Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#43 - Missing my Roosters and Eager for Priceless Eggs

It's been a few days since we re-located our roosters from our backyard to another location. They had found their mature voice and had perfected its volume to full strength. The rooster definitely put a kink in our backyard chicken plan.

Big Rooster on his way to his new home in box with plenty of holes.
The new location is less than five minutes from our home.
Now, both roosters are in the box, ready to go.
But, it's been eerily quiet since the two boys have been gone. I remember the day we selected seven chicks; I was in baby chick heaven. They were so adorable and frail and all were a pale yellow, very similar to each other. However, we ended up with two different breeds and after a couple of weeks, we noticed that two of the chicks were remaining smaller than the others. Two ended up to be white with black specks.

I'd ALWAYS wanted chickens, but we had never lived somewhere that could make it possible. Finally, after reading some informative articles in "Hobby Farmer," we discovered that many people in the suburbs are raising chickens for the eggs. Suburb neighborhoods are fighting their neighborhood associations to allow small backyard flocks and several have changed their regulations to officially allow it. We're coming a long way! Having your own laying hens is a great way to exert a bit of control over your food supply, to teach children where eggs actually come from along with the responsibility of taking care of a farm animal, and to simply enjoy these awesome creatures.

This time, I'm working to lead the chickens closer to the area that's
more populated with chickens.
Come on roosters!
However, after Deputy Dave and I re-located our roosters, I was told that the girls would not lay eggs without a rooster. I had never been told this before. I believed chickens would lay eggs with or without a rooster, the only difference would be whether or not the eggs would be fertilized. It made me worry. It's almost time for the chickens to start laying eggs; it would be terrible if something happened that seized their egg-laying abilities before it even started.

Me and my big rear trying to coax the roosters further inward.
I hope my fellow bloggers out there will have details on this rooster and hen-laying matter.

Today, I woke up to see my five chickens happily waiting for their morning food. It's amazing to have chickens finally because for years and years I imagined what it would be like to raise chickens. I could picture myself suddenly comfortable around chickens, instead of petrified. A new side of me would finally be cultivated; a new Lana would emerge due to chickens being a part of my life.

Now, I'm living out the joyful thoughts I had once entertained only in the confines of my mind! In fact, all that I had imagined could only be described as insufficient when compared to the real-world joys of raising chickens.

My roosters - my boys - in a lovely new home. This time, we're on
the backside of the building. Deputy Dave found more chickens
in this area. They initially ran from us, but they are starting to
slowly creep closer toward me and the roosters.
So, when we brought home two roosters this past March, by mistake, I found myself at a loss because I'd never imagined having a rooster. This was out of my carefully imagined plan. As the seven chicks grew and grew, we began to notice that two of them were developing combs. I THINK they are called combs; I'm still learning. Anyway, at first, we were telling ourselves that perhaps this breed of chickens meant that the girls had combs. Is this even possible?

Regardless, it was soon apparent that we had two real, live roosters. This meant that I would learn a few unexpected lessons about roosters. My first lesson is that, if you purchase chicks from Tractor Supply, you just might get a rooster instead of a hen. Then, I learned that roosters are indeed aggressive. In the same day, a rooster will protect his chickens and attack them.

It's actually dark, but my rooster boys are finally socializing and not
running after us squawking.
A rooster seems to be a natural born expert at strutting his stuff. Big Rooster had endearing moments in our backyard when he reminded me of John Travolta in the movie "Saturday Night Fever." Confident strutting was Big Rooster's specialty. Well, our Big Rooster would strut and intimidate the small rooster right out of his mid-strut. Poor emasculated Speckles.

The roosters were awesome, but our location wasn't conducive to their need to be LOUD. One day, I hope to have a coop specifically for hens producing chicks and this means we will get to have a Big Daddy Rooster. But, this will have to wait until we're living on our farm land full-time.

Precious times. Chicks are a delight. Little did we know,
two of these are roosters.
Meanwhile, I miss the roosters, but am enjoying the peace of our small space in the city. Soon, we'll have eggs. I hope. At least I'll know where the eggs are coming from and they certainly aren't going to be from a commercialized, mass-production, stifling, money-minded chicken factory.

Our eggs will be from a home where the chickens are entertaining pets and are loved by the dogs with an occasional torture session of Howdy running circles around the coop nonstop, but our chickens are fed kitchen scraps, a bit of chicken feed, they get to free-range all throughout our backyard and in the veggie garden that provides delicious tomatoes, and our chickens are probably about as happy on the chicken-happy-scale as a chicken can get. All of this combined will make our eggs priceless.


Rae said...

No roo needed for eggs. If you want chicks, yes, but not for eggs. When you move to your property, you may end up wanting a roo. Apparently, a good roo will lead his ladies to good forage, sound the alarm if he sees something suspicious, and try to protect them if something attacks.

We also have only a short while longer before we get eggs. Our girls are 18 weeks old. Not too much longer! Can't wait to see your first egg pic!

Sara said...

Oh man! I love chickens! Thanks for the nice comments on my blog. I had a 5 acre farm, but gave it up when I divorced. I always wanted chickens too, but never got around to it. Good thing I guess, or I would have had to find them homes, lol, oh well

Rina ... also Chester or Daisysmum. said...

Your girls will do fine with out their rooster, lay you lots of eggs just wait and see. When you move one day you can just order a dozen new babies, raise them up and you would have a whole new flock of good laying birds. The old one will have then reached the age of not being such good layers anymore, and can happily pop an egg out for you when you least expect it. There's going to be at least a rooster or two with the new babies.
Are you starting to feed your girls some layer pellets with their regular chook food.

LindaG said...

Yup. That's what I've read. What Rae and Rina said. You only need roosters for fertile eggs. :)

Enjoy your eggs. I will be jealous until we can have our own. ;)

Anonymous said...

The attack of the roosters on the hens is mating.
No rooster needed for eggs as everyone else has said...but when you get to the country get one to help keep them safe and keep them together....the best thing is seeing baby chicks actually hatch and follow their mama around SHE will protect them and they run and hide under her when she clucks danger to them. You will LOVE that. You learn a lot about chickens by just watching them.
Another thought ...dogs LOVE eggs...I think your hens will lay in their tractor esp. if you have nest boxes in there for them...and I doubt the dogs can get in there?? Just don't be surprised. B.

Lana at said...

Rae --- I do miss the Roosters, especially Big Rooster because he really did do all that everyone says. He would kind of "herd" them to a location, then he'd move away from them and stay in the perimeter, constantly watching for danger. It was fascinating. I can't believe we're BOTH so close to getting eggs!!! I think we'll be enjoying the pictures on each other's blogs. i love these simple times of great joy, over an egg!!

Lana at said...

Sara --- You are amazing. I am touched that even though you lost the 5 acre farm, the dream and the spirit of having a farm remains! No one can take your dreams from you! You never know what could happen, down the road, you might end up with 10, 20 acres and find your life filled with MORE than you could have dreamed you would have. Keep up the hope. I love your attitude in the title that reflects...the five acres may have been physically taken from you, but you still have the spirit of being a five-acre land-owner within you! Keep it up!!!!

Lana at said...

Rina --- Thank you for resassuring me that my chickie girls will be laying hens, whether or not a rooster is around. I will have to learn how to rotate the chickens one day, at least learn the timing to buy new chicks that will grow old enough to start laying eggs as the old girls are retiring.

And, no, I'm not giving them layer pellets, but I'm feeding them high quality feed with plenty of daily kitchen scraps. I need to post an updated picture of the girls, they are plump and very healthy looking...I do believe they are getting a lot of rich, vitamin filled food. For a special treat, I've been actually giving them a bit of my song bird mix and they almost fight over it. Weeks ago, I decided to start giving them this treat, figuring it was "bird" food and it was a hit. But, they get about three different kinds of feed, per day and I HOPE this will help them to be good layers. If not, I will have to get the layer pellets for sure. Otherwise, when do you start giving them layer pellets and how much for how long? Do they really help? I hope my method of feeding is more than enough...I guess I'll see what happens very soon.

Lana at said...

Linda --- I feel like you are a huge part of my research "team" and I appreciate it. You and I read a lot, but you helping me to find answers always makes me feel better. It's such a blessing to have fellow friends who are such avid readers. My mother had been like that and I sure do miss that part of her!! I miss ALL of her, but the constant reading and ability to find any answer is a true loss in life. I thought the person who told me that my hens would not lay because I got rid of the roosters was wrong, but they were insistent with stories about how once their rooster was discarded, the hens suddenly quit laying. I told her I didn't think this is the usual case, but she was insisting that I'd just ruined all chances of my chickens laying eggs because the rooster was gone. Since I'm new to this and she had raised chickens, I did not argue. But, I'll sure be glad when I get my first few eggs!!!!!

Lana at said...

Anonymous :-) ---- You made me smile because I was thinking tht the "attack" mode was probably mating. My oldest daughter told me that the rooster will even start plucking out the chickie girls feathers. Once we are in the country, we'll definitely be having roosters, especially since the environment there will be more hostile because there is more prey. And, you painted such a beautiful picture of mother hens with her chicks...I look forward to seeing those moments so eagerly! And I did NOT know that dogs like eggs, but I can see your point in making sure that our dogs don't start making attempts to have a mid-day egg snack. I do think, I hope, they'll lay in their nesting boxes in the coop, but David did set up a crate with hay on our back patio---a place they love to go when "free-ranging" during the day in the backyard. We're getting so close to having eggs. They are 17 weeks old today!! I'll have to work with the dogs on helping me to find eggs, without them eating them. My old dog, Big Red, she is always in appetite overdrive, so it might be a problem with her, but the shepherd, he is very trainable, even in tough areas. It will be interesting.

Rae said...

If I had to guess at why your friend's hens stopped laying, I'd guess that removing the rooster created enough of a social disruption to put them off laying for a bit... That the real reason wasn't lack of a male flock member, but the removal of the top flock member.

Have I told you about yet? They have a community forum that is chock full of good stuff. Check it out.

Rina ... also Chester or Daisysmum. said...

Hi Lana
I buy a 20kg bag (10lb)of scratch mix for the chooks, add 5kg crushed corn and 5kg layer pellets. That's my mix, so they just get their mix in the morning and free range the rest of the day. Before their go roost thet might get another scoop. Most days there is a little old porriage, pasta or rice for them to enjoy to.

Tammy said...

Looks like everyone already answered your question about needing a rooster. Hens can happily produce eggs w/out a rooster around, just as was pointed out they won't be fertile.(They will molt about once a year and will stop production during that time). I've had chickens since I moved into my own little place around 25 years ago. Most of the time I've had a rooster around, and one is a pleasure. They do watch out for the ladies and I've had a few sacrifice themselves to predators when they tried to defend the flock. More than one though and they just seem to be troublesome---fighting and having crowing contests! My flock is very aged right now (most are approaching ten years, with a few eight year olds) but they still keep popping out an egg or two every few days. Enough for my needs anyway. They are fed all grain mix and sometimes corn chops, but mostly they just free range in the sheep pastures (well fenced). I think that is why they have lived so long and are still productive--also I don't buy the heavy duty 'production breeds' which peter out pretty quick.... Even after all these years, I still remember the excitement of my FIRST EGG! :-) You are so in for a treat.
I enjoy your comments on my blog--thanks for stopping by!

Lana at said...

Rae --- about the hens stopping their laying after the rooster was removed, I had wonder about the time of year and whether or not it was a traumatic event for the hens and whether the hens were simply aging out. I didn't have any of the details. The backyardfarm chickens site is wonderful! I thinkthe first week we were blogging I went on there to look around, it is very helpful. I usually go there at least once per week. That first week when I found it thru your blog was the time I added it to my "Favorite Neighbors" on my blog page. It is a great site.

Rina --- thank you for giving me your mixture breakdown, I told my husband and we went to the feed store to make our chicken feed more diversified as you have yours. Ours also get to free-range and get to eat kitchen scraps. They are defnitely well fed chickens.

Tammy --- I am so glad you wrote. I know NOTHING about molting, other than what I've read. I wonder if they all molt at the same time, like a seasonal thing? or do they molt individually, when needed? I ALWAYS love to read about other's experiences with chickens and roosters, especially from someone like you who can remember that first egg and who understand my excitement as if you were getting your first egg too! I is a wonderful thing to go through. As for 2 roosters, we did have 2 (by mistake) and they would get into crowing contests and one crow began to be overly dominate to the other one...always chasing him far from every food source. It was aweful. I can't believe your chickens are so old! Someone told me that mine would only last about 18 months, but I don't know what the norm is for my breed. That seems like such a short time, I hope mine have a long, long life, like yours. Thanks for coming by!