The Useless Rooster.

Many people associate roosters with being aggressive nightmarish birds recalled as the barnyard terrors we encountered on our grandparents’ farm. Sadly, roosters are often type cast into this role by an unfair association.

Roosters are amazing creatures, worthy of admiration. Recent breeding methods have changed as the backyard chicken movement has exploded and evolved. The selective breeding methods by many breeders have yielded roosters better suited for the backyard setting. In our grandparents’ day, when a flock was kept for food be it meat or eggs, a defensive rooster was needed. However, chickens today are kept more often as pets that have the benefit of making breakfast.

The breeding industry has responded, breeding for behavioral trait qualities such as docile, calmness and friendly. Many breeds available today have roosters that possess these qualities. Breeds like the Polish, Silkie, Cochin and Orpington all are breeds that are widely available that typically have well behaved roosters. I have all of these breeds and can validate for good behavior in roosters of the aforementioned breeds.

Don’t get me wrong, roosters have a job to do and take it seriously, but most backyard flocks have well-behaved gents. Sometimes, a rooster can be so well-behaved that they are for all purposes useless.

How can a rooster be useless, you may be wondering. Allow me to introduce you to Pantaphobia, the useless rooster.

White Crested Polish Rooster: Pantaphobia

He is afraid of food:

Pantaphobia is not the fear of pants, it’s the fear of everything, including pants. As his name suggests, Pantaphobia is afraid of absolutely everything. He is afraid of ordinary mundane things chickens often encounter in their environment, such as bugs. While the other chickens in the flock can be seen chasing a juicy morsel like a fly or a moth, Pantaphobia is often running from these meals to go. Since he is also afraid to go into the coops, this also means that he does not partake of the food readily available in the feeders. He lives on weeds, grass, worms, and other morsels that he can find crawling on the ground.

He never hunts for the girls:

One of the necessary things that a rooster does for his flock is a food search. A rooster will take it upon himself to actively look for morsels for the girls to eat. Once he finds something of value, he calls his girls over to partake in his hard work. It is by evolutionary design that a rooster knows that the hens need extra nutrition to sustain the flock population. If there is anything left, only then will he eat. A rooster is a self-sacrificing soul, caring more for his hens than himself. He is more concerned about their welfare than his. Pantaphobia is quite the opposite. He spends most of the day occupying himself with hunting for grubs in the grass, but he has no interest in sharing with anyone, including the hens.

He Never Mates with the Hens:

One thing that a rooster is supposed to be able to do very well is mating with the hens. In Pantaphobia’s case, this too is something that he elects not to participate in. He will never approach a hen with the intent to try to woo her for a date. He simply ignores the hens and occupies his time looking for grubs to dine on. For this reason, he never gets into many confrontations with the other roosters in the flock. He simply keeps to himself, hunting and pecking his way through the day.

He never warns the flock of danger:

It is a rooster’s primary job to keep an eye on the skies, constantly scanning for danger. While out in the yard with the rest of the flock, it is the other gents that keep watching for any threats. If the alarm is sounded, Pantaphobia will run for cover along with the hens. He will not attempt to protect the girls from the imminent threat like the other roosters in the flock. He simply runs and hides till the “all clear” is announced.

He hardly ever crows:

If there is one attribute that is always associated with roosters, it’s crowing. Roosters crow for many reasons, to establish dominance in the flock, to check in with the other roosters when free ranging, to warn the flock of danger, and just because they can. Pantaphobia, on the other hand, has no interest in this time-honored tradition. He will sometimes crow in the mornings as dawn moves over the land, but other than that, nothing. He is the quietest rooster that I have ever had. Early on, I wondered if he was a hen, but there is no question, anatomically and definitively he is a rooster.

So, why keep him?

You may be wondering why I would hang on to such a useless rooster. Well, here on The Kuntry Klucker Farm, I allow my ladies and gents to live out their natural lives. I keep Pantaphobia for the same reason that I keep my senior hens who are no longer laying, all have value. Although he performs absolutely no service for the flock, he is still a delight to watch.

Additionally, he is a White Crested Polish, my favorite breed. The Polish have the habit of being flock comedians, due to their head crests that obscure their vision. Pantaphobia does not disappoint in this department. While the other Polish residents have figured out what to be afraid of and what not to fear, Pantaphobia has not. The other Polish members will actively chase after a flying treat, Pantaphobia will run in terror. You have not adequately spit out your coffee till you see a rooster run from a butterfly.

While he may be useless in every other sense of a rooster’s role in the flock, he is not a disappointment when it comes to the entertainment value. In this respect, I got my money’s worth and then some.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. While most of today’s roosters are well-behaved (a far cry from the game-like aggressive breeds of yesterday), roosters come in all personalities. Some make good caretakers of the hens, others not so much. A rooster is a creature that it is worthy of respect and admiration, even those who are a bit of the special needs variety.

If you have any questions about roosters or chicken keeping in general, please leave me a comment. I make it a priority to respond in 24 hours. You can also drop me a line at kuntryklucker@gmail.com.

I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer, and blog contributor. If you like this blog, please visit some of my other sites.

Knowledge of the Spheres – Exploring the Celestial Spheres!

Coffee and Coelophysis – A blog about Dinosaurs!

Chicken Math University – Adventures in Homeschooling.

If you enjoyed this post, please peck the subscribe button. As always, thanks for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

5 Reasons to Keep A Rooster In Your Flock.

Enigma (Mottled Cochin Rooster watching over the girls as they dig for delectables in the freshly spread hay.

Roosters are amazing creatures. However, they unfortunately fall prey to a negative stereotype. In reality, roosters are not as aggressive as many think. The rooster of yesteryear that haunted our dreams often encountered on our grandparents’ farm, was related to game cocks by todays breeding standards. Yes, those breeds can be high strung and aggressive. However, due to the variety of breeds available, the majority of rooster today are very docile and calm. Gone are the days of your grandparent’s flock which contained the rooster that starred in your childhood nightmares. Many people today keep chickens for fun, eggs or as a hobby. Thus, the breeds available today are suited to these purposes. That being said, below I will detail my argument for why keeping a rooster or two is an asset for a backyard flock.

Enigma (Mottled Cochin Rooster) and The Kuntry Klucker Crew
  1. Protector of the Flock:

Roosters are often unfairly stigmatized as being fearsome, blood thirsty, mean and nasty aggressive birds. While they do have a job to do and take it very seriously, they really are amazing and gentile creatures. When out free ranging, a rooster will keep watch for any dangers that could impact the flock and sound the alarm when needed. If there is more than one rooster in the flock, they will take turns keeping an eye to the sky. Each taking up part of the watch, as the rest of the flock scour the grass for any available bugs, worms, or greens to dine on. If a threat appears, one or several of the roosters will sound the alarm. Alerting the hens to the impending danger, and if needed sacrificing himself for the safety of his girls. I have witnessed this firsthand with my first rooster, a Buff Orpington named Roy.

One afternoon while out in the backyard he sounded the alarm. I heard his cry from the house, rushed out to the backyard in time to see a large hawk fly away. Standing alone in the center of the yard, he was prepared to sacrifice himself for the safety of the girls. All the girls were safe under a large tree, Roy on the other hand was injured. Had I not heard his cry and come to his rescue, it pains me to think what would have happened to him. Luckily, he recovered from the hawk inflicted injuries and lived for several more years as a decorated war hero. It was on this day that I learned the true value of a rooster. You can read his story here.

2. Tend to nutritional needs of the hens:

Silkie Roosters: Devros and Micky Smith, watching over their hens as they eat the bugs that they found for the girls.

In addition to protectors of the flock, a rooster will hunt for his girls. He will actively look for food, things such as a big bug, juicy worm, or vegetation for them to eat. Once he finds something of value, he will call the girls over to eat it. He will stand watch as the girls partake of his hard work. He will only eat what is left, he is self-sacrificing, looking out for the nutrition of his hens. It is by evolutionary design that he knows the girls need the extra nutrition for the procreation of the flock (laying eggs). If not much turns up on his hunt, he will lead the girls to the feeder in the coop when he feels that it is time for them to eat. Again, he will eat after the girls have had their fill, looking out for their needs first.

3. Breaking up any squabbles in the ranks:

White Crested Polish Rooster, Lestat leading his girls to the backyard shed for some scratch before roosting time.

Chickens are very highly socially organized creatures, contrary to what many people think. A flock of chickens are organized into a hierarchy, each member knowing his or her place. The term “pecking order” is derived from this complex social system and for good reason. At the top of the pecking order is typically the alpha rooster, under him will be the subjugated roosters in the flock. The roosters determine who is the alpha by competing for this position.

In the social hierarchy after the roosters will be the alpha hen. This is the hen that has earned her right to be at the top of the order, directly under the roosters. The alpha hen is usually a little bossy in regard to the other hens in the flock. As for the rest of the members, position is established by literally “pecking” one another on the back, indicating the “pecker” is above the “peckie”. This behavior flows from the alpha hen all the way to the bottom of the order. Each flock member pecking another on the back, indicating their position in the order.

Once the order is established, all activities within the flock revolve around the order. Simple activities such as the order in which the flock exits the coop in the morning, and the order in which they return. As long as all individuals stick to the order as established, all is peaceful in the flock. However, at times one or more members will challenge another member for a change in status.

In cases such as these, a confrontation generally ensues. It is in times such as these that a rooster will step in, inspect and cease any unrest amongst the hens. Not only are fights disruptive to flock dynamics, at times injuries can be sustained. It is the job of the rooster to see to it that peace is instilled within the ranks. A rooster will also act as a protector of any members that are unfairly picked on. If there is a hen that is smaller than the rest or at the bottom of the pecking order, he will see to it that she is not picked on insensately.

4. Procreation of the flock:

White Crested Polish Bantam Roosters: Caster and Pollux leading their girls to a shade tree in the corner of the yard for a mid afternoon nap.

In addition to protection, finding food, and keeping order in the ranks, a rooster will service the flock through the act of mating. A rooster will mate with the hens in order to pass on his genes to the subsequent generations of chicks.

There is a common misconception that hens will not lay eggs unless a rooster is present in the flock, this is obviously false. A hen will lay eggs regardless of whether a rooster is present or not. The eggs laid in the absence of a rooster will of course not be fertile, but there will be eggs, nonetheless.

If you want to grow your flock, a rooster is a must. However, if you cannot have a rooster due to city ordinances or other zoning restrictions, you will still receive farm fresh eggs from your hens without any issues.

Dracula and Frankenstien (Easter Egger Roosters) keeping an eye on their girls as they search for bugs in the dewy grass.

If there is more than one rooster in the flock, the boys will divide the hens amongst them. When free ranging they will then divide the roaming area into jurisdictions. Each rooster will know the boundary lines and which hens belong on which rooster team. It is possible to keep more than one rooster in a flock, providing the flock is large enough to sustain multiple roosters. To learn how I keep more that I rooster in my flock click here.

Roosters will have “favorite” hens, these are hens that he prefers to mate with the most. Different attributes make a particular hen a favorite. Hens that are easily submissive to his approaches, hens that the rooster deems as most fertile, or hens that are larger and lay larger eggs will most likely make the favorites list. These hens run the risk of sustaining the most injuries during mating. For these reasons, it is the owner’s responsibility to provide provisions to make this process easier on the hens. For example, an easy protective measure to incorporate in a flock is that of a hen saddle.

Miss Sweet Pea (Buff Orpington Hen) wearing a hens saddle to protect her wing and back feathers from the trending of the rooster. In addition to providing needed protection, hen saddles can serve as easy identification of the hens in a flock. Each has its own pattern or color, allowing hens to stand out amongst each other.
The Kuntry Klucker Crew sporting the latest in Hen Fashions.

Hen Saddles provide protection from the trending of the rooster during mating. In addition to keeping your roosters’ nails trimmed, hen saddles help protect the wing and back feathers of hens that are mated often. They are very easy to make and require nothing more than thick fabric, a little elastic and basic sewing skills (needle and thread) a sewing machine is not required. Although simple in design, they provide much needed protection to your hens. In addition to the practicality, they can also serve as an easy form of identification. If you use different colors of fabric, hen saddles allow hens to stand out amongst each other.

Another method to protect against over mating is to separate a rooster from the hens for a period of time. During the molting period and particularly when the ladies are having a dreadfully tough molt, I will separate the roosters from the flock for a period of time. This allows the hens who are missing more feathers than usual to recover from the molt easier. By restricting the mating process till after their new feathers have grown in reduces further injury to the hens. While spending a little time away from the hens I will check the boys into a bachelor pen. To see how I incorporate bachelor pens in my flock click here.

5. Singing the song of his people.

Lestat (White Crested Polish Rooster) greeting the morning.

There is just something about a rooster’s crow that has an indiscernible purity to it. In the busy, rat-race-pace of our lives, we are often not still enough to appreciate the purity and stillness of a quiet morning, interrupted by a rooster’s song. Breaking the silence, the crow of a rooster is a sound of a by gone era. A sound from our past when the crow of a rooster was a part of the audio landscape. A time when farming was not just a hobby, but a way of life, your animals were how you survived. The crow of a rooster symbolizes a beginning, the start of another day. A time when working the land and plowing the fields was how one survived. Its a sound from the past, a past that has been lost to the progression of time.

Dracula (Easter Egger Rooster)

In the stillness of the early morning hours, I like to sit on the back porch, morning coffee in hand, and listen to my boys sing the song of their people. It’s a song of the ancients, a song that traces back to a time when their great ancestors roamed the earth. It’s a song that not only reminds us of their past but ours. A song that fills the air declaring a new day has begun. It’s a song that in our day and time rings with a purity that money cannot buy, but few will hear. It’s a song that reminds us of a simpler time. He reminds us that there is abundant wealth in simplicity. In our day and time, it’s a lesson that we all need.

Caster and Pollux (White Crested Polish Bantam Roosters) Watching over their girls as they peck at the freshly thawed ground.

A rooster is selfless, often sacrificing himself to save his friends. A fearless warrior with a big heart. A natural born singer of the ancient songs. A dancer, a true gentleman. The most beautiful and unwanted of all the creatures.

Roy (Buff Orpington Rooster) inspecting the new addition to the backyard. Frosty the Snowman.

Roosters are amazing creatures and worthy of our admiration and respect.

Roy the Rooster

It is my goal to present a fresh look at roosters. Gone are the days of the barnyard terrors of yesterday, meet the roosters of today. Roosters are amazing creatures, your partner in caring for your flock.

If you have any questions regarding roosters or keeping chickens, please leave a comment. You can also drop me a line at kuntryklucker@gmail.com.

I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer and blog contributor. If you enjoy this blog, visit some of my other sitew.

Knowledge of the Spheres – Exploring the Celestial Spheres!

Coffee and Coelophysis – A blog about Dinosaurs!

Chicken Math University – Adventures in Homeschooling.

If you liked this post, peck the subscribe button. As always, thanks for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

5 Reasons To Love Buff Orpingtons.

Buff Orpingtons are a Heritage Breed kept by the generations of yesteryear. As a result, Buff Orpingtons are staple for homesteader and backyard chicken enthusiasts alike. There are many aspects about the Buff Orpington that make them an excellent backyard companion, I will list my top 5.

1. Great Egg Layers:

Buff Orpingtons and all Orpingtons are prolific layers of large to X-large light brown eggs. A single hen can lay up to 3-5 eggs a week, making her yearly output 156-260 eggs a year. They are hearty and will often lay through the winter, only ceasing during molt. I have 3 of these lovely “golden girls” remaining of my original flock of 17. 10 years on they still lay eggs. Their rate has dropped as they have aged into their twilight years but amazingly, these lovely ladies still lay eggs.

2. Buff Orpingtons are great mothers:

When you think of a mother hen raising a clutch of baby chickens the thought will often conjure the image of a Buff Orpington. Buff Orpingtons are renowned for making great mothers. As a breed characteristic, hens are very broody, wanting nothing more than to raise chicks. I have one particular Buff Momma Hen, Miss Katie who has raised several clutches for me. She even adopted a little White Crested Polish chick that was failing to thrive. Raising her as her own, she did what I could not do. If you are one who likes to grow your flock from your parent stock, Buff Orpingtons are a great asset to have on your farm. They will incubate, hatch and raise the baby chicks for you. Teaching them all that there is to know about being a chicken. You as the keeper will witness the wonder of nature, as your Buff Orpington momma hen raised the young.

3. Friendly, calm and docile disposition:

When starting with backyard chickens, typically new keepers want a docile breed. This is one of the reasons that Buff Orpingtons are a great choice for beginners. They are hearty, resilient and very docile. Even the roosters are well behaved gents. Buff Orpingtons are known as “the golden retrievers” of the chicken world and for good reason. They are very calm and loyal.

When I first started keeping chickens, Buff Orpingtons were the breed that I started with. 10 years on, I still have 3 of these lovely “golden girls”. Buff Orpingtons are a great breed for new backyard chicken enthusiasts for several reasons. They are a very patient, calm and friendly breed. Orpingtons enjoy interacting with their keepers and are not flighty. They bare confinement well but are very resourceful when allowed to free range. Due to their large size, they are unable to fly making it very easy to keep them confined to a backyard or fenced in chicken run. They are hearty and do well in warm climates as well and cool climates. They have very few inherent illness or other breed specific issues that presuppose them to health issues. All in all, they make a great breed to begin your backyard chicken adventure. Since they are very popular, they are readily available at most farm and feed stores.

They often build strong bonds with their keepers, making them great backyard companions. Buff Orpingtons are very friendly, approachable and social. Often, they follow their keeper around the yard, clucking and squawking events of their day. Buff Orpingtons are known to be lap chickens due to their desire for attention from their keepers. If you want a pet that makes you breakfast, then Buff Orpingtons are the breed for you.

4. Great to have around children:

Due to their calm, docile and friendly temperament, Buff Orpingtons are a great breed to have around children. If kids are going to take apart in the chicken chores or upkeep of the flock, these golden girls make a great breed to have. Due to their large size, they are easy for kids to pick up and hold. Orpingtons are not flighty, making them the perfect pet chicken and easy to bond with. As layers of large to X-large eggs, they are easy for children to collect and hold. My boys will often pick up our Buff hens and place them on their laps for some bonding time. Buff Orpingtons love to be held, further making these big balls of fluff and feathers a great breed to have around kids.

5. Great garden helpers:

If you love to garden whether it be veggie or flower, a flock of Buff Orpingtons will be your best friends. With their innate ability to forage for worms, bugs, and other delectables, they rid your gardens of pests and other unwanted nuisances. As they till at the soil in search for worms, they aerate the soil, bringing many benefits to the plants.

As your garden matures, the flock will patrol the gardens, picking bugs off the plants to dine on. Basically, your backyard flock will be your own personal extermination crew. This allows you to grow organic produce, eliminating the need of chemicals. As a result, you will enjoy eating fresh organic produce grown in your garden.

In addition to tilling, aerating, and extermination, your backyard garden flock you provide the added benefit of compost. Due to the high concentration of nitrogen contained in chicken poo, your girls will provide you with excellent fertilizer.

Chicken manure is far superior to cow or horse manure due to the gizzard. The gizzard grinds everything the chicken consumed down to a singularity, producing a pure source of fuel for your garden. Cows and horses on the other hand do not process everything they eat, passing weed seeds into their manure. Many novice gardeners are often surprised at the abundance of weeds in their gardens after spreading cow or horse manure. Due to the absence of a gizzard, these very fertile weed seeds are then introduced to your garden.

Additionally, most of the manure sold at garden stores are sourced from factory farms. The chemicals that are fed to the animals are passed into their manure, which is then introduce to your garden. By using the compost provided by your own backyard flock, you can be assured that fertilizer spread on your garden is organic, beneficial for both you and your plants.

Orpingtons is all purpose breed that is great for many functions on the homestead or backyard farm. They are a great breed for beginners as well as seasoned keepers alike. Due to their always enduring personalities, I will always have a small flock of Buff Orpingtons on my farm. They lay well, are great with kids and make a great companion in gardening, providing compost for my plants. If well cared for, these golden girls can live to the age of 10 and beyond. Of the original 17 chicks that I started with; I still have 3 of these believed ladies. I don’t know how much time they have left, but I do know that they will spend their twilight years basking in the sun’s rays, chasing butterflies and digging for worms.

I hope that this post breed profile on Buff Orpingtons was helpful. In choosing your beginner flock, temperament is very important. If you want friendly, calm and loyal chickens, Buff Orpingtons are a breed to consider.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. You can also drop me a line a kuntryklucker@gmail.com.

I am a published author, multi-disciplinary writer and blog contributor. If you like this blog, please visit some of my other sites

Knowledge of the Spheres – Exploring the Celestial Spheres!

Coffee and Coelophysis – A blog about Dinosaurs!

Chicken Math University – Adventures in Homeschooling.

If you liked this post, peck the subscribe button. As always, thanks for reading! Till next time, keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~