Losing a Rooster That Matters

This may sound trite to you unless you’re a chicken keeper or animal lover. This afternoon, we buried Buster wearing our “Chicken Lives Matter” t-shirts. I think I’ll just cry again. This was a very somber evening even though the family knew it was coming. We knew that old age had taken its toll on the old man and we knew it first when he stopped running at us when we approached his chicken door.

Buster came to our home to replace a young mean rooster that we had. I was new at chicken keeping and felt that the rooster in our run was too mean so with little affection for him, I traded him with $20 in my hand for another rooster who looked just like him. (I know! I know! I got taken!)

The chicken trader had an eleven year old boy go into the pen to get Buster so I really thought I had some gentle animal to take back to my flock. Little did I know that he was not only mean and “busty” but meaner and tougher than the roo I had traded. I had a real monster rooster on my hands! We named him “Buster” aptly because he busted out every time we would walk past. Buster left no opportunity untaken. If a gate was cracked in any way, he would bust out and run at us. When we came to feed him, he ran at the fence. When we walked to and fro near the runs, he would eye us down.

All of that meanness became actually endearing to us and we loved him for his solid personality of Mr. Mean. Sometimes people would want to get a closer look because he was indeed beautiful and I would brave catching him so we could gaze into those dreadful eyes and dreadful they were.

Earlier in the week, before Hurricane Irma, we noticed he was slowing. He didn’t have that kick in his step and he wasn’t eyeing us quite so steadily. Most obvious, he wasn’t running at the gate or fence or our legs and so we knew there was something really wrong.

This morning, he stood at the door of his coop and did not brave the heat. He didn’t spur the fence. He didn’t crow with that great and powerful “| er, er, er, er, er |”.

We lost Buster today and we’re all sad because of our loss. Many might say, “Oh, it was just a rooster” but when you’re a chicken keeper, chicken lives matter and especially those with unique personalities like Buster. RIP.



A Shout-Out and Happy Father’s Day To All Roosters



We have 3 roosters on our chicken farm: Buster, Dusty and Shaq. All three of them behave in a similar fashion: 1. They are highly interested in their girls. 2. Each has a personality of his own. 3. All three stand tall and stately with great power in the flapping of their wings. 4. The dance for each one is imminent daily as they approach their brood. 5. All appear to find protecting their hens important. 6. The rooster crows throughout the day. On most days beginning somewhere around 5:00 a.m.

The rooster is a unique animal. He is the man of the hour for every flock. The rooster is “in charge”. The rooster is the BMOF( Big Man On the Farm). While the hens determine
who will be in the top of the hierarchy of the flock, the rooster is at the top of the chain and uses his body and sounds to help all know this.

The rooster is different than the hen in not only appearance but in behavior. Roosters and hens are distinctly different. There is a definite difference in many traits regarding the hen and rooster.

There are several ways to determine at a young age if a chicken is a hen or a rooster. Before their first birthday, young hens are called pullets and young roosters are called cockerels. Determining whether a chicken is a male or female at an early stage can be determined by wing feathers and by the vent. As chickens grow older, they begin to feather-out and at this point the determination to whether a chicken is a rooster or a hen becomes easier. For example, roosters grow long tail feathers. They also have long and pointed saddle feathers located in front of the tale. Hens hardly have saddle feathers but if prominent at all, are rounded. The tell-tale sign of a rooster is the crow and it sounds like this “cock-a-doodle-do”. Generally a rooster begins to try out his voice for crowing around the 16th month.

When crowing,the rooster makes a variety of sounds that hens do not make. They make sounds when they are in the presence of hens, when they are fed their breakfast, when they hear other roosters, when a hawk flies over, and at least 20 other sounds.

Roosters often get a bad rap but not all roosters are mean. There are many who are great pets, gentle and easy for company. My experience with roosters however, is that a great many are often floggers and in addition, willing and able to spur and peck. In our chicken yard, we always keep small rakes leaning against trees in order to be able to protect ourselves from our running or charging roosters. None of the 3 of mine do this all of the time but I never know when I may have stepped too close to their personal space to cause any one of the 3 to run at me therefore we keep protector poles available. Our protector sticks are never to hurt the rooster but always to protect us from being attacked.

While it is the hen who sits on eggs and cares for the babies, I must say that all 3 of my rooster have taken in runts, shunned babies and disabled teenagers over the years. Just this week, a teenager hen was shunned from her run and at dusk ran into the rooster coop. Shaq took her in allowing her to stay in his run and coop. When she is fully feathered and older, I’ll place her in with the older hens but until then, Shaq has taken her in and they are a father and daughter team. He is a full-fledged Jersey Giant and she has his same breed characteristics.

So, today is Father’s Day and I want to simply give a shout-out to all roosters and dads of the barnyard! Happy Father’s Day. #chickenlivesmatter