Category Archives: Roosters

Lesson 846 – Getting rid of roos – continued

Yesterday I wrote about how to get rid of unwanted roosters from your flock.

One of my readers responded by sending me this important piece of email:

While I admire your forthright way of helping people find ways of disposing of their unwanted cockerels, perhaps before you advise them to give them away, you may inform them of a fate worse than the stew pot.  Like you, if I could eat my own birds, I’d be eating healthy food and my birds’ deaths wouldn’t be totally unwarranted.

 

Unfortunately, when you do find someone who will “take them off your hands,” or will actually pay you a few dollars for them, they are going to be used as bait birds in training fighting cocks.  I realize that this despicable practice is illegal now in all 50 states, but it continues unabated.  Continue reading

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Lesson 845 – What to do about the roos?

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.

And:

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. Continue reading

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Lesson 733 – The Guinea male is not going to work out

We tried, but we couldn’t make it work.

This weekend we will be re-homing our male Guinea hen (rooster.) It’s that mechanical-alarm-like nonstop honk, literally having our neighbors up in arms, that is what’s at issue.

Not that I blame them. If you have listened to Guineas hens you know they have the sort of call that when heard makes you sit up, look around, and say “what the heck was that?” Not such a horrible thing to happen during the day but definitely not the best neighbor-bonding event to take place early (*early*) in the mornings on the weekends.

We’re starting to get those sideways “Oh. My. God. Will you shut those things up?”  looks when they see us in the grocery store, or on the street, or in our backyard.

When we got our Guineas, we had hoped (prayed) they would be females. We picked the slightly less ugly ones thinking that nature would at least cut those girls a tiny break. And while we got one female, we also got a male. It’s that little guy, who’s the problem.

Each morning, he honks and honks (and honks), riling up the rest of our flock to squawk along with him. Until he entered our flock, I didn’t even know our other girls could call like that.

Apparently I have very fast learners.

I was hoping that the theoretical advantage of the Guineas eating our ticks would make the noise that everyone (and now me) talks about worth it.

But it’s not.

When I teach my chicken classes one of the things I stress is that a responsible backyard chicken owner should not have roosters in their flock if they have close neighbors. It’s time to practice what I preach.

I’ve found a lovely new home for our Guinea, where he can join an existing flock of other Guineas and will be able to eat ticks and honk his honk to his heart’s delight.

For now, I’ll be holding onto the female hoping that with the male gone, she might just settle down, but who knows, in a very short while, she may be going to live with her brother down on the farm.

Just what is this guy thinking?

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I write about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact me at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even  a recipe or two.

 

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Lesson 551 – Chicks with chicks

I write regularly for Parenting New Hampshire magazine. Not only do I contribute articles, but I also have a monthly column on Family Finances (how to be thrifty – something that with 6 kids, I feel I’m qualified to talk about.)

Anyway, because of a retrospective article I had written about a cover shoot my kids were on 11 years ago, the editor had asked me if I could pose with a few of my kids for a new cover. Sure, I said, how about chicks with chicks.

I’m not sure she realized that when I said this I really meant chicks, with chicks, with chicks (kind of like Chicken-inception) but she was a good sport about it and when she and the photographer showed up, the girls and I grabbed some chickens and got ready for our close-ups. The end product turned out just fine and the girls and I are pleased as punch to be sharing the world of chickens once again.

The online copy of the magazine is here.  I have 3 articles in this issue (it just worked out that way) if you want to take a look. Continue reading

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Lesson 549 – The joy of chicken stories

People who have chickens are people who have stories.

Seriously, if you know anyone who has chickens, take them out for a cup of coffee and just start off with the question – “What’s one of the most memorable things your chickens have done?”

Oh, the stories this little guy could tell.

That’s it. That’s all it takes. You wont’ be sorry. (By the way, we also make great party guests.)

Some of the favorite chickens stories I’ve heard from others involve roosters. When roosters are young they can be docile, often misleading you into believing that they will not become the devilish roosters of other people’s stories.

Not true.

When roosters mature he becomes mean. It’s his job, it’s how he protects the flock.

One woman once told me that her parents had chickens and there was one rooster in particular who was very aggressive. Every afternoon, he’d know when it was time for her to come home from school and he’d be ready at the bus stop to attack her. Every. Single. Day.

She told me that for much of her childhood, every afternoon became a life or death race from the school bus to the front door trying to outrun that killer rooster in order to reach the safety of the house.

It probably would have been easier to get rid of the rooster but chicken owners tend to live and let live. An aggressive rooster? Not his fault, that’s how he was meant to be. Just make sure you know how to run.

And besides, if her parents had gotten rid of the rooster, she’d never have that wonderful story.

Last night I met a gentleman who used to have chickens on his property in town. He told me that in the wintertime, it was his young daughter’s responsibility to go out and gather the eggs.

One morning, she collected the eggs and not having any place to out them, she gently placed them in her warm pockets. Continue reading

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Lesson 544 – Spring in our steps

Spring has arrived here in New Hampshire.

Our Bleeding Hearts have blossomed.

The Dandelions are playing tag with the lawn, you’re it.

Violets have gathered to giggle in shy groups.

And the Bluets are madly cheering the warmth and light. Continue reading

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Lesson 542 – The bully becomes the bullied in the henhouse

We have a Serama-mix frizzle. Her name is … wait for it… Ms. Frizzle, named after the teacher from the Magic School Bus TV show.  We have had Ms. Frizzle for two years. She is one of three we bought one summer. They were all sisters and came as a package because one of them was lame and the breeder wanted to keep them together.

Frizzles are not a breed, they are a desirous genetic aberration that any breed can show. In these birds the feathers bend up instead of down making them look very much like Daffy Duck after he has swallowed a cartoon bomb.

When we first got Ms. Frizzle, she was a rather unpleasant bird, prompting us to refer to the black three who roosted together overlooking the henhouse as the “three witches” – you know, boil, boil, toil, and trouble?

Ms. Frizzle was small (she’s a bantam) but she was a bully. She’d mercilessly attack the other hens in the coop all the time. We all tolerated her, but to be perfectly honest, Ms. Frizzle was no one’s favorite bird. Continue reading

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Lesson 541 – No patter of tiny feet for us this year

This is going to be the first spring in 3 years that we aren’t going to have chicks in the house. No tiny peeping from the mudroom and none of that stinky organic odor as they grow, eat, and poop in their crates until they are old enough to go outside. I think we’re going to find that we will miss all that.

I realized this when I saw that Charlie’s baby waterer and feeder (plastic bottles attached to a red base) had been put in a box to be stored away with our other chick equipment kept in waiting until needed. Charlie is a big girl now, she eats from a converted casserole dish (deep sides so that she doesn’t splatter her food all over the place) and shares her water-drinking with the dog in the community bowl.

Yup, there will be no little peepers for us this year. As it is, we have a total of 35 chickens and although 7 of them are bantams of which some are the size of fat pigeons, and one lives in the house, it still makes for a full henhouse. As much as I would like to get more chickens, unless we enlarge the henhouse (and we’d rather send our kids to college, thank you very much) we are going to have to put new chicks on hold.

Of course we are still looking forward to a single new Black Copper Maran juvenile (already named Verruca) sometime this summer to be a playmate for Charlie but other than her, our flock is in lockdown. Continue reading

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Lesson 512 – Not so sure about this State chicken bill

It’s chick days at our local Tractor Supply Company! Hooray, I can take my kids into the store and we can get our baby chick fill without taking any home.

Of course the reason we don’t take any home is that in New Hampshire, by law, you have to buy at least 12 chicks at a time from a feed store. This law, established in 1985, was meant to protect the agricultural farmers. If you recall, New Hampshire is a bit on the rocky side – Granite State anyone – and we tend to have a fairly large contingency of live stock around to get us through those tough winters. At one time you’d find many large poultry farms throughout the state. (My parents honeymooned in New Hampshire and we have old black and white photos of my mom standing in the middle of a flock of birds at a turkey farm.)

But not anymore.

This requirement also served to protect the chicks. Baby chicks are inexpensive. Cheap enough that a kid with a few dollars could walk into a store and buy a chick to bring home in his back pocket. The problem with baby chicks, though, is that they grow. And just like the puppies and kittens that are abandoned when they are no longer cute, chickens also are “freed” when they grow out of their soft and fluffy stage. Too often they are freed into backwoods or local neighborhoods (especially those pesky roosters.) Continue reading

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Lesson 509 – Sexing a day old chick by its wings

A reader (amy elizabeth of tbn ranch) yesterday left a comment on my rooster blog about sexing day old chicks based on their wing feathers. I had heard of this technique but by the time I got around to looking at Charlie’s wings, she was much too old for this to be considered a valid indicator. Although I have never had a chance to use this technique, amy elizabeth  claims that it works consistently.

I plan to make a visit to our local feed store to take pictures of little chick wings to see if I can capture this technique. In the meantime, I’ll pass on the information but like the pendulum at a baby shower – I must caution you to use it at your own risk (in other words, don’t come crying to me if you get a rooster.)

amy elizabeth wrote:

I thought I’d pass on a little trick I learned a few years back that might help you… a lot. Sexing day old chicks is easy if you just look at the wing. Continue reading

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