That damned rooster

There is no more rooster on our farm.

I knew he was a bully, as most roosters are, but thought little of it. I put up with it, just like I put up with his incessant crowing, because it didn’t seem to be hurting the girls much and he would – supposedly – protect them while they were free-ranging. I kept him separate from the older girls for most of the summer, and the younger hens he was penned with just loved him. Every night when I checked on them in the coop they were all cuddled up together.

But then it was time for my older girls to leave the chicken tractor and go back into the coop for the Fall and Winter. I expected there to be a little bit of trouble as everyone got adjusted. But I didn’t expect him to nearly kill two of my layers.

This is Jopari, about thee weeks after we got rid of the rooster.

I didn’t take a picture of her that morning because it was just too graphic. He had pecked her – and Bossy, my other barred rock hen – all the way down to the skull, leaving a bloody gash about two inches long. Their heads were bloody, featherless messes. They wouldn’t leave the nest box. Jopari, who is normally the flightiest of my hens, didn’t even make a protest as I reached in and examined her.

I cleaned them both up, daubed on lots of antiseptic, and put them both in isolation. Jopari, who was worse off, got brought into the warm sunporch in a big cage and fed hard boiled egg yolks with molasses. Her eyes kept closing and I thought she probably wasn’t going to make it… until I saw her perk up and eat something. Doubtless the rooster had been keeping her and Bossy away from the food, savaging them whenever they poked their heads out of the nest box. Once I saw her eat and drink I knew she’d be just fine – heritage chickens are amazingly robust. She was well enough to go back in the coop the next morning.

Without the rooster, of course. He got caged and left in the garage overnight, to meet his fate the next day. I did deign to give him food and water, though grudgingly.

No, I didn’t kill him, as much as I felt like it after what he did to my hens. I was too tired and sick, so I posted him on Craigslist. Lo and behold, someone replied almost immediately and drove all the way up from Virginia to take him home to their farm to protect their flock of free-range hens.

So Joseph has a third chance (I was his second, remember) at a nice long rooster life… as little as he may deserve it. And my hens are healing up well. They seem perky, though I can’t tell if they are laying or not. At least this settles the question for once and for all of whether we should have a rooster. So. Not. Worth it.

One Response to “That damned rooster”

  1. Heidi Says:

    poor Jopari and Bossy. Hope they are recouping well.
    so no little Josephs and Josephinas now, I guess. too bad, I know you wanted to be sustainable.

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