and he does a great job alerting the hens AND me to any danger at all. Cats, hawks, noises that he doesn't know are safe, unwanted people (um, well, I welcome them but he won't allow them in the pen at all). I can't free range mine, we have way too many hawks/owls and other predators that are a danger to them. I have a large round pen with wire across the top, but he still alerts. I've been working hard to learn his calls (regular egg song, regular crow, distress song, distress crow, little squabble noises he makes, etc), watching the hens react helps to learn them quicker for me too.
OK, but roosters are like that in general, right? Would a hen have the same guard dog qualities.
Most any rooster will alert to potential danger. The ones that aren't much good at this are the ones that can't see anything above them, like silkies and Polish. I was at a large swap one time next to a guy that had a whole bunch of Bantam roosters. Every time a sparrow flew over they would all make the same exact sound at the same time. Sometimes I ride around with my oriental game cocks. mainly just to make people think I'm crazy, also because it's kind of neat to have a chicken so laid back it rides and watches out the window. I had one that I could actually tell by the sound he made whether he saw a deer, a cow, a housecat, small birds or large birds. They have really good eyes. I'm sure that the hens know exactly what they are saying.
Hens that have chicks will make the same sound as the roosters. Sometimes an older hen will give the alarm, especially if she is the dominant hen. Usually the hens job is just to hear it and run. The breeds that always get labeled as "flighty" are usually a little more aware of their surroundings.
I used to love my bantam rooster. He was every color of the rainbow and didn't let anything get by him. He would try to spur me any time I got near the wire. Fortunately he was too small to do much damage and usually didn't jump me when I walked into the pen. Sadly the other roosters were more aggressive and dangerous to the kids so they are in the freezer and we have a no rooster rule now for safety for young grand kids etc..
I've never had just hens. I bought my first ever batch of chickens and they were all suppose to be pullets. One ended up being a cockerel (well, 2 did, but one went back to the store, he was a mean little bugger). He makes completely different sounds than my hens. My hens do make some noises, but nothing like Oreo does. He has a lot more calls/noises/and distress signal than the girls do.
Some roosters don't have good behaviors otherwise and people choose not to keep them around because they're mean. Buff Orpingtons are docile in general. My rooster is with me. I hand raised him though too. He doesn't let me pet/hold him anymore, but he's not running up and attacking me either. My son's father had a rooster that was MEAN. He would run up and try to peck/spur you for no reason whatsoever, it didn't matter who you were, needless to say, that rooster was culled pretty quickly (he had him before I was around).
I grew up around chickens, but there was always at least 1 rooster around for protection purposes too.
Calm and vigilant, good with kids, sounds like an oriental game. They have a much lower incidence of human aggression because they have been bred for thousands of years for close human contact. Just get a rooster, the hens don't get along well with other chickens, and might get protective over chicks. Roosters are generally laid back with people.