My roosters have been re-homed! I struggled finding them a good home. I also struggled saying goodbye. Even though I found them the best possible home, I was really sad to see them go. I never anticipated getting this attached to my chickens. For everyone who asked about the fate of my roosters (thank you for caring and indulging my silliness), here’s the story. Along with a million photos of me with my roos. It’s funny because, despite requests to share more, I rarely share photos of myself on the blog or social media. But before I said goodbye to my roos, I asked Hubby to take some photos of me with them because I am totally ridiculous and way too sentimental and now please enjoy way too many of them…
Who’s Who in the Zoo
As a refresher, out of my group of 12 chicks (two Silkies I impulse bought and the 10 Ameraucana chicks I ordered from a hatchery online), I ended up with: 1 Austrolorp Rooster (whoops!), 5 Ameraucana Roosters (darn), 3 Ameraucana hens (yay!), 1 chick that had to be culled (that was heartbreaking, and I believe it was a hen), and 2 Silkies who may or may not be hens. That breed can take awhile to develop characteristics. Although I do believe Pearl is a roo and Coal is a hen, I’ll have to confirm in a couple more months. Until one lays an egg or crows, I’m not 100% sure.
Why I Kept the Roos for So Long
It took awhile for me to figure out which chicks were hens and which were roos, but even once I knew who was a roo and who was a hen, I waited to re-home the roosters. I was hoping that maybe I was wrong and that some of the chicks I thought were roosters might not be. I’m new at this, it could have happened! Plus I liked the size of my flock and the roosters were lot of fun. My 11 chickens were such a welcome sight in the morning.
Any time I opened the door to the house, they would all run to the door of their pen, eager to greet me. If I didn’t stop by the coop, and continued to the garage or car, they’d follow me along the fence, imploring me to come inside for a visit. With a couple of exceptions (like my sorta bitey runt), they were more friendly and curious than the hens. I’d go into the run and sit, and they’d gather around me, picking paint off my paint clothes, hopping into my lap, and eating treats from my hands. Although Pewter was always the snuggliest, some of the other roos would let me cuddle and pet them too. One roo had an eye infection before I re-homed them and he was really hurting. Pewter alerted me to the problem with a distinctive, distressed crowing, and then I heard the injured rooster crying. He was still in the coop while the others were out and when I opened the door, he came to me like he knew I could help. When I snuggled him after administering treatment, he would finally stop crying and settle in for a nap. It was really sweet to have him snuggle like that, although I felt terrible that he was suffering. He’s the only rooster I didn’t get a photo with, because he was injured and I didn’t want to distress him any more.
Why it’s Difficult to Re-Home Roosters
Finding them a home was difficult because many people buy straight run chicks (that means you don’t know if they’re male or female), so there’s an abundance of roosters for sale or for free in the classifieds. Plus, you only need one rooster to protect a flock of a dozen or so hens, and you don’t need a rooster for eggs so many people keep only hens. They’re also not allowed many places because of the noise. So unless it’s a rare breed of chicken, there’s just a surplus of roosters looking for homes. I posted an ad on Kijiji offering my roosters for free, and received offers right away from people who wanted to eat them. When Hubby and I talked about getting chickens, eating them seemed like a totally rational and reasonable outcome at the time. I eat meat (I actually used to really love chicken). But after I spent weeks raising them and caring for them and nurturing them, sending them off to get eaten was too difficult. As you know, I’ve been leaning toward vegetarianism as a result of my chicken keeping experiences. These might look like chickens to you, but they feel like pets to me. Luckily, anyone who wanted them for the soup pot wasn’t willing to drive out this far.
Why We Didn’t Eat Them – Even Though I Considered it!
I eventually decided that if they were going to get eaten, we might as well do the eating. Actually, I planned to feed the roos to the puppers (probably cooked and seasoned because Szuka is Hungarian and won’t eat meat without a little seasoning). It eased the sadness to think about my rooster pets providing a healthy meal for my pupper pets. But I couldn’t bring myself to do the deed (the head lopping off) and there isn’t a poultry processing plant anywhere nearby. I posted another ad, hoping I could pay someone to process my roosters. No takers! Lots of criticism though, from people who scoffed at the idea of one not butchering one’s own chickens. Clearly I am not as ready for the zombie apocalypse as I think I am. Eventually some friends of friends offered to help with killing my roosters but I dawdled. Instead, I looked for inexpensive rural properties where I could keep all of my roosters and have room to start breeding chickens and selling eggs – and get the goats I wanted too, haha.
Where the Roosters Found a Home
Finally, a guy named John reached out and said he could take all five roos to live on his farm. I asked him if he was going to eat them, and even told him I was okay with that. He said no, he was planning to breed them. He was already breeding Ameraucanas, but I think he had some Easter Eggers in there (they’re often sold as Ameraucanas here, even though they’re more like a mutt) so he wanted to clean up the bloodlines. He said he had been specifically looking for black – and that’s not surprising, look at the gorgeous feathers!
We couldn’t arrange a time for him to get them though, because I was doing training for the fire department (Fire Con!) and he was traveling. A week passed and he messaged to say that he was still interested. I gave him my phone number and he called – from the hospital! He had been in a serious, life threatening accident and was recovering. I told him not to worry, I could hang on to the roosters until he was well, but he insisted and said his wife could arrange with me to get them. He said, “she knows how important they are to us”. Whether they planned to truly breed or eat them, he sounded so desperate that I felt good about giving them to John. Whatever he really needed them for, I helped a family out and that made me feel good. Still sad, but more content with my decision, I packed up my roosters and delivered them to town. I cried on the way there. I know it’s silly. There are bigger problems in the world. Frankly, there are bigger problems in my own life. But still, I was sad. I explained to John’s wife that although I knew they were for breeding, I had included the little runt too – because I didn’t know what to do with him. She said, “no problem, he will be fun to keep around”. They weren’t even going to eat the runt! I asked them to keep my info so I could buy chicks from my roos next spring. The both agreed to contact me and I really hope they do. It would make me so happy to get the offspring from my five sweet roosters.
I’m so proud of my runt (up there on my shoulder)! He’s smaller, crankier, and a little rough looking, but many runts like him die. I cared for him so well that he lived! I’m new at this, and knew there would be losses, but I’m proud of the fact that I raised my chicks into lovely chickens.
The Unhappy Aftermath of the De-Roostering…
You might be wondering how the other chickens reacted? I tried to be gentle with packing them up for transport, but the remaining chickens were REALLY upset that five members of the flock were abducted. Pewter tried to stop me from taking them, once he realized they were being put into a box. In the immediate aftermath, Pewter was incredibly distressed and wouldn’t let me touch him. He sort of used his wings as arms to push me away. He also cried, for lack of a better word, and ran around looking for them that night. He kept checking the barn. When they went to sleep, I checked on them and he was whimpering and pacing in the coop. He was so good at corralling and protecting everyone, I think he felt like he had failed. The next few days were really subdued. Nobody greeted me and none of the chicks would eat from my hand or let me touch them. Slowly, they’re relaxing a bit but Pewter is still distant and the hens are also still a bit skittish.
He used to hop up on my shoulder – actually, he kicked another rooster off to get the coveted spot in the photos above. But now he won’t. Nobody greets me at the door anymore. I miss the roosters and their plucky greeting! The flock seems more skittish without them.
Why The Roosters Had to Go
But the roosters had started to crow and one rooster is loud enough – five is a nightmare. I already worry a neighbor will get fed up with Pewter, who I am far too attached to at this point to re-home.
As well, some of the roosters had started to rival Pewter’s size and although he grew big much faster, and is still large and impressive, he was getting bullied. The biggest Ameraucana rooster often wouldn’t let Pewter have treats. Eventually, that many roosters would have started to fight and possibly kill or maim each other. They had to go. The priority was the safety of my beautiful, turquoise-egg laying hens after all…
I hope they’re happy. I hope they are roaming free on a farm, with more space and land and beautiful hens than I could ever give them.
Because we ended up with fewer hens that we hoped, we order four pullets (hatched in June, but a bit smaller/younger than our chicks) and they arrived by plane. I’ll share that story another day. They’re currently in quarantine for four weeks, in a mini coop and run we made, to make sure they aren’t sick. I’d be heartbroken if we somehow infected our existing flock, which now consists of three gorgeous Ameraucana hens, one Austrolorp rooster who needs his own children’s book, and two floofy Silkies. So far chicken keeping has been an emotional roller coaster but despite the heartbreaking moments, it’s been surprisingly rewarding and even relaxing at times. I have really taken to it, even though I can’t yet butcher my own chicken.
I joked with my Mom that I look like such a natural, this photo should be on the cover of Backyard Chicken Keepers Monthly Magazine and, bless her heart, she encouragingly told me I should send it to them.
I told her I was joking, that it doesn’t exist, and that’s not really how magazine covers are chosen anyway, lol. Besides, that fictional publication would surely want the one below instead – clearly I have a calling for chicken modeling, yes? This one was too funny not to share (I’m so serious and moody) – let’s hope Coal isn’t a rooster! He’s a good modeling buddy…