Adding a rooster
I added a Rhode Island Red rooster to a coop that contained 4 Rhode Island Red hens so I could raise chicks this Spring. The hens had been some of the most consistent layers I have ever owned, laying almost on egg per day. When the rooster was added, egg production dropped to half or less of what it was before. Chickens do not like any disruption of their life, and adding a rooster in with a bunch of hens is a big disruption. Things settled down after a couple weeks and laying returned to normal.
Buff Orpingt0ns had been my favorite breed. They are good producers of nice brown eggs, the hens have a very gentle disposition, and they are fairly broody. Their bad traits (that I have noticed, anyway) are that the roosters are very aggressive, to the point of being dangerous; I have had several cases of cannibalism over the years; the broodiness is only marginally there.
I am now leaning toward the Rhode Island Red as my favorite breed. I have found that the RIR roosters are as gentle as the hens. To make the rooster situation even better, one of my RIR roosters has a rather quiet crow (I really hope that this is a genetic trait that will be passed on to his chicks). They are somewhat better egg layers than the Buff Orpingtons.
The downside is that while a Buff Orpington will occasionally set on her eggs, Rhode Island Reds have pretty much had that bred out of them. I will need to come up with another way to raise chicks. The incubator works well, but I don’t like being dependent on an electrical devise for something like this. Hen-raised chicks just seem to do better than those hatched in an incubator and then left without a mother hen to guide them as they grow.
I may have to go back to using a bantam hen. I would rather not though, since they are very high strung and difficult to work with. They also are very serious scratchers, and will dig holes around the edge of their pen and then escape.