Monday, August 29, 2011

A tale of six roosters . . .

My initial plan was to keep only one breed of white egg layers - Campines, an endangered species - and only have Campine roosters.  The plan was that if I had a broody hen, whatever breed, I would slip white eggs under her, and they would all have Campine fathers and Campine mothers - couldn't be any other combination.  Any chicks that hatched would be full blooded Campines.

A woman had to get rid of some chickens in town due to complaining neighbors.  She told me they were all pullets.  However, three of the six Buff Orpingtons began crowing and breeding my hens - definitely not pullets.  I sold one, found one dead in the Moop one morning, and still have a third.  He is so beautiful!  His name is Stewart, Stew for short because my plan was to put him in the stew pot.  He has messed up my breeding plans!  If he breeds a Campine, then a white egg could have a Campine mother and Stewart, a Buff Orpington, as the father.  I would have no way of knowing what breed the chicks were until they hatched.

Stewart with a few of the girls
Buster front left, Stewart in center
Stewart is still in the chicken yard.  I cannot bear to butcher him.  My vet told me that I might consider taking him to the local auction, that he got rid of a rooster for $2.00 to someone who wanted to use him for breeding.  I might do that.  Stewart is a fine bird!  He is just the wrong bloodline for my breeding plan.  He is also way too big for my tiny Campines, and his spurs have left many of their backs nude of feathers.

Buster is a fine bird!
My only picture of Roscoe
Chicks are sexed the day they are born, so when you order pullets, you are supposed to get pullets, and not random pullets and roosters.  You only need one rooster for every 15 hens, but odds say you will get 50:50 if you leave things to chance.  If you buy them unsexed, it is called a "straight run," and the cost per chick is pretty cheap.  If they are sexed, you pay more to get all pullets - the ones that lay the eggs and provide some income.  However, Campines are rather hard to sex.  The first year, I got two roosters by mistake, but the hawks got one.  Only Buster was left.  Last year I got one rooster by mistake, and I named him Roscoe.  Sometimes roosters fight, but Buster and Roscoe got along just fine and spent most of their time within a few feet of each other.  Sadly Rosco has disappeared, gone about a week now, so I'm pretty sure he became fodder for some wild animal.  Kayla said she heard wolves near the house yesterday morning.  And I have plenty of hawks -- Campines are rather small birds, and a hawk could carry an adult rooster off quite easily.  Sigh . . .

I bought two Campine roosters this year, and they survived babyhood, are crowing lustily and even thinking about getting into the breeding game.  So there are three Campine roosters now, with Roscoe gone.  And of course there is Stewart.  And Tiny.  One of the four accidental chicks that hatched out last spring appears to be full-blooded Campine.  I was hoping it was a pullet, but he is crowing.  So that makes four Campine roosters.  And Stewart.  And Pretty Boy, another of the accidental chicks.  Unfortunately, he is most definitely a rooster, and a huge one at that!  He has just started to crow.  It's funny, the Campine roosters crow at a lot earlier age.  But I had Pretty Boy figured for a boy long before he crowed.  He is huge, and he is the most aloof of the four chicks.  He won't let me pet him when he is running around the yard, only sits on my lap when the mood strikes him.  Last night he spent about two minutes there, then he was off.  He is a beautiful bird, definitely part Buckeye based on how his tale feathers are colored, and most certainly Buff Orpington (Stewart) from his dad.

Here are the four "accidental" chickens.  Tiny is to the right.
I am going to keep Tiny - after all, we have bonded and he looks like a full-blooded Campine.  Pretty Boy and Stewart have to go, and I think I will take them to the sale barn.  Then my only conundrum will be Goldie.  I may have to isolate her to see what color eggs she lays.  If she lays brown or tan eggs, I can keep her.  If she lays white eggs, I will offer her a home with a good friend who has a flock of chickens.  I know she will be taken care of and will be allowed to live several years on that farm.  If I knew her exact parentage, I would try breeding to get more like her.  Maybe I could develop a new breed.  She is certainly beautiful!

Goldie - she is a beauty!

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