Is there a way to make sure I get a cockerel that grows into a large Rhode Island?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by JohnsonHomested, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. JohnsonHomested

    JohnsonHomested Out Of The Brooder

    64
    0
    39
    Jun 29, 2012
    I have a Production Red that we've allowed to breed with our hens last year. We ended up with a bunch of cockerels but I was surprised to see the Barred Rock cross get so much larger than his father. Is this typical of Barred Rocks vs. Production Reds? The Brahma cross ended up much larger as well but I understand Brahmas are typically bigger birds.

    Is my Production Red a runt or are they usually smaller than Barred Rocks? If they're typically bigger is there way to make sure the next one I get will end up larger? I kind of like the idea of a rooster that can push my dogs around if need be. If I bought from a smaller breeder could they ensure good genetics and size? Does anyone know of a breeder in the Central Texas area that breeds Rhode Islands? Heritage would be even better but probably very unlikely.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,474
    3,862
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You have to have enough chickens for averages to mean much before you can talk about what usually happens with certain breeds. It sounds like you don’t so don’t consider what you are seeing as “typical”.

    Another big problem is that production reds can be made different ways. Some people like to think that they are always made by crossing certain breeds, but that is not always the case. All production reds are not created equal. I’ve yet to see an SOP for production reds as published by the APA.

    Many production red flocks have been bred to emphasize egg production, not be dual purpose chickens. An advantage for egg layers is smaller size. The smaller birds don’t need to eat as much to maintain their body and are much more efficient at converting feed to eggs than a larger chicken.

    With all that said, I don’t think the size difference is unusual at all. It depends on where you got your production red and the barred rock, but I do think it is fairly typical.

    If you can find a breeder that is breeding for the traits you want, yes you will be better off. Each hatchery has a different person selecting which birds are put in the breeding flock. They don’t all have the same goals or skill level. It’s pretty unlikely you are going to get one at random that meets your goals as well as someone specifically breeding for what you want. The same is true for different barred rocks too.

    Another factor of that is that you need to know what you want or don’t want before you can go after it. A lot of times that is easier after the fact than before. I’ve been through that myself. I thought I wanted something but decided I really didn’t.

    Another thing. Don’t put too much faith I a rooster’s ability to handle dogs. Part of that is that it’s not the size of the rooster in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the rooster. Bigger is not always better. Part of it too is that no rooster can handle a determined dog.

    You will sometimes find a rooster that will sacrifice himself for his flock, you’ll find more roosters that will position himself between his flock and a danger, but you’ll also find a lot of roosters will try to lead their flock to safety.
    With your dogs, you are much better off training your dogs to get along with the chickens if you can instead of relying on a rooster to do it for you. With some dogs that may be really difficult and in any case t will take effort from you.
     
  3. One Chick Two

    One Chick Two Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,065
    162
    176
    Jun 13, 2013
    Great advice by Ridgerunner.

    We currently have 15 P RIR 29 week old cockerels (83 total P RIR) born last June.
    I do have to say... due to their genetic diversity backgrounds, the PR do look different from each other (to a degree) and have different weights, some being much larger (wider), and some more "compact" bodies, and some being just smaller all around. However, they are smaller than Heritage RIR.

    On a whim, I went out day before yesterday, and weighed some of these guys on an old postal scale. The largest was 7 lbs. The smallest came in 6 1/4 lbs. at this age. I weighed our Standard sized Partridge Cochin of the same age (he looks like the biggest of all of our chickens) and surprisingly, he actually weighed in at only 6 1/4 lbs. and he's far from small looking since he's taller too. That's the same weight as one of our smaller PRIR, so he's actually just fluff!

    One of our boys who looks like the biggest PR, is actually 3rd largest according to weight. So, you may want to weigh your roo to see where he's actually coming in at. Interestingly, we also have a one year old French Black Copper Marans, a large seeming breed, very solid boy, and he only weighs in at 7 lbs.! You just never know until you weigh them at how their mass is distributed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
  4. JohnsonHomested

    JohnsonHomested Out Of The Brooder

    64
    0
    39
    Jun 29, 2012
    The dogs are more of an excuse (to my wife) for wanting the larger roo. I was just really impressed with their size and thought they sorta looked the way roosters should. My chickens are kept separate from the dogs for the most part but if they are being free ranged one of the dogs likes to try to herd them from time to time. She's not very determined and I think a quick peck on the nose would discourage any further harassment.

    So, it sounds like I'll have better luck with a Heritage breeder. Thanks for the guidance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  5. JohnsonHomested

    JohnsonHomested Out Of The Brooder

    64
    0
    39
    Jun 29, 2012
    I'm reading a little bit about some of the breeding lines among Heritage Reds and people seeing differences in egg production. I understand they won't lay like the Production Reds but if I were to order eggs for hatching is there a recommended line for a good dual purpose bird? I would like to have a self sustaining flock at some point down the road. I came across Dick Horstman's name and his website says his birds are large.
     
  6. One Chick Two

    One Chick Two Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,065
    162
    176
    Jun 13, 2013
    If you're wanting large brown eggs, and hens that lay quite often, possibly research Australorp (good sized birds) and Speckled Sussex. Both are good layers and good sized, but not quite as big as Orps (broody) or Brahmas, which are very large. For a really big bird, also look at a Jersey Giant. However, they have an extremely loud crows that sound like elephant bellows.

    Barred rocks are also fairly large. Also, you also can breed your Barred rock cockerel to his mother (look up line breeding.). Inbreeding in chickens is good to continue a specific strain. Just make sure not to use any brothers or sisters together if possible (or no more than once, or the strain will die out.).

    Black Sex link and Red sex links will often be more of the size of Production reds, although they produce very well.

    Delawares seem to lay a good, big egg. Also look into Plymouth Rocks, and New Hampshire Reds are a very good size and lay a nice big brown egg too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  7. JohnsonHomested

    JohnsonHomested Out Of The Brooder

    64
    0
    39
    Jun 29, 2012
    We have an Australorp hen and she's kinda smallish (maybe because she's from a hatchery?). We also have a couple of Orpingtons and a Brahma. I like the RIR because we can feather sex some of the crosses pretty early on. We don't have the Barred Rock/RIR cockerel anymore. Multiple roosters crowing at each other all day proved to be too much for in town living. I'm going to wait until we get some land before we keep anymore roosters. I would love to one day have a Jersey Giant but I hear they eat a ton.
     
  8. JohnsonHomested

    JohnsonHomested Out Of The Brooder

    64
    0
    39
    Jun 29, 2012
    After doing a little comparative reading of both the Rhode Island and Barred Rock I'm seeing the Barred Rock is just different in size and shape. The Barred Rock has that classic large barnyard rooster look that I like. I guess I'll have to sacrifice that for the sex link crosses.
     
  9. One Chick Two

    One Chick Two Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,065
    162
    176
    Jun 13, 2013
    Yes, Jersey Giants eat a lot for egg conversion. Best egg conversion per size are still your PR, Sex links, probably Barred Rocks, and Australorp- there are probably lots of others I'm not familiar with.

    There are always bigger and smaller individuals in every breed, and the hens are quite often much smaller than the roos by a few lbs. Maybe you could try breeding your barred rock hen again to your PR, or to the Brahama? Then, pick the biggest big roo and mate him again to his mother?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by