As most of the loyal readers know, I ordered 15 hens this past summer. There is that expression, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” I would change that to, don’t count your hens before they fully grow up. As the chickens grew up, one of four Barred Rock hens was much bigger than all of the other chickens. It was so big, in fact, that I thought that maybe I accidentally got a different breed of chicken. The black and white markings were distinctive of a Barred Rock, so I chalked it up to the fact that maybe it liked the food better and ate more.
After five months, I have come to realize that this behemoth Barred Rock was so big because it was not a hen, but rather a rooster. The telltale comb (above the head) and wattle (below the beak) have come out. Most importantly, this cockerel is just learning how to crow. Rather than a full cock-a-doodle-do, he does more of a cock-a doo.
I wanted hens as egg layers, and had no aspirations of fertilizing and incubating eggs to hatch chicklets. So what to do with a rooster? Dreams of coq-a-vin immediately came to mind and being five months old would be perfect. However, wifey’s “no-kill” policy trumped my culinary aspirations. My sister-in-law wants to separate the rooster with a hen and allow the hen to incubate her own eggs so that we get a new generation of chickens. However, this is messy (i.e. I’ll need another coop and pen for the rooster and chicken), not to mention that while incubating the eggs, I lose an egg-layer.
Win a Free Rooster
So here’s what I am going to do – I am going to give the rooster away. If anyone wants the rooster, please comment below, tell me why you want it, and I’ll select the winner. Pick-up only – I would have no idea how to ship a live rooster safely. Winner will be welcome to stay with us overnight. Fun fact: if raised from a baby chick, have been handled regularly, roosters tend to be very affectionate and intelligent and make good pets. Our chickens recognize wifey and me and run to greet us each morning and afternoon.
Bird of Prey Takes Down a Hen
I also wrote an early post about all the wonderful wildlife that live by me that would love to eat my dogs as snacks. Since installing the coop, I have watched a bird of prey (a falcon, I think) perch on top of a tree that sits on the edge of our property. It eagerly watches our hens, but until today, has dared not
interact with the chickens. Today, however, it swooped down and attacked a chicken. At the time, I was inside our house, but knew that something was happening because the guinea hens started squawking like mad. When I went outside, I saw the bird on top of one of my hens. I startled the falcon, who flapped away like nothing had happened. Sadly, the falcon was able to use a talon to penetrate the head of the hen and killed it. I went back inside our house to find a bag to place the chicken in, and came back outside to more crazy guinea hen squawking. The falcon had returned to dine on his kill! I penned the hens and locked the door.
Upon closer inspection, the downed hen was a New Hampshire Red. It is a brown egg layer. Including this gal, I had 6 brown egg layers, 3 white egg layers and 3 green/blue egg layers. So if I was to choose one to lose, it would probably be a brown egg layer. Unfortunately, the New Hampshire Reds are the friendliest of all of our hens. They will peck at my pants when I am near and want me to pick them up.
Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner
Wifey has implemented a “no-kill” policy on the farm. Seeing that I did no killing, but I have a perfectly good chicken meat sitting in front of me, I am thinking of roast chicken for dinner. I wonder what the PETA folks would say – we have a humane no-kill farm, but will eat animals that are attacked and killed by wild birds of prey.
The little girl weighed in at just under 3.5 lbs. after defeathering and cleaning. Really not bad for an organic, no pesticide, no antibiotic fed 5 month year old hen. I’ve got some good photos of us defeathering and cleaning the hen, but unsure whether anyone wants to see this. Let me know in the comments if you do.
So I am now down 13% of my hens. One because of a sexing mistake and another because of a predator. If the hens survive the winter, I still hope to produce over 60 eggs per week. Of course, I am up one pretty fantastic rotisserie chicken.