Our chickens hate us right now. We have most of them confined to the coop because there has been much unauthorized laying of eggs in random places and roosting in trees at night. Uh, no. We will all lay where we can sell or hatch the eggs and roost in a nice, warm coop, or else. Two or three times a year, we have to have remedial lessons in the proper place to lay eggs and roost, and it’s not particularly nice for any of us, but necessary. They will all stay in the coop and eat grain and look longingly out the windows, glaring at us. If looks could kill! It’s supposed to take a week, but we always give in after three or four days.
Fall is almost here, so now is the time for us to decide which roosters stay and which go. I’ve been watching them all summer. I’m not against aggressive roosters, per se. If they protect their harem and keep geese and turkeys from picking on their girls? I’m all up for that.
However, if they corner a hen and rape her? I won’t stand for that. No rapists allowed. At least this year we don’t have a band of hooligans standing guard outside the coop doors, raping the poor hens who are just trying to go into the coop like good girls. Getting rid of them that first year was a very VERY good thing and hasn’t been repeated since.
When one of our hens hatches a clutch of her own, she automatically teaches the babies about going in for the night into the coop, and even teaches her daughters where to lay her eggs. We have a whole set of very reliable broodies, and I just love to watch them teach the babies how to find worms and eat weed seeds in the pastures. It’s sort of like watching fish and I have to pull myself away some days. They are so darn cute! I love the ones who are completely relaxed around me, too. We don’t keep spooky hens any more than we do spooky sheep. Life is too short.
One of the downsides at brooding baby birds separate from the rest of the chickens is having to integrate that cohort into the main body of birds. We often have chicks that we’ve hatched in the incubator that can’t be shipped for some reason. Sometimes, the buyer backs out. Sometimes, they hatch on a Friday or Saturday, so we can’t ship. I sort of love having them, but getting that cohort to become part of the main flock is a bit of work. They are quite happy to hang around by themselves, but again, they have to go where we will get their eggs and someplace safe and warm at night. Not in the trees! I am so tired of climbing trees to catch a damn chicken.
We also have some roosters who have garnished a harem of their own and taken up quarters in a shed. We really need some more coops. But in the meantime, we sneak out late at night when they’ve gone to bed, and put them all in the main coop to get integrated. We’ll cut down to just a few roosters over the winter. There’s no point in feeding roosters that we don’t need.
It’s hard to decide which ones to keep, though. So many of them are so pretty! We have near 100 hens at this point, so will probably keep five roosters.