Two decades ago, I thought I’d be a lawyer at this age. One decade ago, I was certain I’d be a University professor at this age. Nope. I’m a self-employed weirdo who somehow got involved in an underground rooster trade, lol.
I started keeping chickens a few years ago and, as a result, became a vegetarian. Because I don’t like the idea of chickens being killed, I’ve been very committed to successfully re-homing my roosters. But it’s a struggle, because there is always a rooster surplus and not many people want one for anything other than eating. You only need one rooster per dozen hens, although many backyard chicken keepers prefer no roosters at all.
When Mama Hen hatched chicks last summer, there were 3 roosters and 4 hens (but one rooster died). I contemplated keeping the beautiful new Ameraucana rooster so I could breed him with my Ameraucana hens. But he was too bossy!
He actually drove my hens out of the coop! Every night I’d find them roosting out in the run, in the piercing cold. I would have to move them inside, one by one. So I decided to keep Pewter, who is actually a pretty perfect rooster.
Traumatized from the time we re-homed him with friends, he rarely mates with the ladies anymore. I feel very sad for him, but frankly it is fabulous that he doesn’t mate, because mating can often pluck their back feathers, leaving their little wrinkled backs exposed in the winter. Plus they HATE it and scream bloody murder. Luckily Pewter still does his other, more important, roosterly duties: corralling them into the coop at night (before the Ameraucana got involved), doling out snacks, and protecting them from predators. I feel better when the hens are grazing in their outdoor area if he’s on watch. Before the other roosters matured, Pewter ushered the girls in at night and if anyone stayed outside of the coop when the automatic door closed, he stayed with them – no matter the weather!
I listed the Ameraucana (and his flock mate, a Maran) in the classifieds (Kijiji), but had NO takers! In the past, I have been very lucky re-homing my roos (except for Copper, who I accidentally sold to a soup pot). We asked everyone we knew, had family put up Facebook posts – we worked SO hard to re-home the roosters.
The Ameraucana rooster was very striking and I finally had some interest from a fellow near Toronto, let’s call him Tom, who wanted me to ship the rooster. At first I said no, but he BEGGED me to find a way to get the rooster to him. I told him it’s expensive – the only chickens I had shipped to me were sent via a plane (you can send chicks and eggs through the mail, but not full grown chickens). He begged me to find a cheaper way. I really didn’t want to do it, because I just knew things would go wrong. But in the end he was just so passionate about getting this rooster, and I happened to know an interesting courier (let’s call him Bill).
I had sold a set of chairs to a woman in Toronto, and she had hired Bill to pick them up. Bill is a character: he’s very kind, but a little chaotic. When he picked up the chairs, he went to the bathroom in the yard and then told me his life story. But he has such a big heart: he told me the story of transporting puppies whose owner had given them new food right before the trip. Of course they pooped themselves and he had to stop to bathe them all in a hotel bathroom. When the woman who bought the chairs couldn’t process her e-transfer to me, he paid me the cash for the chairs and offered to square up with her later.
When I met him, he was driving a mini van – so keep that in mind for what follows. I asked him if he’d transport a rooster and he originally quoted me $200-300. I was relieved because I thought I had wriggled out of this, because Tom had guessed $20. I told Bill the rooster wasn’t worth $200, but thanks so much. He immediately lowered his price to $50, which thrilled Tom.
I was happy to find a home for the rooster, but also really worried about this plan.
Tom, meanwhile, was very excited and even offered to send me back some hatching eggs from his rare breed chickens, but I explained that I don’t have an incubator – I can only hatch eggs when one of my hens goes broody.
Finally, the week of shipping the rooster arrives! Bill asks me if I’ll be shipping the rooster in an animal crate. I explain that, no, I’ll use a cardboard box with air holes, for two reasons: one, it’s cleaner and will keep the straw/poop contained and, two, if it’s dark the rooster likely won’t crow during transport. In my experience transporting roosters in my truck cab, they’re pretty silent in a cardboard box.
The day before shipment, I get a message from Bill, asking me what size box the rooster will be shipped in. I say, roughly a 24″ cube? The following message ensues:
In between fits of giggles, I find a smaller box for the rooster.
The day arrives to ship the rooster – Tom still hasn’t sent me $50 for shipping.
We meet the courier at the location of a home where he’s picking up something else. Hubby and I end up waiting 2 hours in the bitter cold for him. I’m talking -35°C (-31°F) and, although I’ve had it repaired three times, the truck heater is still barely functioning so I’m feeling pretty confident I may not make it out of this rooster drop off without frostbite.
What eventually pulls up is a moving truck and trailer – not a mini van. I had pictured the boxed rooster going in the very back of a mini van. I start to worry, where is the rooster going to go? In the unheated trailer? I mean, I guess that’s as warm as the chicken run, so it should be fine…?
But is there air in there?
Bill pulls up the moving truck and motions for me to open the passenger door. It’s chaos inside the cab – just stuff everywhere, including dog poop because there’s a loose puppy in the cab that he’s snuggling while he drives. The puppy climbs over to me as I’m loading in the rooster and almost escapes by crawling into my giant winter scarf. Bill motions for me to put the rooster right beside him in the cab (now I know why box size was an issue). I ask him why not put it farther away at least, maybe on the seat next to him? He says he’s picking someone up in the city – and they’re going to drive 1500 km (almost 1000 miles) with a ROOSTER BETWEEN THEM and a loose puppy in the cab.
I tip Bill an extra $20 because that plan is wild.
He tells me he will arrive in Toronto the next night. I convey that info to Tom and give each the other’s number. I also remind Tom to please pay me. I go to sleep, confident that my role in this rooster shipment is complete.
The next morning I am awoken by the telephone ringing. It’s Bill. I can barely hear his panicked voice over the rooster crowing angrily, inches from his face. Bill drove straight through and will be passing through Toronto at noon – not the evening, as planned. The rooster was silent the entire journey, but had started to crow at 6:00 am and wouldn’t stop. He begs me for help.
I don’t know how to help him.
Tom’s phone isn’t working, so Bill can’t arrange delivery.
I call Tom and get the “number you are trying to call is unavailable“. I text him. I message him through Kijiji. I field endless texts and calls from Bill. I wonder, was this some sort of long con? To what end?
Meanwhile, Hubby and I happen to have a meeting with our financial advisor. The whole drive into the city, I’m trying to think of rooster contingency plans and worrying about what will happen if we never find Tom.
Did I just pay $70 for this rooster to end up in a soup pot anyway?
Hours pass and, finally, Tom calls me back – I tell him to call Bill immediately.
In the meeting with our financial advisor, my phone keeps pinging and I have to explain that, “apologies, I have a rooster deal going down in Toronto right now.”
Bill texts me to say the rooster hand off was successful.
Tom calls me, elated! He doesn’t just like my rooster, he LOVES him. He also loves Bill, who had two loose puppies in the truck cab by that point. Tom learns that Bill makes a cross Canada trip once a month, picking up and dropping off things for customers. Tom has found other chickens he loves, much, much farther away than I am. He’s thrilled to have a means of transporting these chickens.
I’m relieved that, after weeks of communication, I have finally re-homed my beautiful rooster. I feel an immense satisfaction every time I can safely re-home my roosters some place they can live out their lives.
Even though I was never reimbursed for the $50.
Before I could take down the ad, I received another enquiry:
He really is a handsome rooster.
P.S. You can find all of my chicken stories, practical advice for backyard chicken keepers, adorable chick photos, and chicken/egg themed crafts right here.