The emergence of COVID-19 is impacting people in many ways. Everyone is struggling with some aspect of this virus, whether it be health or financial issues. The hardships that affect people are real, hard, and at times painful.
This blog is about the joys of keeping backyard chickens. For the majority of the part, keeping backyard chickens brings more joy than sorrow. However, in times of hardship decisions have to be made that one would rather no think about. If I told you that you will never experience this as a keeper I would be lying. That being said, this post is dedicated to 6 roosters that made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of the flock.
As COVID-19 has gripped the nation bring it to a stall, people have found themselves in the unfortunate situation where they have to prepare for the worst. Almost in unison entire population flocked to the stores in attempts to stock up on necessities for the upcoming pandemic crises. While preparing your self is a prudent move many took it too far depleting the stores and market of essential items. While toilet paper and paper towels oddly enough were hit items, other items were in high demand as well.
For me, one of the items that I need most is chicken feed. Before the pandemic hit I quietly and methodically stocked up on chicken feed. Buying enough for a few weeks, giving me a head start on the impending impact.
As days have turned into weeks, chicken feed is getting harder to come by. The stores were so blitzed that getting restocked is taking longer than expected. As soon as the stores get a shipment in, it disappears leaving some chicken keepers in a state of desperation.
I am unfortunately one of those backyard chicken keepers who have realized that supply is not meeting demand. I have a rather large flock, about 50 birds or so. Up till now this has never been a problem as I have found that providing for them is not an issue. Until now.
Due to the effect of COVID-19 and hoarding, I am having a hard time getting ahold of the quantity of chicken feed needed to sustain my flock. It’s in the face of this supply impact that I have had to make one of the hardest decisions for the better of my flock.
It has become increasingly clear that in order to adequately provide for my flock I need to reduce their numbers. In my wildest dreams I never saw myself contemplating such a thought. After trying other options first such as trying to find them new homes I was faced with the realization that no one right now wants roosters, they want hens. For much the same reason I have hens, I can understand their position. Out of options I knew the only choice I had left was to cull my access boys.
I have 18 roosters all with different purposes. Some I have for breeding, others for show, a few for flock protection and 6 that are unassigned. The unassigned group were placed in a bachelor pen till a situation arose in which I needed them. It was these 6 that I decided were the best candidates to cull thereby allowing the chicken feed to go farther.
I could hardly believe what I was thinking but at the same time I knew that it was the only way I could provide for my flock. After spending some time with my boys thanking them for their sacrifice I humanly dispatched them.
It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. I love these boys but I also knew that under the circumstances gripping the nation right now I had to reduce the number of my chickens to adequately provide for the rest.
I cried, in disbelief that times have become so hard that I have to cull some of my roosters. Taking an animals life is never easy, it should never be taken lightly. The day that taking a life becomes easy we have lost our humanity and compassion for our fellow creatures.
I have dispatched birds before usually when they are sick, gravely injured or suffering. I humanely and painlessly end their life providing them the last gift of love that I can. I never thought I would ever have to use this method on perfectly healthy roosters that I intended to keep.
One by one, I thanked them for their sacrifice then quickly and painlessly ended their life. I have struggled with this ever since I knew that I had to make this hard choice. But in the end, I have to remember that they lived a spoiled life, were loved and departed this world by a loving owner who took care that they did not suffer in their final moments.
During this time of uncertainty and hardship we are all going to have to make some hard choices. I hope in the future that I never have to make a choice like this again. But as a chicken owner I have a responsibility to the animals that I keep. I have the responsibility to care for them and provide for all of their needs. I was forced into a corner by the impacts of COVID-19, in order to adequately feed my flock I needed to reduce their numbers.
Keeping backyard chickens has brought great joy to my life. I have loved every minute that I get to spend with my flock and relish taking care of them. But with that comes a responsibility and at times some hard choices. I know that what I did was the right thing but its never easy. My boys made the ultimate sacrifice so that their friends could live. I will never take ending an animals life lightly, I will however end their life humanely without suffering. It’s the last gift of love that I can give to any of my guys or gals. To the 6 boys, thank you for everything. Fly high guys, fly high. You were loved and sent into the great beyond by hands of love and compassion.