It’s that time of year again. No, not when the kids go back to school, although I have to admit that’s a pretty exciting event in any parent’s life, but instead, it’s the time when many of our Spring chicks have matured enough that we can no longer deny what is clearly right in front of us.
We’ve got some roosters.
I’m starting to get messages like:
I have a buff ameraucana roo- about 5.5 months old and a white silkie roo- 14 wks old I need to re-home. If you know of anyone looking, please let me know.
I am looking for a home for this guy who is about 6 mos. He is too protective to the flock when they are in their pen but running free outside he is fine. i just can’t have them free all day while I am not home. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
As anyone who reads my blog or who attends my chicken classes knows, I believe that roosters DO NOT *ever* belong in residential flocks (and that old argument that if my neighbor has a barking dog, I can keep a rooster just doesn’t hold water with me.)
But even if you’re careful, and I mean really careful, you can still get roosters. I know of someone who got a rooster when she ordered pullets from a mail-order hatchery. I’ve been told by “chicken experts” that I’ve got pullets who then turned into roos. I’ve feather sexed my young chicks and have gotten that wrong and I’ve “taken a chance” on birds and, yup, gotten roosters. (note: I’ve learned that just because they are really cute doesn’t mean that they are the girls.)
Unless your chicks are sex-linked there is no real way to tell if you have a rooster or not.
Until they start crowing.
Which many of the Spring batch are starting to do and which is causing panic is backyard flocks all over the place.
So my advice on getting rid of roosters?
Get the word out. Contact chicken people in your area who are connected to a network. They can help you share the information. Post an update on your Facebook page, leave a message on a community bulletin board. Do what you can to just spread the message. You might be surprised, every now and then someone contacts me who is specifically looking for a rooster – it doesn’t happen often but it does happen.
Put a listing on Craigslist. Lots of people read through Craigslist and those who have lots of land will gladly take free birds off your hands. I have to warn you, though, that if you do this, chances are your rooster is going to end up in someone’s stew. I don’t eat birds in my flock but that’s because it’s my choice. I don’t damn anyone who has the guts and intelligence to slaughter and eat clean, antibiotic-free birds. In some ways, it’s something that I wish I could do.
Cull the bird. I know, I could have worded this a little more delicately but it is what it is. If you can’t cull your rooster find someone who can (I keep a killing cone that I loan out to others who may need it.) Listen, I’m not big on anything dying – to be perfectly honest, I even feel a little guilty when I squish a bug, but I’d rather have an unwanted, neighborhood-disrupting rooster die a relatively peaceful death than have it be abandoned in the woods to fend for itself or thrown into a river to drown. The best thing of course would be to then eat your bird, but some of us can’t. On the rare occasion that I cull a bird I usually leave the carcass out in our woods for the animals to discover.
The circle of life – it’s not just a Disney song.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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