Tag Archive for rooster

Rooster

image-300x225 This past season Hubster and I decided that if either of the two roosters we’ve raised decided to start acting overly testosterone driven that they would go to freezer camp before having the chance to attack us.

Well, it looks like we’ll be down to one rooster soon. Amp, as gorgeous as he is and as great of a job as he does, he’s starting in with some nasty habits: chasing girls that won’t let him mount them, forcing some girls away from the feed, following us and grumbling when we let them out, and placing himself between us and the girls. His stink-eye and habits just won’t do.

Now, there will be those reading this that will ask, “Why don’t you just rehome him?” Roosters are not known to be broken of Nast habits once they manifest. Come spring, Amps attitude will be much worse as she hits a natural testosterone high. Rehoming him would only make him someone else’s problem. As far as homesteading is concerned, butchering Amp makes more sense as he isn’t a problem for someone else and we recoupe part of the cost of raising him through providing food for our family. He’s an 8.5lb bird that, if he dresses out to 5lbs, will give us about six meals.

As sad as it will to see him go, it’s necessary. Amp is frightening the girls to the point that we’re losing more eggs than what we should be this time of year. He’s keeping some of the girls from the food to the point that a couple of them are growing very lean. Amp is handsome, but looks don’t make up for being an asshole. Since the butcher isn’t doing up another batch of birds until January, he has until then, unless things get really iffy, at which point we’ll do him in ourselves.

When brothers work together, they can be real assholes. 

I was playing on the floor with Little Miss when I heard the chickens making noise outside. Luckily her big brother is taking a nap, so I scoop the little lady up and put her in her downstairs crib.

I rushed outside thinking there was a fox attacking. Gucy, the eldest of our two roosters, was by the back brush line by the barn, making a racket. I went over there only to see a small female cat cowering in the bushes. I tried to chase the chickens off, but the rooster followed the cat, chasing her from one hiding spot to another.

Once Amp, our younger rooster, realized I was outside, he took off after the cat too, assuming that I would keep tabs on the hens. So I end up having to chase the two boys and threw them away from the front brush line so the poor feline could escape. Took three attempts before the two roosters would actually go back to the flock.

They work well together, which is great! Yet those two can really be assholes.


(Gucy is on the left, Amp on the right.)

And so comes spring…

A lot has changed in the past two months since I have had time to update here. Personally, I’m suffering the set back of having to extend my Master’s work yet again, but this will be the last time, thankfully! The time that I’ve had to devote to my writing, the mental prep and planning for planting season, and the physical exertion of growing another farm hand has left me with very few chances to get onto the blog. I’m stealing a few minutes to update everyone about what we have going on and what’s changed.

We decided to rehome our white crested Polish rooster, Jovi. No sooner did we than his immune system apparently shut down on him. He passed away only after a week of living in his new home. It killed me to hear that he had moved on. I just hope that depression and being away from us did not exacerbate his health issues. His new owner did say he didn’t seem to be in pain when he passed. It’s hard, though. You can say as often as you want that you won’t get attached to the live stock – the breathing beings that provide you with food – but it’s hard not to.

Our only rooster now, Gimp the Rhode Island Red, has been dealing with some health issues of his own. At a later date I will do an entry on both of the specific ones he went through and how we treated each, as it’s very important information that I feel many chicken owners, including myself, tend to over look. Needless to say, he’s lost half a toe and two toe nails due to frost bite issues and is allergic to hay.

We’re also looking to rehome a few of our hens who just aren’t fitting into the flock as well as we would like. they are great layers and barely a year old, so I can’t see just sending them to freezer camp. We have a few people interested, we just have to decide when we need them gone by.

It’s also chick season around here. We bought 6 Black Australorps pullets from Aubuchon’s since we couldn’t get the from the hatchery. While there, I entered for their Chick Days drawing, which ws a chick starter kit. For once in my life, I won something! Not only did we get a tote with all the fixings (water font, 2 feeders, heat lamp and bulb, treat stick, and themometer), but it came with six free chicks (one mystery chick and then I chose the rest), a bale if shavings, and a 25 lb of feed!

We now have the 6 Black Australorps, 5 Jersey Giants, and one mystery chick (most likely a Brown Leghorn or Welsummer roo) in one brooder box. The other brooder box has 10 Buff Rock roos, 2 Buff Rock pullets, 2 Blue Andalusian Pullets, 2 Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets, and a mystery bird, which I’m pretty sure is a Cochin. Our basement is very lively right now!

We also have expansion plans for the gardens and will possibly be adding in blueberry bushes this year as well. Oh, and let’s not forget fiddlehead season is in a few weeks! Let’s hope this waddling mama doesn’t fall into the Sandy Brook when fiddlehead picking!

Feather Cysts

One of the issues that we’ve been dealing with this past month or so has been feather cysts. Jovi, our white crested black Polish, is our first crested chicken that we’ve ever had. Back in the fall he was attacked by another rooster that we had tried to keep. (Needless to say we found the other rooster a new home.) After the attack, I didn’t dare pull out all of the broken feathers in Jovi’s crest as I didn’t want him completely bald for the winter. I took a gamble and left them in there.

The problem with gambling is that there’s always the possibility of a bad outcome. In this case, it was feather cysts. A feather cyst is like an ingrown hair on a bird, only it’s a feather not a hair.

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Feather cysts normally form when a broken feather shaft is left in and blocks the new feather from emerging. Sometimes the broken feather will fall out and let the new ones work through, but it’s a rare occurrence.

There are a few different ways to treat feather cysts. The first step that we had to take was to remove all the broken feathers that were left in hopes of avoiding another cyst.

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The next three days we used a carbon paste to pull at much of the puss from the wound as possible. We also pricked it open with a pin to drain the puss. On the fourth day there was a scab that we were able to peel off to reveal the feather underneath. I didn’t take any photos of it, but after I pulled out everything from the cyst, and full feather measured about an inch long.

He’s had two more cysts since then, but both we’ve been able to pop and let come out on their own. This one was by far the worse. While I feel awful that he had to go through that, it was a great learning experience for us and now we know how to stop them before they start.

Tough Days Make Us Tough Birds

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It’s difficult to live on a homestead. While we don’t slaughter out own birds – yet – the emotions that you go through packing them into the kennels and loading them into the car, driving to the butcher’s and handing them over, picking them up an hour later, and bringing them home to the freezer, it’s a roller coaster ride.

You’ve held these birds in your hands since they were a day old. You fed them, cuddled them, loved them.  You give them your attention, your time, and your devotion. In return they give you education, experience, and sustenance. It’s never easy to see anything come to an end, much less the life of an animal, even one that has been born and raised with the sole purpose of giving your family food.

We’re asked often why we raise our own birds if it is so hard to see them go off to “freezer camp.” There are so many ways to answer this, but it all boils down to the fact that it is by far healthier for us and for them. They have room to grow, are not debeaked, and are not kept in an area the size of an iPad. These birds have been tended to for every wound and illness, from pasty butt to bumble foot, to torn combs. Each rooster has been held, named, and identified as a living being, not a “production unit.”

We eat meat because we are carnivores. But that does not mean we need to become heartless about it. Our current industrialization of animal husbandy that has formed concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) have let the US become such a heartless, unaware society as to where our meat comes from that many no longer realize their food as once having been a living animals. We, like all homesteaders, fight to close this gap. We long to be connected back into our food chain, giving each animal we consume the best life possible until it’s time for their ultimate destiny as one of our “farm hands.” As a family we’ve decided to raise our own meat birds, buy local beef, and purchase additional meat from the local farmers’ market. Is there more that we could do to strengthen our connection? Yes, but raising our own chickens for slaughter is the first step.

I could wax political and spiritual for hours on this topic. It’s a job we don’t take lightly, raising our own food, but it’s one that we readily take upon ourselves instead of taking it for granted. It is rough. It leads to tears, sleepless nights, early mornings, and deep meditation, but Gods above is it worth it. We know where our food comes from. We know each bird was happy and healthy. We know we are making a difference and raising our children to know where their food – their life source – comes from. I will never give up that opportunity.

 

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Rooster sitting in a barn on a rural farm