Poultry is enjoying a revival. There are folks all over the country who are taking on two or three hens, many of them in cities. This is good in many ways, as our society becomes less agricultural people become more distanced from their food. It is also bad in a different way, as we aren’t always prepared to deal with roosters.
This year we bought 6 chicks that were suppose to all become hens. As they grow I watch them carefully for signs of a rooster, after all sexing day old chicks is only at best 90% accurate. Half are 9 weeks and the other half are 6 weeks. It appears that we have 3 hens, one rooster and the jury is out on the last 2.
Hands down roosters are handsome birds, they are what our minds conjure up when we think of chickens. Think the old Corn Flakes box. The colors so bright and beautiful. Feathers shining and reflecting different colors depending on how the sunlight catches them. A good rooster can also serve to keep an eye on the hens and warn them of predators. On the other side of the rooster debate is the evil rooster. Everyone who has known chickens for any amount of time can tell a story about being chased, pecked and worse at the hands of a wicked rooster. Then there are the roosters who are on testosterone overdrive and spend all their waking hours chasing the hens….some go so far as to scratch out all the hen’s feathers in the act. Many city folks can not have roosters because of their crowing.
This is where the perils of being a rooster start. What to do with that rooster you don’t want. In grandma’s time he would become dinner.
Many who take on chickens today have not thought seriously about their livestock endeavor. Today our animal shelters and rescue organizations are becoming overrun with unwanted roosters. Many of them no-kill groups are forced to keep these boys the rest of their lives in cages as a flock of roosters is not a happy family. These groups are questioning the wisdom of backyard flocks because of this unwillingness to deal with another unwanted critter. Like many of you I don’t really want a rooster, but if I end up with one or three I am prepared for decisions I will need to make. I wish I could send them off to be butcher, pay some money and they come home ready to eat in plastic bag. My reality is I live in cattle country and there is not a chicken processor to be found. If I am lucky I will find a family who wants some cheap eating and take my birds for their table. If not I will be butchering a rooster or two soon. Not my idea of a good time, but I think saying thanks to my birds for their substance they will provide is indeed a good way to honor their lives.