Choosing the Right Rooster

| 6/26/2017 12:01:00 AM

Tags: heritage livestock, chickens, chicken breeds, livestock breeds, roosters, animal care, poultry, Mary Lou Shaw, Ohio,

Red Dorking Rooster Medium

Raising heritage breed chickens becomes more fun if we don’t buy chicks annually but instead hatch their eggs to develop a distinct flock of our own. Our attempt to improve each generation is a challenge that includes some knowledge of genetics, the characteristics of the breed and the personality traits we value. I tend to focus on choosing the right rooster because one male can fertilize 10 to 15 hens; choosing the right rooster makes the biggest impact on the quality of the flock.

Ten years ago, I began with a handful of Colored Dorking chicks and now have a flock of 15 hens and their rooster, “Buddy.” I was pretty proud of my flock until this spring’s egg-incubation was a big failure. The problem lies with Buddy, so let me tell you where I went wrong so you can avoid the same pitfall.

Choosing the Right Rooster for What?

When discussing how to choose the right rooster, we first need to ask the question, choosing the right rooster for what? There are two factors that are most important to get the flock we want:

1: Phenotype refers to how the bird looks — as opposed to the genotype, or what other characteristics its genes carry. If we want to help preserve heritage breed poultry, such as the Dorking chickens or the Narragansett turkeys at our farm, we want to help preserve the characteristic appearance of each breed.

The American Poultry Association (APA) Standards of Perfection book is best place to find the specific phenotype for each breed. It can be purchased here, but is expensive. Our library carries it, so I just borrow it for an occasional perusal. The information for your particular breed can also be found online.

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6/30/2017 5:30:27 AM

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