If you’ve checked out my new Saturday feature The Funny Farm you’ll have noticed the posts are written by guest contributors, which is my way of sharing the spotlight and broadening the material and perspectives presented here. This is Rhonda Hammons second post, following up the antics of her flock in The Great Pumpkin Pecking Challenge.
We purchased four young birds that we were told were pullets. A few weeks later I heard one crowing. Then the following week the other rooster, a Silkie, crowed. The first one, a bantam Brahma, and top of the pecking order came with a prominent comb which the man we bought ‘her’ from said was normal for some hens. That should have been a red flag then and there, but I wouldn’t trade any of these four.
They live in the house as our daughter’s emotional support chickens, but I’m starting to think that they’re the ones who need the emotional support. Is there a psychiatrist for roosters?!
Ours battle each other constantly for dominance. They try to see who can crow the loudest, which is really tough with both boys being in the house. It has sure taught us a lot about patience. At least they keep each other in check when it comes to mating with the two hens, or at least it does for the one lowest in the pecking order. If he tries to mate, the top rooster knocks him away from the hen and chases him.
They’ve grown up together since they were four weeks old in the same pen. When they get to come out and get their diapers on, they huddle together, all four of them in the same place in the kitchen. If one comes out without the other, one rooster will stand on the other side of the house and cluck and crow for the one that’s in the pen. Then they begin talking back and forth, like they are saying they need each other, can’t live without having each other directly in their sights. It’s the funniest bromance ever.
We even have a stroller for them. Our big, bad, top of the pecking order rooster is the biggest fraidy-cat when it comes to riding in that stroller and going outside. He submits to the other rooster and crawls underneath him, lying flat on the floor of the stroller. When I put them back in the bird cage he jumps all over the other one who was brave and stood up in the stroller and looked around while Mr. Big hid underneath him. It’s a lot like he’s telling him to be quiet and not tell anyone what he did in the stroller or he’ll make him wish he never pipped out of his egg.
Fortunately, they don’t attack us. That may be coming since they are still young and we’ve only had them since April. I can see their hormones are in full swing, either that or they’re sneaking out and buying drugs on the corner and using when we’re not looking. Maybe I ought to forget looking for a chicken psychiatrist and call the chicken police on them.
If we pick them up and want to subdue them, I usually hold their wings close to their body, grab their ankles together and hold gently until they calm themselves. We call it the football hold. And I will hold that rooster snuggly to me and rub its breastbone kind of lightly scratching under his feathers and sometimes his wattles until he starts to close his eyes and relax. Works for them every time. At least we only have four more months until they are a year old.
I tell everyone their bird cage is the Biltmore. It’s climate controlled, so why would they want to live outside? Sometimes I wish I could use throwing them out of the house as a threat to get them to behave, but they don’t even know what it’s like to sleep outside or what to do to protect themselves. And sometimes when they misbehave I look at them and think I failed them because they lead very sheltered lives.
I’ll just wait it out for the hormones to settle and all will be good, but right now I am enjoying the benefits of having roosters with my hens. Their first chick hatched yesterday. It’s amazing how well they are all behaving with a new little one in the house. One of them has taken over as Mama Hen (even though we can’t be sure who the real mama is), while the other hen is sad she isn’t in the separate box caring for the baby. The two roosters stand strong beside that girl as if they are comforting her. It’s just beautiful, and it had provided us with a lot more peace and quiet. I love them all more than ever.
Rhonda Hammons lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia where she lives with her husband, daughter and four house chickens. Many thanks to her for sharing her story and photos. Featured photo: Unknown source