Its November and I am the proud owner of 5 new chickens since early April, 3 of which I hatched myself. The term ‘pullet’ is a hen under a year old and ‘cockerel’ is a rooster or cock, under a year old.
I have to admit that having cockerels have really opened my eyes. They have fabulous personalities and look amazing. If you’re not too bothered about having eggs and are prepared to manage their crowing, you can learn another dimension to chicken keeping by having a boy in the flock! But before you go rushing off to buy one, don’t forget I have acquired these cockerels by luck of the draw – in an ideal world, all the chicks I hatched would be hens, but hey ho! I am still learning myself; at the moment, things are sweet and I put this down to the fact all the boys were raised together from young. This year’s chicks have integrated well with my adult hens (although the boys did get a pasting from Mabel!). I am conscious of the fact that I have 3 boys to 6 girls – the text books recommend 1 boy to 10 girls. This could be a problem in spring once the hens come back to lay and the boys get hormonal, but I’ll cross that bridge and keep you posted. For now all seems well.
Bunty is a Pekin hen who is just a ball of feathers, including her feet. She has not started laying yet unlike her sibling sister but she is very docile which is also typical of her breed. Pekins are often chosen for children’s pets and their feathered feet means they are less likely to scratch and trash your garden!
This handsome chap is Siegfried, a barred Wyandotte cockerel. His crow isn’t as tuneful as the other 2 boys – he sounds like an angry pirate at times! Wyandottes come in a variety of colours – the barred pattern on Siegfried look like fine stripes when close up.
Well, you would never believe they’re the same birds! Here’s Bunty on the left and Siegfried on the right!
Molly the Aracauna is probably my favourite hen. I know you shouldn’t have favourites, but a hen who flies up and perches on my shoulder is going to win me over! And she lays blue eggs! In previous posts, Molly is the first chick I hatched and needed a helping hand getting out of the shell.
Oscar has a lovely temperament, which again Silkies are known for. You can see his dark comb and wattles which is a Silkie feature. He hasn’t quite got the hang of chatting up the other hens yet, they just seem to run away from him!
Tarquin is probably my favourite boy although he is quite the alpha male. He has tried to assert his authority over me (the cheek!) but I responded by picking him up and carrying him around the garden in front of the others, so he knows his place now! I always remember someone’s response on a forum to an enquiry about an aggressive cockerel – “Give him a pastry overcoat!” Luckily for Tarquin I don’t eat meat.
That’s Tarquin at the back, Oscar in the middle and Molly at the bottom. All 5 youngsters are quite tame and unlike my other hens, they will allow you to touch them and they are easy to catch. It really makes a difference when you hatch your own and rear them yourself. Being able to catch them easily also makes it less embarrassing for me when running my chicken keeping courses (there is a section where you hold a chicken correctly). In the past there has been an element of Benny Hill when I try to corner a hen but these youngsters are going to come in handy!
If you are interested in keeping chickens my courses will be starting up again early spring. Just click on this link if you want to book a place https://www.omlet.co.uk/courses/host/68687