Originally Posted by gg706
I have several roosters , all are about 8-9 weeks old. I have someone who wants the ones I am not going to keep. How do I choose which 1 or 2 to keep. Are there certain things I should look for? I will have 7 or 8 hens, is 2 roosters too much?
I personally wait until they are about 12- 14 weeks to decide if they're keepers or not. Before that, I can't tell because they aren't mature enough, though other folks may be able to.
I ignore (don't pet, don't look in the eye, don't pick up and carry) any of my roosters. I try to look at them when they aren't looking at me. I don't want them to see me as anything but the person that sets out the food and water and moves things around.
If a male chick grow up seeing me as his mother, then it seems like he thinks I am what the female of the species looks like and he will be confused about who he's supposed to be in charge of and who he mates with. You see, he tells the hens where to go, when to eat, where to hunt for grasshoppers. Some hens will ignore him, but he'll usually intimidate hens into doing what he wants. He also talks to them and cajoles them. And when he mates with them he is also showing his dominance. If the males have been handled a lot as youngsters (and I don't know how much a lot is), then my experience has been that the males will be confused, think I am a chicken, and will want to dominate. I'm only talking about my roosters and those are usually breeds like New Hampshires, Speckled Sussex, Marans, Barred Rocks (which I gave up on because mine were just too unpredictable and scared the livin' daylights out of me), Wyandottes, Green Egg Layers.
I ignore them. Then I can usually pick the one that won't be a bother as a flock leader throughout the next couple of years. I don't choose the most dominant rooster -- the one that starts mating first. I don't pick the one that will thump up behind me as I walk to the coop in the afternoon to toss out grain. I don't pick one that shows any aggression to me at all, not even a peck. I will not choose a rooster that is rough on the girls -- sometimes it is adolescent exuberance, but I still don't like it. I usually choose one that I've never seen mating with the girls. After the dominant roosters are gone, then he will usually settle in nicely with his hens and start protecting them and telling when to go to bed, etc.
I don't ever kick them or hit them or carry sticks or brooms around. At no time will I play that game with them because that just leads them to viewing me as a threat and someone to fight any time I go out there. I also don't pick up hens with them around because the hens/pullets are their responsibility and the roosters see me as another rooster or predator trying to take their hens away. I don't walk straight into roosters; I side step them or wait and give them a chance to move out of the way, never cornering him. I carry sunflower seeds and toss them to distract and remind them that I feed them and that I am not a rooster. If he were to ever see me as the rooster, then he would have to fight me to figure out who is dominant. Even if I came out on top, then he would still have to test me out every couple of weeks to see if he was dominant yet.
That's my limited experience with large dual-purpose fowl and just one male bantam that would be awfully fiesty if he thought I were a large rooster. He's a character, but at 2 or 3 now, he's settled in very well and doesn't get antsy when I move him from his roost at night. But he is demanding of sunflower seeds when I collect eggs. As in he gets on a roost and tells me that he wants sunflower seeds. Now. He's at almost eye level, and I am leery that one of these days he's going to peck at my eyes. But he hasn't ever tried to peck me or spur me.
Bigger combs usually is an indicator of better fertility, so a tiny comb is not something I look for, but I don't choose the largest because they're usually more aggressive than I want. I want a wider rooster across the hips because that often transfers to his daughters. I don't like knock knees because I believe that will transfer to the daughters and I don't think it's wise for egg laying.
Now, that's just my experience and what has consistently worked for me. Lots of folks have different methods and great success with other methods of choosing a rooster. Chickens are unpredictable and thrive under all manner of management techniques. So you've got to do what fits with your personality, your family, and your chickens.
Two roosters is probably too many for 7-8 hens, which is too bad because it's always nice to have a backup. You may not notice that it's too many until next spring, though. Spring is breeding season and that's when my hens get a few frayed feathers. I have 2 roosters for about 20 hens and mating is severely restricted in the cold and dark of winter. So, you might be able to keep 2 over the winter and give one away in the spring. You'll just have to monitor your hens' backs and if they start getting thinly feathered, you can give your backup rooster away. If you give extra lighting to the hens over witner, then the roosters will be more "matey," so I'd only go with one rooster over winter if you're keeping any type of lighting (even red) on them throughout the winter. But, truly, you just never know. My chickens are always surprising me.