Picking a Rooster

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by FarmerGirl27, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. FarmerGirl27

    FarmerGirl27 New Egg

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    Sep 10, 2013
    I am new to chickens and I have decide to get a rooster. Right now I have all hens. They are also all laying birds. I have 2 Orpingtons, 6 Rhode Island Red, 5 Black Australorp and 1 Barrel Rock. I am new to chickens however I know horses. I know with horses you would just never breed a Paso to a Clydesdale. You would get a big hot mess. I don't want a big hot mess. I want something that will be a good layer that I can eat the boys. I was mainly looking at birds I thought were pretty, and good layers. I don't' care if they are yard mutts so much as healthy and going to be good layers. Half the chickens I see in the book are decent layers. So I wanted to ask if I should be looking at finding a rooster that is a specific breed of just go with what I thought was pretty. Like I said I wanted layers not eaters. But if I am having babies that means boys so I am going to eat them. I was thinking Ameraucana also known as Easter eggers. I don't really care about pure breed chickens I have no intention of showing or doing anything but eating a little chicken and my eggs. So do I want a cross breed? Do I want a chicken that is just pretty? Do I want to get a pure bred chicken of a specific breed to have useful crosses. I don't want 100 chickens I am supper happy with my little 14 hens but I like playing with them and I thought chicks would be fun.
     
  2. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think the way you're thinking about this makes a lot of sense. Do you plan to have a broody raise the chicks or were you going to use an incubator? I assume you intend to have one of your hens go broody and raise the chicks.

    So, you're trying to pick a breed for your rooster. All your existing breeds are dual purpose (laying and eating) breeds so you can certainly eat the extra cockerals that you can't keep from the hatch. Given this, here are a few ways you can think about this to pick the breed that might work best for you.

    One way is to think about the breeds you already have. Is there one of your breeds that you just like the personalities of the chickens better? If you got a rooster that was that breed, then you'd get more of that breed.

    Another way is to think about how many of each breed you already have. You have mostly RIR and Black Australorp. So, if you got either a RIR or Black Australorp, you'd get more of these breeds in the chicks. I know you don't care about pure breeds (vs. mutts) but you'd know that for some of the chicks, those chicks would be more predictable in their personalities and physical characteristics when they came from say, a Black Australorp hen and your Black Australorp rooster.

    So, to add perspective, this is basically how I picked my rooster breed from the following breeds: RIR, Black Astralorp, Barred Rock, Buff Orpington (very similar to your list of breeds). I picked a Barred Rock as my cockeral for the following 3 reasons:

    1. I really like the Barred Rock breed best of the ones I have because every one of my Barred Rock chickens are very friendly, gregarious, nice to people, funny, good layers, pretty meaty if I have to eat them. My Barred Rocks are the first to try new things, first to come running to see what I have for them, first to lay, etc.
    2. I have more Barred Rock pullets than any other breed so when I get chicks (hopefully), I'll get at least some that are all Barred Rock.
    3. I just liked this one individual Barred Rock cockeral best, liked his personality, liked how he was maturing as a cockeral, like how he lead the flock as the flock master, liked how he adores me and my family and is never aggressive towards any people. I thought he'd be a good rooster for my flock. I don't think this one applies to you as I think you're getting a rooster from elsewhere but I thought I'd add it.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You want chickens for eggs and meat, and that is what is called a dual-purpose chicken. All the breeds you have fit that description.

    The Rhode Island Red is one of the best layers of brown eggs. You also have more Rhode Island Reds than any other breed. So my suggestion would be to get a Rhode Island Red rooster.

    A Rhode Island Red rooster crossed with a Barred Plymouth Rock will give you Black Sex Link chickens, which are very good egg-layers. Sex Link means you can tell the difference between males and females when chicks are born. Black Sex Links are an identifiable type, which makes them easier to sell, if needed, than just an average cross.

    Crossing a Rhode Island Red rooster with Orpington or Australorp hens will give you a mix, but I feel confident in saying they would be good egg-layers.

    Orpington and Australorp hens are good because they will sit on and hatch out eggs from time to time.

    An Ameraucana rooster can be purchased from a breeder and will cost some money. You can get an Easter Egger, which doesn't meet the APA standards for Ameraucana, from a hatchery or from Craigslist. These chickens are a little smaller than the breeds you have, but they do lay eggs well. And they often lay blue or green eggs.

    Again, I suggest a Rhode Island Red Rooster to produce good dual-purpose chickens with the hens you have. Another great thing is you can find them all over. You can find one through Craigslist or somewhere else. A true Rhode Island Red has dark red feathers all over, except for the tail which is green. There should not be any white feathers. Many people sell crosses or what are called production reds as Rhode Island Reds.

    Here are some pictures of Rhode Island Reds. http://www.cacklehatchery.com/rhodeislandrdpage.html
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  4. weeshanti

    weeshanti Out Of The Brooder

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    I'd like to join this thread with a similar question, as I am learning from the previous posts already. I hope my question will lead to more answers for you as well, FarmerGirl.

    I have an established "mutt" flock with a leghorn/cochin/maybe Rhode Island Red rooster. He has been a fabulous rooster for over a year now, and we have a new group of his hens coming up from broody and the incubator, along with several roosters. We also inherited two Rhode Island Red roosters from a neighbor who didn't want them. We have them segregated and were planning to add them to the fall slaughter, but they are turning out to be beautiful birds with fairly good personalities.

    On top of that, I have one rogue RIR cross (came as a day-old to replace some chicks a broody hen lost) who has separated himself from the flock of fighting adolescent roosters in the barn, and moved in with my ducks. He is peaceful and sweet.

    My main concern is first that I have a rooster who protects my flock without attacking my kids. My chickens are all free-range, and we had a Black Australorp we had to remove forcibly because he was so mean he bloodied my daughter's leg nearly to the point of stitches. So far our resident rooster has been guarding the kids from the idiot young roosters, so I'm quite pleased with him for that. However, the second concern is the health of my flock in general. All the new hens are his daughters. In terms of keeping a laying/meat flock in healthy continuation, do I need to give him up to the stock pot and let in some new blood in the form of one of the new RIRs who are segregated and peaceful?

    I have a neighbor who tells me our good rooster will turn on us and become a demon as soon as he turns two. I'm not sure about this, but if it's true, his number is up in the spring. This has me worried that I should replace him this fall with one of the 4 month-olds.

    Does breed play a role in this, as FarmerGirl wonders as well? Or is it just luck to get a "good" rooster? Bullitt's comments about RIRs has me wondering if hanging on to Ketchup (the Leghorn patriarch) is not the best idea.

    This flock management thing is tough business. [​IMG]
     
  5. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 13, 2013
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    Hi There,

    Regarding your question that is essentially about inbreeding and your concerns about this, there is a good deal of discussion on this topic and some really different perspectives. Do a search here in BYC on "inbreeding" and several really interesting threads come up with loads of different viewpoints, experiences and opinions. Maybe have a read of those and then it will be easier for you to apply the bits of advice and approaches that match your plan and goals. Pay special attention to what people like Donrae, Sumi, Ridgerunner say on the topic. Here's one thread, for example, with really good info in it.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/734859/inbreeding-and-line-breeding-poultry/10

    In terms of your question about your good rooster turning bad at 2, that's not likely. A rooster's general personality is fairly well set at a far younger age than that. You can tell a great deal about a rooster when he's still a juvenile at starting as early as 16 weeks old and continuing for several months. This is when he just starts maturing and as a juvenile, his hormones are raging but then he settles down over the next few months. He learns to properly mate and to take care of the hens, doing things like tidbitting, predator warning, mating, showing the hens where to lay eggs, etc. There are also a bunch of threads on how to pick a good rooster based on early signs that you start noticing when he's still a juvenile. Never heard or seen a rooster just go bad at 2 the year mark but... maybe I just haven't seen the right thread or the right (wrong?) rooster!

    As far as it being "luck" to get a good rooster, it's a lot of things. It's the individual personality of the rooster. It's the strain of that breed. It could be somewhat the breed itself. It's how you relate to that particular rooster, did you buy him fully grown, hand raise him in a brooder in the house, raise him in a brooder in the barn. It's how the rooster was breed and for what traits. It's a lot of things and expert breeders know way more about this, I'm sure. But, if you have a good rooster, good for you!

    I had a friend tell me that all my roosters would get mean when they matured. It's just not so that all roosters get mean. In fact, I purposefully did a bunch of things to keep my chosen cockerals nice to me and all people and so he could understand that I was in charge and higher than him in the pecking order. I have had mean cockerals that just had mean personalities but again, I could tell this when they were fairly young. At 16 weeks was when I started to see signs of over-aggressiveness towards me, the pullets, other cockerals. Those mean cockerals ended up on the dinner table. Again in case it's helpful, do a search on "choosing a rooster" or "good rooster traits" or other similar search terms if you wanted to read more about this.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013

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