Well, my chicken flock has diminished. One day this tamed chicken we raised from a small chick, turned on me and came after me. Well, he didn't actually attack me. I was just walking across the yard and he came running and flapping toward me with feathers flared out. In that moment i thought, did my calm little chicken grow up to be a rooster??? I searched the Internet to find out how to tell if this was a rooster or hen. I have read that sometimes you can tell by the size of the waddles and it's comb, but it depends on the breed. I read, to look at it's saddle feathers, which are feathers that come down before the tail feathers. If these are pointed, not rounded like those on a hen, then it could be a rooster. I also read that sometimes it's difficult to tell by these alone, and a possible confirmation would be when he began to crow. Well needless to say, it was confirmed about a week and a half ago. I walked outside at daybreak and heard what sounded like a bad sounding bark of some sort. When i crept around the shed and spotted that red chicken perched up on top of the nesting boxes, practicing his crow........ I could not help but laugh. I wasn't sure i wanted a rooster, for some reason they have always intimidated me and i guess they sense that. After being chased by this chicken i started walking around him with a broom in hand, in case he decided to charge after me again............But after i heard him crow on that early morning, I started to step outside every morning just to hear him faithfully practicing his cock-a-doodle-doo. I actually started to trust him and not feel intimidated by him. I finally put by broom down and walked around him with confidence, and i guess he sensed that as well.
Our Barred Rocks, along with the two that were left from our Easter chicks, have been doing fine free ranging around the yard and pasture. The Rocks lived in the chicken tractor that my husband built, from the day we brought them home. After awhile we would open the door and they had a chance to free range and would go back to the tractor to lay eggs, and roost come sundown. They did this faithfully, with no problems from our dogs or cat. We have never had any problems with predators of any kind so on occasion we would not close up the chicken tractor. The red and black chickens did not mix well with the rocks in the tractor, so they were content hanging out by the barn. We built nesting boxes along the barn wall and they had lots of roosting spots there under the barn.
We took the kids camping the week before school started for one last getaway. We decided to keep the tractor door open so the rocks can free range along with the other two and keep each other company while we were gone for a two night trip. When we returned home, there were feathers all over the back yard. We frantically searched for the chickens and to our surprise they were all accounted for. They had missing feathers and one was injured pretty bad. Days following they began to heal, they ate well, and there feathers were growing back. We didn't know at that time what had gotten to them. Was it a predator passing through?
This week, much to my dismay.......................I caught our own "Dally" the border collie mix, chasing and catching my friend,Rudy the red rooster. After catching her and putting her on a lead, i found she had chased the others as well.
One of the rocks didnt make it, and Rudy the Rooster didn't make it as well. How disappointed i felt, that it was our own dog, and that we did not protect them better. What i think happened was that Rudy the Rooster was starting to show signs of being a young cockerel around the hens. That was a different behavior that Dally hadn't seen in them before. Maybe she was trying to scare Rudy away from them, sorta protecting them, or maybe thought they were playing and wanted in on the fun. Needless to say, I felt horrible. We are now rethinking our housing area for the chickens. And as far as Dallly, she gets put on a lead during the time our chickens free range. Now my flock stands at two Barred Rocks and this one black chicken.
Our journey on this sustainable homestead will continue, despite disappointing setbacks.