Christine, I always loved Murray McMurray's chickens when I was raising heavy northern breeds in Montana. (I highly recommend ordering from them... they're great folks to do business with.) I presume that you're buying the sexed chickens (not the straight runs)
, but you know, don't you, that there's still a chance you'll mistakenly get a rooster in with the shipment of females? If I remember correctly, McMurray guarantees the orders they ship, so you might not need to bother ordering a male, although they're more than half the price of the females....(you could name any extra roosters "drumstick" so you don't get attached to them as they grow, & have a couple chicken dinners!)
I assume that by "challenging", you mean "aggressive".... I never had a problem with the Rock breeds being aggressive (although they, more than any other breed, love shiny things... so don't let your kids crouch down in front of them to talk to them... they go for the eyes!)
The most aggressive rooster I ever had was an Araucana, & he was one mean bugger! My husband was the only one brave enough to go into his pen to feed & water him!
The only Rooster I had that ever acted like a "mother hen" was a Banty... & let me tell you, he may as well have been a moody Araucana if anything messed with his brood! I think ALL chickens are entertaining, & when you get to know them, they DO have individual personalities! (May DIL has chickens, & the Rhode Island Red rooster is in love with her. He follows her everywhere, & is totally "normal" until someone hugs her in front of him... then it's ATTACK TIME!)
I never fed my chickens anything that was beefed up with hormones to enhance egg production, & never played the lighting game with them, to trick them into laying more. (All that does is burn them out... & besides, I take my own hormone pills... don't want that kind of stuff in my food!) I'd buy the cracked corn & cracked oats/barley/wheat with molasses in it (it was called "3 way" back then), & mixed them together myself. Since the grains were organic, so were my chickens & their eggs.
About the vaccinations for Coccidiosis & Marek's Disease... they didn't even have those developed back when I had chickens, so you're lucky! Once Coccidiosis gets into your hen house, it's almost impossible to get rid of, cuz it stays in the ground! Ask McMurray if they vaccinate before shipping Day Olds. I'd strongly recommend having them vaccinated, cuz it could save you lots of heartache, money AND chickens! (I think there is also feed that has a Coccidiosis preventing medication in it now, but whatever goes into their feed, comes through in their eggs. The vaccinations are the best thing to do if you're going organic.)
Maybe Sarah (BarleyChown) will see this topic & offer her 2 cents on feed & vaccinating. She's up on all that stuff, & has some beautiful chickens of her own!
Have fun with your new chicks!
I used to love going down to the post office to pick them up... the postal workers were always glad to see me show up, cuz they said the peeping sounds were cute for a while, but the novelty wore off ("big time") after a few hours!