We went to the 4H fair and asked the folks in the chicken tent how to keep our hens from picking on each other. They said to get a rooster. Not the answer we were expecting! Not only should we get a rooster, but they had a friend there who needed to find a new home for his rooster. See that black bird with the feathery feet over there with the blue ribbon? He’ll give you him for free. And deliver him to your house for you.
There had to be a catch. Somehow though, a few days later, we have a rooster strutting around the coop. Our hens are Jersey Giants, the largest registered breed of chickens there is. They are an heirloom breed of chicken I wrote about here. Anyway, this massive rooster towers over them, strolling slowly around the run, a space opening up in front of him and hens scurry out of his way.
More importantly, the hens appear to have stopped trying to kill each other. We put the rooster in a carrying cage in the run for about a day and a half, so they could see each other. We should have left him there longer, but he looked so miserable, I couldn’t bear to keep him locked up. So we let him out into the run as the hens were going to bed. Our hope was that they’d all be too tired to fight.
Well, the rooster went up to each hen, demanded (and received) submission, and that was it. There is a sense of calm in the coop now that I’m deeply relieved to see.
There are other issues, of course, like this cock-a-doodle-doo sound that rings out 157 times/day. It starts pretty early in the morning. I hear it as soon as I wake up, but I can’t say that it’s waking me. Not too bad then. And honestly, this famous clarion call gives our little suburban homestead a nice farm feel. Until the neighbors start to complain, anyway.
The other issue is around what will happen when we let him out of the run. Right now, they’re all locked up in the coop and run while he acclimates to his new home. This is the only home the hens have known. If I let them out, they come back. But how many nights does a new rooster have to live someplace before he starts to think of it as home? Three days? Three weeks? We almost let them out last night, but I just didn’t know what we would do if Fluffy Feet declined to come home. So we’re waiting. Maybe next week? We won’t know til we try it, but every day in the coop increases the odds of his coming back. Maybe we’ll be in the market for a new rooster next week. Updates to come.