On Friday afternoon I bid farewell to Elrond the rooster. Elrond the beautiful. Elrond the nutso. It all happened pretty quickly in the end. I had a busy and cranky day as The Little Fulla wasn’t sleeping much and was getting into all sorts of trouble. I’ve concluded that if I imagine he’s a monkey I can anticipate his moves better. The only thing he can’t do is swing on things. Yet. And he roars and growls like bear. Elrond’s first human mum was really busy too but she made a quick trip out to get him from me, his second human mum, and is taking him up north to live with his third human mum, her mum.
I hope Elrond behaves himself with more space to roam but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t, once he gets his confidence back. In that case I hope he can be managed. Time was I would be sad that Elrond had gone, but after the aggressive behaviour of late I weirdly felt something else. Freedom. It was like a weight off my shoulders. The first thing I did was go into the pen with The Little Fulla and feed my feather children some treats. He could watch them up close, which brought smiles to his face, and I wasn’t afraid to have him in there. It is stink to have to lose Elrond and I appreciate what he brought to the flock and the time I had with him, but I know I’ve done the right thing.
The first day post-Elrond was sort of weird. It was so quiet. He had really cranked up his crowing frequency of late too; part of his aggression/insecurity/jealousy I guess. I figured he must have gotten jealous of me, as the only thing I was doing differently lately was doing more hand-feeding. Mind you, Legolas was the only one who would feed from my hand. Frodo wanted to, but was too wary of Legolas. Elrond would NOT feed from my hand thank you very much, although I always offered food to him first out of respect for his position. The last time I dared to offer him food he bit me. He probably hated seeing Legolas happily stuffing her face with food from my hand, when she was ‘his’ head hen. Maybe that was what brought forth his aggressive behaviour. Whatever the case, it wasn’t an excuse for bad behaviour.
I wasn’t sure how the other chickens would react to the absence of Elrond. As I walked towards the coop in the morning I heard a wee little crow. One of the youngies was crowing! Just one little quiet crow. I don’t know which boy it was, but I wonder if he thought he would fill in since Elrond wasn’t there to make the morning announcement. Later in the afternoon I heard Half Pie do a weeny-as crow attempt. It sounded more like a squeaky door than a crow, but I saw him in the direction the noise came from. It sounded different from the one I heard that morning though, so more than one of them might be trying it out. I spent some quality time with my chickens that afternoon. I sat in there on the low fence and they all came close around me. I didn’t have any food but they hung around and I even got to pat Legolas’ tail a few times. Then they had a preening/chill out sesh in which Frodo sat right beside me and Legolas right beside her. All the youngies were nearby too. It was weird that they were so super friendly and chilled out. Is it because I was the sole surviving ‘alpha’ or because they were released from the tight grip that Elrond had been holding them under lately? Maybe a bit of both. Maybe he had been tightening his grip on them so gradually and I had been so busy that I didn’t notice that they weren’t as friendly as they should have been. Well, I am definitely loving how things are going now.
That being said, I’m not oblivious to the fact that the young cockerels are going to acquire raging hormones in the not-to-distant future, so things might not stay so placid. I should really set up a fattening pen for the ones I’m definitely not keeping so there isn’t as much competition. I have only just noticed that Orange Feet, one of the black boys has a few red-edged feathers on his back. Blast. The red/buff colouring I first noted in The Smoky Chick must be coming from Elrond then. I hope none of the others develop it. These two would be definites for the fattening pen. That leaves two blues, Scrappy and Little Spot, and one black, Half Pie. Scrappy is my favourite because I’m in love with his colouring. Little Spot is pretty good-looking too. Half Pie’s beak is turning blacker, which is good, but his feet are still too light. The problem is, I’m feeling a little attached towards him. Dammit! He’s just the friendliest of the dudes since he shared the dining room with us for a week. Oh, the problems.
The other thing that’s happened is someone started laying. Woohoo! I found an egg in the coop on Elrond’s last day and both days since. I’m not entirely sure if it is Frodo or Legolas yet as I haven’t had the chance to do detective work in the mornings. Both of them have quite red combs. When I offered them some oyster grit in my hand, Legolas looked at it like, “This is NOT food. Why are you trying to give it to me?” but Frodo scoffed some. Hmm. I think Frodo is still in the latter stages of her moult though. Hmm.
The food situation is a little tricky. They have all been on pullet/grower pellets after I transitioned them off the chick starter crumbs during the youngies’ 7th-8th week. After Frodo stopped feeding her babies, I hung layer pellets up high as well so that the oldies could reach them but not the youngies. Since both are available, Frodo and Legolas are eating both. The pullet/grower pellets don’t have enough calcium in them for laying hens but the youngies can’t eat layer pellets until they’re at least three months old, but preferably 16 weeks old, as too much calcium can cause problems in their growing bodies. I have to provide oyster grit (or egg shells, but oyster grit has more calcium and I bought a big bag of it back in the day because they didn’t have any small bags left) to the laying hens, so I’ve put a little container of grit up high where the youngies hopefully can’t reach it. I’ve seen Frodo eating it so that’s great. I haven’t been trying to get them to lay by being more specific about their diet because there is a withholding period for the chick starter crumbs due to the medication for coccidiosis that’s in it. Eggs can’t be consumed for 14 days after stopping the chick starter food. I stupidly forgot to write down the last day I fed the chickens chick starter. That’s not like me, every other treatment gets written on the calendar. They’ve been off it for over a week so I’ll hold off eating the eggs until the end of this week to be safe.
So the thing is, we can’t eat the eggs for a week, and a little wondering and a little research tells me that rooster sperm can be viable in the hen for an average of two weeks. Sometimes it’s as long as a month! And sometimes only a week. So… The eggs that I collect in the next week could very well be fertilised by Elrond. It seems a shame to throw them away. What to do then? I can’t expect Frodo to go broody so soon and even if she did I wouldn’t let her stay broody because it’s too soon after her last lot and she’s still finishing moulting. Hatching and raising babies takes a lot out of a hen. I can relate. I want her to get back up to great condition before she has to sit on a nest for three weeks again. Having Legolas go broody in the next week isn’t very likely considering she either hasn’t starting laying yet or has only just and Barred Rocks aren’t usually particularly broody. Thus, the options are:
- Do nothing, just chuck the eggs.
- Get an incubator and try to raise some more babies. And hope for more females.
- Find someone with a broody hen to hatch and/or raise them and maybe split the ‘winnings’.
- Give them to someone else to hatch.
I should just make it easier for myself and chuck them. But I can’t help feeling like maybe this timing happened for a reason. Oh, the trials of a curious mind.
On another note, because I can fit way too many tangents in one post, I have decided that it’s high time I dished out a few permanent names for the feather babies that I’m keeping. The temporary names were all well and good to help distinguish them all, which was not easy when some of them looked so similar, but they deserve proper names and since I’m entering a new age of chickendom I am going to celebrate with new names. Say hello to my newly named girls:
Formerly known as Blue Girl and The Chick That Looks Like Little Spot…
Formerly known as Blackie and Bob…
Formerly known as Pie…
And then, I may be pushing my luck to give him a permanent name, but hey? Why not? Formerly known as Scrappy and The Dark Blue Chick…
I am really more of a Mr Darcy gal myself, but I feel like Mr Darcy would have to be a black rooster. The problem is, now I feel like I want a Mr Darcy too. And I definitely need a Mary and a Kitty. I’ve really brought this upon myself, haven’t I?