How do you recognize a "good" rooster?

AlbionWood

Songster
9 Years
May 24, 2010
331
6
111
Albion, California
So we have 27 hens and 12 roosters. We'd like to keep 2 or 3 of the roosters to help guard the hens from hawks etc. as they range in a large open yard all the time. Although they are only about 15 weeks old, we've already seen some impressive behavior - standing guard around the edge of the flock, and in one case doing the fluff-up-and-scream thing when a hawk came by. But we also see a lot of mean-looking behavior: grabbing the hens by the back of the neck and holding them, while the hen screams bloody murder! They don't seem to be trying to mount, just biting. Is that a sign of a "bad" rooster that won't be good with the hens?

The roos are a mixed bunch: 6 Delawares, 2 Sussex, 2 Orpingtons, 1 New Hampshire, and 1 Partidge Rock. The gentlest dispositions so far seem to be the Rock, the Sussex, and some of the Delawares. At the other extreme, two of the Dels are pure white (and noticeably larger), and they have been doing most of the neck-grabbing. But it was one of those that faced the chicken hawk, so...

What do you look for in a young rooster, to decide which ones will be good with the flock and also courageous defenders? Or do you have to accept some meanness to get that fearlessness?
 

mandelyn

Crowing
11 Years
Aug 30, 2009
2,488
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391
Mt Repose, OH
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The good rooster is the one that doesn't attack the hands that feed him, doesn't chase children, doesn't beat up his own hens, feeds his girls, stays on alert for danger, doesn't crow his idiot head off unless another rooster starts it, breaks up hen fights, finds them nests (he'll be clucking away in the nest box in a "lay here!" display) and basically is a gentleman that keeps order in the flock.

You should see him feeding the girls more than he feeds himself. If you give him a strawberry, he should share right, no questions asked.

Any rooster that doesn't... is a freezer camp candidate. I've heard that the meanness can be genetic, and I heard this after a breeding program I had for "pet bantams"... only my perfect roosters got to breed for hatching eggs. 3 roosters ended up in freezer camp. All the sons, sweet as sweet could be! So there might be some truth to it. I was the same way with hens, I only took the eggs from the nice girls.
 

newchickmom

Songster
12 Years
Nov 8, 2007
720
11
184
Lafayette, Indiana
I look for a guy who is not aggressive to people, feeds the hens, woos them instead of just trying to catch them, protects them, and breaks up squabbles.
My BO rooster is the best!
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He does not like to be petted, but he is not aggressive and will come to me for treats. He will take a treat and put it on the ground and call the hens over.
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He always does a little dance to get the hens to squat for him and will not chase them if they are not in the mood.
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He warns if a hawk flies over and won't let the other roos near the girls. He will also run over and stand in the middle if a couple of hens are having a dissagreement.
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Happy Chooks

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Jul 9, 2009
40,417
3,564
626
Northern CA
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Yes, all of the above BUT

if you have all 12 roosters out with the girls and the roosters are of the age for sexual maturity. Those poor girls are going to be chased and tackled for mating. And with the roosters competing for mating, even a good roo will look bad.

My advise is pick 4-5 that you think may be good (or you like) and get rid of the rest. From there, the gentlemen will show themselves without overwhelming the females.
 

SycolinWoodsChickens

Songster
9 Years
May 3, 2010
261
4
121
Northern Virginia
After reading this I am wondering if my roo is a keeper or not. He is a 21 week old SLW. He is gorgeous. He looks out for predators when the girls are free ranging but pushes his way in for treats. He will not come near me and flaps his wings and issues the warning cry everytime he sees me. He had called the girls over for treats a few times. He is not pushing them for mating (none are squatting yet) but he does get cranky in the morning and grabs every hen by the neck that dares to get near him. He has shown the girls a nest box once or twice.

I'm really torn. I did not want a roo but if he proves to be a good one I'll keep him (if he doesn't attack me).

Not trying to hijack the thread but I would like the same question answered as the original poster.

Plus at what age can you figure out if it's just maturing (hormones) or if he'll always be that way?
 

AlbionWood

Songster
9 Years
May 24, 2010
331
6
111
Albion, California
Happy Chook - I forgot to mention that we have already pulled 9 of the roos out of the flock and put them into a separate yard. They were beginning to get agressive with each other and some of them were biting the hens. The ones that are left with the hens are the least-aggressive, but now I'm wondering if they will be the least-effective, too.

Right now I'm partial to a couple of the Dels and the Sussexes, but last night I pulled one of the Sussex roos out of the hen-coop because he was biting one of the hens every time she tried to come in and roost. Once I got him out of there, everybody else seemed to settle down a bit.

Unfortunately we are going to be away for two weeks. Bad timing. I'm hoping the Stinky Boyz Club will stay orderly until we get back and can start freezing a few.
 

Happy Chooks

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Jul 9, 2009
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Northern CA
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Quote:
Exactly. Least aggressive is good and doesn't mean he won't protect your hens. You want in between the wimp and the attack everything dude.

My wellie roo is a gentleman, and very accepting of other roosters.(below him though) But he still looks out for the ladies and I don't have to worry about turning my back on him. He's never once challenged me or my authority. He accepts my place and I accept his.

Oh, and I feel it is very important not to ever yield to your rooster. If I'm walking and he's in my way, I walk through him. He will yield to me, not me to him.


SycolinWoodsChickens.........the gentleman part comes with age. When they first reach sexual maturity, they are like gawky teenagers just trying to jump anything they can. They get better at being the gentleman when they get a little older.
 

TeamChaos

Songster
10 Years
Nov 8, 2009
1,068
12
163
I had way too many roosters and ended up getting rid of all but two of them to have join my existing flock of 14 ladies and 1 gentleman rooster. The two I kept were the littlest, most picked on, runty roosters and they have proven to be excellent with the flock. They are timid enough that if a hen gets pushy, they give up, but they stand guard and escort the ladies diligently. They share their food finds and give the other guys plenty of space. While they are not the most handsome of roosters (I'm not breeding, so I'm not concerned), they have really become assets to the flock.
 

michickenwrangler

To Finish Is To Win
11 Years
Jun 8, 2008
4,511
36
241
NE Michigan
Doesn't crow a whole lot, doesn't attack, doesn't let the hens fight. I knew our cochin roo was a good one when he and his cochin ladies were out free ranging and our gawky EE cockerel was chasing hens around in their run with the hens screeching. Fred, the cochin, ran across the yard, did a scolding cackle (bock-BOCK-bockbockbockbock) and everyone settled down. Fred then went to rejoin his ladies and stood guard while they pecked in the pine needles.
 

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