The Trouble With Roosters

by Charlotte Walker

This little story is about a naive homesteader (me) who got attached to those sweet little chicks she brought home. She thought it might be possible that her chicks would be different than all the other chickens in the world. Hers   would get along together, and follow her around when she did chores. Perhaps even some singing would ensue.  We all know how silly this is right? Life with farm animals is no Disney movie.

It all started several weeks ago when a lovely couple responded to my SOS call.  They need to build their flock up again, after an unfortunate incident with a fox.  We needed the roosters to find new homes otherwise it was the dreaded soup pot for them.  I just love a happy ending!

Trouble in the hen house started just around the time that I happily declared that we only had two roosters. We woke up one morning and a few more “hens” were starting to look like roosters, then five! That’s how things go around here on the homestead.

The more I learn, the more I realize how little I really know.

I did a bad thing. I decided to “just watch and see”. We had raised them all together from chicks and I thought there was a chance they might all get along. This was based on my desire for them to all get along. I was completely avoiding the inevitable fact that most of the roosters would have to go. Finding new homes for roosters is very difficult. Most often they have to be butchered, and I did not want to face this. Somewhere between researching and deciding to get chickens, to bringing home the little peepers and raising them, I had lost my resolve.

A cock fight started, of course. I came home to one rooster alone in the hen house screaming bloody murder. There was distress all around.  No one was badly injured, but the dynamic of the flock was forever changed. Half of the hens would not go inside for the night. This was a mess of my own making. Early the next morning I caught and relocate four roosters.

A chicken can use each eye independently, on different tasks simultaneously. There is no sense in trying to sneak up on a Chicken! You have to be fast, grab for a leg, they will  lie down sort of defeated. The rest is easy. Scoop them up pinning their wings down and hold their feet.

It took a while for me to catch them all but within an hour, we had four roosters living in the greenhouse. The pecked at our lovely fall garden as I made various attempts to find solutions. Eventually I listed them on the Maritime Fowl Facebook group and got lucky. This community group has been an invaluable resource and I recommend either joining a group like this, or starting one for your province or region.

We have nine hens and two roosters, and everyone is getting along just fine. Perhaps we will try and hatch a few chicks in the spring but I think we will wait and see how the egg production is with this group first.  If you are interested in learning about the world of chickens, this video is one of the best I have seen on the topic.

Update (six months later) We made it through winter the two roos and eight hens got along well. It was GREAT! It didn’t stay great though. Spring came, hormones fired up and ….. there are NO roosters living here anymore! You can read about culling your roosters and managing your flock here. This time I had to suck it up and butcher them. We miss them but life is more peaceful without roosters and our feed bills have gone down.

The Private Life of Chickens

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