Why do roosters crow?
Why do roosters crow, you ask? Roosters crow due to a combination of influences from their own circadian rhythm and external stimulus like seeing another rooster. Researchers at Nagoya University in Japan studied roosters and determined that their early morning crow is based on their internal clock based on the natural rhythms of sunrise, their circadian rhythm. Then, throughout the day, roosters crow to mark their territory and establish dominance in the flock.
According to My Pet Chicken, roosters begin crowing at about 5 months of age. This is also the time when their feathering reveals them to be a male chicken. You can tell a juvenile rooster from hen by the feathers in front of their legs, known as saddle feathers. On a rooster, the saddle feathers are long, slender and pointy. A hen’s will be shorter, thicker and rounder.
Can hens crow?
Did you know that hens will crow? Yes, we’ve seen this happen here at Stony Ridge Farm. When our flocks have been all female one hen usually becomes dominant and begins crowing as a protective measure for the flock. I have read that these dominant hens can even grow spurs, but I’ve never seen this phenomenon.
The story of how Lucky got his name…
This year we have a flock of 45 chickens. There are 2 roosters, Lucky and George. Lucky is an Easter Egger Rooster and George is a Patridge Cochin Rooster. These boys are gentlemen! They are not aggressive and they are gentle on the hens. While George is the larger of the two, he is very passive and Lucky is the dominant rooster.
The Easter Egger Chicken
The Easter Egger is a friendly chicken that lays colored eggs, mostly blue but also shades of green. This chicken is not really a breed but rather a variety of chick, so designated because their coloring is not uniform across generations. We love our Eggers because they are friendly and smart. Our dominant Egger hen has taught many a new arrival how to roost in her favorite spot in the stable, the rafters 12 feet in the air!
The Partridge Cochin Breed
The Partridge Cochin is another friendly breed of chicken. The rosters are particularly loveable because they are huge, fluffy, docile birds. In the mid-1800s the Cochin breed was all the rage in the streets of London. Crowds drew together in throngs to see an exhibit of the chicken said to be ‘as big as an ostrich, as loud as a lion, and as gentle as a lamb.’ You can read more about how the cochin chicken kicked off the hobby of chicken breeding and showing here.
Be sure to shop my chicken favorites!
We have shared the 5-acres of Stony Ridge Farm with foxes since our arrival in 2009. Foxes help keep the rabbit population in check, and they force us to take better care of our chicken. Yes, by choosing not to kill the fox on our property, we also choose to keep our chickens penned for safety and we lock them in every night. While other neighbors have both killed foxes and lost their flocks, we have rarely had either experience.
Raiding the henhouse
Over the past 8 years of raising chickens, there were 3 fox raids on our various coops. The first time, we had a particularly nasty Welsummer rooster that we were considering harvesting or re-homing. The fox found a way into our tiny coop and the rooster fought valiantly and gave himself up to protect the hens. The second raid was by a pretty mangy looking fox that McKeever, our shepherd, trapped under a horse trailer on the property.
The third and most recent raid began this winter. We have a mating pair of foxes on our pasture. They like to sit and watch the hens from a distance. Winter weather lingered into April this year, and that has made food scarce for all the animals in our area. I could write about deer problems, but that’s another post. The foxes are beautiful and deadly. Our relationship is complicated.
Feeling foxy yourself?
Why the Rooster Crows and How Lucky got his Name
Last week, the second week in April, saw snow and cold and many gray days. It also saw a male fox pacing around our chicken run at 8 am several mornings in a row. Sadly, Bob pulled the 22 from the basement because boundaries were crossed. By Thursday morning tensions were high, and at 8:30 am we hear our rooster crowing and ran to the back deck to see THE FOX IN THE CHICKEN RUN. She had dug under the fence and the rooster was attacking the fox’s head to protect the hens!
By the time Bob and I ran to the stable, our chicken coop, the fox was gone and there were feathers all over the chicken run. As I inspected the damage, I found rooster tail feathers and the Easter Egger rooster was nowhere to be seen. With tears in my eyes, I collected the tail feathers and bound them to hang on my office wall. Bob and I were shaken all day and kept pacing back to the deck to check on the chickens. Repairs were made and time moved on.
That night, while dutifully locking up the chickens, Bob saw our rooster (until this moment nameless) laying on the floor of the stable trying to shuffle his way to a roost. Bob came running up the backyard, rooster in his arms and tears in his eyes! Our rooster was alive and was quickly named LUCKY! Bob slept with Lucky that night and nursed him the next morning. At 5 am bleary-eyed Bob and Lucky sat up on the sofa and the rooster crowed to meet his miracle new day.
Lucky hardly has a limp. He does have an embarrassingly bare rump, though!
Honestly, we don’t know what we are going to do about the foxes. We do know we have work to do on the chicken run. Spring is finally arriving and we’ll be working outdoors more often. Our presence, along with McKeever, back in the market garden next to the coop and run, may do much to keep the foxes away. Only time will tell.
In all this, one thing is for sure. If we hear the rooster crowing in the middle of the morning we’ll know why and we’ll be running to his rescue. He’s already called Lucky, so he has nothing to prove!
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Stony Ridge Farm
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