I thought it would be fun to start a new series called "Feathered Friend Friday." The plan is that every Friday I will write a post with interesting facts, photos, or funny stories about chickens. I'm a bit obsessed with my girls, so this is a good way to share my love of all things chicken! If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here.
I'm a frequent visitor and poster on BackYard Chickens, and before we got our rooster I read all sorts of posts on the good and bad things about them. I thought it would be so cool to see the dynamic between a rooster and his hens, and I've enjoyed watching that relationship over the past year since we got our rooster, Cam.
The main reason why people keep roosters is to protect the flock. They are very aware of their surroundings and at the slightest hint of danger will make a specific noise to warn the others. I have seen this firsthand many times. When Cam sounds the alarm, all of the hens stop what they're doing and look to him for further instructions. If something is a close threat, he will round them all up and get them inside the coop where they are safe.
Roosters are naturally at the top of the pecking order, and they work to keep things running smoothly. For example, Cam always yells at the girls when he hears wings flapping. He doesn't want them to try to fly out of their fenced in run and he makes a very specific noise if they try to fly too high! He wants them to stay secure in the run where he can keep a close eye on them. He does his best to keep them safe and out of harm's way.
The most endearing thing I've noticed about Cam is how he always puts the hens' needs above his own. If he finds a good treat like a bug or juicy worm, he won't eat it. Instead, he will make a certain call and the girls will come running! He often times will pick up the treat in his beak and walk it over to his hen of choice, dropping it right in front of her so she can enjoy the tasty bite. Whenever I give the flock special treats like bread or pasta, he hardly ever will partake. He just stands by while the girls get their fill, making sure they each get some. It really is the sweetest thing.
I've heard a lot of people say that roosters are mean and horrible and only good for the stock pot. Truth be told, I was pretty nervous when we got Cam because I had these horrible visions of being flogged. Cam has been showing signs of aggression towards me lately, so I am getting a little worried. However, there are many things you can do to calm them down and I'm willing to try them all if I have to. Lots of things I've read online say that after they are about a year old they may start to get a little mean. Cam turned a year old in April, so I guess the timing is just about right (before one year of age males are called cockerels, and after one year of age they are referred to as roosters). I just keep reminding myself he is trying to protect the hens and I do my best to stay out of his way!
Of course roosters to like to get down and dirty with their girls, if you know what I mean. And they really know how to put on the charm. Cam will do a little dance for a hen, basically walking in a circle around her to let her know he's interested. Most of the time the girls just run away and ignore him. Eventually he gets tired of the rejection and just jumps on top of them. He always tries the nice way first, though!
We just had the girls by themselves for nearly two years, but I think we will always have a rooster in the flock from now on. Besides being good protectors, they are also pretty entertaining to watch. Nothing better than settling in for some good chicken TV at the end of a long day!