Lesson 497 – the trouble with those boy chickens

Update on Charlie –

I’ve had a few people who have looked at the photos of Charlie (I added some more close-ups to yesterday’s post) and for the most part, they agree that she is most probably a female but there is still some doubt. In particular, there is that copper dappling on her back that usually only happens in males.

But then she’s got the posture, rounded feathers, and small comb of a female, so who knows? And for anyone out there who wonders why roosters “sneak” into flocks, point them to this entire discussion. You just never really know until the cock crows.

She (yup, that’s what I’m going with) was born with a genetic defect (her webbed feet) so it is possible that there are other little defects in there and of course, as one person pointed out, she could also be a mix (which is fine with me, I was never going to breed her anyway.)

Enter now the waiting game.

But while we wait on her, we have to deal with the roosters (2) that have blossomed from our 10 eggs that were hatched this summer. If you recall one chick died a few months after she was born, so out of 9 remaining birds, it looks like we got ourselves 3 roosters. That’s a 30% rate.

Again, it’s why I stress that backyard chicken owners need to know how to handle roosters. They don’t belong in an urban setting (unless you have tons of acreage) and good luck trying to get rid of them (if you doubt me just check out the “Free Roosters” ads on Craigslist.)

Not only are roosters loud (and they are, here’s a link to one of our newest neighborhood annoyance) but they also can cause a lot of damage to your flock. (BTW, that’s Zelda who mooned us and then FELL off the perch at the end of the video – too bad they don’t have an America’s funniest home chicken videos show.)

Roosters mate by mounting the squatting female. Roosters don’t have penises (prompting my sons to tell me that “cocks don’t have cocks”) what they do is line up their cloaca with the female’s cloaca, once they are in the general area they release the sperm that will inseminate the female.

Sounds relatively easy until you liken the act to having sex while riding on a bucking bronco. To help make sure that things work out right, the rooster holds on with his (large) feet and grabs the females neck feathers.

What you get is damage to the hens that looks like this:

This hen has something our rooster wants.

You can always tell the girls that are in high demand because often they will have open bloody wounds. This doesn’t hurt their egg laying ability (in fact now, they have fertilized eggs if you wanted to try incubating them) but it does open up the girls to infections, skin disease, and overall stress (which could end up impacting their egg laying ability in the long run.)

So when I say that we can’t have roosters in our flock, I’m not just talking about the noise (although that would be reason enough, trust me – go back and listen to that bad boy again) I’m also talking about flock health. If I were a breeder, it would be one thing, but I’m not. I’m just a chicken owner trying to raise my birds for pets and eggs in an urban backyard setting.  And it’s something I want to continue doing which is why we have to get rid of our roosters.


Filed under Backyard Chickens, Charlie, chicken care, Chicks, Roosters

2 responses to “Lesson 497 – the trouble with those boy chickens

  1. We were told of an old wives tale recently that is said to be pretty accurate when sexing chickens. You turn them over on their backs and see what their legs do. If they draw their legs up, then they’re ‘x’ and if their legs drop down, they’re ‘y’. Now the problem comes if they have one drawn up and one down. But apparently they are ‘usually’ girls. I can’t remember which is which though. SORRY!

  2. Evolution has been (somewhat superficially) described as the “survival of the fittest.” When I was a child, we had hens and roosters and let the chips (and feathers) fall as they may. However, humans are simultaneously evolving to be more vicious and more sentimental. Thus we have more and more powerful tools of destruction while at the same time worrying about whether our hens will get their feathers ruffled, and more and more humans are becoming vegetarians and vegans.

    Of course, this silliness is not all that new. The two most brutal, vicious people of modern times were Stalin and Hitler. Hitler was a vegetarian. The article is too long to snip effectively, but if (like me) you have an ironic taste for morbid cynicism, read about Hitler’s vegetarianism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler%27s_vegetarianism .

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