Today is another beautiful day in North Wales. The sun is shining and although there is a little chill in the morning air, you can feel the heat from the sun’s rays already. The cats are all off hunting or sunbathing on the lawn, and the chickens enjoying the dry earth for a good dustbathing session.
Sometimes you just have to sit back and realise how lucky you actually are, and today is one of those days for me. A few friends have had awful health news recently and I am truly grateful for my family and our health. We’ve experienced some awful losses in the past, especially our beautiful son Logan who we miss each and every day, but life is good. We are happy and healthy. For those having a rough time at the moment I hope things get better and the days not so hard on you soon.
Whilst having my coffee, listening to loud music (little one is with his child minder today) and enjoying the gorgeous view, the chickens decided to join me to help me write this blog. They are still in full lay despite heading towards the middle of October. The only flock member to go through a moult is the cockerel, Bob! I fear he is also a little confused as he regularly can be found sitting on the eggs after they have been laid in the morning.
Cockerels and Hatching
It can be the case that when you have a broody hen in the flock who is sitting on eggs the cockerel steps in with warming duties when she hops off for food and to poop. Obviously not all cockerels will do this, but you will find some, like Bob, who want to help in the hatching duties. It is just a shame it is too late in the year to hatch and neither girls has any interest in helping him to sit!
I’m hoping next Spring one of the girls choose to brood as we could do with a couple of additions to the flock. We will raise any cockerels that are hatched for the table, it really is worth planning what to do with unwanted cockerels before hatching. Rehoming is very hard and raising for the table proves too difficult for many.
On a few poultry groups recently I have seen an awful example of poultry keeping. Poultry keepers who have not forward planned their cockerels dumping them on local farmer’s fields or in woodland leaving them to fend for themselves. One lady actively advocated using this method to dispose of her cockerels whilst prolifically breeding for sale the hens.
This is wrong on so many levels. Firstly there is the biosecurity risk. DEFRA would take issue with it, as would any other local keepers – especially the one whose land has been used for the dumping. Then there is the fact chickens are flock animals and abandoning a loan cockerel is cruel as they have no flock security. Finally they are at risk of hunger, thirst, and predators. Ultimately instead of provided a clean and quick end to their life those doing this are either leaving the task to others or subjecting the cockerel to a cruel and inhumane death.
Please, please, please, think before you hatch! If you can’t keep any boys you can’t rehome, or aren’t willing to cull yourself, buy instead at point of lay or sexed from a local breeder who looks after their flock well and can answer you on how unwanted cockerels are dealt with.
For those who are hatching and want to raise the boys for the table I highly recommend attending a course on how to cull, pluck, and gut your own birds. It is a worthwhile skill and will make you a more confident poultry keeper. We currently have an excellent book called Meat Chicken Keeper by Alison Wilson, the first course I went on to learn how to cull was held by Alison and she is an expert in this area. The book is an excellent starting point and priced at £6.99 over in our bookshop.