Starting to build a flock - need roo suggestions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by losttexan, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. losttexan

    losttexan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I currently have an adult Buff Orp hen we inherited with the property. I'm not sure of her age, but she is still laying 4-5 eggs/week. At the beginning of February, I purchased 7 seven-week old hens (2 buff orps, 1 barred rock, 1 black star, 1 EE, and 2 araucanas) and have been brooding them in the garage until it is warm enough to move them to the coop.
    They will be free range, and I am looking for egg production (mostly interested in tinted for selling), and to get a self-sustaining program going without the need for purchasing more chicks.
    Obviously, at some point, I am going to need a rooster, and am trying to decide the best way to go. Buy a started cockerel? Get a chick and grow him up (what to do about the inevitable minimum order). Buy an adult?
    What breeds should I be looking at? My main criteria are:
    * trying to keep chicks that will lay colored eggs (blue, green, olive)
    * good protection for free range flock (forager)
    * hot weather hardy
    * not overly aggressive (I have a young daughter)

    I'm still learning chicken genetics, so any suggestions on what I should be keeping in mind?
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    What will you be doing with all of your roosters? I'd wait until later in the season to get a rooster. Lots of folks will have beloved pullets that suddenly start to crow, and they'll be glad to have you take their roos off their hands. Then, given your desire for a colorful egg basket, I'd get an other EE, and make sure that he has dark feathering. He'll most likely produce more EE with your EE and Araucanas (which are most likely EE), OE with your BO and BS, and BSL OE with your BR. Are you getting an incubator? Are you planning just to hatch what your girls produce by going broody? A broody hen is nice, and desirable, but unpredictable. If you want chicks when it's convenient for you, I'd recommend that you get an incubator. It will also allow you the option to finish off a batch of eggs that your broody leaves, finish off the few eggs that are in a broody clutch that got a late start, start some eggs at the same time as the broody so that if she has a poor hatch, you can foster extra chicks under her. Incubators can be made very cheaply.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    My advice is to hold off on the rooster for a while. You want to range your birds, and roosters and young children just don't mix well. If you're relatively new to chickens, just keep hens for a year or so and see how things go. At that time evaluate how you'd feel about butchering rooster chicks you hatch out, or have an idea of your local market for them. Research using an incubator, and plan how you'll house the chicks until they're old enough to join the flock. None of your breeds are super likely to go broody--not saying it's impossible, I just wouldn't bank on it for hatching chicks. In a year you'll also have an idea of your egg market, your customer base, and if it's even worthwhile for you. Sometimes it's just much easier to buy sexed pullets.

    If/when you decide to get a rooster, I'd look for one on CL or similar in the late spring or early summer. As stated, folks will be realizing some pullets are roosters around that time and will be thrilled to find a non-stew pot home for their bird.

    A word of caution--roosters aren't pets. Don't take a bird that's been raised as someone's beloved pet, those are the birds that so often have no respect for humans and attack, especially young children.
     
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  4. losttexan

    losttexan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think I'm tracking most of the abbreviations:
    EE - easter egger
    OE - olive egg?
    BO - buff orp
    BS - black star
    BSL - ???
    BR - barred rock

    Correct?
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Sorry! BSL= Black Sex Link. You're correct on all of the other abbreviations. Did you say you have children? If so, Donrae gave good advice. Roosters and children don't mix. And if you do get a rooster, don't make a pet out of him. Read the threads re: rooster management.
     
  6. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would get a older rooster that has proven trustworthy with people, not to say he can't turn mean but it has been my experience that if a rooster that is a couple years old is still a docile rooster odds of him turning in to a flogging rooster is slim, at least that has been my experience. A young rooster is not trustworthy, they are feeling their hormones and can get stupid, go for a dignified old boy, lol.
     
  7. losttexan

    losttexan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are there any behavioral generalizations that can be attributed to roo age, or is it all up to the particular personalities and idiosyncrasies of the individual birds (including the hens)?
    The suggestion to play it conservative and keep hens for a year or so is a good one, but I was under the impression that a roo was helpful for free ranging protection/alarm. Likewise, it had been suggested that I get a roo close to the hens' age to minimize problems. I realize everyone has their own opinions on such things, but that's why I'm seeking the aggregate view.
     
  8. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It pretty much is up to the individual bird, sometimes they are ok for awhile then they reach a certain age and start attacking anything that moves including people, however it has been our experience that there are many more good roosters around than bad ones, we have only had one bad one in our experience and it was a RIR my grandparents had, meanest thing on Earth and luckily a fisher made a meal of him. I wouldn't wait to get a rooster as I feel they do contribute to the flock and I just like to have a nice rooster around. I'm sure you will find a decent rooster easy enough, people who order or hatch chicks always have extras. Just find one you like and if it's a young one just keep an eye on him around the little girl for awhile, or if you can find a older rooster someone needs to get rid of who is known to be friendly even better. I had 6 roosters out of my last chick order and none of them were mean, I still have 3 they will be a year old in a couple months and those 3 are still easy going.

    Just a suggestion on your sustainable flock, if you get a RIR or NH or any rooster of that type, and you have barred rock hens or hens with the silver gene you will be able to produce black or red sex link chicks. My favorite roosters are reds or barred rocks
     
  9. losttexan

    losttexan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Although McMurray has a pretty good sex guarantee, maybe I should wait and see if any of my hens (now 9 weeks old) start crowing in a couple of months. ;-)
    I have heard a couple of people mention BSLs and how to get them. Other than being able to sex after hatching, why is that breed particularly desirable?
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    BSL are egg laying machines. I actually like them, and will always have at least one in my flock. A BSL is produced by putting a not white and not barred rooster over a barred or cuckoo patterned hen. There's an excellent chart that gives you a lot of combinations for Black Sex link and Red Sex link crosses, also explains feather sexing. Unfortunately, I've lost the link, but if you go to the search bar, and type in sex link, you'll find it. It has charts for black and red sex links with pictures of the chicks produced. It's fairly straight forward, and a fun read, if not a bit of a mind bender.

    And as far as MMc having a good rep for accurately sexing their stock: The 3 Dominique pullets I bought from them last spring, all started crowing before the summer was over. Now, a good Dominique is auto sexing, as to my understanding should be all of the barred and cuckoo patterned birds, and I took one look at them when I got them and said they were roosters, but I kept them anyway, and MMc was good about promising replacements, which I opted to get this spring instead of starting new chicks at the end of last summer. So, yeah, I wouldn't order a rooster from any hatchery, unless I had a specific breeding program going on, and then, I'd get all my chicks from breeders anyway.

    If I was going to add a rooster to my flock, I'd look at getting a proven rooster from a breeder who was rotating him out of a breeding program b/c a younger roo was taking his place. Older roos are seasoned, and a good breeder won't keep a mean roo in his flock. The older roo should have worked out all of his young teen age "randiness", and be experienced at keeping his flock safe and in line. With an older roo, the aggression between roos should be less in the next generation, and the youngsters should learn from him how to treat the ladies to win their affection. When you look for a roo, the first question I'd ask, is: does he dance for the ladies?

    Blue Coon Dawg: I like your thinking! You think like me in the realm of chickendom.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014

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