Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chickens + 1

Despite some of the advice from readers of this blog, I procured a rooster today. I selected a breed known for docility and good personalities: Buff Cochin. Odie, as my rooster is named (he came with the name), is a good-natured fellow. Huge, beautiful, a little slow. If my hens are velociraptors, Odie is a brontosaurus (dating myself here, they never existed). Ok, he's a lot slow.

I picked him out because he was healthy, of course, but also because I held him for 20 minutes while chatting with his owner and he never fussed or attempted to flog my face or anything. He's a lap chicken. The owner's five year old son held him. I felt safe that this particular rooster wasn't about to spur me in the back.

Cochins don't make particularly good layers, so he's definitely not for breeding the next generation of sustainable farm chicks. His purpose is to protect the hens while they free range until my Wyandotte roosters (yet to even be born) come online in the fall. Of course, his docility might limit his usefulness as a "watch rooster", but oh well. He's a good starter rooster.

And no, he doesn't crow. In fact, he's not doing much of anything like a rooster. My pullets are literally throwing themselves at his feet, the hussies, and he's parked at the feeder. (In some ways, he reminds me of Brego). After all the build up, I'm a bit disappointed.

But the poor guy came from a home where he was undoubtedly the bottom of a long pecking order, the 15th or so rooster in the bunch. So he may not even realize he is the Big Cheese, the Top Dog, the One and Only. I hope he wises up and starts doing, you know, rooster type things. If not, I'm out $10 and I will just wait until my Wyandottes come in. At nearly 9 pounds, I am sure I can find a use for him if needed.

I also have recently taken on a chicken with some use: a 7 month old Crevecoeur pullet. She lays a medium white egg and is a heritage breed. I have a soft spot for the old breeds. I am glad I could provide a good home for her, but I am definitely not into the breed. She's flighty, nervous and distracting. With her crazy head feathers, she reminds me of a manic muppet. Hard to describe...

Anyway, so that brings me up to 12 chickens. I will try to get more pictures of them soon.


sylvia said...

Ug! That's it! No sleepovers for me! LOL!

Glad he's docile....and what a bunch of hoochie hens...Lol!

Daun said...

Ha! Sleepovers are still safe. I will let you know if he ever crows.

Funder said...

Yay, a rooster! And a crazy looking one. I never had the bad rooster experiences that sylvia had, and I hope you don't either.

That Crevecoeur does look like a Muppet. She's extremely goofy looking.

Andrea said...

I saw all those kinds of chickens/roosters at the 4-H county fair! *Proud*

Odie is probably the best name for a rooster ever.

dp said... do you keep the rooster from fertilizing your chickens if that's not the kind of birds you want to raise? I know that you can eat a fertilized egg, but I gathered that you intend to start raising your own chicks? Feels like a silly question, but I can't figure out the answer.

Daun said...

Hey DP,
Not a silly question at all. I don't care if Odie mates with the hens or not, as long as he doesn't hurt them or stress them out so they stop laying. The eggs will be fertilized, but they are 99.9% identical to unfertilized eggs so there is no appreciable difference for eating.

A fertilized egg will not develop into a chick unless a hen goes "broody" and sets on it for 21 days. They egg will not begin development until the temp reaches 95 degrees or so. So to keep fertilized eggs from developing and just like unfertilized eggs, just collect them daily and put them in the fridge.

I collect eggs twice a day, so no problem there.

None of my hens are of "broody" breeds which means they are bred to produce eggs but not go broody. Hens stop laying when they set a clutch, so it's an undesirable characteristic in a laying hen. So even if they mate with the rooster, they ignore their eggs upon laying anyway.

When I get my Wyandottes and if there are a couple of roosters I like, I will keep them and then, um, rehome Odie (if he makes it that long) and then I will be sure of a Wyandotte father, at least. Then I collect the fertile eggs from the hens I like and, if a hen goes broody, then I stick the eggs I want under her and she will raise them as her own, even if she did not lay them. Wyandottes tend to go broody, so I am hoping to use a hen to hatch the next generation of chicks. I have a lot of control over which eggs get hatched, though, so that's how I will control breeding.

Does that make sense? I know way too much about chicken reproduction these days.

Austen said...

Whoa. Yes, you do know way too much about chicken reproduction! That's interesting, in a weird kind of way.

A barn around here has a white and black Crevecoeur (or at least a look alike) hen. That thing likes to hang out by the tack room entrance and scared the CRAP out of me before I knew about it. I thought a cleaning device was about to fall on my head!

dp said...

Is "rehome" a euphemism for feeding poor Odie to the dogs?

Thanks for the explanation. I was definitely missing the broody I know more about chickens!