Which rooster breeds mate nicely?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SuburbanMomof4, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. SuburbanMomof4

    SuburbanMomof4 Out Of The Brooder

    So... we just moved out to some acreage and are looking forward to increasing our flock - currently we have 6 hens (2 each: Buff O's, Barred R's, Easter Eggers). We are planning to raise both meat and eggs. We are currently planning to get some straight-run chicks and keep the best rooster to see if we can raise our next generation. (And, yes, we know they would be cross-breeds.)

    But after reading about Dr. Grandin's work I'm worried about ending up with a breed of rooster that doesn't have the genes to do the courtship dance and mate nicely instead of raping our hens.

    Any suggestions on what breed of rooster we want?

    (now mom of 5!)
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'm not sure where to even start on this. Inbreeding does not guarantee cross beaks or any other genetic defect. Inbreeding reduces genetic diversity and can enhance certain traits. Some of these traits may be good and some may be bad. It's quite possible you will get some of both. Chickens have a lot of different traits.

    There are techniques breeders use to help maintain genetic diversity. These usually involve either a lot of chickens (pen breeding method, for example), or separate breeding flocks and really good record keeping (like Spiral Breeding). Most casual backyard flock owners can't really do either so it is best to occasionally bring in new blood. A very important part orf this is to carefully choose your breeders, male and female. Hatch eggs and choose your breeders from adults that have the traits you want, whether those are physical traits or behavioral traits.

    There are studies that show that inbreeding can reduce fertility, especially with the roosters. "Can" does not mean that it absolutely will each and every time, but that it might happen. Studies have shown that it might happen and it is usually associated with the rooster when it does happen. But the studies I've seen involve fertility, not rape. Do you have a reference or link to the study about behavior? I'd be interested in reading it.

    Some people consider any chicken mating to be brutal and vicious. I don't. It is an instinct-driven process where the roosteer and hen both need to work together. I hold the hen as respondible as the rooster to do her part correctly. Some roosters are brutes and need to be removed from the flock.

    Adolescence can be a rough time on roosters and hens. By that I include adolescent hens as well as adolescent roosters. Maturity usually solves those problems. If I see a problem with only one hen in the flock and they have matured, I remove the hen and the problem goes away. When that solution works, I consider the rooster not to be the problem because that problem is not associated with any other hens.

    I'm not aware of any breeds where the roosters are specifically gentle with the hens. To me, it depends on the personality of the individual rooster and the individual hen. Maturity of both plays a big part. If you breed roosters that are gentle with the hens, you are more likely to get a rooster that is gentle with the hens. A big part of that "gentle" is because the rooster has the traits and personality that he can dominate the hen, she accepts his dominance, and will do her part in the mating ritual.
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  3. Spangled

    Spangled Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    Yes, I read that book a few years back. However, I don't think she's had any chickens of her own. Maybe I'm wrong, but remember how she mentioned in the book (title escapes me, but a recent one) that she didn't connect with chickens the way she did with cattle? I believe if she had kept chickens, that she would have seen that many, many roosters do the courtship dance. I can't think of one that I've had out of at least 10+ that hasn't done the courtship dance. In fact, I see them doing it just when they kind of want to herd the hens a bit and it will have no courtship overtones. It's more of a You-need-to-stick-with-the-group gesture. I think the dancing gene is alive an well in many breeds of roosters.

    About "nice," for me, I think the Black Copper Marans and green egg layers and White Chanteclers have been some of the nicer ones, but so much depends on which strain you get and just dumb luck. Also, the female needs to be willing, too. I have one hen who starts pecking on the rooster if he comes too close. She's about 3 and he's just 1 year old. Kinda funny. Mating nicely, as you put it, can happen, but it's not an especially gentle thing we're talking about even when it's "nice." Sometimes the roosters are just sneaky and pretend to have a great morsel to eat and then when the hens come over, he strikes. Not cool! Of course, the one I'm specifically remembering was a young one and there were two other roosters nearby, so there was a bit of a rivalry.

    Since you're getting a few roosters and picking the best one (at least that sounds like what's happening), you'll probably find a fellow who knows his way around the dance floor and has some mad dance skills.
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    What Ridgerunner and Spangled both said.

    Adolescent roosters are horny, clumsy, inexperienced, and it looks like rape if the pullet or hen is not ready. Boys don't care. It will get better, but if it doesn't, then get a different rooster.

    I had a mean bantam Cochin cockerel, of all things, out of a variety of 18 other roosters. The rest of them got it going, at least the ones that stayed in the flock. Some were processed for meals because that was their intended purpose.

    Mature roosters are generally gentlemen.
  5. SuburbanMomof4

    SuburbanMomof4 Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks all.

    I *do* understand that chickens' mode of breeding may look aggressive and may still be fine. My concern is for whether the hens will actually suffer physical damage or death - that is NOT a natural part of regular breeding for any species (not any species that keeps going, anyways, though it is a part of pretty much all species' repertoire). We'll have to see if my "old biddies" (they'll be 3 and 4 years old this summer) can accept a rooster gracefully! I believe it was Ridgerunner who made the point that the hen's instincts also need to be intact to accept the rooster's signals!

    What I am getting out of this thread is that it seems to be more of a difference between individuals rather than breeds... and that young roosters can be a challenge regardless of breed (or species?! **grin**) I also just found this thread on Backyard Chicken and am reading through it https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/476988/rooster-raping-hens-normal/20

    Ridgerunner - I first read about the "chicken rape" issue in Joel Salatin's book "Everything I want to Do is Illegal." Dr. Temple Grandin refers to it in her book "Animals in Translation" - Chapter 3 - and refers to the work of Dr. Ian Duncan at the University of Guelph in Canada. There was also a (relatively) recent article about it in Backyard Poultry (I found an article referencing it online, but the article itself wasn't - and I don't subscribe just now :-( ) {You also said: "Inbreeding does not guarantee cross beaks or any other genetic defect." - I am not sure what you are referencing in my original post. I mentioned that the chicks from the fertilized eggs would be cross-breeds, since I have three different breeds of hen so far and haven't decided what breed of rooster. I'm planning on raising meat-chicks, probably not layers or show-birds. As a former geneticist, I'm not really sure what you were trying to tell me.}

    Thanks again,
    mom of *5* and out of the suburbs now!
  6. SuburbanMomof4

    SuburbanMomof4 Out Of The Brooder

    Hmmn. Very good comments on that other thread (including details on chicken mating from you, Ridgerunner).

    I'd take issue with the person who stated that rape is a human concept - there is alot of solid research on this one. A very interesting book called "A Natural History of Rape" by Thornhill and Palmer reviews it in a very reader-friendly fashion.

    I have no problems with how the birds mate normally - I may not want to watch (not into voyeurism ;-) ) but it's what they do. It should definitely be within their instinctual framework to mate frequently - and not necessarily with great enthusiasm from both sides. As the above book describes, the male has a strong incentive to sow his seed. And since chickens lay (more-or-less) year-round, the continual mating makes sense.

    Dr. Grandin describes a rooster who was actually *killing* hens in the mating process. That is counter-productive.

    out of the suburbs!
  7. SuburbanMomof4

    SuburbanMomof4 Out Of The Brooder

    I should have read Dr. Grandin's book a little further. She says that the unintended selection for rapist-roosters seems to have been mostly corrected - though it's hard to say since the big hatcheries don't report and publish what they do.

    Sorry - I am looking into ordering our new chicks and didn't want to create more problems. I was hoping someone had already "solved" this problem and could tell me where to get (or not get) my chicks from, or what breeds would be least likely to have hen-slaughtering roosters.

    Thanks again!
  8. jonalisa

    jonalisa Codswallop!

    May 28, 2013
    My Coop
    I know this is an old thread but I found it while searching for the exact same information. Dr.Temple Grandin also writes about chickens in her later book, "Animals Make Us Human" and she says that while this mating dance trait was inadvertently bred out of many roosters at one time, it has mostly been rectified. The issue was that the hen would only perform a submissive squat once she saw the rooster's mating dance, however, roosters were not doing the dance so the rooster was forcibly, and sometimes violently, mounting the hen.
    She states that this issue has been mostly rectified but still occurs.
    That prompted me to ask the same question:Is there a specific breed of rooster that is more likely to have this trait in tact?

    It seems that the issue is much more complex than that.
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I'm wondering if a multi age flock would go a long way towards eliminating this problem. The young cockrels would be dominated by the mature roos, and would hopefully learn the ropes of acceptable courtship behavior before rising to a place in the hierarchy where they would be breeding.

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