Picking the Best Rooster(s)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Diavolicchio, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. Diavolicchio

    Diavolicchio Buk Buk Buk Buh-GAWWWK

    I'd like some advice from you chicken experts.

    As I mentioned in a previous thread, I'm just venturing into the world of having my own chickens and have been trying to absorb as much as I can by reading the posts on here as well as a number of books on raising chickens. My plans are to build a relatively large home chicken coop (16' x 28') and have it sectioned into 8 equal sized screened-in rooms, 4 on each side, measuring 6' x 7' each with a 4' aisle down the center of the coop. I'll be getting all straight run chicks and eggs, so most likely will end up with far more cockerels than I'll know what to do with. Final count in the chicken coop is targeted at 63 hens + 7 roosters + 10 additional back-up roosters, for a total of 80 chickens, 10 per each 6' x 7' sectioned area in the coop (4.2 sq ft per chicken.)

    My questions are about culling and knowing which birds to keep and which to end up using for meat. I plan to have 7 different breeds, 1 breed per section, each section comprised of 9 hens and 1 rooster. The eighth section in the coop will be set aside for a back-up rooster of each breed, plus possibly a second of a couple breeds. I'm doing this because I ultimately want to keep my options open for breeding. I want to make sure I've got a good rooster of each breed and back-ups as well in case anything happens to any of the primary roosters.

    Let me state for the record that I'm aware I should probably be starting out with just one breed rather than taking on seven. And I should also probably start on a much smaller scale. I understand these things. That would be more practical and realistic, but I've decided not to go that route. [​IMG]

    That being said:

    1) How do I know which rooster in a given breed should be the one I ultimately keep with my hens? Is it about nothing more than dominance and which has established themselves as highest in the pecking order? Or do I take into account things like the appearance and personality of the rooster, and whether he has traits I want to perpetuate when it comes time to breed my hens?

    2) I've read in a few places that if I hold onto a couple extra roosters and keep them confined from the hens, they're likely to get along just fine together. I'm skeptical. Would I really have little problem keeping 10 extra roosters in their own separate area where there are no hens to fight over, but where the hens are still in clear eyesight? I can't help but think there's likely to be trouble amongst these extra roosters at some point if they're sequestered to their own little frat house, but are spending a good chunk of their time staring into the seven nearby sorority houses where clearly somebody is getting laid and it's NOT them. I'm curious how this set-up may have worked for others in this Forum.

    3) I'm going to have a LOT of extra cockerels early on that don't even MAKE it to the frat house. Nor will I have the space for them to be allowed to fully mature. At what age should I begin culling them out (and extra hens if there are any) to reduce the numbers down to the final number I want of each breed? At what age will I truly have a sense of a rooster's personality and whether he's one of the ones I should be holding onto?

    Finally,

    4) Given that I will have one rooster of each breed living with his respective flock in a separate area in the coop, do I ever actually let the EXTRA roosters I'm keeping have direct contact with the hens (such as when they're outdoors around in their run), or should I be keeping these extra roosters permanently isolated and only allowed out in the run with each other? I'm just concerned with having jealous roosters going NUTS if they're ever allowed to directly mingle with the hens, especially in the presence of the rooster who's actually mating with them.

    Thanks in advance for all of your input and suggestions.



    John
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
  2. Cindiloohoo

    Cindiloohoo Quiet as a Church Mouse

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    1. I'd cull according to standards and personality.
    2. I honestly do not know, as I have not much experience here [​IMG]
    3. You can always caponize and grow the extra roo's out for future freezer campers. 8 to 12 weeks to decide which to cull.
    4. they may all get along better if you rotate and let all roo's get some nookie. Also, may help your breeding program to do this.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  3. popcornpuppy

    popcornpuppy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The one piece of info I did not see in your post was what breeds you are interested in.
    Pick up a copy of APA Book of Standards. It will tell you how certain breeds are supossed to look. (I.E. how many points on the comb, what color legs, how much the males and females of a particulare breed should weigh, what the body shape should look like.) Personality is also important. Nobody likes a nasty/angry roo and he will throw nasty offspring.

    Once you know how a particular breed should look, you choose the rooster that is closest to that description in your flock to be mated.

    As far as keeping multiple roos in one pen and girls in an other, I have no experience there. I have had as many as 3 mature roos in one pen with 26 girls and they never faught.

    It is best to cull as close to sexual maturity as posible (some breeds 18-20 weeks) As they get older they get tougher to eat. By sexual maturity you should have a good idea of who is the best specimen and who is going to "camp".

    I hope some of this info helps

    edited for spelling
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  4. Diavolicchio

    Diavolicchio Buk Buk Buk Buh-GAWWWK

    Quote:They're listed in my signature file.


    John
     
  5. popcornpuppy

    popcornpuppy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:They're listed in my signature file.


    John

    [​IMG]
    sorry my bad.
     
  6. Diavolicchio

    Diavolicchio Buk Buk Buk Buh-GAWWWK

    Quote:That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the suggestion.


    John
     
  7. Cindiloohoo

    Cindiloohoo Quiet as a Church Mouse

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    Quote:That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the suggestion.


    John

    I have good ideas occasionally [​IMG] That's what I plan to do with my reserve roo's too.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    If you are hardnosed about it you can do some culling early. Anything with defects, anything slower or weaker than its hatchmates, anything in poor health. Also consider early culling of anything with conspicuous disqualifications, unless the breed/line is so rare you might have to leave them in your breeding program if their other qualities are good. It is not as easy as you might think to go choppity-chop (or whatever) to leetle half-grown chicks, though, nor necessarily as easy to find them upright homes as you might be hoping.

    As far as regular selection, some breeds you can cull for Standard-type quality much younger than you can for others. Things whose plumage doesn't mature for a long time (like the long tailed breeds for instance) or things that mature slooowwwwllly (jersey giants, and to a considerable extent Chanteclers too which I mention since they are on your list), will have to be carried considerably longer before you can make intelligent decisions.

    Personally I think body type (according to what the breed is supposed to be like) and 'healthiness' should be the first things selected for; THEN come temperament and things like comb points or feather colors or all that show stuff. But honestly you can select your birds according to whatever floats your personal boat. There is no right or wrong, just a matter of what you're trying to DO.

    Remember that if you are wanting to *breed* 7 different breeds, that is an awesomely gigantic job unless you just want to go the sort of puppy-mill route of producing 'whatever'. If you want to be able to select and really keep the quality of your lines, much less *improve* them, you should be planning on raising up at least a few dozen of each breed (that's raising up to the age where you can cull intelligently, which will not be younger than 16 wks or so in most breeds and in many cases may be older than that). Even if you did two shifts per year, that would require having space for 100 *extra* chickens -- not chicks, full-sized chickens, and that's ABOVE AND BEYOND the breeding stock you're keeping.

    If you have that kind of facilities and $$ and time and energy, great -- if not, er, you might want to think carefully about what you are really trying to do here.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  9. Diavolicchio

    Diavolicchio Buk Buk Buk Buh-GAWWWK

    Quote:Pat,

    What a great post. Really informative too. You've given me a lot of food for thought.

    I'm starting out with 7 breeds just to give me a greater selection from which to choose the 3 breeds that I'll likely end up breeding. I wouldn't attempt more than that. I'm just trying to keep as many options open as possible. My gut feeling is that in a matter of a couple years, I'll have two dozen hens each of three breeds, and 2 or 3 roosters of each (properly segregated of course to minimize bloodshed.) [​IMG]

    I really appreciate you taking the time to clarify everything that you did.


    John
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    After checking each against the APA standard for the breed, I cull down to maybe three, then I wait until the rooster is becoming hormonal, at which point, his true temperament usually shows itself. That is usually just around 15-20 weeks old, in my experience. The most friendly of the bunch sometimes will become so comfortable around you that, if he has a spark of human-aggression in him, he will size you up and take you on when he gets some bulk on him. I've had that happen. It's not always the most friendly boy who ends up being my choice.

    That happened with my Delawares. I chose one who was slightly standoffish at first, but in the end, he became a fabulous guy, quite able and ready to protect his hens against real danger, but he knew that we were not the enemy. The largest, most super friendly cockerel ended up being aggressive toward us as he reached 16 weeks old or so.

    My theory is that a rooster who attacks the folks who bring the feed and water every day is not very intelligent. Isaac never acts worried or nervous when we handle his girls, even when we have a screaming, struggling ninny on our hands. He does however break up fights between the hens, charges from wherever he is when a hen yells, etc. And, he has proper body type, great color, comb, etc. I won't breed a human-aggressive rooster.
     

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