Backyard Chickens, Part 8

Should I get a rooster? The icon of the rooster atop a fencepost crowing for all he’s worth is part of that “farmy” image a lot of us have in our minds.  Don’t all “farmers” have roosters to tell them when to get up?

It turns out that a lot of those ideas are folklore rather than fact, but I want to give a good defense of roosters all the same.

King Percy

When we bought our farm, it came with a small flock of chickens, rooster included.  He was a handsome fellow, half Jersey Giant, half not sure what.  He was tall and stately, mostly beetle green, but he had some other colors splashed along his wings.  He was a very good rooster.  He was the biggest one we’ve ever seen and he kept order among the others just by his sheer size.

Percy, as he came to be called, took good care of his womenfolk.  He kept watch over them, was gentle, and quite often called his lady friends over to eat some special morsel he found in the grass that he willingly gave to them.  He lived to be a ripe old age and one day actually breathed his last and fell into his chicken scratch.

All other roosters have been measured against Percy.  And there have been many.

The Rooster’s Crow

While it may be part of the classic image of the farmstead that the rooster greets the morning at daybreak with a single loud crow, don’t be fooled.  Some roosters are known to crow all day and all night.  This seems to be more prevalent when there is more than one rooster.  The constant one-ups-manship seems to prompt some to tell the world how wonderful they are whenever it should cross their little minds.  Rivals who have faced off against each other tend to be the worst in their back and forth trash talk.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the larger the rooster, the louder the crow but the smaller the rooster, the more often they crow.  I guess you may consider it “little man’s syndrome.”

Characteristics of a Good Rooster

If I were interviewing a rooster for a possible position on our farm, these are the things I would be looking for:

  • Protective of his flock- he should keep watch over them and sound the alarm when he sees danger
  • Gentle when “courting” the ladies- he should not injure them while mating
  • Not prone to excessive crowing
  • Not aggressive to humans

That last one is imperative.  Occasionally, roosters try to outrank the humans, especially the little ones, in the pecking order.  Once a rooster has been aggressive, expect it to escalate.   I have never known anyone to “cure” a rooster of aggression and an attack on a child could be tragic.

If I am unsure whether a bite was intentional or just an accident in eagerness to be fed, I may give him the benefit of the doubt once, but I will watch carefully.

It started that way with one cockerel we had, but it was our son he bit and I didn’t see it happen.  He complained of it the next day also so we decided to put that rooster on the “soup list.”  Before we could get to it (by the weekend), the cockerel had actually rushed our 11 year while his back was turned and tried to attack him.  I was close and saw him coming.  I kicked him into retreat.  He was Chicken and Dumplings by Sunday afternoon.  We won’t tolerate any mean animals, especially since we have children.

Hold Try-Outs

If you are considering keeping a rooster, buying a grown one would give you the opportunity to see if he makes the grade by observing him before purchase.  Alternately, you could order a batch of “straight run” chicks and put all but the best candidate in the freezer.  If he turns out not to fill the bill either, he can join the rest of the contenders.  There is rarely a shortage of roosters in a “straight run” batch.

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11 Comments on “Backyard Chickens, Part 8”

  1. Devon Says:

    Believe it or not we cured a rooster of its mean streak. His name was Edd. He was just starting to get ugly and chasing us. We had another rooster. He attacked my sister and sent her running to the house. We took and shot the rooster with a 12 gauge right in front of Edd. We told him to smarten up or he’s dead. He actually got a lot nicer. He was either traumatized or a really “smart” rooster. He was the best rooster ever…


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