Picking a rooster

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by phoenixrises, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. phoenixrises

    phoenixrises Out Of The Brooder

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    So I have 6 Barred Rock Pullets and 5 Gold Laced Wyandottes. Those are my layers.

    I also have 22 (started with 26) heavy breed cockerals, they happen to be Barred Rocks and Buff Orpingtons. They don't know it but one of them gets to be our rooster and then gets a reprieve. Right now the boys are the nicest and friendliest, the layers couldn't care about me at all. Matter of fact one of the Barred Rock Cockerals hopped on my foot and hitched a ride around the pen today. They run up to me looking for goodies while the girls are all much more cautious. Anyway, what do I look for in a good roo? Obviously not aggressive (hormones haven't kicked in yet so no one is showing any signs of that) but what else do I look for? I'm guessing one that tells the ladies when he's found good food, and keeps a lookout for trouble? Any other things I should know?
     
  2. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    A good temperament is a must. Then chose for a good body type for his breed.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It's going to be hard to really tell until butcher age. You have to wait for the hormones to ease up a little and see who he really is.

    My criteria are:

    not ever human aggressive. Ever. Even once.

    Good to the hens. Call them for treats, court them (takes a while for this in some birds---hormones, ya know!), alert them when anything unusual happens.

    pretty/future breeding potential.


    Personally, with your breeds, I'd be looking at one of the Buff boys. If you're wanting to hatch out your own chicks, they'll make sex link babies with your barred hens, and those hens are very pretty and a hardy cross. I don't know what either breed would look like crossed with a glw. Of course, if you keep a barred rooster, you can have purebred birds, if that appeals to you, and barred rock chicks are fairly easy to sex early on.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Donrae’s right. At that age it’s really hard to tell how the rooster will behave when he is mature and in charge of the flock. Their behavior can change as the hormones settle down. Also being flock master is a lot of responsibility. Some can handle that better than others.

    First, eliminate any that have a physical deformity or you just don’t like the way they look. That could be anything from crooked toes, warped beak, to just a body shape you don’t like. They will pass on that stuff to their offspring.

    I don’t know your goals, but if they include meat, you might want to go for a larger early maturing rooster. If you are after eggs only, no meat, size isn’t as important but I think early maturing is still a benefit. Don’t get too hung up on biggest if you are after meat, but size should be a criteria. When I butcher later maturing cockerels I find their sexual organs are usually not very well developed. These are at the bottom of the rooster pecking order too. I just don’t find late maturing cockerels good candidates for flock master.

    I look for a cockerel that is near the top of the cockerel pecking order. That kind of goes with the above. A good flock master has to be dominant in his flock to be able to handle his duties. He needs the self-confidence to be able to handle those duties without being a pure bully and brute to the hens. You don’t have to choose the most dominant cockerel but I would pick one near the top.

    Are your males running with the females? If they are, you are going to have a pretty hectic time when they hit puberty. If you have lots of room you’ll probably be OK but it can get kind of wild. The boys will be fighting some to determine who is dominant. If you have enough room, that usually involves some running way and chasing after a skirmish. They work it out. Kind of look at who wins these skirmishes. Those are you best candidates.

    Some will be trying to mate with the pullets. Some of that is sexual but the mating ritual is also dominance behavior. They are trying to establish flock dominance over the pullets. Again, these are your better candidates. The pullets will probably not be mature enough to know what to do so they will probably not cooperate. The cockerels will probably try to force them. It’s a rough time with all those hormones running wild. If you see a cockerel dance for a pullet before trying to mount her, that is a plus. If you see a pullet willingly squat for a cockerel, that is another good sign, a really good sign.

    I don’t know how important color or pattern are to you in the offspring. If you choose a Barred Rock rooster, the first generation will pretty much all be black barred. There will probably be some leakage from the GLW but basically black barred. If you keep some of the offspring for breeding to each other you will get a lot of variation in later generations if you choose a rooster and some pullets from the GLW hens (you can tell by the comb). You can get a real wide variation of colors and patterns, many of which will surprise you if you keep some GLW in the mix, but black barred will probably predominate if you keep a rooster or many pullets from the Barred Rock hens.

    If you choose a Buff rooster, the first generation will include black pullets, black barred cockerels, and some buff/light red chicks from the GLW. I’m not sure what the patterns will be but the GLW chicks will be buff/light red. Those black pullets and black barred roosters will possibly have some orange-ish or buff spots or areas. Buff can do funny things when crossed with black or black barred. If you choose breeding stock from this offspring, you can get a rainbow of colors and patterns in future generations.
     
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  5. phoenixrises

    phoenixrises Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you guys for all the info. I hadn't even thought of hatching my own (I don't know why). I would definitely like to keep with the whole DP thing and making sure whatever the cross was would be good for meat and eggs would be a priority. So far I have 2 BR and 1 BO who already physically look the male part. One of the BR is hysterical and honestly he's the only one out of the lot of them (other than the GLW) that I can tell apart. But as you said, being only 4 weeks old who knows what will happen when the hormones kick in. I just wanted to know what I was looking at.

    Currently they are all together. They have a large shed (12x12) as a coop and then have access to roughly 1/3 of an acre fenced during the day. While they currently have run of the entire 1/3 of an acre I have it fenced off into thirds, so I can close it off.

    My plan (you can let me know if it is stupid) was as I made decisions about who absolutely was going to the freezer I would move them to a segregated area (with their own safe smaller coop) until I was left with one in with the pullets. Sort of a chicken Hunger Games.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    You're going to need to separate the pullets and the cockerels before the cockerels are ready for processing. Cockerels mature a little before pullets, and often want to start mating at 3.5-4 months. You have way more males than females and your girls' lives will be miserable. Sounds like it might be best to put the females in the smaller area (depending on how small we're talking) at around 3.5 months. At that age you should easily be able to tell male from females with the barred rocks. This will also cut down fighting amongst the roosters as the hormones start flowing. They'll still posture and squabble, but with no females to compete for things don't usually get bad.

    If you've identified a potential favorite or two at that point, you can keep him in with the pullets to see how he acts with them. It's just hard selecting a good rooster from a bunch of juveniles, cause they're, well, so juvenile!
     
  7. phoenixrises

    phoenixrises Out Of The Brooder

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    Smaller area is still not small. Basically I have a big rectangle that's 1/3 of an acre then broke that up into thirds, which can be opened up so they can go in all of it, or close a door and separate them. Right now they have run of the whole thing but it would be easy enough to close them off. For the meat birds I just have a child's plastic playhouse that I've put up on a pallet and put hardware cloth on all the openings. No one is using them (there are two) right now but they are in the furthest section so when the time comes it's easy enough to move them over there.

    They are 4 weeks now, your saying in another 8 weeks I need to separate them? I can tell the girls from the boys now for the barred rocks as they are noticeably darker in color than the boys. Although on inspection today I believe two of my buff orpingtons may not be cockerals. But honestly I don't know enough to be sure. I"ll take a pic and post in another thread to find out.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    That's probably the early end of when they need to be separated. Basically, when those boys get horny and start harassing the pullets, whenever that is with your birds. I guess you could just start butchering then, but some of those guys may start pretty early and not be much of a carcass at that time, you'll want to let them get some more size to make a better table bird.
     
  9. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You might go about choosing a rooster the other way around.

    When they get to the desired size, you can start butchering the roosters that you like the least. And you keep narrowing down the field until the last rooster is standing. Call it barnyard survivor. :)

    If you want to breed for pure bred egg producers, I would suggest going with a Barred Rock.

    I remember as a kid my parents bought 25 straight run chicks from the Sears farm catalog. About half were roosters, so they were butchered when they got big enough. We named the rooster we kept Lucky. He was lucky he wasn't eaten. :)
     

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