A few decisions have been made about male chickens in the last few weeks. The two older cockerels, or young roosters, Winston Cheepers and James Claw, had both started active duty and the hens’ eggs were showing as fertilised. This got me thinking about the next hatch and who I wanted to keep to breed from.
It wasn’t too hard for me to decide what to do about these two. Winston Cheepers is the best-looking Australorp rooster I’ve ever had. James Claw had the blue colour going for him, but his type and colouring weren’t much to be impressed about compared to Winston Cheepers. Also, James Claw was a bit weird. Whenever I was in or near in the pen he would stand on one foot with the other held up under him and raise his hackle feathers so he was all spiky. I wondered if something was wrong with his foot, so I checked it. It was fine, and sometimes he switched feet and stood on the other one. He was spiky and weird. I took it to mean some level of aggression. That probably could have been dealt with, but why would I want a weird rooster who wasn’t as good as the other one? Winston Cheepers was on a different level to James Claw. And you know what? I think Winston knew all along. He knew I needed him. He was the kingmaker.
The sooner I took out James Claw, the sooner I could hatch eggs fathered by Winston Cheepers. I don’t want to wait for spring. I’m twitchy about getting some eggs hatched after the sudden loss of our last rooster, Mr Anderson. Winston Cheepers must have babies.
James Claw has been done and dusted for almost four weeks now, so next week I will be collecting eggs for hatching fathered by the beautiful Winston Cheepers. The only question mark with him is still regarding his grandfather, whether it was really Darrington, as I think, or red-feather-carrying Thomas, the first son of Frodo, who I kept around for a bit long. Winston Cheepers is the last of Chippee Hackee’s offspring.
After this, my attention turned to the three younger black cockerels. Two were from Duchess, the hen who is under high suspicion of being fathered by Thomas, so I was not going to keep them. They got butchered, leaving one young cockerel, son of Tiggywinkle and the late Mr Anderson. He is the only male I have from Mr Anderson (an untainted line) and Tiggywinkle is one of my best hens. His full brother was the one sadly killed by The Little Fulla during lockdown. So, for now, we have Winston Cheepers and the young dude, who needs a name. One looks amazing but time will tell if there are any red feather issues coming from him, and the other is too young to tell how good he’ll look but he has a solid, untainted parentage. That’s another reason I’m keen to start hatching Winston Cheepers’ eggs soon – to see if any rogue colouring comes out. And before the little dude reaches maturity.
We still have the two young blue pullets as well. They are from Mr Anderson and Duchess, so I’m probably going to sell them, well, at least one of them. It’s hard to make decisions when there’s an issue of unknown parentage. If only I’d gotten more offspring out of Mr Anderson I would happily sell or butcher all the unknowns (except Winston Cheepers), but that’s life.
Helen Cluck started laying and has yet to lay an egg in a nest box or in the corner beside the nestboxes. At least she’s not laying in the pen anymore, but… Almost every morning when I go out to do chicken chores, there is an egg on the platform above the nestboxes. Helen Cluck – there are BETTER PLACES for you!
This has been a rather insane year of broodiness. For so long I only had Frodo as a reliable, regular broody hen. Then I got an incubator. Now I have Morpheus who can hatch and raise chicks, Paris, who is at least a good hatcher and almost every single hen went broody this summer or autumn, some multiple times. And it goes on. Jenny Cheeply has recently been broody and Morpheus has just had a stint in the broody breaker and, of course, Frodo is right on schedule. Maybe the drought broke them. It has rained a lot today. That has weirded-out the cats since they’re not accustomed to this constant rain thing, so maybe it will unbreak the chickens…