My Favorite Rooster Breeds

When acquiring a backyard chicken flock, most people chose a flock of ladies. But for those who want a rooster or two but are apprehensive as to which bread to choose, this post is for you.

My flock total clocks in at around 50, 30 or so hens and around 20 gents. The majority of my gents are broken up into four bachelor pens. A bachelor pen is a coop/pen assigned to just roosters. There are no ladies with the gents in their bachelor digs. Contrary to prevailing opinion, roosters can and do cohabitate well together. But there are some tricks to it. To learn about bachelor pens chick here . The rest of the gents are broken up amongst the coops that contain the ladies. I have three large coops that house my girls, within each of these pens I have two roosters. These gents care for and protect the ladies while they are out in the backyard free ranging. That means on any given day when the ladies are outside, I have 6 roosters in the yard with them.

For anyone who associates roosters with the nasty, blood thristy and aggressive barnyard bird stereotype, you may be thinking, that’s a lot of testosterone to have running around uncontained. Or is it?

Roosters unfortunately fall prey to a negative stereotype however, in reality they are not as aggressive as many think. Many people think roosters are as bad to the bone as they come, I beg to differ. Have you ever met a broody hen?

The roosters of yesteryear that haunt the dreams of those who have had negative encounters with them are often plagued by the game cock or other game birds. Yes, those guys can be a bit high strung and aggressive. However, due to the variety of breeds available the majority of roosters today are very docile and calm. Gone are the days of your grandparents flock which contained the rooster that starred in your nightmares. Many people today keep chickens for fun and eggs. Although some keep chicken for meat the majority of keepers are hobby enthusiasts. Thus, the breeds available today are suited for these purposes. That being said, below I will detail my favorite rooster breeds and why. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Buff Orphington:

The first stud that I will present for condiseration is the Orphington. My very first rooster was Roy, he was my first introduction to the worth and value of a rooster to a flock. Orphingtons as a breed are known as the “Golden Retrievers” of the chicken world. Their demeanor is calm, friendly, and low key. They are big balls of feathers, looking bigger than they actually are. Roy was much the same. He had a job to do and took it seriously but he was a gently giant. In my presence he was very calm and relaxed. He would beg me for treats that he could then distribute to his ladies. He was in one word a gentlemen. One day I witnessed his heroic efforts to save my girls from a hawk. He was prepared to lay down his life for his ladies until I heard his frantic call and came to his rescue. Had I not heard his cry that day I hate to think what I would have come home to. Lucky I was home and chased the hawk off of him. He made a full recover from his injuries and lived on several more years as the decorated protector of the flock. He passed away several years ago. I never thought I would miss a rooster so much. He taught me a lot about chickens and about the sacrificial nature of a rooster. Ever since Roy I have fallen in love with roosters. They are today one of my favorite creatures worthy of all the respect and admiration they deserve.

Cochin:

The next stud to introduce you to is Enigma. Enigma is a Motted Cochin Bantam. Like the Orphingtons, Cochins are also big balls of feathers. The cochin is a very docile and friendly breed. They girls make excellent mothers and the gents make excellent roosters. No bigger than he is, Enigma has established himself as the alpha rooster of the chicken yard, all the other guys answer to him. He is a very sweet rooster and takes very good care of his girls. He is calm around humans and will even allow me to pick him up for his health inspections without much issue. He too will beg me for treats that he can offer to his girls. He allows the girls to eat first and then if there is anything left he will partake. When free ranging outside he will often follow me hoping that I can give him a morsel to take to his favorite lady. I often time feel like a vending machine waiting to fill his order. Out of all my boys, Enigma is my favorite.

Polish:

These next guys with the fabulous hair are Polishes. Polishes are my favorite breed, I have more of them than any other breed on my farm. The Polishes are known as the “comedians” of the chicken world. As a breed the they are very curious and high strung. Due to their fabulous crests, their vision is limited thus everything spooks them, simple objects like their own dinner, coop mates, or surroundings will startle them. Due to their limited vision however they need to remain in the safety of a covered pen to protect them and their ladies from predation. I only allow my polish flocks out when I am in the backyard with them either working in the gardens or just chilling with my peeps. This aside, the Polish gents make great roosters for a keeper who does not mind their antics. They are very easy to pick up and hold and due to their limited vision. They are a bit high strung only because they cannot see well which is part of what makes the Polish such and entertaining breed to own. They easily get themselves into trouble and then cannot see well enough to get themselves out of it. Keeping this breed requires some planning on the keepers part. Because they are very curious they need a variety of entertainment sources while they are confined to their pens. Simple things like mealworms to scratch around for in the shaving or a bottle filled with scratch with small holes that they have to extract the scratch from. I  place parrot toys in their pens to give them something to play with. They will happily peck and play with the hanging toys all the while being spooked by it at the same time. They really are an endless form of entertainment in the backyard. The ladies will often perch on their keepers legs or arms making great lap chickens.

Silkie:

 

The second most numerous flock I have on my farm are the Silkies. Silkies are known as the “Teddy Bears” of the chicken world. Due to their feathers that are “fur-like” they are the cuddle bunnies of the flock. Silkies as a breed are known world over for being very docile, friendly, and calm. They are voted time and time again as the best breed to have for kids who want a coop of chickens to care for. I currently have a flock of 14 Silkies, 6 are roosters. Two roosters are in the coop with the ladies, the rest are in a bachelor pen I have set up for my access Silkie studs. My Silkie gents are very will behaved. They are not aggressive and will actually run from me when I try to pick them up. They are very shy and timid. The ladies are very friendly and enjoy interactions with their care takers. I have no trouble with my Silkie roosters at all. Like the Polish, its best to keep Silkies in the protection of a covered coop and pen unless you are outside with them. Due to their overwhelmingly shy and timid nature they would rather run from a predator than protect the ladies like most roosters do. When I can get ahold of the guys they are very docile and calm in my hands as I hold them. They would rather hide under a rock but are very easy going if I need to handle them.

Easter Eggers:

The final two guys I am going to introduce you too are Dracula and Frankenstein. These two guys are Easter Eggers and although not known as an exceptionally docile breed, these two boys are well behaved. I typically buy my chicks from hatcheries, however, last year I bought 6 chicks from my local feed store. 4 of the chicks I purchased were girls the other two are boys; Dracula and Frankenstein. The girls are in the Kuntry Klucker pen with Enigma, so these two studs are in a bachelor pen. They cohabitate very well and are very happy living up the single life in their bachelor digs.

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While there are many more breeds available, the breeds listed I have first hand experience with and can vouch for their temperament and disposition. Most roosters with the exception of the Polish and Silkie in my experience have a job to do and take it seriously. That aside, roosters are readily able to tell that their keeper is an ally and not an enemy. Providing food and treats for the girls only further establishes the keepers role as a friend and helper and not an enemy.

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Like any other subject there are always outliers, members that deviate from the norm. Roosters are no different, they are very much individuals, however as a whole the temperament of the breed does play a major part in the behavior of the gents. I have 20 or so roosters, the majority residing in bachelor pens. I do not have a problem with any one of my boys. Even the guys that are in the bachelor digs are very well behaved and display a temperament true of their breed. The two Easter Egger roosters that I have Dracula and Frankenstein are even very well mannered even though as a whole their breed does not agree. Thus, it is even possible to have a breed that is not renowned for being docile and calm and still end up with very friendly roosters.

I hope that this post has been helpful for those thinking about acquiring roosters for or with their spring chickens. It is very possible to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to keeping roosters. Selecting gents from breeds that are well known for being calm and docile is an excellent place to start. If you have any questions please feel to leave a comment, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading, till next time keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

 

 

 

 

 

4 comments

  1. The Belmont Rooster · January 23

    WOW! You have a lot of roosters! Anyway, typically we always used 1 rooster per 10 hens in breeding pens. Sometimes we may have an extra or two in large flocks. Lighter weight breeds can have fewer than 1 male for 10 because they are more active. In more crowded conditions they have a severe peck order but with ample space the heavier breeds tend to get along better than some. My recent post has a few photos of the chickens. You mentioned Polish as your favorite breed and I had to laugh a minute. My first experience with Polish was when I was around 8 years old and my parents became flockwners for the hatchery around the corner (one I became co-owner of at 25). Mom and dad raised Buff-Laced Polish for them. The females were very tame but the roosters flogged us all the time. Even in breeder pens at the hatchery, the males could be fairly aggressive. My first flock of chickens, at the same time mom and dad became flock owners, was Salmon Faverolle. Dad built my own chicken house for them. I later raised Buff Orpington Bantams for the hatchery in Clinton.

    In my current flock, I have 13-14 hens with a Delaware and While Chantecler rooster. I kept them both intending to separate the White Chantecler (3 hens and a rooster). White Chantecler are fairly rare. Anyway, I wound up not separating them and the two roosters got along reasonably well. The White Chanteclers are very docile and the Delaware was definitely the dominant rooster. Well, that changed one night… I have a pen with four Old English Game Bantams and the roosters fight through the fence. I think the Delaware may have gotten tangled up in the wire (maybe with his spur) and the Chantecler found his opportunity and he took it.

    The Old English Game Bantams are a bit fiesty. They are a little older than the bigger hens and I had them in their own pen with wire over the top so they wouldn’t fly out. When the other chickens were old enough to be moved to the chicken house, I put them in the back pen with no wire over the top. If the Old English were in the main part of the chicken house they would fly into the pen with the others and chase them around. So, even though they were bigger, they were scared of the bantams.

    Now, if I let them outside, they stay away from each other for the most part. When I put them back inside, I get the bigger hens in first and shut them in the back pen then the bantams go where they belong.

    I’m not really sure why you have bachelor pens and kept so many extra roosters. I suppose you didn’t know what else to do with them? When you buy “straight run” chicks you can expect to have around 50/50 pullets and cockerels unless you are lucky. Some breeds you can color sex but “most” breeds you can feather sex. I would have to brush up on that but it is possible when you purchase chicks to be able to feather sex. With Barred Rocks, and other bared breeds, the pullets will have darker heads while the chicks with the bigger yellow spot will be cockerels. Reds (Rhode Island Reds, Production Reds) can also be color sexed. I learned to vent sex day-old chicks, but breeders have selected to be able to feather sex, even rare breeds and bantams…

    I am still fascinated by how the Araucanas from my day have come to be called “Easter Eggers” and Americanas. GEEZ!

    I better stop writing or this comment will become a post! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experiences and take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Noelle K. Moser · January 23

      Hi Belmont rooster, I always enjoy your comments. I’ll try to sort through your comment the best I can, if I miss something please let me know. Let me first start by answering some of your questions.

      Why do I have so many roosters? Well the answer to that is two fold. I have many of them for breeding purposes. I enjoy the hobby of breeding my birds especially the polishes. As I stated in my post they are my favorite breed. Second is because I love roosters. I find them to be such beautiful birds and enjoy the songs of their people (crowing). the reason I have so many bachelor pens is because I cannot keep all the boys with my ladies. I only have two roosters per pen with my ladies which have a large number of ladies. The rest of my boys go in bachelor pens. I only keep at most 4 roosters in one bachelor pen. Their pens are large and they have a large outdoor pen to run and play during the day. The only roosters that were surprises were Dracula and Frankenstein who were part of the group of chicks that I picked up at my local feed store. They are beautiful boys so I decided to keep them in their own digs. I have no issues with the boys in my bachelor pens. Everyone gets along well with one another and they all have ample room to roam and be chickens.

      Many people try to get rid of or rehome roosters and it just does not work. During the summer months the internet is just saturated with people trying to give the roosters that they acquired in their spring straight runs a home. Many end up dumped off or at shelters. I chose to keep my gents by providing them a home appropriate for them and allowing them to sing the song of their peoples here on my farm. I have the room and the appreciation for them so why not.

      I have not had any experience with some of the breeds that you mentioned. Your story about the buff lace polishes is too cute! I have buff laced polishes on my farm, quite a few actually and have never had an issue with them. But it can happen.

      Old English Game fowl can be very aggressive. I have never crossed paths with a game fowl but I know others who have. I have never had any issue like that with my boys. All my boys are very well behaved and are not aggressive such as the story you shared.

      It is very funny how the Araucanas have been rebranded as the Easter Egger. From what I understand its because they lay the different colored eggs, reminiscent of the “Easter Bunny”. I have even heard them called the rainbow layer. That’s kind of misleading if you ask me. Not too sure when the new name actually changed, but your right that is interesting.

      Thanks again for your comment. I always enjoy hearing from you. You always have very interesting tid bits of information that I find fascinating.

      Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Belmont Rooster · January 24

        There were at least two National Geographic articles from the 1940’s which I used to have, that talked about the Araucanas. A disease nearly wiped them out and the birds brought back to America didn’t lay colored eggs but eventually a slight tint was discovered. Through selective breeding over many years they started getting olive-colored eggs. Maybe in the 1970’s or 1980’s fanciers started breeding true to color and type so they could exhibit them, so that’s where the name Americana came from. Other names given by hatcheries boils down to selling more chicks. Like the name Cherry Eggers came about. It is simply a production bred Rhode Ialand Red just ike the Production Red. I know about the Cherry Eggers because that name was started at Allen Hatchery right here in Windsor, MO.

        Windsor, rather Henry County, was once known as the hatcery capitol of the world. I had a 1952 yearbook that listed 8 hatcheries in Windsor and 10 in Clinton. I enjoyed working with and hearing stories from some of the pioneers in the business.

        Like

      • Noelle K. Moser · January 24

        I think I either read about or heard about the story your are referencing. Somewhere along their succession line a bird that had the blue egg gene was discovered and through breeding scientists were able to isolate that particular gene and breed them with a common chicken which today are known as the americanas. Although, I do think that the araucanas are still in existence but they are very expensive. So you could say the Americanas are the generic version of the araucanian or something to that effect. Anyway, it is a very interesting story and a testament to how selective breeding can generate fascinating and unique chicken breeds.

        Liked by 1 person

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