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Thursday, July 21, 2011

It Just Gets Better

You know I've suspected for some time that Vivian is a cockerel, and not a pullet.  She's taller than the other two, and is sporting a distinctly rooster-like face.  Violet is colored just like her, but isn't as tall, however, Violet has the same tail as Vivian.  Ethel is colored differently- she's a much richer brown, and her tail is sassy.  It's very short and curls up- not much there at all.  But Vivian and Violet have much bigger tails.

Ethel in front, with her little tail, and a bro

This morning when I started my preparations for changing water and filling feeders, one of the girls started to crow.  So I decided to take a look through the big south window to see if I could catch her in the act and figure out who's the budding cockerel.  I peered through the window in the morning half light.  Yep, it was Vivian alright.  But wait a minute! Violet crowed next!  Then Vivian.  Then Violet.  They traded off crowing for at least a full minute.  Crap! One chick culled due to severe deformity, and two cockerels out of four original chicks means a seventy-five percent failure rate on my first attempt at laying hens.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I have to get these crowing cockerels the hell out of dodge before the neighbors complain. Roosters are strictly verboten in my little burg.

Vivian and her roostery face

The funny thing is, Ethel, for all her having a much shorter tail, seems to have the same shaped comb and wattles as the boys do, but her tail is really distinctly smaller than theirs.

The boys and their longer tales

Something else nailing the lid on the boys' fate is the fact that they are both sporting spur buds, which Ethel does not have.

Anyone have any ideas for me?  I'm not ready to slaughter for eating, and I would guess they are either, but I'm not sure what to do next. But I do need to get rid of them quick, and I need to look into started pullets.

But only one pullet left out of four chicks.  Sheesh.


Rae said...

I'm still astounded that they are crowing. :(

Our girls all have "buds", and our for-sure rooster, at about 18 weeks, doesn't have any more of a spur than our definite hens. The only reason we ID'd him as a him was the pointy tailfeathers (green according to his breed standard) and then he finally started crowing. Of our girls that "squat", some have square butts, some a bit more pointy, some plump, and some slim. If it wasn't for the crowing, I'd still say wait and see (as long as it's not too loud).

Then again, (am I killing you yet?), I've read numerous accounts of hens that crow, or sort of crow. The idea is that, in the absence of a rooster, the dominant hen will attempt to take on the role. Ugh. I dunno. Maybe I'm just sad for your "possible" roos, and trying to come up with an explanation? I'd say that we could take your girls until sure of the sex (and maybe give you our Rhodie), but I'd have to check with LJ, and they may get their butts kicked by our flock... I'll ask LJ about it tomorrow.

Jennifer Montero said...

It's not uncommon for pullets to crow if there's no rooster about. Type 'Do hens ever crow' into google and you can read stories similar to yours. You don't have to write them off just yet.

Of course, if it looks like a rooster and crows like a rooster...isn't that 'Occam's cockerel'?

Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

You're right, those are pretty bad odds. For started pullets, check out craigs list. As for the roosters, go for it - fried chicken, chicken salad, chicken soup, etc.

Slaughtering is not fun, but sometimes a necessary part of homesteading.

Good luck!

Desert Willow said...

Goodness to gracious! I’m looking at those “girls” and thinking that the comb and wattles are a tad large! In my experience it is a bit unusual to have that high of a percentage of roosters in a batch of pullets. Even so they are a good dual purpose bird….the down side is you may need to deal with the crowing till they are up to weight. There is nothing worse than jumping the gun and ending up with a freezer full of “Cornish game hens”. So I am told… I am a vegetarian! My girls go on weeding/tilling and bug duty when they get old. Out to pasture so to speak. But and interesting tidbit to know is that occasionally a hen will crow. I actually have a hen that will crow a few time a week. Granted it is a pretty pathetic crow and not quite up to rooster standards. She is a six year old Wyandotte a bit large and very elegant. She still gives three or four eggs a month. This started up a couple of years ago for no particular reason that I can see or perhaps it’s the name we gave her… Portia…Portia de Rossi Chicken! Just don’t give up. You may want to check out Craigslist and see if there poultry swap in your area. You could swap your boys and pickup a couple of girls and get yourself back on track.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I don't have any experience (yet) identifying roosters at a young age -- we've been lucky and our hens have all turned out to be actual, genuine hens.

However, if they do turn out to be roosters (now I can't wait to end up with one myself so I can name him Occam), can I encourage you to slaughter and eat them?

Part of the cycle of livestock is taking things that aren't useful and making them useful by eating them. Killing and processing a chicken isn't hard. All you need is a cone and a knife. I suspect it won't be easy -- it wasn't for me, the first time -- but I think it will bring you tremendous gratification to know you stepped up to it, and turned a suboptimal situation to your benefit to put wholesome food on the table.

But I'm still hoping for hens ...