The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

A gentleman rooster

A rooster and henWe kept our homegrown rooster because I want to try to raise our own chicks this year, but I have to admit that until recently I still muttered "freeloader" under my breath whenever I saw him.  He started to prove his worth when we integrated three flocks --- the rooster's mitigating instinct means that even the lowest chicken on the totem pole gets to eat at the table and doesn't get picked on too much.  But while shoveling manure, I discovered that the rooster was even more useful than I thought.

Two grubsI soon turned up a big fat grub and headed over to the chicken pasture to give the girls a treat.  The only chicken outside, though, was the rooster, so I decided it was time for a real test.  When I bring out the scraps in the morning, the rooster is quite a gentleman, picking out the best pieces and clucking over them until one of his harem takes the treat, but I figured he'd just eat up the grub when left to his own devices.  I lobbed the beetle larva under his nose, and the rooster immediately started clucking like crazy.  He picked up that grub, dropped it back down to the ground, and clucked some more.  Within seconds, a hen came to see what the fuss was about, and the grub went down her gullet faster than I could pull out the camera.

As much as I hate to say I was wrong, I have to admit that our rooster is far from a freeloader.  He's definitely going to remain an integral part of the flock.

Our homemade chicken waterer keeps all of our chickens happy and healthy.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Aren't chickens wonderful?? They really do have personalities! My mom's friend Kate bonded with one of my mom's flock, because she would always politely "bok" at Kate when she came to visit with scraps. :-)
Comment by Jennifer Wed Feb 9 16:50:41 2011
Definitely. I feel very lucky we got the rooster we did --- it seems like only one in 4 (or fewer?) roosters is such a good fit.
Comment by anna Wed Feb 9 18:46:03 2011
My parents have made similarly pleasant discoveries with their two roosters. Both live in the same paddock, but have their own separate harems -- and they not only find delicious morsels for their hens, they also protect their hens from being "poached" by the other rooster. If a hen feels she is being harassed, she runs directly to her rooster and he takes care of it. Pretty amazing! Yet another reason to love chickens.
Comment by Madeline Thu Feb 10 10:28:27 2011
I think there's also something to be said for the pure eye candy of those roosters. I hate to admit it, but the girls aren't half as pretty...
Comment by anna Fri Feb 11 08:04:38 2011

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