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Cockerels Getting Cocky September 15, 2006

Posted by Laura in Farm.

The chicks from the spring are almost grown up now. The pullets should begin laying their first eggs by the end of October (be assured you’ll see pictures of those special dark eggs when they start coming in!). The cockerels have been trying out their crows for several weeks already.

The cockerels are pretty funny to hear while they are learning. Even I can do a better crow than they can for the first month or so! Kind of an “Urk-a-urk-a-cough” where they scratch out at the end and are promptly shown how a real rooster does it by one of their elders.

No one can outdo Percy, though. He is the “top dog,” so to speak. He is a Jersey Giant cross, so he is the largest, but he is the oldest also. Percy is about 4 years old now, which is a ripe old age for a chicken. He even has a gray tail feather.


(This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad I took it when I did because Percy is a sight now- he’s molting again. Gone are the nice sickle tail feathers and the impressive ruff around the neck. At present, he is nearly bald around the throat and looks less than regal now. I haven’t heard any of the young whippersnappers be bold enough to make fun of him, though- they aren’t that dumb).

As the nestmates mature, they need to work out a hierarchy. They all know they are subject to Percy’s reign, but every other place is negotiable. This will go on for some time as they continue to fill out and get bolder, and especially as they try out their charms on the womenfolk.

There is LOTS of extra crowing now. There is much puffing out of chests and facing off, too. This amuses me.


Two cockerels get several inches apart and stare at each other for about 30 seconds- a version of “you blinked first” that kids like to play. They flip up their neck feathers in an attempt to look larger than they really are. Then one takes a leap at the other, spurs first. (Roosters have a “spur” on each heel. They are kind of like claws and they use them as weapons).

If you jump straight forward, stick your feet out in front of you and miss your opponent, you look pretty silly when you land on your rear. That is what happens most of the time. It takes a moment to gather up your dignity after that, but they do try to persevere. This will go on until one backs down or the face-off is interrupted (say, by a laughing human). Then they will nonchalantly pretend they were just foraging and wander in opposite directions, to pick up the challenge again another day.

(Here Prince Buttercup- remember the one that has the crown-shaped comb?- is taking on one of the slightly larger White Faced Black Spanish cockerels, collectively known as the Goofball Brothers).

As an aside, the poults are still doing well. It appears that we DO have a “couple” of turkeys. Here, George is in the foreground with Martha behind him.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that these heritage turkey breeds “sing” more like a bird than a chicken. They have a sweet trill that they use to converse with each other. I enjoy hearing them.

That little nubbin on George’s forehead will be his “snood”- that thing that dangles down past the beak on the toms. You can see the red coloring coming in on his wattle, too (the loose throat skin). Martha thinks he is The Man! Of course, he is the ONLY male turkey she’s ever met, too, but let’s not burst George’s bubble.




1. Grams - October 2, 2006

You can tell him I said so … might cheer him up while he’s molting.

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