Choosing a Rooster...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Rwood5093, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. Rwood5093

    Rwood5093 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 30, 2016
    Jamestown, SC
    Our first batch of straight run chick's are 11.5 weeks. 7 boys, 6 girls. 6 barred rock + 1 white rock boy. They still act like goofy little kids. None seem to have turned into hormone jerks yet. White rock is stand offish, but they all are still friendly enough to stay underfoot when I'm in the coop. I'm not sure if they will be 'mature' by the time they go to freezer camp.

    2nd batch is 6 EE's, 3.5 weeks old sex TBD. Maybe 4 boys in the mix.

    Want to keep one or two roosters. Maybe one barred rock and one EE, hoping they get along peacefully in their Sr/Jr roles. But we are prepared in case that doesn't work. In that case only one will stay.

    So, knowing that probably 11 are going to freezer camp, and only 1 or 2 get to stay, how do you choose? I can't really tell the barred rocks apart, except for general Tsao who has some extra points on his comb.

    Choose a smaller one so he is not so heavy on the girls? that would mean the bigger ones get eaten.
    Choose a heavier one hoping for heavy offspring?
    Choose one closest to breed standard?
    Just grab and chop and the last one standing stays? (exaggeration)
    Or keep no rocks and keep 1 EE?

    Our plan is to just have chickens. I like the idea and having a Rooster, but we have no major plans of breeding or anything special. Just want a protector and noise maker, and a male so we can have fertile eggs in case a hen goes broody.

    One barred rock cockerel lets the chick's peck bits of oatmeal off his beak through the fence. He seems like a good candidate to keep, but it's hard to know who is who when they're all so similar.

    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  2. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 25, 2015
    Your gonna want the one who is alert,and standoffish.You want open who respects you stays out your way,and is a good protector,and treats the hens right.Seeing as their just teenagers wait for them to all become mature,then decide.

    Also,just because he has offspring,may not mean he will help nurse,nor protect the chicks.I have a "chick" aggressive rooster who hates chicks,chases them,and even has grabbed one and through it in the air,that is one do not want. Lots of roosters just ignore chicks,some may help the hen nurse them but a lot could careless.
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    It's too soon to decide, unless you have a cockerel who's already challenging you. As they grow, watch behaviors, and don't try to make pets of any cockerels. They should get out of your space! Then, it's about your goals for your flock. EEs will likely be smaller, so not great for larger meaty offspring. I personally like big roosters, and favor size, as long as structure and personality are good. With maybe eight pullets, one boy is enough, but I'd keep two for much longer, to see who's best, and have a backup. You may have several nice cockerels, or none, and it takes time to figure it out. Mary
    1 person likes this.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I agree, you have a bit of time to sort them out, unless you plan on culling very young. I'd go purely by behavior. I like birds that are respectful, and move out of my way. A cockerel this young that was bold and approached me fearlessly would fast track himself to the freezer.

    You may need to band them to tell them apart. Zip ties are quick and easy, and come in several different colors. For no longer than they'll be on, you shouldn't have to worry bout replacing or them getting outgrown. Then, you can start making mental notes...."Green band started calling a pullet for treats today" "Yellow band was slow to move out of my way, giving me the stink eye" "Red is larger than the others, he's on the keeper list"...etc.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  5. song of joy

    song of joy Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 22, 2012
    Central Pennsylvania
    You've gotten some great advice. Colored bands will help a lot, along with careful observation and notes. In my opinion, behavior is the most important factor, followed by conformation to breed standards. By 16-18 weeks, I usually see signs of the makings of a good rooster. Bad behavior can often be seen much earlier (e.g., the cockerel who hurries right up to you and faces you frontally as if challenging you). I had a 3-day old cockerel do that, and yes, he was bold and challenged me when older (great pot of soup).

    Some things to look for in a well-behaved cockerel or rooster:

    He will call the hens over for treats (tidbitting).

    When you bring out treats, he will not push the hens away. A really good roo will call the hens over and then stand back while they eat. This is a bit too much to expect in a young cockerel, but at least look for signs of courtesy at the feeder.

    He will wing dance, dropping one wing when wanting to breed the hen. You may see early signs of this, and I've noticed the skill develops over time, into their 1st year. If a cockerel wing dances to you, it's a sign of aggression and may very well escalate.

    As a rooster, he will wing dance, then wait for the hen to squat down before jumping on her back to breed her. You may not see this behavior in cockerels as their hormones are running wild. He should not be pulling out feathers - that's too aggressive.

    He will show the hens nice places to nest. Again, you may not see this in a young cockerel, but I've seen it in cockerels as young as 5-6 months old.

    He will be alert to his surroundings while free-ranging. Typically you'll see the pullets or hens foraging a lot, while the cockerel or roo spends much more time with his head up looking for danger.

    He respects your space, and reacts to you like a person rather than a rival rooster. It seems to help to have 2 or roosters if you have the space and a large enough flock of hens, as the roosters seem more aware that their fellow rooster is the rival to be concerned about - not you - as you're no threat to his hens. With regard to respecting personal space, he should move out of your way when you "walk through him". If the two of you are standing in close proximity, he should not be facing you frontally (unless you have treats), but rather he should stand sideways to you and turn his back to walk away from you (a sign of submission and/or ignoring you). I want my roosters to ignore me when I'm outside doing various tasks, and move out of my way when I walk through them.

    For observation purposes, it's helpful to allow 1-2 cockerels at a time with the pullets/hens to observe the interactions.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
    1 person likes this.

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