Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rooster 101.  


My little henchman, Lila, is still terrorizing me.  I'm beyond hope that he will ever mellow out.  For as much as I want to try to pick him up to show my dominance, he has shown me many times that he will fight back.  When he strikes, he comes at me so fast that I have taken to moving very slow and cautious when around him.  His legs move at a high rate of speed scissoring back and forth so fast they look like a blur.  His biggest weapon is his spurs.  Now that he has developed claws, he's even more dangerous.  I'm always afraid he will cut whatever pants I am wearing or get mud or poop on me.  I am not looking forward to warm, bare leg weather, which will mean lots of cuts in addition to the bruising that comes with an attack.  He does not back off when I approach him, unlike when Kenny or the kids come close to him.  In fact, he stalks me.  As you can see in the video, as I start to walk, he will circle around and try to block me like he did when I walked towards the deck stairs.  It's quite frustrating.  At this point, I cannot safely enter the coop when the birds are in there as I would get pummeled just trying to change their food/water.  I have been sending Genny in to check because he will not attack his human girlfriend.  Sometimes I will wait until after I have let them out in the evening, but I do need to wait until Lila takes the girls further from the coop.  Unfortunately, the girls like to follow me knowing I am a purveyor of treats.  This infuriates him and he is very threatened by me.  Nothing worse than a jealous boyfriend!  

The Benefits Outweigh the Cons.

At least I keep telling myself this!  Having a rooster in your flocks help deter predators.  At this point, we have had no evidence of any predators trying to mess with the birds.  Even our cat is not perceived as a thread (see video).  Lila was more concerned about my presence than that of Thunder, our house cat who prefers time to explore outside.  Thunder approaches the chickens with caution, and I believe that is only because they are about the same size he is!  He never tries to attack them and he usually just slinks on by hoping to go unnoticed.  One time he was on the deck ready to head down for a jaunt and the birds were on the stairs.  He stayed up top until he found a safe time to pass through.  

Our eggs are fertile!  A common sight in our yard is Lila mounting his girls.  My kids know he is important in the life cycle of chickens.  It's a pretty easy process.  Lila walks up to his desired mate, he'll approach her from the side and quickly walk to her front.  He'll stop in front of her and stomp his little feet afew times.  Maybe give her a single peck.  When he's ready, he'll approach her from behind and she will 'squat' for him.  Pushing her belling to the ground.  This is his invitation to hop on.  He'll stand on her, using his beak to hold her down.  He'll deposit the sperm sack from his vent to hers and that's it.  No penetration!  I do not feel like I am corrupting my kids by telling them how nature works and what better way to explain than with chickens!  Maybe this spring, if one of the girls goes broody, we will let them hatch some eggs.  It will be fun to watch the mama raise her chicks.  With a rooster present, we have that option.  He only has one mama that is his same breed, so all the others would be mutts.  The girls seem very happy to have him around.  Prissy is the only one he seems to pick on and she is missing a patch of feathers on her back most likely from him mounting her.  Her skin looks healthy and not bloody, so I have not worried at this point, but I do keep an eye on her and the other girls.  If he gets too rough with them, out he goes!  Contrary to popular myth....you can tell a fertile egg from a small white circular bullseye spot on the outside of the yolk.  I've heard many people think it was the small spots of blood they might find in the egg, however, that came from the hen...most likely a broken blood vessel when the egg was forming.  If you buy your eggs from the supermarket, you will not ever see the bullseye!  There are no males in commercial chicken farms. 

He's beautiful!  I don't care what breed(s) you look at, the males are showy pieces of animal art!  The feathers are usually brighter colored, longer and grander than the females.  His comb (at least in our rooster) is very large and showy.  I love looking at him...it's just a shame he's such a meanie!

I do keep saying he'll be in the pot soon, but really, I guess keeping him around benefits us more.  Since he isn't aggressive with the kids, I don't mind putting up with him for a little longer.  I guess we'll see how long I can take it!  It is tempting to get rid of him.....we could replace him with 3 more chicks!  Kenny thinks our coop can safely hold 8 full grown chickens!  

UPDATE ON FEED SWITCH:

The chickens have had no problem transitioning to the organic mash.  I mixed the little bit of the Purina pellets in the first few fills and then dumped the little that was in the bag into the new bag of feed.  We still have a bit of the Purina scratch, but that is merely a treat for them and they do not get an overabundance of it at any one time.  So it will be a little while until I can say they are fully organic, but it has been an easy switch and it's nice to know that we are getting superior quality eggs and our chickens are thriving!

The chickens are out enjoying the warm sun (and wind) today.  Heard more snow is expected later this week.  They do not like snow too much and tend to stick to areas that are not covered until it all melts.  We still have a bit to go to get through winter, but they've been doing great and at no point have we contained them to the coop.  They have availability to the run whenever they want.  They do not tend to stay inside during the day, regardless of the conditions.  

Thanks for checking in!
Friend to the chickens.
Malissa