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kill the old red rooster

I inherited a crummy coop, no pen and 20 chickens.  The girls preferred hanging out with the dominant old rooster. I bumped off three middle-aged roosters who kept pestering the chickens to their obvious displeasure, and who kept the old guy running around like crazy keeping those boys from bugging the girls.  Finally peace in the flock, but still NO eggs. ZERO. Not just for days, but for months.

There was a small sub-flock of May/June birds that the main flock pushed away early on, and kept separate during the day. It was comprised of one rooster who bothered nobody and three hens.

Still, with a variety of ages in the flock, NO EGGS. Just 50 pounds of feed every month, with significant time investment trying to clean up, make nice accommodations, etcetera.

I tried to sell the entire flock, figuring to start over some day in the right order: First build a proper facility, THEN get birds.

No buyers.

Finally I GAVE away a dozen and kept the ostracized young flock of four.  The young rooster, by the way, has HUGE respect/fear of me.  He knows what I did to those other three roosters.  He was the only bird smart enough to run from the carnage.

No eggs… for a couple of weeks.  Then the young guy starts crowing.  More and more. Getting comfortable with the new situation.  They are all beginning to make clucking and sharing noises.

Another the next day.
Suddenly boom-boom-boom, three eggs a day from three hens. Three days in a row, then a couple of two-egg days, then three, two, three.

Pretty impressive winter performance from the best of hens. PLUS, I am filling the feeder every week instead of every two days.

The cost per egg is rapidly dropping from several hundred dollars each down to 100… 50… shucks, the way this is going we might soon be getting fresh eggs each for the price of a dozen store-bought.

I am finally starting to like this flock. I am now looking forward to improving the facility, and adding some chicks in spring.

The old guy was dominant enough to be protective, but too dang old to excite production.  Cool, mellow, sociable and popular with the girls, he was just an uninspiring old fuddy duddy. Kind of like a dozen Playboy playmates taking up with Hugh Heffner in his last years.

While many perceive no value from roosters in the flock, they act different than the hens, watch their surroundings more warily, call the hens over to fresh food sources as they find them and tend to be the center of a hen harem as they move around their spaces.

My most memorable rooster was a great leghorn, super human-friendly, who also paid particular attention to a flock of baby chicks. He kept them gathered around him, away from the larger birds in the flock, and continually clucked to them as he used his powerful feet to scratch up food for the little ones.

I have about 20 years of chicken ranching under my belt with several different flocks in facilities I created over the last 40 years. Many kindred spirits express it thusly:

“I cannot explain why I like to, but it is pleasurable to have chickens around. They are fun to watch, interesting to raise, plus no other eggs come close in flavor and wholesomeness to our fresh ones.”