|Dealing with awkward moments in the garden,|
by suddenly discovering
your feathers need urgent attention.
Ever since we discovered Reggie was a cockerel, I'll admit I was a quietly disappointed. He was a wonderfully friendly chick. A fluffy, yellow bundle of extreme cuteness. I had hoped he would be a hen but we had chicks and so it was a case of crossing our fingers. That didn't quite work out...so I tried not to be too down about it. He was happy, healthy and friendly and his first attempts at crowing were rather amusing, I was sure he would fit in...
I had owned a cockerel before, as a child. We had no hens, so he lacked the urge to protect, defend and reproduce. He was my pet, he was an excellent pet.
As Reggie grew up, his cockerel tendencies started to develop. His crowing became more accomplished, though he isn't loud at all given his small stature. His general pecking, whilst not malicious, is considerably harder than the girls and can actually hurt quite a lot - especially if you are eight. He rules the hens with a firm but fair will; although even this irks me slightly. When he is not there (being cuddled by children) the girls seem happier to wander as they please and not be frog-marched into the lavender at the first sign of a falling leaf. A search on the net suggested that I do not have enough hens for one cockerel. I believe a polite term is that they would be 'over worked'. Eight was recommended as the lowest number and I have two.
On the flip-side he is friendly, has a wonderful character, loves a cuddle and does his job of keeping the ladies safe should an eagle (unlikely), or threatening leaf (more likely) appear overhead.
I pondered these pros and cons for some time and discussed them with my husband. Eventually we felt it would be best to find him a home with less neighbours and more hens!
Once the decision had been made, I then realised the sizeable task I had just taken on. It seems the internet is full of cockerels looking for new homes. 'Buy two hens, get a free cockerel' is a common advert. 'Please take my cockerel away' suggests they have been at it for some time. Hens are popular, for obvious reasons. Cockerels are not, for equally obvious reasons.
A common method of dispatch with cockerels is to cull. Not an avenue that I would ever venture down but a seemingly common occurance. Some of my 'Look after your pet chicken' books show methods of culling. Not something I've ever seen in books about guinea pigs, hamsters or budgerigars.
This book for example, bought from 'Pets At Home', at first glance looks a most pleasant & informative read on keeping pet chickens.
Until page 198...
I certainly don't recall a recipe for grilled gerbil when buying countless books for my daughter's new pets. Such it seems is a chicken's lowly social status in the beloved pet world and connection to the food industry is always apparent, or maybe I'm just over sensitive.
Anyway, I digress.
So far I have placed adverts, phoned breeders, replied to wanted adverts that look like they could possibly squeeze an extra cockerel in, all to no avail. I do have a back up plan. There's a rather kindly gentleman that uses his farm as a re-homing centre for a variety of poultry. A most kind and generous use of his farm and a wholly worthwhile venture.
I will, of course, let you know when Reg finds his new home. Just don't go holding your breath.