Roosters can bond with each other as buddies and enjoy spending time together.
Cedric and Sebastian are two of Roostersong Sanctuary’s longtime residents. They were adopted from the Marin Humane Society in 2006 and recently celebrated their 8th Hatch-day! Originally from a larger group of socialized mixed-gender birds, they decided to become best buddies shortly after arriving at Roostersong.
Socializing new chickens into an existing flock is possible if one has patience and takes the time to observe the interaction between birds. Chickens develop complex social groups and use their own basic form of logical reasoning to understand where they might fit into a flock’s hierarchy. Roosters may buddy-up to gain a higher ranking within the flock. These rooster teams might choose to mate with hens when the opportunity presents itself but will mainly keep company with each other.
Cedric and Sebastian partake in daily chicken activities with the general flock but also go off on their own to forage for food. They take dirt baths together, protect each other and have their own special coop in the Chicken Resort. Both have mellowed with age and have sweet, quirky personalities. It is a sad truth that most animals are youngsters when they are slaughtered. We rarely have the benefit of knowing them as seasoned adults and lose out on experiencing their unique elder-wisdom which can only come with years lived.
Cedric eyes his Hatch-day snack dispenser wondering why there is a picture of a dog on his box!
Feathered proprietors of the famous “Buk Buk” Bed and Breakfast Inn at Roostersong Sanctuary where meals are always a delicious vegetarian fare.
-Singing Luna 9/27/2014
Seed for thought: Consider adopting a rooster from your local shelter or Humane Society!
There are a total of four roosters shown in this photo… and yes, they are all friends! (can you spot them?).
Myth #1: If you put two roosters together they will fight to the death.
Historically cockfighting has helped to fuel this myth by creating a grossly artificial situation where birds are cruelly trained to become aggressive. Roosters are drugged to dull the pain of injury and forced to wear razors attached to their legs ensuring a bloody and violent death. Many animals including humans will naturally fight with each other if they do not have their basic needs met: food, water, shelter (or territory), and safety. If we live in an environment where we feel safe and comfortable then we are much more inclined to engage in friendly socialization. Just like humans, chickens need to have the proper amount of space to be emotionally healthy. Roosters may initially fight to prove hierarchy but will generally defer to the stronger bird before any serious injury results. Roosters who are raised together as chicks will determine hierarchy early so it is advantageous not to split them up. Often in situations where there are multiple males, roosters will pair off as buddies, being perfectly content to live the “hen-less” life. Contrary to popular belief it is quite possible to introduce adult roosters into an established flock by using certain socialization techniques (to be covered in a future post). It is our responsibility as caregivers to make sure that everyone in the flock is well cared for and also to monitor any aggressive behavior as soon as it materializes.
Myth #2: The presence of a rooster is necessary for a hen to lay an egg.
A hen will lay her egg whether or not a rooster is around however, roosters help to maintain a natural and beneficial dynamic within a chicken community. A rooster is essential for the fertilization of an egg. Fertilization occurs within the body of the female. A rooster will display a mating dance for the hen and she will indicate receptivity by squatting down next to him. He will then mount and deposit his sperm into the opening beneath her tail. If the hen chooses to nest and “set” on the fertilized egg a chick will form and hatch 21 days later. Though roosters are not necessary for the formation of eggs, they are an important asset for providing safety and protection of a flock. For instance when hens are out foraging a rooster will keep watch and give a distinct call to indicate danger. The type of sound will even indicate whether the predator is approaching on land or is airborne. Roosters are very courageous and have been known to fight off attackers many times larger than themselves. If a rooster finds food he will first call his family over to partake in the feast. It is well known that chicks will begin a dialog with their mothers while still inside the egg but recent studies have shown that they can also recognize vocalizations of the roosters and other members of their flock before hatching, which contributes to the bonding of the flock overall.
Myth #3: Roosters crow only at sunrise.
All animals have sophisticated methods of communication which humans have only barely begun to understand. A rooster’s crow is his way of communicating his presence territorially and also to announce his well-being. Throughout the day a rooster may crow in triumph after he has mated with a hen or after he has discovered food for his flock. If he hears noise in the middle of the night he may crow to warn that a predator might be near. A rooster’s song usually consists of four distinct notes or sections. Each individual rooster’s crow is unique and identifiable so it alerts the entire flock to who is located where (crowing is the GPS of the chicken world!). Keeping multiple roosters does not necessarily mean there will be a great increase in crowing. Roosters who are kept within a flock and not separated from each other tend to sing less often because they can visually locate the other males. Often the lower ranked males will not sing as often as the lead male. Roosters will also crow at sunrise, their eyesight being so sensitive to light that they can detect the faintest glow of dawn long before we humans can. If you wish to delay their singing in the morning you can do so by keeping them indoors in a dark quiet area until the desired rising time.
“A good rooster crows everywhere”- Sicilian Proverb
Roosters have very distinct personalities and also can be quite affectionate.
-Singing Luna 6/28/2014
Seed for thought: What other myths about chickens should be debunked?
Before makeover: This handmade shed was repurposed into a coop by adding a small chicken-size door.
Time to spruce up the old coop! This ex-shed came with a large walk-in door which made it easy for cleaning and a window covered with chicken wire which works great for ventilation. The smaller door was added later to make it chicken friendly. Both doors can be shut and secured against any predators when necessary. The exterior paint was two years old and starting to crack from the weather so it needed some updating. I started the project by hosing and scrubbing down the exterior of the coop with water and letting it air-dry during a warm afternoon. I decided to give it a cheerful tropical-style makeover…
After makeover: A fresh coat of paint, colorful accents and a few decorative elements can transform an ordinary chicken house!
I started painting with a warm ivory base color using a brush (a roller probably would have been faster but I enjoy the process of brush painting). You can often find small cans of quality paint for free at the local paint recycling center and sometimes paint stores will sell their customer-reject colors at reduced prices. I began layering swashes of color over the ivory by giving broad strokes of lemon yellow, magenta, and cornflower blue. The lime green was acrylic craft paint (also found at the recycling center). I used a dry brush technique to pick up the weathered texture of the wood….
Decorative elements add a whimsical accent to the coop.
This cut-metal gecko was purchased at a discount variety store (it was cheap even though it was handmade and fair trade!). You can find interesting art pieces to decorate your coop at thrift stores and yard sales. I’ve found some interesting items left on the sidewalk with “free” signs attached. Even ordinary things such as tools, colorful kitchen decor, recycled shingles or children’s toys can be painted and attached to your coop exterior to give it added personality.
Chicken safety note: Always make sure any decor you use is securely attached so it can’t fall on anyone (chickens). I generally place elements high enough on the coop where they can’t be pecked or become a hazard. Use lead-free, water base paint and have your chickens entertain themselves in another part of the yard while working with any open cans of paint and wet surfaces (I distracted mine by giving them a little tropical party with leftover fruit and greens!).
-Singing Luna 3/1/2014
Seed for Thought: What are some simple improvements you can make on your coop?