What roosters should I keep?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by kuhnse51, Oct 28, 2014.

  1. kuhnse51

    kuhnse51 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Currently, I have 6 chickens that are 14 weeks old (4 cockerels and 2 pullets of various breeds) I also have 18 younger chicks mostly 6 weeks old. Pretty soon I will have to get rid of roosters because even though I want to I can't keep them all. My question is which roosters will be the best to keep for breeding purposes later on. I'm mostly looking to breed for egg laying, personality, and "prettiness". Sex-linking would be a nice bonus.

    I have already decided I am definitely keeping my buff orp roo so I can keep one or two other roos...mayyybe 3 others and see how that goes having 4 roos. I'll list out all the breeds that I currently have.

    Roos:
    -Buff orp
    -Black australorp
    -RIR (He seems to be starting to get aggressive)
    -Partridge rock
    -Golden campine (started crowing at 3 weeks...may be a loud roo)
    -Silver-gray dorking
    -Light brahma (I'm assuming at least 1 of my 5 will be a boy but its still too early to tell)

    Hens:
    -Barred rock
    -Black australorp
    -Buff brahma
    -Light brahma
    -Silver spangled hamburg
    -Welsummer (I believe)
    -Salmon faverolle
    -Delaware (I think)
    -Partridge rock

    So what 2-3 roos would be the best to keep for my girls?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Can you list the sources you got those birds from? I.e. breeder, hatchery, feed store... This matters quite a lot, it will directly impact what results you get. There's a number of ways one can 'recreate' a breed visually, but that doesn't mean they will breed as expected or produce actual quality.

    You can't expect breeding quality from most hatcheries, sorry, you'll generally get birds best used then culled, never bred. If you're deeply attached to a faulty individual, it's easy enough to not breed them, but if all your specimens of a given breed are very faulty, you can just obtain better ones for breeding purposes.

    Some percentage of chooks (from pretty much any background) will be riddled with genetic faults and will suffer later in life. I strongly suggest you keep a record, a livestock/poultry journal, recording anything and everything you think pertinent, preferably with photos, so you can trace problems back to source when they show up years down the track and thus be able to eliminate them (and the entire family line if necessary).

    For an example, a breeder gave me Silkies with early onset leukosis, and a different breeder gave me Black Australorps with late onset leukosis. The B. Aus. Orps took around 3 years to show they had this, and of course, in the meanwhile I produced some nice offspring from them that the family made into pets. Hard situation to manage.

    Another breeder gave me a Silkie cross who-knows-what with multiple genetic faults which are all quite dominant including skewed leg scaling (common trait to also get from purebreds, but thankfully easily visually identifiable even in just-hatched offspring) --- which I'm still breeding out as it causes genetic spraddling.

    The combination of the bird with skewed leg scaling, and another line entirely (Pekin mixes) from yet another breeder produced leukosis too, and overshot beaks.

    Obviously, as those examples show, you're not necessarily safe just because you're outbreeding; I strongly recommend you make test breedings (and test in-breedings as well) to find out what sort of deleterious genetics each bird has, male or female; inbreed them for one generation minimum and see what rears its ugly head, and be as ruthless as you can in culling it out. It only gets worse the longer you wait, generations down the track it becomes a huge and unhappy task if you take a soft stance on it to begin with; particularly when dealing with pets and otherwise great animals.

    Guaranteed, at least some of your birds are carrying genetic faults, of varying degrees of severity, and some won't show until they're a few years old.

    The birds you're not sure of you possibly should test breed, like the Delaware and Welsummer, but if at all possible, please post pictures so any conformation/genetic faults can be eliminated before breeding. Some of that stuff will haunt you for years; I'm still eradicating some of that from my flock.

    Anyway --- onto your actual question!

    When you say 'prettiness' you're referring to something completely subjective. Where others see beauty, I see ugliness, and vice versa. It's intensely personal.

    Can you list the traits you think are attractive, and the ones that are not? Something like...

    Beak color
    Eye color
    Leg color/s
    Feather color/s
    Feather patterns
    Crest/no crest
    Comb type
    Ear tufts/no ear tufts
    Earlobe color/s (I like turquoise, green or blue myself)
    Bearded/unbearded
    Feather-legged/clean-legged
    Long tailed/short tailed (like Pekin tail versus Leghorn tail)
    Rounded/streamlined (like Buff Orp versus Leghorn)
    etc...

    Once you're sure of what you want to see, it's a simple(-ish) matter of finding out which traits are dominant, and then selecting for them.

    What genetics behave as dominant or recessive can fluctuate in different combinations, nothing is necessarily guaranteed to be dominant or recessive 100% of the time.

    Another thing to consider is that multiple genetics can be responsible for every color, pattern, type... So you can create black or white many different ways.

    I don't like barring, myself, and in my experience it's been pretty dominant, so I absolutely do not breed barred birds. If you don't like barring, but prefer partridge or duckwing patterns or lacing, then your Barred Rock has to go (or not be bred), same for your Campine most likely.

    Once you know what color genetics are dominant, you'll know what birds to breed to what birds for a given color inheritance, though it won't be guaranteed, just a good bet. Black and white can be pretty dominant colors, so while breeding for patterning you may need to do some careful planning or it can be obscured under solid black/white even though it's still there.

    Going by your choices I think you like chooks with size, patterning, and probably the bigger body type, no? (We know you want layer capacity, so that's a given). You'll probably need to keep a journal to maintain decent egg production qualities, otherwise you may end up inadvertently breeding it to a low standard while selecting for other traits. It can be hard to ascertain where you're heading without multi-generational records to spot the trends.

    Since not all serious faults will be apparent, I would really recommend you do not cull any animals you breed under about three years old at the very minimum, otherwise you risk not finding faults that will emerge when you try to keep them longer.

    You may want to breed for dual purpose qualities, like both laying capacity and meatiness; it sure helps when you're culling out unwanted ones to eat, like surplus males, later on... Also, if you only breed for layer traits, you'll end up steering towards slim, leghorn type bodies, not big fluffy things, generally.)

    You're on your way to making complete 'mongrels' or 'mutts', though, so while they will be pretty for the most part, you won't reliably breed for type for a long time, years, if you're just going to cross breeds then make quarterbreds and just gradually descend though the generations like so until you have complete mutts.

    This will give you a great crash course in what genetics dominate and under what circumstances, but I'd recommend reading up on genetics so you can spend less time making errors you'll end up culling and potentially wasting what would have been the ideal birds for you just because they didn't look like it. Appearances are often deceiving.

    Phenotype is not reliably indicative of phenotype, to ensure this shows correctly you'd need to get Apple Cider Vinegar (organic, with the 'mother' in it) into at least one of their water sources as a staple, because lack of potassium causes interference with genetic inheritance, and a normal diet doesn't have sufficient potassium. ACV will provide that and will cause your chooks to be hatched with their true colors and patterns. Otherwise, it's a guessing game.

    I'd supplement with kelp too, just approximately a pinch per bird per day (you can do pre-mixes with it, as in mix your own in bulk, but it should be raw kelp so not the sort you get in pellets which are cooked).

    Sufficient iodine will not only give them great and robust health, preventing a huge amount of future disease, but will also ensure they breed as true as possible. Otherwise, all bets are off and there's so much more error. You can get pure white birds which are actually black, and only putting them on kelp for a year will show you that, so best to start early as possible. Also, iodine deficiency is endemic all over the world even when it's supplemented like with iodized salt, and the effect is cumulative and generational, so the more generations you feed kelp, the better and better the offspring will be. Also, it provides a calming influence through settling their nutritional needs, because lack of sufficient nutrition seems to trigger some kind of depopulation instinct. Drought does the same. That said I make no excuses for vicious birds, I cull them all as behavior is very strongly heritable. If you want great personalities, don't tolerate and propagate psychopaths.

    I don't know if you're familiar with these, but they're very handy and educational:
    Quote: Quote: Quote: Quote: Quote: Quote: Hope this helps. Best wishes.
     
  3. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    This statement is not true:

    Salmon faverolle I think the Salmon color is usually a hard one to preserve, and the beard gene is partially lethal

    While salmon is hard to breed for, the bearded gene is NOT lethal, even partially.
     
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  4. kuhnse51

    kuhnse51 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All of the birds came from Meyer hatchery. The first 6 I got as eggs because I wanted the full experience of raising my first batch (I ordered BO, RIR, BR, and BA for their egg laying abilities and their cold-hardiness) I ended up with a BR and a BA girl, the other 4 were boys of course. The younger 18 birds I got as a completely random mix because I ordered the Leann's adopt me variety from Meyer. I did this because I wanted a nice mixture of birds so I could see what breeds I like/don't like. I just got into this chicken thing in the summer. I'm not necessarily looking for great show quality or anything like that from these birds, although it would be nice to eventually breed birds that may come close to that. I know hatchery birds aren't of the highest quality, especially for this. One of the silver spangled hamburgs I received has a single comb instead of the rose and the leg coloring on some of the others is off, but they will be fun to experiment with. Hopefully they aren't riddled with health problems! For now I mainly want birds who are friendly and lay frequently with a good feed-to-egg ratio (which may be difficult because it seems I tend to like the rounder, big-bodied birds).

    As far as looks go, like I said, I'm still figuring out exactly what I like in chickens. From what I have had experience with so far I really like the look/coloring of my buff brahma and the barred rock. (I also enjoy the personalities of the ones I have) I do like the pattern of the partridge rocks from pictures I've seen, although mine dont look like that yet.

    When I say "prettiness" I'm talking more about:

    Feather patterns-I like barring and the partridge pattern, but I dont want my entire flock to have the same pattern

    Feather color-I like a variety of colors. I seem to enjoy the buff coloring a lot. I like when birds have tinted feathers as well (like the black aussies and the RIR roos). I also like how the salmon faverolle looks with its color patterning.

    Rounded- I prefer a heartier looking bird.

    Feathered/unfeathered legs- I do like the looks of feathered feet, like on my brahmas.

    Like I said before, I am still figuring out exactly what I prefer. I would like roos that would give me the ability to create a variety of looks with the girls that I have while still maintaining egg laying.

    Thank you for the thought-out post and helpful tips!! Once I begin breeding I will definitely keep a log so I can improve my future outcomes. I still have a lot of research to do about the details of breeding. A couple questions...when you say the bearded gene is lethal what exactly do you mean? Also what do you mean you can get a pure white bird that is actually black when talking about ACV?

    The supplementing of ACV and kelp to help with gene expression is interesting to me as I went to school for nutrition. Any idea why ACV improves colors and patterns? I'll have to do some research on it! When you give them the kelp I'm assuming you just mix it in with their food? Eventually I would like to make my own chicken feed but I need to figure out sources to get everything from and prices first. Do you know a good place to find raw ACV and the kelp? (I live in upstate NY if that has any impact on anything)

    I am not familiar with those links so I will have to check them out sometime.
    Thanks for all your help with this, I need all the information I can get!

    I'll post some pics tomorrow hopefully!
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    You didn't mention eating your culls at all, so I'm going to guide just by production, personality and what I consider pretty, with an eye to sex linkage.

    I'd keep the buff Orp and the partridge Rock. If you want meat, keep the Dorking also. Keep the Aussie boy if you like black, personally I don't.
    The campine isn't going to be a great producer, same with the Brahmas. And any mean bird goes, regardless of pretty.


    You've got the potential for some great sex links here. That buff Orp male over the Faverolles hen will give you sex links, the females are an orange-gold, with some beards and feathered legs. You can put the same Orp male over the Delaware and barred Rock hens for sex links. The Partridge Rock over the same hens will also give you sex links.

    Here's the great sex link thread with a chart....

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/261208/sex-linked-information

    Agree with keesmom, beards are not at all lethal. Tufts, as found in pure Aracaunas, can be lethal in double doses, but plain ol beards are just cool, not deadly.
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Ah, you're right, I confused the ear tuft and bearded genes, lol... I knew I was making a mistake somewhere but didn't find it before posting.

    Best wishes.

     
  7. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    I figured you knew and it was just a brain hiccup. The bearded gene IS associated with small wattles though. Gotta love those fluffy faces.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Oh heavens, look at that hen! I'm completely smitten with her [​IMG]
     
  9. kuhnse51

    kuhnse51 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the input donrae! I have a feeling that is most likely what I will end up doing and probably keep the dorking as well because he is such sweetheart and a very lax bird. The only thing I am concerned about is the roos being so much larger than my hens (mostly my barred rock because she is tiny compared to the rest so far). Is it okay for the roos to be 3 or 4 lbs heavier than the hens when full grown?

    Thanks chooks4life! I really enjoyed reading your post and you made some really interesting points about nutrition. I wasn't sure if when you said lethal you actually meant lethal because I didn't see how a beard or ear tuft could kill a chicken but I guess that it makes sense as that gene expression probably carries along other genes that could be detrimental to the chicken. I've clearly got a lot to learn still and I am very much looking forward to it! How is living in Australia?! It has always been at the top of my list to visit/live short-term!!

    Keesmom your faverolles are SO FLUFFLY, I love it! I hope mine is able to grow a beard like that!

    I have some pictures! (It is so difficult to take quality pictures of chickens who don't want to sit still. I apologize if some are not that great)

    These are the two that I believe are a welsummer (6 weeks) and a delaware (4 weeks). A delaware is the only white bird with black markings like this from Meyer.[​IMG][​IMG]

    Here are the younger roos (6 weeks)

    This is my VERY solid, very sweet dorking. He refused to leave my arm for the pic
    [​IMG]

    He fluffed up for the pic.
    [​IMG]

    The partridge still seems to be in his awkward feather stage
    [​IMG]

    Here's the older boys (14 weeks)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    I couldn't get good ones of my aussies tonight so heres a few from last week
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I love chickens, I'm so glad I started this venture finally!!
     
  10. kuhnse51

    kuhnse51 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Donrae, I may be consuming some of the chickens I cull in the future so being a good meat bird wouldnt be a bad thing either. I'm still figuring out if I want to/could process a chicken. For now I'm just hoping for fresh eggs but I may want more than just eggs later Also, getting rid of roosters is a pain because no one wants them :/ May as well eat them, right?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014

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