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.
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.