2 questions about roosters

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kirak74, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. kirak74

    kirak74 In the Brooder

    Jan 22, 2017
    My husband is trying to convince me that we need a rooster (we don't even have our chicks yet!). I'm not convinced, but if I was to humor him, what breed is best? We have small children, so the more docile, the better.

    If we get a rooster and he "services" our mixed flock, are all the chicks crosses of his breed and the mother hen? I'm literally a little confused about "the birds and the bees" part of it. Will they be recognizable as a certain breed? And what about egg color? Help me understand, please :)

  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Crowing

    Jul 19, 2015
    Eastern Shore, MD
    I cannot help you on the docile part, as I do have a lot of very friendly roosters but I don't have small children and I know that makes a difference. So someone else will chime in there.

    Unless the rooster is the same breed as the hen, the babies will be mixes (generally sold as "backyard mixes"). They sell well, so don't worry. What breed hens do you have?

    Egg color is complicated. I assume you are asking what color eggs the offspring will lay. Once we know the breeds we can help with that, somewhat.
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Roosters are not for first time owners, especially if there are young children around.
    If the rooster is a different breed from the hens, then all the chicks will be mixed breeds.
  4. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Songster

    Apr 19, 2014
    NW Florida
    Good advice from Junebuggena. If you don't have your chickens yet, give yourself a year with pullets/hens only, THEN decide if you want a rooster. Roosters are male hormones on two legs, and small children tend to be noisy and quick - two things that can trigger a rooster to attack. There are many stories on this site about folks with children that were attacked by roosters.

    That being said, I've had four roosters, and the last three have not been human aggressive. My first rooster was Satan incarnate and I would hate for you to have a rooster like him. He was taken by a predator and both me and my hens were happier for it.

    My 2nd rooster was a polish. He arrived with the other hatchery chicks as a "free gift" - I certainly did not order him! However, he turned out to be a real gentleman.

    A word of advice - when you do get your rooster as a chick, don't handle him. This way, he will retain some of his natural fear of you and will be more wary of flogging (attacking) you. I've adopted this approach with mine, and so far it has worked well. Not all roosters that are handled turn out badly, but a good portion of them do because the rooster views the handler as part of his "flock" and you must be kept in your position below him in the pecking order.

    Last, if your roosters mate with hens that are different breeds than he is, then you will have a cross breed chickens. Also, the hen that sits on the eggs to hatch them out may not be the hen that laid the eggs. My two roosters are polish/white leghorn crosses that were hatched out by a Silver Spangled Hamburg hen. There were four, but only the two roosters made it to adulthood. They have split the hens up between them and get along well with each other.

    A rooster takes some experience and education to handle correctly. I would not get one if you are a beginner with chickens, at least not until you have some idea of what you might be in for. You don't need them for the eggs, so why get one right away? Unless you are planning to breed the hens - then you typically want one a bit younger so he can learn manners from the older girls.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    I'm in the camp of wait a year or so before tackling a rooster. If you all were a farm family, used to dealing with livestock, it would be a different situation. But roosters are intact male livestock, just like a buck goat, a bull or a stallion. Just smaller packaging.

    Quick chicken reproduction 101 [​IMG].

    A rooster will mate with pretty much any hen, of any breed. They don't understand different breeds, as a rule. They know male and female, and the drive to reproduce.

    The male mounts the female. Male chickens don't have a penis, no external sexual organs. Each sex has a vent or cloaca, basically the opening under the tail. When the rooster is on top of the hen, she moves her tail out of the way, he curves his body down and they touch vents aka the cloacal kiss. At this point he transfers sperm into her body. He hops off, she shakes herself a bit, that helps store the sperm. One mating can keep a hen fertile a good 2 weeks....but that doesn't stop the roosters from mating hens multiple times a day [​IMG]. So, when then hen is making the egg, her body uses the stored sperm to fertilize the egg before it's laid.

    That freaks some folks out, the thought of eating fertile eggs. Honestly, you'll never, ever be able to tell they're fertile. It takes a very practiced eye to spot the difference, a lot of experienced folks can't even tell when they're actively looking for it. No difference in taste, nutrition, etc.

    What about the baby chicks? Eggs have to be incubated at a steady 100-ish degrees for about 3 days for an embryo to even start to develop. So, as long as you collect your eggs and don't allow a hen to set on them, you won't have anything nasty when you crack an egg. I've kept roosters with my layers all my life, and except when I was sick and the kiddos didn't notice a hen setting never ever had an icky egg with a chick starting to develop.

    It is a little different than mammals. In my mind, birds are much easier to manage their reproduction than dogs or cats. With mammals, if the male mounts the female, you're pretty much gonna get babies. With chickens, he can mount the hen all he wants. As long as the eggs aren't incubated, no babies.

    Like any animals, if the parents are different breed, the offspring are mixed breed animals. It a very acceptable thing in the backyard chicken world, lots of us like to mix and match our breeds [​IMG].

    A hen lays the same color egg all her life. Her egg color is in her DNA. A rooster breeding her doesn't change the color egg she lays. If the rooster has DNA for a different egg color than the hen, their female offspring can lay different color eggs than momma or daddy, it simply depends on the genetics involved.

    I know you were asking bout a breed of rooster, and most of us were discouraging about getting one. If you really decide you want to go that route, I'd look at a feather legged breed. Overall, they're more docile than breeds without feathers on the legs. But, that's no guarantee of having a rooster that will do well with littles. There's just something about little kiddos that seem to be a target for a lot of roosters. Children are loud, and fast, and unpredictable and that makes roosters nervous. Nervous animals full of testosterone tend to lash out first, and the kiddos take the brunt of that, usually through no fault of their own.

    Since you're just starting on your chicken journey, I wish you and your family the best. They're so much darn fun, you'll be amazed how you lived without them [​IMG]
    2 people like this.

  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    This is a wonderful hobby. Hopefully one you will enjoy for years to come. One does not have to do all of the aspects in the first year.

    I agree with the above, if asked, I always say go with straight pullets the first year. It is fun to see the chicks grow, and the first egg, when you have nearly given up hope, is priceless. I have been in this for years, and am currently waiting for my first egg after the molt, and can hardly wait. I recommend getting a mix of breeds of chicks, they are easy to tell apart, and it makes their various personalities more easy to distinguish. Get at least one or two of breeds known to go broody. However, my first broody hen, was a breed that was suppose to never go broody. (She had not read the book.) Only get about half the number of birds that will fit in your coop, (this will be hard, I know.)

    2nd year- pray that a hen goes broody, after 21 days, slip those day old chicks under her at night. All of the fun of watching a broody hen raise chicks, none of the work!. Now if one or two of these are a rooster, now you have some experience. These chicks will grow up in a multi-generational flock, and they learn proper chicken manners, and generally are a little intimidated by people, which is truly a good thing.

    It will be going into your third year, where you might have trouble with a rooster. But my now, your kids are older, more experienced. You have more experienced. Some of the romance has worn off, but the reality is doable.

    In my opinion, one needs to be aware that not all roosters will work, regardless of the plan and behavior of people, some will be nightmares, and some will be gentlemen, and some will go from one to the other in a heartbeat. One must be aware around roosters, and one must be willing or have a plan on culling a rooster. If you can't cull a rooster, don't get a rooster.

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Not to be confused with 'straight run' chicks.....which are a mix of males and females.
    Even if you get all pullets/females from the hatchery or farm store, you may end up with a male and will probably want to cull it.
    Cull means rehome or slaughter/eat.

    Agrees on the no males in flock for at least the first year with small children around.
    Beware tho, even females can put and eye out, so teach kids to keep faces away from those beaks.

    Aggressiveness of males has more to do with keepers behaviors than breed of male birds.
  8. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Another good reason to wait a year before getting straight run chicks, or specific cockerels, is that your year old hens will manage the young cockerels and help teach them manners. Mary
    1 person likes this.
  9. kirak74

    kirak74 In the Brooder

    Jan 22, 2017
    Waiting sounds like the best bet. Thanks all!

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