I thought I would dedicate a post to my resident rooster, Roy. When I tell people that I have chickens I am usually asked two questions. one, how many chickens do I have, and two, do I have a rooster? For many people all they know about roosters are the horror stories passed down by previous generation of a fearsome barnyard bird.
I will say, that when I am not in the backyard Roy rules the yard but in a good way. You see he keeps watch over the girls as they graze and go about their day of hunting and pecking. He keeps a sharp eye for predators that could harm the girls, if he senses a danger he will then sound the alarm sending the girls running for cover. He will then take his position as the sacrifice for the girls in the yard.
Luckily, the only danger that Roy and I have to worry about is something arial in nature. My backyard is fenced in by a 6 foot wood privacy fence, so most four legged threats are denied access to their ranging grounds. Only an arial attack would be a threat to my flock. However, I do have a story about this that is very interesting that I will share with you later.
So now, back to Roy. Where did and I get him and how does your basic backyard rooster behave? I ordered my flock as chicks from a reputable breeder. I ordered 16 hens and 1 rooster. They arrived in a box as little yellow balls of peeping fluff. The only way I could tell Roy from the rest of the girls was a blue mark on his head (sharpie marker) administered by the breeder so I could identify our barnyard boy. Below is Roy’s baby picture, he was about a week old here, and already he had a look of command.
From the beginning Roy was a little bit different than the others. I could not say that if he did not have his mark that I could single him out as the rooster till he matured more. But I will say, that even in the brooder he was the boss. He was not mean to the girls or anything, he just had a demeaner about him that demanded respect.
Well as the chicks grew he began to show his rooster features, a large comb, waddle, and finally a crow. The first time I heard him crow was so funny. I remember it well. I was filling the feeders in the morning, talking to the girls when all at once I heard this noise come from Roy. It was not a cock-a-doodle-doo like you normally picture a rooster belting. But more of a cock-a-chock-caugh-squeek. It was the funniest thing I ever heard. I remember looking up and saying Roy, “what was that”? Well after a few days he got his crow worked out and now he sounds like your typical rooster.
Roy is the first rooster that I ever personally had. I have seen roosters and been around them growing up, but never actually owned one till now. Honestly, I was nervous, I knew that they could be aggressive and even down right nasty. But I also knew that other people had them and treated them like cuddle bugs. I had no idea how one could even pick up a rooster let alone be friends with it. Well on the heals of that I did some research and found the secret to raising roosters. It is not about making friends with it, but actually training him to see you as the alpha rooster, positioning yourself at the top of the pecking order.
You see chickens are highly social animals and understand social order and their particular place with the pecking order. All the girls know each other, and they all know who is above who and who is below who. Roy ultimately being the alpha or at the top of the pecking order. Well, that is till I come into the backyard, than I am alpha rooster.
You see from a very early age I had to train Roy that I was the alpha rooster, I basically had to treat Roy like an alpha rooster would treat a beta (second in command) rooster. I did not hurt him or anything, it was simple, subtle things that roosters understand. Such as, if he tried to come too close to me when I was out feeding the girls I would take a few large stomping steps towards him letting him know that he was getting too close to the alpha rooster. This told him that I was in command and that he needed to keep a respectful distance. I would pick him up and carry him around for a little bit as I talked to the girls. This showed him that I could physically dominate him without causing him any harm. I would then release him after a while and allow him to reassemble with the girls. As we grew, I would then feed him treats and so forth which he we then distribute to the girls. This way he not only saw me as the alpha rooster, but also as the provider for their needs.
I have never had a problem with him attacking me. He did try to challenge me once, but that is about it. I will have to say with a lot research, work, and understanding of chicken behavior, I have the best behaved rooster I could ever wish for. Honestly, I will have to say he is my helper in the backyard. He takes care of the girls for me when I cannot be in the backyard with them.
Ok, now I will share with you a story of Roy in action. A several years ago, I was inside doing housework and heard Roy crowing relentlessly. It is normal for him to crow on and off during the day but to just crow and crow and crow was rather unusual. If he crows like that something is not right or possibly even dangerously wrong. So, in a hurry I put my boots on and ran to the backyard to see what had Roy so upset. The first thing I noticed upon going outside was several large birds circling over my backyard. My heart sank because I expected to see one or more of the girls torn to pieces in the backyard. But to my shocking surprise, Roy was planning to take the hawks on single handily.
You see, he had given the warning and the girls ran and were huddled under the large shade tree next to their coop. Roy was in the middle of the backyard acting like a distraction to detour the hawks attention to him and not the girls. The crowing that I heard inside was him crowing at the hawks reading himself for the attack. When I got to the backyard and realizes the reality of the situation I grabbed the closest thing I could find and waved it in the air. I must have looked really dumb to anyone passing by, but I was backup for my rooster. I grabbed a hoe that was leaning against the coop and waved it in the air scaring the hawks off. They left screeching I assume disappointed that their dinner was protected. Roy, after the hawks flew off looked at me with a sigh of relief. That day I gained to much respect for him, his nature, and his ability to protect my girls. I knew then and there that he was indeed the best rooster I could ever hope for.
Had I not heard his battle cry, I hate to think what would happen to him. I know that he had no chance against 3 hungry hawks, I am sure he knew that too. But regardless he took his position and readied for a battle the he would loose at the cost of protecting the girls. I have never seen such love and devotion in an animal before. He really is my prize jewel of the backyard. Now whenever I hear his battle cry I do not hesitate and come to his aid. So far we have evaded, several hawks and a few turkey buzzards. I will have to say that we make a pretty good team.
For this reason, whenever I am away from the house, I make sure they are secure in the pen. When I get home, if the weather is good I will let them out into the yard. But I always keep an ear open for Roy’s crow. He will let me know and call me if something is wrong or if he needs backup.
So here is to what having a rooster is really like. If you raise them well, take the time to understand them and their nature, and assert yourself as both their provider and supervisor they will respect you and be your biggest allie in the flock. Roosters are not the horror stories of yesteryear. Yes they are roosters and they do have a job to do which they take rather seriously. However, when raised will with love and care they are one of the most amazing creatures and worthy of all the respect they deserve.
So here is to my Roy Boy, you are indeed the man.
Thank for reading and following along our adventures. Tell next time, keep on crowing.
The Kuntry Klucker Crew