Tuesday, October 13, 2015

No longer just a hen house

I never thought I wanted a rooster. When I first started raising chickens, five years ago, I ordered my Barred Rock chicks guaranteed sexed as females (I think it is something like an 85% guarantee.)  As it turned out, they were all females.  So I was good to go. 
Here's Murphy with the Barred Rock Hens

Well, this spring, the nesting instinct (LOL, that's what I call the urge to get baby chickens) took hold of me, and I bought chicks.  Several of the breeds I bought sexed as females. Two of the breeds, the French Black Copper Marans, and the Blue Splash Ameraucana, I bought, what is referred to, as "straight run", or not sexed as male or female. 
The French Black Copper Marans chicks
The Blue Splash Ameraucana chick 

Well, as luck would have it (not sure if it was good or bad,) I ended up with ALL FOUR of the straight run chicks being roosters!  Nothing like batting 1000, or would it be zero... Not ever having had a rooster before, I wasn't really sure what to expect.  The Maran's roosters started crowing in the brooder, and honestly, looked like males at only several weeks old. So I knew I had those three. It was the funniest little sounds, their crows.  The Ameraucana rooster, well, he was sneakier about his maleness!  It wasn't until a week or so ago, at 20 plus weeks old, that I realized that he was a rooster. I was still waiting for a lovely colored egg from her, or him rather.  And today was the first day that he let out his first high pitched crow.  So cute. 

At first it really bothered me when the the roosters would grab a pullet, and she would squeal. But, quite honestly, if one pullet grabs another, they squeal the same way (just like kids pinching each other, LOL!)  I will also admit I didn't know quite that much about chicken reproduction.  Frankly I'd never really thought much about it, but I did think that roosters had an internal male organ, much like ducks do. Not true. Here is a good article on chicken mating- how chickens reproduce.
Once I learned the basics of chicken sex (yes, at my age), I felt better that the pullets weren't being, um, violated frequently. So I decided to keep at least two of the roosters. Christian is the head rooster. (he is named after a dear Facebook friend from France.  I had told Christiane that I would name my three French hens after her, and her two daughters. LOL! At least her name could be translated to a male name.)  He really keeps on top of things. If one of the other roosters makes a hen squeal, Christian steps right in, and puts a stop to it.  The others know not to mess with him, and are rather fearful of him.  Jean Pierre is the second French Black Copper Marans that I will be keeping.  He has much better leg feathering than Christian, and I may sell hatching eggs, or hatch chicks that he "fathered" in the spring. And, then there is Francois.  Since I don't need three FBCM roos, he is up for sale.  All three seem to be docile. They don't really care to be picked up, but they aren't aggressive.  They all respect Murphy, and don't charge or attack him either.  I think they know how beneficial he is.
Then there is Abraham Yoder, the Blue Splash Ameraucana.  He's really starting to mature, and has beautiful feathering. While he is not aggressive, as in charging or attacking me, he will bite when I pick him up.  We have to work on that.  I live in the country, where there are no ordinances for chickens.  I do wonder if the neighbors can hear the boys. LOL!
So, I no longer have just a hen house. It's been very interesting so far, and I'm sure it will continue to be so.  What fun would life be without a bit of change.  Has anyone else changed their stance on keeping a rooster, whether it be to get one, or get rid of one?

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