Friday, March 6, 2009

Chicken Dilemma

My little farm in the country is a constant learning experience:
some are joyous and fill my heart with warmth, some frustrate me to many different levels, some make me cry and break my heart, some just annoy me, some make me swear really bad, and then some just make me say, "What the heck?"
Today was a combination of the following:
frustration because I am new to raising chickens and don't know everything about them; it was definitely a "What the heck?"; then came the small group of random swear words; and a little saddness because I lost something.

Everything was totally fine this morning when I left for school; however when I came home one of the chickens was dead inside the chicken coop. She was laying face down right by the opening to go outside. None of the chickens are sick so that was ruled out right away. And after looking around I noticed that the one really large rooster had blood on his head. The neck on the chicken that was dead was broke once I examined her.

These are the two roosters. The one right in front is a silver-laced Wyandott and I am not sure what the one in the back is (he was the "free chick when I ordered them last year) but he is the one with the blood on his head.

He is a HUGE rooster and has been getting aggressive with the girls, particularly mounting them and grabbing them by the neck. I am thinking he broke her that possible??
He was really going after the girls this afternoon I noticed, the silver-laced rooster is much more mild, though he is not free of guilt in doing the same thing.
My Questions on the Dilemma:
So then is this what often happens in the spring when the weather starts to break, meaning the rooster get aggressive with the girls?
I obviously do not want to stress the girls out so I am thinking of putting him out or even both of the roosters out of the coop.
Does anyone have any insight on letting roosters just run the yard? Would they be okay? Would they be destructive to my plants?
I do not think my cats would bother them because the roosters are so large yet I don't want the roosters harshing the cats either.
I also do not want to attract any "outside visitors" by letting them roam the yard.
Or should I just trash these ideas and just have them "taken care of"?
There is no love loss between me and the roosters but I do really like the girls so I want what is best for them.
There was a meeting of the minds with the baby LaManchas in the barn tonight to possibly come up with an answer but they were really more interested in climbing on my legs and jumping off.
But thats okay because those are the experiences on the farm that I love:)
If you have time and are reading, I would appreciate any insight you have!


Kara said...

I don't have chicken advise, as I have demonstrated I still have A LOT to learn in that department. They are STILL on strike. There is one thing for sure, those goat kids are unbelievable cute!

Garrett808 said...

ok MINK and WEASEL come to mind immediately. They as a rule can snap necks on GEESE and DUCKS so your chickens are easy prey (as were my pigeons). they killed 18 ducks and 2 geese in about 45 minutes. All they do is suck they blood. If its a weasel they can get through the chicken wire like a mouse. If its a mink, there has to be a bigger hole. I can smell vermin stench anywhere so see if you can smell it too. They are quick, evil, mean buggers (great for killing mice and WILD birds).

If there was blood on your rooset, the weasel/mink probably tried to kill him too, or he was in the way when the vermin snapped the neck on the hen and sucked her blood.

Not to freak you out but i'd check for tracks outside the coop and for any holes, maybe even lock the birds up for a few days until he 'moves on' in his cycling path (he will return later)

Garrett808 said...

ok i read your blog post again. If he is mounting her repeatedly I'd see more of a scalping and bloody head instead of a broken neck. I hate to be 'debbie downer' but its better safe than sorry. Perhaps let the roosters out to free roam anyway. if you don't care if they are 'taken' by wild prey. Or let one out and keep one in. They could be hormonal and can't decide who is king pin and the other is frustrated by it? just thinking outloud....

Deb said...

My humble opinion - get rid of them. The only thing a rooster is good for is fertilizing eggs unless you like to hear them crow at 3:30 a.m.! Your hens will continue to lay as long as they can in their lifetime without a rooster. They will probably be happier too :)

They will harass your girls simply because they can. If you let them out to free range, they will invite predators to your farm. They will also scratch in your flower gardens or anywhere else they feel like scratching!
I "had" a big white Delaware rooster up until the other day. My poor girls were looking so haggard. They feel better already :)
Now those little goaties - oh my, are they they the sweetest! My girls kidded 3/23 last year. I'm getting so excited. I know they were bred earlier this year so we should have babies real soon :)

Have a great weekend!

Pat in east TN said...

I say get rid of them. First of all, from your pictures, they look good sized, and once they start in after your 'girls', the out come isn't going to be good. Two roosters mean trouble too ... who ranks highest. There is definitely a pecking order in the chicken world. (No pun intended!) Do they have 'spurs'? If so, yet another big reason to be rid of them. When I had my roosters, springtime was the time I realized they had to go ... they started acting quite obnoxious and simply wouldn't quit.

melanie said...

OK- We've had standard roosters for several years. In all that time, they have never killed a hen, although baldness seems to be par for the course once the hormones kick in. We have to remove them for a month or more before show time so Madison doesn't have to go to the Fair with bald ladies!

You indeed might have a predator problem (do the checking) and mink are pretty small. Also, any chicken wire or areas she could have gotten caught on? I had a cockerel get his beak caught and he thrashed so that he broke his own neck...but the blood...

If you let the free-range, you are inviting predators, as well as encouraging cock fighting, because they will go at each other until one dominates (and that is not always pretty) The second one looks a bit like a Columbian Wyandotte or a Light Brahma, BTW...

They will get in the gardens, but are in absolutely no danger from the cats, more like the other way around!

Look for a poultry swap in your area, a 4-H group, or a neighbor who might want him (the second rooster). Or a poultry processor...

Claire said...

I have 12 roosters, all free ranging all day. They go into the coop at night. They do not fight with each other and while they can pull out feathers on the hens, there are a lot of hens around so I think they take turns. I put on hen aprons if I see a problem developing. I have never had a hen die from a broken neck caused by an over-exuberant rooster.

When I introduce a new rooster, there is usually a bit of a fight that day, at that time, and then it's done.

I think your second rooster looks like a light brahma or a Columbian wyandotte. Does it have feathered legs? If not, probably Columbian.

helenw said...

I was going to say Rooster #2 is a light brahma too.
IME rooster personalities vary greatly but only get worse with age. I try to only get pullets but always end up with a rooster and have had luck getting rid of them on freecycle. I'd also guess that a predator got your hen - I've had a raccoon reach through the wire and pop the hen's head off - and they even come around during the day when they know there is food to be had.
I found you through the Farm Dreams blog - can't wait to read more!

Anonymous said...

New to your blog and wanted to say I love it.I'm a LaMancha Mama too;)Cute babies.
So chicken advice propably not the Rooster's fault he most likely was trying to help and got blood on him.As for them being Randy if you don't free range just keep one Roo.They get alittle heavy handed when in competition and will feel the need to just jump on everyone so the other guy doesn't "riverdance" her away from him.Also he looks to be Brahma and is heavy , most likely new to it,so he will learn to be nicer.But one is just fine really.I just had opossum problem they are head grabbers,shore up any holes really tight.Don't ditch both boys or one hen will take over and stop laying.
Sorry bout your hen..

Garrett808 said...

Kristi - not to bring the subject up again but the Weasel that came on Christmas day.....well I didn't know it was a weasel until the 4th day and 4th pigeon was taken. You NEVER see them they are so tiny and usually wander about at night. They can fit through tiny holes (the one I had actually chewed THROUGH the door on the 4th day) before we realized what it was that was killing my pigeons. His tracks were about the size of mice tracks.

keep me posted

kristi said...

I guess I never even thought about a weasel as in all honesty I didn't even think they lived around here. I have never even seen a raccoon on my property, though a neighbor feeds the raccoons in her yard (its a more wooded lot)dog nice. I do know that there are opossums as one "played dead" with me last year. Thank you for all of your advice because I am really going to go secure the "little" gaps that I know are out there:)

Sharrie said...

No advice from me, but I think those little kids are in love with your pink overalls just like you are. They are darling! (the kids and the overalls) Good luck with your rooster dilemma.

Tammy said...

Hey Kristi,
I've been w/out my computer for several days, so am just catching up with blogs. So sorry to hear about your hen. It's always just sad to come up on something like that. I do hope it isn't a weasel like Garret mentions, as that would be really hard to deal with. I don't think it was any of the larger predators--'coon, 'possum or the like as they would have either eaten the head, breast or part of the neck, and/or taken it out with them. I have always had a rooster with my hens, as I like the sound of the crow, and as they get some maturity most of them become great protectors of their gals. My current rooster is about five or six and has never been aggressive to me. He just hangs out with the girls all day, but they are free range, so that helps a little I think. I've never had much luck keeping two roosters with the hens, even on free range. Usually ends up in a bloody battle and one as an outcast. If I were in your situation, I'd probably just keep the calmest fellow and get rid of the other. You could try craigslist, a note pinned up at the feed store, or as someone mentioned the livestock auction. Hope that things calm down in your henhouse for you! (this is the worst time of the year for aggressive roosterly activity though!) P.s. I sent you an email a week or so ago, to see if I could get your addy, as I have the squash seed ready to go. It may have gone to your junk mail again, though.

chichi5 said...

hello, well just to let you know this can happen~~it happened to my poor hen lucy today!!!our chickens were out and i heard a strange squak i ran to the the coop and my rooster was laying on top my hen humping her and freaking out!!~~i looked at her limp body her neck was broke~~~my guess is he grabbed her the wrong way and snap!~he has never done that before~~its very sad!!!~~i hope it doesnt happen again!!~~the worst he has done was cause as few bald spots~~i need to in vest in some chicken saddles~~~it can happen!!!