Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A good man is hard to find

A good man may be one in a million, but in my experience, a good rooster is about one in four. 

(On a side note... I'm always surprised when people ask me this question, but it has come up often: Don't you need a rooster to get eggs?  The answer, is of course not!  Hens, just like women, "lay" an egg on a regular schedule, whether or not there is an available male of the right species to fertilize it.)

Since I haven't ever raised chicks from my own eggs, it doesn't matter to me if they are fertilized or not.  A good rooster, though, can play a helpful social role in the flock looking after his ladies, keeping the group cohesive, and keeping the peace. 

I didn't actually order a rooster with this batch of hens, but the hatchery included these two for free: a Black Australorp, and an unknown breed.   I preferred the black, since he is of a breed I know well, but the real test was to let the ladies decide.  Wings down, they prefer the black.  When I pick up a hen, he is the first to come running and check out the situation.  More of the ladies forage with him than with the other.  Most importantly, the intimate advances of the black rooster are tolerated, while the best efforts of the mottled rooster result in a great deal of squawking, with the usurper being chased off by the favored male.  So it's not my fault, but spotty rooster will have to go.  It's for his own good, really.  The black male is defending his harem with increasing vigor, and the other, while not a great lover, is certainly no fighter.  This picture doesn't do him justice, he's a big bird and will just fit in the new pressure cooker my Mom gave me.

I actually let him out of the cage since I didn't want to butcher in this cold.  He'll spend a night in solitary sometime soon while I take him off feed for the 12 hours preceding the end.  I've heard this makes chickens more calm at the end, but the real reason is that an empty gut makes them much more sanitary to clean.

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