New Leadership in the Flock
I have wanted a rooster for quite a while. But it wasn’t an option at our previous place, and we really couldn’t have handle all that comes with a rooster, anyways. However, at our new place, not only do we already hear roosters crowing every morning, but a rooster is almost a must.
Our setup at the previous house was really simple: we had a coop and a run, totally fenced top and bottom, and every now and then I would let the ladies out on a nice afternoon to roam around. At the new place, their coop is a section in the barn — which is quite secure — but their run is really just a fenced-in pasture. I have been hesitant to let them free range when I’m not there, just because I’m afraid of a cat or hawk taking one out. So extra protection has been a must. Well, I don’t think I’m worried anymore. This past Sunday, we added a six-month-old Jersey Giant to the flock. Emphases on the giant! He seems fairly well behaved and is very protective. They were all out grazing yesterday afternoon, and he had an eye to the sky the whole time, making sure there was nothing watching from above. He actually crowed in the vehicle as we were driving him home, and PKB, sitting in her car seat, just looked around in surprise, and then said, “What a silly boy!”
Here he is introducing himself to the ladies.
I do kinda feel badly for one of the ladies. There is one hen that has always been the alpha, and she has been a great leader. She is always the first to come out of the coop and is always watching over the others when they are free-ranging. One day a few months ago, they were all out free-ranging, and I guess she decided she needed to go back to the coop to lay. All three girls actually went back to the coop, and while the one was laying the other two literally waited outside the entire time. Once she was done she came out, and they all went back to free-ranging. It was pretty interesting.
Well, the ladies have a new alpha, and once this guy was added to the flock those two hens immediately got in line behind him. And the one hen has been a little reluctant to give up her leadership role. In this short amount of time you can already see a clear divide between her and the rest of the flock. This morning when I opened the coop she tried to come out first, and he immediately jumped out in front of her as if to say, “Whoa now, get back, I need to exit first!” Which is exactly what I want; this rooster’s only purpose is to provide some protection for the girls. I want him checking things out and making sure it’s safe before the ladies come strolling out to start the day. I hope tensions ease and she falls in line like the other two, as it will certainly make things easier on her. The interactions of an established flock truly fascinate me.
In other news, renovations continue on the house. There is a lot going on, and it’s a little frustrating, but we’re taking it one day at a time. I’ll save those stories for future blog posts.
Read this editor’s letter about her new chickens and their lively personalities.
Backyard Chicken Tools
What tools do you need to raise and process meat chickens? Killing cones are humane, and promote a complete bleed, scalding tanks, plucking machines facilitate easy feather removal.
Integrating Chickens, Dogs and Cats
Introducing the pets to the chickens has been a little more challenging than originally anticipated.