How big is too big when getting a rooster

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ygritte, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. ygritte

    ygritte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey all,
    I got my first batch of backyard chicks last year, and they are all doing great. I've moved to an acre property out of city limits and starting my own little homestead :)
    I've loved learning about the different philosophies on how to raise healthy chickens and have decided that I am ready to explore starting a self-sustaining flock. So that means I need a rooster!

    I kind of want it all when it comes to this flock. I want decent egg laying, decent meat quality, a peaceful happy flock, and still some yard candy ( I have 5 birds now and 5 different breeds).

    With that said I want to keep my mixed flock, and add to it. I had decided to get a Dark Brahma rooster. I love their look, temperament, and they seemed to fit most of my needs well... specially down the road when I start getting mutt chickens.

    but... Brahmas are huge!!! Am I going to run into issues with that big of a rooster with a mixed flock? Right now I have a Amercauna, silver laced wyandotte, jersey giant, welsummer, buff orpington, and plan to add brahma, speckled sussex, and barred rock this year (java, flaverolle, australorp, and dorking hopefully in the next year).
    I'm mostly worried about the amercauna, she's by far my littlest ( I have no weight though).
    Would a Barred rock rooster be better for my needs, while also solving the potential size issue? I'll admit, I kind of want a brahma rooster because they are gigantic...hopefully a gentle giant.

    I know it can depend on the rooster, but any wise words would be appreciated. I'm definitely exploring lots of different breeds to see who my favorites are as I still narrow down the exact type of flock I'm looking for.

    Thanks in advance!

    Here's a pic of the girls (not good, but it has all of them in it!)
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would say that you could get a brahma rooster because they are big and fluffy but doesn't mean they are necessarily a big bird hope this helps
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Personally I would get one of each and butcher the one who doesn't work for you, you will quickly find out if you are able to deal with making use of the extra roosters you will hatch out. I haven't owned a Brahma rooster, they are large and could do some damage, I don't like light weight roosters and I don't like really big ones either, both extremes to me were not good with my hens, but I always say try out a breed and see if it fits into your flock and your way of keeping chickens.
     
  4. Shanny050

    Shanny050 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a light Brahma rooster and he is huge! He is a gentle giant though. I will be taking him to auction though as I don't want more Brahma chicks. My Brahma hens took forever to lay compared to my other hens.
     
  5. Shanny050

    Shanny050 Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You may already know all this, but I’ll include it anyway so you know what to expect when you have mature hens and a mature rooster in your flock. This is between mature consenting adults. Immature chickens, especially cockerels, are different. It can get pretty wild.

    Typical mating behavior between mature consenting adults.

    The rooster dances for a specific hen. He lowers one wing and sort of circles her. This signals his intent.

    The hen squats. This gets her body onto the ground so the rooster’s weight goes into the ground through her entire body and not just her legs. That way she can support a much heavier rooster without hurting her legs.

    The rooster hops on and grabs the back of her head. The head grab helps him get in the right position to hit the target and helps him to keep his balance, but its major purpose is to tell the hen to raise her tail out of the way to expose the target. A mating will not be successful if she does not raise her tail and expose the target. The head grab is necessary.

    The rooster touches vents and hops off. This may be over in the blink of an eye or it may take a few seconds. But when this is over the rooster’s part is done.

    The hen then stands up, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake gets the sperm into a special container inside the hen near where the egg starts its internal journey through her internal egg making factory.

    You’ll notice that the hen squats. That gets the weight into the ground through her body, not her legs. Roosters are normally bigger, sometimes quite a bit bigger, than hens of the same breed. Some people keep bantam hems with full sized roosters and don’t have any problems when they mate because of that squatting. They are living animals so I can’t give you any guarantees. Plus the more difference in size the easier for something bad to happen, but personally I would not worry about a Brahma rooster and that hen.

    This has come up before so I’ll clarify it. I really don’t know how much you already know so please don’t be offended. A rooster does not have a male part that penetrates the hen. He fertilizes the eggs by touching vents, no penetration. The risk is from the weight of the rooster when he is on top of the hen.

    A Brahma is a large chicken but they are slow to mature. The cockerels are mostly bones until they hit a maturity level where they finally start putting on meat. If you plan to butcher at a relatively young age they may not be the best choice for your goals. People do use Brahmas for meat so it’s not an awful choice, but you may be better off getting a smaller rooster that puts on meat faster.

    When you add a cockerel to a flock of mature hens, the hens sometimes are pretty vicious toward him until he matures enough to take over his flock duties. Same when you raise a male chick with the flock after he hits puberty. Sometimes as he matures but before he reaches maturity he can be pretty forceful. It doesn’t always happen. I’ve raised cockerels in a flock of mature hens with no mature rooster and it has usually gone really peacefully, it actually usually goes without a lot of drama for me but I have a lot of room. I think that makes a big difference. Still, I have seen drama and if you read through this forum, lots of other people have too. I think you are better off adding a mature rooster who will immediately mate a hen or two to show he is boss and just take over the dominant position.

    You said you want yard candy. If you get a black rooster, most of the first generation of his chicks will be black, or in the case of a black barred rooster, black barred. If you keep one of his sons from a not-black hen and cross him with the older hens or even daughters you will probably get a rainbow of colors and patterns, depending on the genetic make-up. A white rooster is a great unknown. White can be pretty strong in covering up other genetics so you just don’t know what is hiding under that white. In the first generation you could get practically all white chicks, practically all black chicks, or you might get a rainbow of chicks. The second generation can really be mixed though. That’s true of the second generation with any of them. A red rooster is the one that is most likely to let the colors/patterns of the hens show up in the chicks. A buff rooster can be really interesting. He’s basically red so a lot of the hen’s color characteristics can show up but he has some modifiers that can do interesting things to color. You may see some spots or areas of yellow show up if crossed with a black hen. May not. He is likely to change the shade of red to more of an orange when crossed with red hens. I think the Dark Brahma has birchen and silver genetics. That means most of the first generation of chicks should have a fair amount of black but some different colors and patterns could also show up. But expect mostly black and some shade of white in the different patterns.

    I suggest you get on your state thread and chat with your neighbors when you are ready for a rooster. See if someone local has some that you can see and decide if you like a specific one. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but there are a lot of striking roosters out there.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/68894/colorado/25790#post_16460350

    I don’t do it this way. I raise my cockerels with the flock, usually with a dominant rooster running the flock. Sometimes there is drama, but often not a lot. Lots of people successfully raise males with a flock of mature hens with or without a dominant rooster in the flock without a lot of drama but the cockerel’s adolescence can impart a lot of drama. Again, not always. There is some luck involved.

    Probably a lot more than you wanted. Good luck on the move.
     
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  7. ygritte

    ygritte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the advice all!

    @Ridgerunner - Thank you so much for the lengthy answer, some I knew some I didn't. I am very new to the genetics of coloring so that was a great intro. It gives me a lot to think about. I am on my state page already, and chatting with folks, but not many people are in my area most are 3+ hours from me :( which is a little odd since I'm from a pretty populated area.

    So the big questions are: chick or mature rooster. I'm not too worried about a young male with the mature hens. Mine have lots of space (inside and out), and he'll be with quite a few new pullets as well. I also have a initial worry with getting adult chickens from anyone, because you don't really know how they were raised... I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to that... at least for now.

    How much does color really matter to me... it really shouldn't. I should want chickens that serve my food goals instead of just pretty to look at. I'll need to research that more. Very interesting about the red roos.

    What breed- I know brahmas are slow to mature. they also aren't the best layers, I was hoping that the mutts would pick up the slack. Am I delusional in thinking this? As it stands now I'll have 8 different breeds of hens (and plan to add another 3 breeds next year). Only two will be the super heavy (brahma and jersey giant). I was leaning towards a heavier bird as my roo since I'm getting hatchery stock, all the genes are going to favor egg laying over amount of meat on the carcass. So the heavier roo would give some umph to the egg layers... with the hope that the mutts would be a better all around bird with decent egg laying and a decent amount of meat. Am I off track do you think? Should I refine this more to focus on certain mixes and then still have a couple for fun? I'll need to research that as well...haha.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    We all have our own goals, they can be quite different. What I want in a meat chicken might be quite a bit different from what you want. I stay away from the Brahma and Jersey Giants. There are only two of us, I don’t need a big chicken to make a couple of meals. The Brahmas and Jersey Giants do get big, but they mature slowly. They are mostly bone until they finally start to fill out. By that time you have spent a fortune in feed if you are buying most of their food. If most of their food is forage, that’s not very important.

    The offspring inherit traits from both parents, egg laying as well as size and how fast they put on meat. The hen and rooster are both important to all that. I don’t know what the right choices for you are. A whole lot of it depends on what you want out of them, eggs as well as meat.

    While Brahmas typically are late to mature and late to start laying eggs, some Brahma hens lay extremely well. There is some luck involved in that too.

    If you have room and the inclination, there is nothing wrong with some fun. You might even learn something. Some of my breeding is for fun, not productivity.
     
  9. ygritte

    ygritte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well thank you so much for humoring my experimentation... You've definitely given me a lot to take into consideration :)
     
  10. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I also had Jersey giants and brahma roos in my mixed flock. They were not too big to mate with even my smaller hens, and because they were mellow birds they were gentle with the hens also. They were very slow growing also. The extra roos would still be lean come fall, but would gain most of their weight the second summer. Keep in mind they mostly foraged through the warm months. Their offspring with the smaller hens actually did very well and cockerels would have a decent amount of meat on them in the fall, and the hens were heavier than their mothers, laid decently, and matured just a bit slower.
     

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