Mean Rooster…and More

I’m a little embarrassed to tell you this, but I’ve recently become afraid of my rooster.

Last year June I brought home 22 little day-old chicks of different varieties. What followed was the most enjoyable time taking care of them, watching them grow and see them run to me to come get their snacks.

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day-old fluffy chick

For the first few weeks they were in the house; first in a card board box,

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then in a small brooder that Farmer Hick had made.

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What fun it was to listen to their soft noises, to pick them up (often) and to look after their every need. Pretty soon they were spending their days outside in a large chicken tractor made by Farm Boy and Shop Boy, then we’d catch the chicks in the evening and bring them back in, for their safety, but also for some warmth as we had a very cool and damp early summer. Unfortunately I took no pictures of this outdoor chicken tractor, something I’ll have to remedy when we have new chicks this summer. Basically it’s a wood frame, 4 by 10′ by 3′ high, built as light as possibly because you want to be able to move the pen around, it’s covered with chicken wire on all four sides and over top, to keep the chickens in. The idea is to move this around on the pasture (or in the garden) to let the chickens have access to fresh grass, weeds and bugs every day while they’re being contained, leaving their nitrogen rich droppings to fertilize the plot.

At around the 6 week mark, the boys and I strung some electric wire around the chicken tractor so the little stinkers could remain outside even at night, now well protected from predators. Early in the morning we’d turn off the electric fence and we’d lift one end of the chicken tractor on a large block of wood. The chicks would run out and forage all day, only coming back to the chicken tractor for grain and water when hungry or thirsty. These little birds were so smart, they’d also run back to their ‘home’ when predator birds flew over and when it rained heavily. During the very hot days (we did eventually get a few) I set out extra water containers for them in the shade of the grape vines and blackberry bushes where they liked to rest. At dusk all the chicks would come back to the chicken tractor and after a quick head count the pen would be lowered and the electric wire powered up via a battery. All this ‘outside’ chicken keeping because we still had an older flock of chickens in the coop, and the chicken ‘palace’ would not be ready until fall. I’ve not had good results mixing different age chickens, that’s why we kept these birds apart.

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some of our fun varieties

How such good care, love and close contact with these birds could raise a ‘man-killer’…I know not how! But that’s what happened!!! One of my beautiful Ameraucana/Black Copper Maran roosters grew into the meanest rooster that ever set foot on this property.

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the gorgeous Blackbeard aka Man-killer

Out of all 8 roosters we ended up with we decided to keep ‘Blackbeard’, thinking he’d help protect the girls and at the same time fertilize the eggs of some broody hens, thereby giving us more colorful eggs. Ameraucana hens lay a beautiful blue/green egg, and Black Copper Marans lay a terra cotta colored egg. A mix of these two birds gives an olive green colored egg. I was looking forward to that! I like my egg basket pretty.

Anyhow, the day came to cull the other roosters. They’d reached maturity and were starting to fight.

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too many roosters in the chicken palace

The culling was not a problem for me, I’d known all along that a good portion of my chicks would be roosters and future eating. We had no trouble catching the roosters, they were all friendly and used to being handled. In the end it was a little emotional to have these beautiful roosters butchered, but all went well.

It was what happened the next morning that was not so well. Upon entering the coop (palace) to feed and water the chickens, this beautiful rooster we’d kept came charging at me! The first reaction was to boot him, he went flying, re-oriented himself and charged again. This happened at least 3 or 4 times. I don’t like inflicting pain on animals but to let a rooster have at me……I think not! Each time someone entered the coop Blackbeard would come charging and would get booted. Eventually he learned only to attack people who were leaving the coop, therefor it became necessary to back out the coop and never to turn our backs on Blackbeard. I now see we named him appropriately!

I’ve come to feeding, watering and collecting eggs only once a day….when it’s dark, and Blackbeard’s on the roost. He doesn’t see well in the dark and stays on the roost, so that’s my chance.

We’re managing for now…but it’s clear he’ll have to go. When the weather warms up and the chickens will roam outdoors again we can’t have a ‘man-killer’ on the loose!

Free chicken anyone?

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