As I drove into the driveway the other day, I noticed that Prince, one of our young roosters, was sporting a little feather on his head. Something didn’t look right.
Poor guy had been on the losing end of a bad fight with another rooster and had a bloody head and his eyes were swelling shut. It is times like these that the violence of nature almost makes me want to turn away from its beauty.
Fighting is one of the big downsides of having more than one rooster. We live on three and a quarter acres and we have all of eight bantam (miniature) chickens (not counting Society’s six chicks) – four of which are full grown roosters, and yet at times “this town ain’t big enough” for all of them.
Of course, there is also the problem that each rooster would like to have 10 – 18 hens for himself. Given that Abby’s little cockerel will soon be a grown rooster, we should have about 90 hens. To keep peace on the farm, we will probably have to bring a few roosters to our local feed store sometime soon where they will be given free to good homes.
Chickens live in social hierarchies – a literal “pecking order.” Roosters fight each other for top dog status, which comes with the invaluable privilege of getting first crack at the hens and food, the two things roosters live for. We think that our other low-ranking rooster, Banjo, saw an opportunity to move up in the ranking by taking on Prince. The fights are usually brutal but brief, lasting less than a few minutes. Our Nankins were not bred to fight, but when they get into it, they are incredibly focused on pummeling their opponent. In the past, we have tried separating the angry birds, putting one in the nursery or a separate section of the coop. But they will fight each other through wire mesh even though they could easily avoid each other and go about their own business, and won’t give up until the fight is finished.
The only good thing is that once one rooster is clearly beaten, the fight is over and the hierarchy is established. I imagine poor Prince had a monster headache for a day or two, but now he’s pretty much back to normal. Banjo is very proud of his newly elevated status, but given his size, strength and youth, Portland will probably continue as the top guy for quite a while.
Hens also get very bossy with each other by pecking, stealing food, pushing another bird off her nest, or intimidating a bird’s chicks. Some hens are self-assured enough to stand up to a rooster.
The good thing about having roosters is that they do protect hens and allow our free-ranging little flock to relax a bit. The hens usually congregate around the rooster of their choice as he spends the day on the look out for predators and seeking out tasty treats for his girls that he can offer in exchange for breeding rights.
We cannot yet sex Society’s six chicks, but of course we’re hoping they are all hens.
A few links I hope you enjoy:
I may be the last person on earth to learn that there will be an Arrested Development movie soon. I cannot wait for the utter mayhem of the Bluth family.
I was a bit down this weekend. Oftentimes the best way to fight the blues is to give. Have you checked out Kiva? You can make a loan as small as $25 to borrowers from around the world. You think you’re helping someone else, but it is you who will feel better immediately.
When I am struggling, Pema Chodron always offers profound, compassionate and often humorous guidance. Take time and watch this Bill Moyers interview, just click on the Watch the Interview links.
I’ve never heard of anything like this recipe, but given my love for cannoli and for cupcakes, I must try. I think they too will make me feel better.
And Mary Oliver reminds me to pay attention as an act of prayer, here.
Happy Monday to you.
Great post! Poor Prince. Brings whole new meanings to both ‘bad hair day’ and ‘angry birds’. Love the photography.
Thanks Liz. I’m working away at improving the photography. Sometimes it is so much easier to take a photo with my iPhone and put it through the magical Instagram filters, or set my Nikon D90 on an automatic setting, so it is so gratifying to get complimented on my photography when I don’t “cheat!”
Wow. I didn’t realize that it would become such a brutal rivalry. Terrific story.
I love the way you love animals. xorosita
Nature is so brutal on “excess” males. Thank goodness we can geld horses and neuter dogs!
This is such a great story, although sad as nature goes when it comes to male dominance, right? I’ve always told writers that a vineyard is a farm, first and foremost… You story proves what I’ve been saying for years. Poor prince!
Yes Jo, sometimes we do feel a bit like farmers, but we both grew up around farms and know we don’t do even a fraction of the work that REAL farmers do!
Many,many years ago my mom bought my brother and I two little chicks. One grew up to be a rooster and the other a hen. Well I named my rooster Rusty and I loved him. The color of his feathers were beautiful! I would call him by his name and he would waddle over to me and I would scratch the top of his head. Oh the memories of animals big and small that leave a mark on your heart.
What a sweet story Rayetta! In our not so distant rural past, chickens used to be such a part of everyday life for most kids in this country. They are such delightful, curious little animals.
I like the chickens.
Glad to hear you like our chickens Michael, it’s obvious we are crazy for them. They are such characters!
[…] many roosters can be a dangerous thing. Just ask our rooster, Prince. Since he was beat up by one of our other bigger roosters (we think it was Banjo, Portland’s […]