Friday, January 31, 2014


My rooster froze to death last week. He was not a good choice for a hardy winter bird. He was a Cream-Crested Legbar: a fancy-breed chicken with large combs and wattles. I got him because when paired with a Cream-Crested Legbar hen, their chicks would hatch with visible sex-linked traits so I could tell who is a rooster and who is a hen right away. This is a great advantage to have because you can then cull extra roosters within 1 to 2 days of hatching and not have to put feed and work into a bird you aren’t going to keep. I had bought both a hen and this rooster. Unfortunately my hen flew away and was eaten by varmints within 24 hours of being at my farm. The rooster stayed and was so handsome and well-mannered that I actually culled my old rooster in favor of this young guy. 

I knew that my rooster would have trouble in winter with his extra-large comb and wattles. I have had other roosters in the past with big combs and wattles and they always got significant frostbite. This guy was no different. His end came when he fell asleep roosted on the water dish and must have fallen in the water during the night. In the morning I found him frozen in the water bowl. Poor guy.
Now I am rooster-less. My husband asked me why we need a rooster at all. We don’t hatch chicks very often (every 2-3 years at most) and we have had bad luck with some really mean roosters in the past. He doesn’t feel it is necessary to have a rooster. I couldn’t answer him at the time as to why we needed a rooster. 

This morning I can answer the rooster question. When I was feeding the hens, it just wasn’t the same without a rooster. I threw some bread to the hens and they quickly ate it without letting the other hens know there was a treat. A rooster would have clucked and called to all the hens to let them know there was a treat. He would have waited to eat it until all his girls were gathered around and had a chance to have some. A rooster would have crowed as I did chores to announce the morning and say hello to me. A rooster brings order to the hens and lets them know exactly where they stand in the flock. A rooster also adds a fantastic variety of color and texture to the sometimes dull and somber hens. It just isn’t the same to have a rooster-less flock.

Granted, some roosters are bastards. They are mean to the hens and mean to people. They peck and chase anything that comes near. Sometimes they can even kill other chickens. Luckily roosters are a dime-a-dozen and if you get a nasty rooster, he can easily be replaced. 

So, I am looking for a new rooster. I already have a neighbor who said I can come and have pick of her boys. She has several winter hardy mixed breed roos for me to choose.

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