It takes a brave man to blog about a subject he knows increasingly less about.
I am talking about roosters.
When I bought the feed-store chicks in April, I wanted barred rock pullets, but the store had only straight run. So I rolled the genetic dice with the Z and W chromosomes and bought two chicks. Both turned out to be beautiful roosters. The barred rock, with their black and white striped feathers, reminded me of prison uniforms, so the two roosters became named “the inmates”. This also came from their coop, the fabulous Chicken condo built with plans by Jenny Robson. Her plans use so much hardware cloth and tight, predator proof construction that I call it the “chicken prison”. So the inmates earned their name early.
Mike Perry, in his book Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting
councils his daughter not to name the pigs the family is raising for meat, to avoid the heartbreak of sacrificing a family “pet” for the dinner table. But I suppose I’ve broken that rule by further giving the “Inmates” their own distinctive moniker: “Stew” and “Rotisserie”.
Now when roosters grow up, mine are 16 weeks more or less, they start to establish dominance. And up until this week, the two boys have been getting along just fine. But lately, the alpha bird has begun chasing the lower bird out of the chicken yard. They are not fighting to the point of drawing blod, or injuring each other, but the lower bird spends his day free ranging near the pen and if I put him back in the pen, he quickly runs and hides in the nest box.
If Two Mile Ranch were a Warner Brothers cartoon, I would expect a Rhode Island Red to walking in from screen left saying, “Boy, I say, Boy. You can’t hide in the nest box like that. What’s everyone gonna say, boy? You gotta get out there and fight like a rooster.”
So it’s gone like this for a few days. The best part is, if I just let everyone be, they will work it out on their own. I would like them to get along for a few more weeks until I can put them in the the other chickens who are heading to freezer camp later this fall. In those birds, I also have barred rocks, and will chose two pullets to move in with the other egg chickens.
As a final and funny observation, each night, the chickens put themselves to bed. If the lower rooster is still out, I let him in the pen, and he climbs into the roost……and the two roosters sleep right next to each other on the same perch. Go figure.