Choosing a Rooster


5 Years
Jul 28, 2014
Port Orchard, WA
Hi everyone. I think this is the forum that this topic would go in but let me know if I'm wrong. Anyway, this is my first year with chickens. My girlfriend is a pre-school teacher and their classroom hatched some eggs as a learning experience. We ended up taking the chicks home eventually because we had always wanted some, despite not knowing what breed or sex they would turn out to be. After talking to the original breeder they came from, I figured out they are all wyandottes. Two blue bantys, four gold laced, and a silver laced. One of the bantys and the silver laced ended up being roosters.
We are quite torn on which one to keep or if we want to keep one at all. We would like a rooster to protect the flock but we also don't want our hens to be ravaged too much when they mate. I figure the silver laced would be a better protector but the banty is much more timid and seems like he'd do less damage to the hens seeing as how he's half their size. Or perhaps I just don't have enough hens for one rooster to be satisfied with? I've heard even without a rooster, hens can display dominance and pick on each other, but the run we built is pretty vegetated so I'd think they'd be to busy to be picking on each other too much?
As with other hobbies I know it's going to take some practice and experience to become good at something but I appreciate any tips or advice on this scenario. Thank you,

Welcome to BYC.
Its always tough to advise a new owner to keep or get rid of a rooster. I usually say to get some experience with a hen only flock before keeping one. Protection is something that we look for in a rooster, but that is usually done by warning the hens to get out of harms way. A hen can do that. Anything bigger then the rooster, if he takes it on will almost always means the predator has a chicken dinner. So the smaller rooster would work just as well as a large one. The number of hens might or not work out there is no ideal number for a small flock. The number you hear most is ten hens to a rooster, but that is for assurance that the eggs are fertile. The wear on the hens often depends on the chickens themselves, its just something you have to watch for yourself. No matter the number, you can way more hens then he can mate, there always seems to be the favorite that is worn by his attentions. Even with a rooster hens have their own order and will fight to be the top of the pecking order. a good rooster just keeps them from getting out of hand. I would also consider if I wanted to hatch my own chicks. and the personality of the rooster.
We only have about 10 years' experience with chickens, but it's been rather intensive experience... I'd say the rules about roosters should be taken as general guidelines; there are wide variations. For a while, we had 3 roosters, by hatchery accident, and 10 hens. That went okay, but there was some fighting, so we were glad to give one away to someone else whose guy had been killed by a coyote. Since you already have them, I'd keep both and see how it goes. They might get along fine, or avoid each other as necessary, and you might want to add a few more hens next spring.
We've aimed to have a medium-weight rooster, on the theory that he'd be a good balance between being tough enough and not too rough on the hens. I'm not sure size has a lot to do with hen damage, though. Our rooster Leo is a gorgeous Welsumer who turned out quite large, 9 or 10 pounds after two years. He's strong and a good guard, but one of the sweetest lap birds we've ever met. Just this morning he snuggled in my lap during a leisurely breakfast, purring softly with his neck draped over my leg, while I handled him all over and pulled some of his loose molting feathers.
We raised Leo with a lot of human contact from the first day he arrived, so that might be a factor. He rarely even threatens people, even strangers, but he's rough on one of the 11 hens. We keep her dressed in a simple fleece vest that my wife makes, which reduces the feather damage, but she still gets a lot of wear. We haven't figured out any way to make him treat her better.
From our experience, it's true that a rooster helps keep the peace in the flock, and when we were without one for most of a year, there was a more pronounced pecking order among the hens, with two of them competing for the rooster role. We've seen full-on lesbian relationships as well.
Aside from the rooster question, the top piece of advice I'd offer - since it sounds like you're giving them a good habitat with adequate room and enough to keep busy - is to spend as much time as you can handling them and getting to know them. They can be wonderful pets, funny and endlessly fascinating. No matter how much advice you get, it takes some practice to get better at it, but it's so worth the effort!
How old are these guys? I ask because age and behavior may make the answer obvious.

We got two straight run chicks this past spring, and both ended up being roos. We could tell very early on - in fact, they were already crowing by about 5 weeks. At that point, we couldn't figure out which one to keep. Well, fast forward several weeks, and one of them started attacking me whenever he thought he could get away with it. He was also rough with the hens. That naughty fellow has since become dinner. The other roo has never attacked me, and he's very gentle with the girls. We are temporarily down to two hens and this roo, which is definitely not the recommended sex ratio. But I have yet to see a single feather on my gals out of place.

Point being, if they are young, give it some time and they may very well let you know who to keep. :)
Awesome, thanks for all the detailed responses! They're about 3 months old. I've only once witnessed the banty roo pick at a hen while the silver lace tends to be more watchful. The banty's crow I've found to be a bit obnoxiously high pitched. I think I will give it a few more weeks untill I decide for sure. Now that one of you mention it, would be convenient to go all hens. Maybe get a guinea hen as an alert system instead?
From your description, it sounds like the silver laced one might a better protector, and it's possible that he will be easier on the hens despite his size. At 3 months old, it's still early to decide though. There's nothing wrong with deciding to go with all hens, either.
I have a bantam Cochin rooster in with huge Orpington hens. He tears out feathers and I had to put a saddle on the only hen who would squat for him. Him being so small and having to grip so hard to hang on was just as damaging as any large rooster would be. So, in that regard, an amorous banty can be just as problematic as a larger rooster. Just food for thought.

My preference is always for the most easygoing male, least human aggressive, a thoughtful leader, for lack of a better term. At 3 months, it's too soon to really gauge most roosters, but if you're going to free range at all, I'd skip the bantam rooster, JMHO. They are definitely hawk bait. I keep intelligent roosters who give way to the human in charge and I breed from them in hopes of passing on their temperament, like the rooster in my avatar. They look out for the hens just as well as any aggressive male would, contrary to what some people will tell you.

Most roosters would take on a predator and give the hens time to get to cover, becoming the sacrifice, and I feel that is part of their job. I do have a friend whose Blue Orpington has battled coyotes, foxes, dogs, hawks, and lived to tell the tale, and he's not human aggressive (though I have no doubt if a stranger entered the coop after hours, he would be), but he's one in a million. For some good reading, check this out: Just don't expect this of most roosters; as I said, Lancelot is one in a million.
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