Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Chicken Diaries - Week 19

I had my first aggressive interaction from Spot on Monday.

I had cleaned the coop in the morning, but I had come out again to do some general gardening and play with the chickens, and I was also talking on the phone to my mother. Mary was hiding up in the coop again, so I went to go check on her and I noticed a huge chicken poop so I went to go get something to clean it up.

Something bumped into my leg. It was Spot. I thought he was walking backwards again. But no! He had his hackles raised, and he leapt at my leg, with his claws outstretched, kicking me and squawking! He did it not once, but four times! And it was uncomfortable, not painful but rather uncomfortable that I admonished him for it. He stopped and then went back to his normal self, but that was surprising.

I was upset that he was so aggressive which only strengthened my resolve to dispose of him, but when I read up on the internet, I started to feel a bit guilty.

Roosters can be teenagers too, with raging hormones. They can have periods of aggression intermittently as they try to get used to their hormone urges, and as they mature, these urges settle and they may or may not become more docile. Also, with these raging hormones, they are trying to mate with all the females as well - some of whom are not quite mature enough yet to be impregnated so they go running. Sounds a lot like what Mary's doing doesn't it! Sussex chickens are slow to mature, and Mary is younger than Spot, so has been clearly trying to avoid Spot's amorous attentions. I have seen him strutting around the other two and demonstrating himself, so he's definitely playing up to the ladies.

And now I'm slaughtering him for it?

I don't know if I want fertilised eggs. Eating fertilised eggs seems wrong! And when he attacked me, surely he would do that to other attackers too, like cats and birds of prey? But, he is noisy, and it's only a matter of time before the neighbours kick up a fuss.

Bubbles only put on 27g this week (compared with 66g last week). At 1213g, maybe she is slowing down in terms of weight gain, meaning she might be a bantam!
Cacciatore put on 26g this week (compared with 28g last week) and is now 1039g. Still putting on a little bit of weight! Definitely a bantam!
Look at Mary, now weighing 1635g. She put on 76g this week (compared to 114g last week)
Spot is hard to keep still. Here he is running away! But the stable weight was 1805g, which means he put on 78g this week, which is about half of what he put on last week (141g last week)
So on Tuesday I went to Misty Gums Poultry to go get another chook, as a replacement for my rooster who will soon be soup. Paul said he had some Speckled Sussexes that might be the right age, as well as some White Wyandottes.

I was pretty keen for a Speckled Sussex, so Paul gave me one of his girls, who still looked quite young, but a decent size. As I turned to take my treasured pullet away, he asked me if I couldn't be tempted to take a second one? I shook my head with a smile, and he sweetened it with the offer of a discount, a large discount. I hesitated. What was wrong with her that he was selling her so cheap? He took me to show me - it turned out this little White Wyandotte had deformed feet, but was otherwise perfectly healthy. Reluctantly, I shook my head, but when he knocked the price down to $15... I decided I'd take her. So I ended up with TWO chickens!

I have them separated so they won't be killed as they establish a pecking order. I read that you should keep them separated but be able to see each other and then gradually introduce them. Also, I should keep them separated in case of parasites or diseases. I hope to integrate them on the weekend!

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