Three things are stately in their tread;
four are stately in their stride:
the lion, which is mightiest among beasts
and does not turn back before any;
the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king whose army is with him.
In our first batch of chickens, we had 4 roosters. Our poor hens soon became frazzled with so much attention, so when butchering time came for the meat chickens, 3 roosters got cut (literally). Only Rooster Dude remained, king of the hens, and quite handsome, indeed.
Rooster Dude was nice, as roosters go. We made a point of befriending him when he was a chick, as we had heard stories of mean roosters. My parents had such a one on their farm. Stalking them until their backs were turned, the wicked bird would fly at them with his spurs. He was drop kicked, whacked with sticks, and drenched with a squirt gun, but he never gave up. Eventually, they had him for dinner.
We didn’t want that type of rooster, and thankfully, Rooster Dude was a benign ruler of the roost, at least until Ninja Chicken came along. Ninja Chicken (NC) is an exotic chicken we got for free when we ordered 50 meat chickens. I’ll never forget opening that box of chicks and seeing one black ball of fluff amidst a sea of yellow. He was of the Tophat breed, sporting a darling little afro, which would later turn into elegant plumage. As a youngster, he was dark, long, lean, and quick, especially compared to his stocky, white meat-bird companions. When they all went to live in the Great Chicken Coop in the Sky, NC was moved into the egg-layers coop.
It was a hard transition—a rooster is supposed to be at the top of the pecking order, but he found himself as the youngest bird, in new territory, smack at the bottom of the totem pole. No chance with the ladies! And if he ever did merit a second glance, Rooster Dude would come running to chase him away. Poor Ninja Chicken!
Over time, NC has worked his worked his way up to Second in Command and does a fine job with his roosterly duties. But besides crowing and fertilizing eggs, which most everyone knows about, did you know roosters do other things as well?
First of all, they protect the flock. Whenever I look out our back window to the chicken yard, there is Ninja chicken, out with a group of hens. With beaks down and pointed tails up, the hens are busy scavenging. Not the rooster! He stands tall and straight, with head continually jerking this way and that, watching for danger. He keeps his ladies close at hand as they peck away, and if they stray too far, he gently calls them back. If he spies a hawk, he cries danger and sends the hens running for safety. Friends of ours had free-range chickens and their rooster took on a fox to save his girls. He was so badly injured, they had to finish him off, but he gave his life to protect his flock.
Secondly, roosters provide for their flock. When we bring treats of vegetable scraps out to the barn, the hens swarm around us, anxious to dive at every tossed morsel. Not so the roosters. They stand back and let the ladies eat first. In fact, we have witnessed the rooster finding a tasty insect and instead of snatching it up, he will make a particular clucking sound that draws a nearby hen to the bug. If she still doesn’t see it, he points it out with his beak. Quite the gentleman!
So if you come to visit our little farm, now you will not only recognize our two roosters, but you will know how important they are, as well.