I'm new to BYC and new to chickens--what a great forum! Anyway, last July we got 12 1-week old chicks. 3 each of BR, RIR, BO, and Ameracauna. Turns out one of the Ameracaunas is a rooster, and he's a beauty. Very friendly, seems to be very protective of the girls, and so far the crowing's only a minor issue with one neighbor. After reading many posts from people who ask why their hens aren't laying I thought I'd post what I've recently observed (apologies if this is old news, as I said, this is all new to me). About a week or two after he started crowing (1 or 2 months ago) he started mating, but only with the BRs. We weren't sure why he chose them, but within a few days, they were the first ones to start visiting the nest boxes and were the first ones we got eggs from. Last week he started going for the RIRs, and sure enough, now they are starting to fiddle around in the boxes and we think we got at least one egg from a RIR, since we got 4 eggs in one day this week, and there are only 3 BRs. So is a rooster's affections an accurate gauge of when a hen is about ready to start laying? PS: We're in SoCal and it's been cooler than normal and we don't use any artificial lighting, so I think we're fortunate to be getting as many eggs as we are (avg. 2 per day and only 3 or so hens are laying). Thanks for all the great info from eveybody! Having chickens has been a blast!