Well, for better or worse, this family has finally got itself a rooster!
We actually tried to get a rooster a while ago, but our first attempt didn’t quite pan out. The local feed store got in an order of gold sex link chicks, and there were a few male chicks in the bunch, which are yellowish-white instead of reddish-gold. I picked out the whitest one I could find, named him Captain, and brought my little guy home. The weeks went by, the chicks all feathered out and grew up, but instead of turning into a handsome gold sex link roo, Captain grew into a beautiful whitish-gold Ameraucana pullet.
This time, we didn’t mess around. I saw an ad on a Facebook site for a 6 month old rooster, whom the seller claimed was too nice to eat, and I jumped on it.
We christened him Wilhelm Von Cocklespurs and appointed him the rank of Major General (because obviously). He’s an olive egger/Ameraucana cross. More to the point, he is magnificent and gorgeous and every time he crows, even at dawn, I feel a little rush in my chest. I think it’s the feeling of being closer to our goal of being out on the farm; to being a homesteader. I know that’s silly, but it’s also true.
We wanted a rooster for a number of reasons, but mainly to protect our flock.
We expanded to 13 hens this year, and we allow them to them free-range over the acre we live on. It’s not much and we do have quite a few neighbors, I know, but there are tons of predators around. I hear dozens of coyotes nightly, and even though I don’t see them, I know raccoons and opossums are around en mass. We lost two of our chicks (including Captain, the non-rooster) just a week ago to some unknown menace, but I suspect that a bald eagle or a red tail hawk got them because they were still in a fenced pen.
A good rooster will be constantly vigilant, allowing the hens to relax and focus on their all-important egg laying duties. He will also protect his flock with his life. I hope that’s not something Wilhelm will ever have to do, but mature hens are a huge investment in time (not to mention a small-to-moderate investment in money), and we do feel better knowing he’s out there keeping an eye on things.
I knew adding a rooster, even a young one, to an existing flock of hens could sometimes be difficult. Chickens can be pretty brutal to any newcomers, and even with those lethal spurs it’s not unheard of for a few hens to literally peck a rooster to death.
So far though, thankfully, it’s been a smooth transition.
Per all the advice on the internet, we kept Wilhelm separated in the old chick pen for a couple of days and then moved him in with the ladies after they’d all already gone to roost for the night. The next morning when we let them out, everyone acted like he’d always been there, warbling and clucking at each other sweetly.
The young chicks aren’t leaving the barn much currently, so he mainly stays with the the mature hens, who can roam pretty far during the day. He trails behind them with one eye cocked to the sky and the edge of the field, crowing valiantly when he sees something strange and possibly dangerous (like the neighbor’s dog). He’s been very courteous and well-mannered to them, and even though he doesn’t quite trust us yet, he hasn’t been aggressive at all.
And that’s very good news for Major General Wilhelm, because otherwise we would have had to name him Headed For the Stew Pot.