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09 March 2012

Rooster Ruckus

Those who follow this blog regularly will know that I hatched three chicks back in October of 2011 and that I then spent the past 5 months or so raising them to maturity.

My hope in hatching them had been that I would get replacement hens for my laying flock, and also some breeding stock towards my dream of breeding Australorps for fun and possibly for show. Well, I got one pullet from the hatch, and two roosters. Out of a dozen eggs, three chickens. Not a huge return on my investment, but the enrichment that these youngsters brought to our lives was worth more than money. In my opinion, anyway!

We had three darling little walking pompoms which we dubbed "Chick 1, Chick 2, and Chick 3" initially. Not the most creative of names, I know, but when you don't know what gender is hiding under all that soft, downy fluff, what can you do.

Being complete novices at the hatching business, we still had no clue, even at four weeks of age, what gender birds we had, but expert opinion from more experienced poultry fanciers put odds on that Chick 1 was a girl whilst Chick 2 and Chick 3 were both boys. The reasoning behind this is because chick number 1 (left of photogaraph) has a smaller comb and no wattles, and her feathers are more developed over the wing and back. the other two chicks, have larger, redder combs and the beginnings of wattles under their chins. Indeed, that's exactly how it did pan out in the end.

We had one blue cockerel, one black cockerel and a black pullet. Yes, I knew, even back then, that Cockerels grow up to become roosters and that roosters like to crow first thing in the morning, and second thing, and third on.

What I didn't know, was that Roosters would crow loudly at all those things of the day. Still, I had at least 6 months before the crowwing would start, didn't I? So I could just ignore the problem until I couldn't ignore it anymore, right?

As it happened, our two cockerels, whom we named Boom and ChopChop hadn't read the Handbook for Young Cockerels in the Field, and they thought that it was entirely appropriate for a young rooster to start testing his vocal chords somewhere around 8 weeks of age! At first, it was cute... sweet, soft little, wobbly arrrrreeeeeaaaarooo! noises greeted the dawn, and they soon ran out of breath and didn't try again for hours. Not so bad, I thought. We can live with that!

Practice makes perfect, though and pretty soon, Boomer (renamed because of his voice!) was starting up at 4am with an increasingly loud and strident AAARRRRRRR-OOOOO-AH-OOOOOH! He discovered he could crow and he decided he liked to crow! There was one day in particular when his new, brassy trumpet of a voice split the air at least five times every two minutes! I was going nuts, my neighbour was going nuts, and I think, even the hens, and ChopChop were going nuts, listening to him!

I really loved Boomer, but I knew that his luck would have to run out sooner or later with the neighbours. Tolerant as they are, even I could tell that the noise would eventually get on their very last nerve.

I made up my mind to give him away, then I made up my mind to keep him, and then I made it up to give him away and that time I got as far as posting an advertisement online about him. I was still hesitant, but that evening I had an email from a lady who was very interested in having Boomer for her breeding program. I decided to sleep on it. The following morning, after inspecting the hens, and having a last little chat with Boomer, cuddled on my lap, I made up my mind that he should be given the opportunity to go and live in the country, before someone decided to demand his carcass on a platter!

I felt at peace after talking on the phone with the person who had inquired about him, and I made one last video of my beautiful Boomer-ang and then boxed him up and put him into the car for the drive to a town halfway between our home and Boomer's new address.

When I met Boomer’s new owner, and she met Boomer, I knew it was a perfect match! She fell in love with our boy at first sight, and he seemed pretty happy with her as well. We chatted for a while about our shared love of all things chook and then I told Boomeroo to be a good boy in his new home and we waved him off on his way to the big farm in the country where he has a harem of ladies all his own just waiting until he is out of quarantine.

We still have Boomer’s brother, Chop Chop here, and he is a sweet, gentle little boy who is quite a bit quieter, so far, than his bigmouthed brother was.

And today, my neighbour came over with a suggestion for a rooster box for Choppie to go into at nighttime.

More on that in my next post!

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