I am going to get a dozen Production Red hens in June, retired at 72 weeks from a commercial operation. Assuming they do well and are in good condition after a couple of months, I would like to get a rooster at the end of the summer, when many people are getting rid of their straight run roos from this past spring. In addition to hoping the rooster will look after the flock, I'd like to incubate some fertile eggs next spring for replacements. I understand that the hens are hybrids and won't necessarily breed true, but I imagine that they could still make a genetic contribution to produce decent egg-layers. Am I wrong? Any thoughts on which breed of rooster would best for 1) ease of handling and docile nature, 2) egg production and 3) cold hardiness when crossed with Production Reds?
Breeding retired Production Red hens
They will breed truer than you might think. Put a solid production oriented Red rooster over them and you'll get solid producing chicks. Yes, if there is black specks and spots and stray white here or there, it is what it is. But a production red will pass along the trait of good egg laying. How long do you figure on feeding them? Their production will be down considerably and won't pay the feed bill. Frankly, just getting chicks might be cheaper, but it is still a fun experience.
Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel
Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel
Very interesting thread!I have 9 production red hens who just turned a year old.Getting ready for retirement I guess I have been thinking of hatching out some eggs from them but have only a mutt rooster left.My production red rooster did not have a very endearing personality and is now"chilling" Your idea sounds like a very interesting and fun "experiment".
I imagine that [the hens] could still make a genetic contribution to produce decent egg-layers. Am I wrong? Any thoughts on which breed of rooster would best for 1) ease of handling and docile nature, 2) egg production and 3) cold hardiness when crossed with Production Reds?
Of course, they will still make a genetic contribution to produce decent egg-layers. Your plan is practical.
When I have asked this question, usually I hear Buff Orpington or Brahma, but the more docile roosters won't protect from predators with the same gusto as a more middle of the road rooster. Usually, Orpingtons lay more than Brahmas. But both are good for cold weather.
I have had good rooster experiences with green eggs layers (hatcheries call them Ameraucana/Araucana, have pea combs) and Black Copper Marans. Green egg layers are usually very good layers, while the Black Copper Marans no so much, but a cross will do better. Just my experience over the past few years.
I have had more trouble with Barred Rock roosters than anything else. I have heard so many horror stories about Rhode Island Red roosters that I've been afraid to even try them, same with Leghorns.
Truly I am surprised by our Black Copper Marans roosters. They're almost like puppy dogs, except I don't pet them or hold them or pick up hens in front of them, etc. I don't handle them except at night if I need to trim spurs or nails or look them over.
Truthfully, "ease of handling" isn't something I think of when I think of any breed of rooster. Once jumped by a rooster, always gun shy.
As for cold hardiness, look for anything with a pea or rose comb. Say a Buckeye or a Wyandotte. That way you won't have to smear his comb lightly with olive oil when it gets down below 20 in the winter (temp depends on the humidity and ventilation in your coop). The olive oil doesn't always work either. Both the Buckeye and the Wyandotte will do well in a cross with Production Reds.
One thing you should know, though, is that so far the roosters I've had have always been raised with the hens they've grown up with. Make sure he's at least 5 months old or he may get hen-pecked and then never be on any use. Another, I personally would shy away from any rooster that was raised to be a pet and carried around and petted, that then turned rambunctious.
Okay, that's my opinion. It's sad, though, that you will be able to find opinions that will contradict mine on every point. Each rooster (and how he was raised) is so different and my experience will not mirror someone else's. And views on crosses aren't always the same either. Hopefully, more people will chime in and offer their opinion. Eventually you may get a vague concensus.
Thanks for the replies! I was thinking either Buff Orp or Black Austrolorp would be my best bets. The Buffs are more common around here than the Blacks for some reason. I have talked to folks who have gotten both white and red "retirees" from this particular operation and they say they are in decent condition right off the farm, perk up quickly once outside and lay well for their age. Everyone comments on how friendly and easygoing the hens are, once they are over the initial culture shock, compared to home-raised chicks. I doubt any will go broody (although I'd let one hatch a brood in warm weather if she did) but hey, that's what incubators are for. It should be interesting!
Hi there, really keen to hear how you got on with your breeding!.
I live on a remote island in the pacific and getting layer hens here is not cost effective. but i would like to breed a local "wild" rooster over a retired hen from the local chicken farm....... they insist the hens are only fit for the pot, but think it is in their best interest that say that. meaning we all have to buy eggs! any help or tips on this would be great im not after huge eggs just bigger eggs than the local "wild" broilers....... I say "wild" they are the free-est free range chickens known to man.......i.e no one owns them, and they roam the island of thier own accord, which means hunting for eggs! Not to mention hoping they are fresh ;-)
Any help is appreciated.