Higher female to male ratio, quiet roosters?

Discussion in 'Exhibition, Genetics, & Breeding to the Standard o' started by sphinxface, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. sphinxface

    sphinxface Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe I'm a bit naive to be posting this question here but it's a budding curiousity of mine. I read somewhere that the average ratio of female chicks and male chicks born to a hen is almost 50-50%, is there anyone who is trying to shift that average? Is that even possible? Since roosters are so unwanted? My other question would be, is there a way to breed a quiet rooster? I was just on a farm and the super tiny bantam was so quiet when he crowed, which according to someone else on this site isn't always the norm for bantams. But is that something that anyone is working on already? It would be great to breed qualities into chickens that make it easier for a backyard/small scale farmer to own chickens you know? Again I'm sorry if this thread is misplaced or a bit naive ;P
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    There is a bit of project going on, here on this site, of trying to figure out if egg shape is related to the gender of the chick inside.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/969282/sexing-eggs

    How much a rooster crows and how loudly is usually more of an individual thing rather than a hereditary thing. One thing that does help delay a young cockerel's crowing is having a mature, dominant rooster around. But eventually, the young ones will start crowing, and then there will be crowing 'matches.' Each boy will try to out-crow the others.

    Most people that breed their own chickens are more than willing to eat their 'extra' boys. It's a natural, healthy alternative to buying meat from the grocery store.
     
  3. Skink

    Skink Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Because of the nature of sex decision, it would be impossible to breed for a higher rate of females. There is good news though! Technology to sex embryos very early in development has been pioneered very recently! However, it is not yet on the market and will likely at least start out as inaccessible to the home breeder, but it is still a start in reducing the number of unwanted male hatches and in turn preventing cruelty.

    Volume isn't something that breeds terribly true, sadly, but crow length and cadence can be inherited. I do not know of any short crower projects however! A humane alternative for dampening volume are crow collars. Their success is limited by things like human operator error and an individual bird's abilities but if you really want a rooster in an urban environment it is worth a try! It is what I've done so I can breed birds even with close, quiet neighbors.
     
  4. sphinxface

    sphinxface Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow these were great responses! I'll have some things to look into in greater depth now!

    I think it would be really great to get into breeding but I'm not sure if I'm up for killing the unwanted ones... We also live in a very busy neighborhood so roosters are defiantly unwanted... But maybe things with change in the future ;)

    I also don't mind that OTHERS kill their chickens, it's obviously normal and probably anyone here does it in a way that is much better than industry kills... At least I like to think. I'm just attached to my first flock and thinking of killing them for any reason makes me sad ;)maybe breeders don't name their chicks so much?
     
  5. Skink

    Skink Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not killing excess birds is not uncommon, and seemingly increasingly popular, especially with certain breeds. You are not alone! I breed Serama bantams who wouldn't make a meal worth taking a life over, for example. I place all my excess birds in to good homes. There is a trade off in expense and labor that one has to be prepared for, and because batches raised simply cannot be as big you'd have fewer birds to select quality stock from, but if it is something you really want to do it is worthwhile. Familiarizing yourself with what breeds are in demand locally really helps make things easier to do well. So does starting with a small group of grown birds from the best stock you can get.
     
  6. Sydney Acres

    Sydney Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    While it is true that the normal gender ratio is usually around 50:50, that only occurs when you take large populations into account. Individual hens may vary considerably. We all know families that have 4 sons only or 4 daughters only. You would think that is just coincidental, but oftentimes there is a genetic reason. In mammals (including humans), the male has an XY chromosome pattern and the female has an XX pattern, so the male determines gender of the offspring. Some men have a very high percentage of sperm that produce sons and others have a very high percentage of sperm that produce daughters. In birds (including chickens), the female is XY and the male is XX, so the hen determines gender of the offspring. There are some hens that lay eggs that produce a very high percentage of pullets, and other hens that lay eggs that produce a very high percentage of cockerels. In one my own groups with 8 breeding hens, I have 3 hens that produce almost exclusively cockerels, 2 that produce almost exclusively pullets, and 3 that produce a ratio close to 50:50. The only reason I know this is because I do pedigree breeding. If I did flock breeding and hatched an equal number of eggs from each hen, I would have 56% cockerels to 44% pullets, so close to 50:50. So yes, you can select for excess pullet production or excess cockerel production if you pedigree breed and keep good records. I have not found, however, that a higher-than-normal percentage of the daughters of pullet-producing hens are themselves pullet producers, so that characteristic, at least in my group, is not overtly genetic.

    In regard to excess crowing, it is very individual but many of the factors that contribute to it may have a genetic component. Management style, environment, and just individual circumstances are the greatest factors. However, birds that are more aggressive, birds that are on the top of the pecking order or really want to be there, and birds that are more anxious tend to crow more. Birds that are calm and peaceful tend to crow less. I select for temperament, and have noticed a huge decrease in the noise level since I started selecting for calm birds and specifically against anxious or aggressive birds. When selecting breeders for temperament, I have found that selecting calm hens is at least if not more important than selecting a calm rooster. An anxious or flighty hen may not be aggressive, but she will often produce an aggressive son, even if mated to a sweet rooster. An aggressive or anxious rooster mated to a sweet hen will sometimes produce an aggressive son, but a bit less often. In my group it seems to be about a 60:40 hen to rooster contribution when it comes to temperament.

    Edited to add: Breeding for a quieter rooster does not mean a silent rooster. Even a rooster that only crows once every morning is unwelcome in many neighborhoods. Through temperament selection, my average rooster probably only crows 10-15 times a day instead of 30-40 times a day. One of the reasons that they crow so much is that I typically have 12-70 cockerels/cocks at any one time. If I only had one rooster and a harem of hens, my calmest boys would probably only crow 1-3 times a day.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
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  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I name mine and still eat them. A name doesn't make one bird more valuable or cherished than another in my flock. My roosters have all been very quiet, no matter the breed. They rarely ever crow except in the early morning and even then they don't have a loud crow. Don't know exactly why that is, but it's been pretty much standard in all my flocks to have quiet roosters. Could be because I'm the alpha in any flock I own and, usually in a flock with one dominant and one beta rooster, the beta rooster doesn't crow much at all.

    A couple of examples: 1) I had received 13 free roosters from a fella who had gathered many roosters from many people, all ages and breeds, so these birds were not from the same flocks nor had been raised together. When they came to my place they were all together for the first time ever and confined to one pen, there to be fed a better feed until day of butcher. After they settled in for some hours, there was some crowing bouts between a few of the more dominant acting roosters.

    When I fed them the first time, I taught them who was dominant on this land and reinforced that each time I entered the pen. This is a simple maneuver of taking control of the feeder and the space around the feeder in a dominant way, not letting any other bird come to the feeder unless I let him do so. This insured I didn't get mobbed every day at feeding time and it works very well...each day I came to feed they would gather in the far corner and wait quietly until I left the pen, before attempting to eat.

    I started noticing something after that little training session....no birds were crowing during the day any longer. A few sessions by a few of them at 4 dark thirty was all I heard. No one could tell I had 13 mature roosters on my land plus the one out on free range with the flock if they were listening during daylight hours. Silence.

    So, it doesn't only apply to the roosters I have raised on my own but can be instilled into any breed or any age of rooster if I so please. Great discovery.

    2) I had one older male rooster this spring and summer and 11 cockerels of crowing age and rarely ever heard a cockerel unless he was an acre away, on the opposite side of a strip of woods...but even then it was a very rare thing and a delight to even hear one of them~I had started to think I had some sissy boys on my hands. The only one that crowed was the most dominant of the bachelor flock, but he never dared crow in the vicinity of the older rooster or me and I only heard him once in all the time he was here before butchering.

    3) When this older rooster arrived here at 18 mo., having not been raised by me he did not recognize me as alpha on this land. One training session wherein he started to crow in the middle of the day took that notion out of his head. I just ran up to him and faced him down, made him run each time he tried to crow. He stopped. Later on I trained him about who rules the coop and roost and I rarely ever heard him crow during the day after that. He was here 2 yrs. Even when he did crow in the early mornings, it was a low crow. I've had many people comment on how muted my roosters sound when they do crow...my next door neighbor has never heard my roosters crow and I could probably shoot an arrow from here and hit his house, so not a great distance.

    4) Was at the memorial service of a friend's husband. It was held outside and they had chicken roaming around, one cocky rooster kept crowing throughout the eulogy and he was right behind the seated guests. I finally got tired of it and approached him in a dominant manner, not relenting until he shut up. I didn't hear him the rest of the day. I know people were looking at me like some kind of freak for standing over this rooster and making him move each time his mouth opened to crow, but it worked. Quiet the rest of the day.

    Many roosters over many years, different ages, but I don't have to contend with roosters crowing. Study the birds, see how they interact and you can start to see how to speak their language.... and you don't have to say a thing. It's all about posturing, intent and actions. It's not about the breed or breeding for quiet, it's about being the alpha on your land. My dogs don't bark unless they need to, which is mostly at night and not very often at all and my roosters don't crow except to announce the sunrise and even then it's just a few calls.

    I like quiet.
     

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