My Favorite Rooster Breeds.

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

My flock total clocks in at around 50-60 birds (according to chicken math), 30-40 or so hens, and 13 roosters. Half of the gents’ free range with the girls, the rest reside in a bachelor pen. A bachelor pen is a coop/pen assigned to house just roosters. There are no hens in a bachelor pen. Contrary to the prevailing opinion, roosters can and do cohabitate well together. However, there are some tricks to successfully house roosters together. To see how I use and manage a bachelor pen, click here.

The “coop-hood”.

I have three large coops that house my girls,and within each of these dwellings, I have two roosters. These gents care for and protect the ladies while they are free ranging. That means, on any given day, I have 6 roosters in the yard with the ladies.

The roosters of yesteryear, which star in our nightmares, were often played by the game cock, according to today’s breeding standards. The rooster we met on our grandparents’ farm was very aggressive and for good reason. Our grandparents kept chicken to supply the family with eggs and meat, a defensive rooster was needed. However, many things have changed since our grandparent’s day.

Deaky, Fi, and Freddie (Laced Polish Hens) perching on a hammock swing under the grape arbor.

The backyard chicken hobby has exploded, with chickens replacing the family dog in terms of popularity. Backyard chickens are quickly becoming the go-to for a backyard homestead. In the wake of COVID-19, everyone wants more control over their food supply. Backyard chickens have never been more popular than they are right now. Correspondingly, the breeding industry has responded. Hatcheries and breeders are selective breeding for behavioral/temperament traits such as calm, friendly, docile, and low-key. Most breeds today meet the needs of the backyard chicken hobby keeper. Gone is the bloodthirsty aggressive rooster that roamed our grandparent’s farm, meet the roosters of today.

Using my 13 roosters, I will provide a breed profile overview. I will highlight behavioral and temperment traits associated with common breeds developed for the backyard chicken keeper.

Buff Orpington:

The first breed that I will present for consideration, is the Buff Orpington. Orpingtons 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 are. My very first rooster was a Buff Orpington named Roy. Roy exhibited many of these behavioral traits; he was a gentle giant. In my presence, he was very calm and relaxed. He would beg me for treats that he could give to his ladies. He was in one word a gentleman. He was never aggressive towards me and took excellent care of the ladies.

Roy (Buff Orpington Rooster)

One day I witnessed his heroic efforts to save my girls from a hawk. Prepared to lay down his life, he sounded the alarm. The ladies ran for cover, while he battled the hawk. Although injured, with love and care, he made a full recovery. I learned the true value of a rooster from this experience. After that event, Roy lived on for several more years as a decorated war hero. He sadly passed away 5 years ago. I never thought I would miss a rooster so much; he was my rooster teacher. He taught me a lot about chickens and the sacrificial nature of a rooster. Ever since Roy, I have fallen in love with roosters. Today, they are one of my favorite creatures, worthy of respect and admiration.

Cochin:

The next gent to introduce you to is Enigma. Enigma is a Mottled Cochin Bantam. Like the Orpingtons, Cochins are also big balls of feathers. The cochin is a very docile and friendly breed. The 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, then if there is anything left, he will partake. When free-ranging, he will often follow me hoping that I can give him a morsel to take to his favorite lady. Out of all my boys, Enigma is my favorite.

Polish:

These next guys with the fabulous 80s 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, they are very curious but high-strung. Due to their fabulous crests, their vision is limited thus everything spooks them. Simple even mundane objects in their environment will startle them. Due to their limited vision, they cannot see what is above them. For this reason, a keeper needs to ensure that they have a covered run. If free-ranging, provide them with ample coverage as protection from aerial predators.

I only allow my polish flocks out when I am in the backyard or have multiple roosters on duty. Polish gents make great roosters for a keeper who does not mind their antics. They are very easy to pick up and hold, due to their limited vision. They are a bit high-strung making them an entertaining breed to own.

All my polish roosters are very sweet, however, curious. Due to the feathered crests, they are a bit jumpy. I talk to them before I pick them up to not give them a jolt. Characteristically, they do not make the best roosters for protection. I have ample coverage in my backyard as a hedge of protection for my polish boys.

Silver Lace Polish Flock. Fi, Agatha, and Link. (Link is our Silver Lace Polish rooster).

They are very curious, often following their curiosities into predicaments, then not able to see well enough to get themselves out. They are an endless form of entertainment in the backyard. The roosters are a bit high-strung, panicky, and flighty, yet very sweet. I have several Polish roosters, all are very friendly, approachable, and curious. The ladies will often perch on my legs or arms, making them great lap chickens.

Silkie:

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 the world over for being very docile, friendly, and calm. They have voted time and time again as the best breed to have around kids.

I currently have a flock of 14 Silkies, 4 are roosters. Two roosters are in the coop with the ladies, the rest are in a bachelor pen. My Silkie gents are well-behaved, shy, and timid. The ladies are very friendly and enjoy interactions with their caretakers. I have no trouble with my Silkie roosters. Like the Polish, it’s best to keep Silkies in the protection of a covered coop and pen unless you are outside with them. Due to their overwhelmingly shy nature, they would rather run from a predator than protect the ladies like most roosters. When I hold my silkie roosters, they are very docile and calm in my arms. They would rather hide under a rock but are very easygoing if I need to handle them.

Easter Eggers:

Next, Dracula and Frankenstein. These two guys are Easter Eggers and although not known as an exceptionally docile breed, these two boys are well-behaved. They are very curious and want in on whatever I am doing. Due to their breed, they are a bit larger than my other roosters. Despite their size, they are very calm and friendly. They do not like to be held, so I only pick them up when needed.

Silver Lace Wyandotte:

Smoug (Silver Lace Wyandotte Rooster)

My final breed to highlight is Silver Lace Wyandottes. Wyandottes are a large breed, and Smaug is the largest member of my flock. He easily towers over the other roosters in my flock. At 12 pounds, he is a big boy. Despite his size, he is very calm, friendly, and easygoing. He is best described as the gentle giant of my flock. Due to his very relaxed nature, he is at the bottom of the rooster pecking order. I can easily pick him up and hold him when needed for health inspections. He prefers not to be held but will tolerate check-ups when needed.

While there are many more breeds available, the breeds listed I keep and can expound on associated temperament and disposition. Most roosters bred today for the backyard keeper are well-behaved. Don’t get me wrong, a rooster has a job to do, and he takes it seriously, but most are calm and friendly. I currently have 13 roosters; all are very well-behaved gents. They take good care of the ladies and are not aggressive to humans by any means. They are often my welcoming committee when I enter the backyard, curious about what treats I may have brought them.

I hope that this post has been helpful for those thinking about acquiring roosters for their flock. 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. You can also drop me a line at kuntryklucker@gmail.com

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6 comments

  1. The Belmont Rooster · January 23, 2020

    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, 2020

      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, 2020

        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, 2020

        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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