Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Pecking order

Listening to: Yeats's Grave (The Cranberries)
Weather: warm, spring sunshine
One: day to go before the sows arrive

Adam the cockerel is outside the front door, crowing his head off*. He's pretty pleased with himself and, with hens clucking attentively around him, maybe he has every right to be.

Prince Charming certainly loves the attention and his arrival has changed the way the hens treat each other too. They have divided into three camps, which takes some doing for four hens.

The two snuggled up to Adam in the picture are on top of the pile, one because she's young, pretty and is the only hen currently laying, the other because she's big and - as it turns out - an obnoxious bully.

She picks on one of the smaller, younger hens who - after a brief and previously unreported encounter with Spike - is in the process of regrowing her tail feathers. She chases her away from food and water and pecks at her when she gets too close to Adam. I might tolerate that kind of behaviour if she was providing eggs, but she's not, so she's going in the pot.

The other older hen is heading for a long and happy retirement. She's my favourite by far. She has a streak of independence and is deeply unimpressed by Adam, fighting off his attempts to rape her yesterday. She likes to be left to her own devices, pecking about, minding her own business. Eggs or no eggs, she stays.

* What he doesn't know is that Spike is the other side of the door, a quivering mass of nervous energy. We'll be going in and out through the barn today, I think.


Betty said...

"She's going in the pot". A pity that school/work bullies can't be sorted out in that way!

KAZ said...

So the older hen is obviously 'going to pot' but not going to the pot like the bully.

fiwa said...

Funny how the arrival of Adam changed their dynamic. Weren't they laying eggs better before he came?

ziggi said...

despite dogs a plenty and carnivorous wildlife, all the chickens we saw when on hol were free range. I asked a local farmer if he lost any to predators and he said the odd one but many more are lost when they're contained because then dogs/foxes/lions etc could get in but the chickens can't escape. Left to their own devices chickens are (apparently) remarkable at keeping out of harm's way. I'm thinking of trying this . . .

ziggi said...

and also (apparently) cockerels are very brave and vicious and can beat up most dogs!

fathorse said...

Crowing his head off? Not literally, I hope - that would be disgusting.

Can I have some roast bully? If you whack it in a jiffy bag I'm sure it'll make it to Manchester...

dinahmow said...

Just in case no one told you...NEVER have two roosters. One is OK, 3 or more Ok but two and you have cock-fighting, which is, I believe, illegal in Britain.It's also ugly to deal with.
And yes, they are fierce defenders, but, having lost a few to dogs,I can't entirely agree with Ziggi.

dinahmow said...

I sound like that bossy old hen!

Ginni Dee said...

Chickens will go up in trees if left to their own devices. We lost a lot when they were contained in a (we thought) safe coop.

As far as the with her head!! She will harass your other chickens into NOT laying eggs!

Sounds like Adam is doing his natural-born thing!

ziggi said...

Dinah - I was quoting a very lovely gent from Barbados! - I don't know this as fact but I was thinking that I might try a few free range chucks - do you think that foxes and dogs would get the better of them then? I have trees but also foxes aplenty.
(excuse me Malc just having an aside conversation here, what do you think??)

Dave said...

I would like to have chickens. I don't have foxes, but I do have rats.

I, still, ♥ the views said...

I've totally lost track. . .

who (or what) is Spike?


Malc said...


Great idea. Tell bullies: "lay an egg or I'll break your neck". Can think of several people that's too good for.


S-pot on.


Yep. We were getting three or four eggs before he came. I think it's a reaction to change.


We have two dogs, but no lions or even foxes.

When Spike last struck, Adam was later found hiding in the rafters of the pig shed. Big Jessie.


Not sure the Post Office would appreciate a jiffy bag dripping in grease coming through the system. And this particular individual will probably be only fit for a slow casserole.


Yep, quite rightly, cock-fighting is illegal, along with bear-baiting, badger-baiting, dog-fighting and squirrel-teasing. (I made one of those up).

Bossy old hen? You haven't met my first wife - you're just a beginner.


She's for the chop as soon as I can pluck up the courage.


Some good quality fencing, at least 4ft high and dug about 18 inches will help keep casualties down. Buy Himself a very big gun, some camouflage gear and night telescope to keep the foxes in control.


We have no rats here - hard as it may be to believe.


Spike is (along with Reg and Mr W) my best buddy in the whole wide world. He's a Jack Russell. Totally untrainable, a complete liability, but with that charm all rogues have.

FirstNations said...

am watching the progress of the livestock with pathetic interest. do go on.

nikkipolani said...

It'll be interesting to see how things settle after a few more weeks. Adam seems pretty contented whatever happens :-)

dinahmow said... contuniue the semi=private chat with's a bit cheeky to use Malc's blog, so come over to my place for some chook stories. Maybe Monday as I have a busy weekend.(That would be Sunday to people NOT in the sane time zone!)
No rats? Lucky blighter!

ziggi said...

No rats, and a jack russell? No wonder the poor chaps demented.
I'm just going for tea with Dinah before starting on the chocolate pots! (cheers!) Only one little problemo, I borrowed some very posh little ramekin dishes from my mate at work and they are still sitting on my desk the otherside of the plain! d'you think they'd be ok in wine glasses it's the only thing I have that's small pot sized!?

Malc said...


I will soon. Busy week.


He's a happy boy - smug, even.


Should we bring something. Wine? Cake? Pork scratchings?


Left a message at your place, but wine glasses are fine, as are coffee cups.
When you stir in the egg yolk, make sure you stir quite quickly, otherwise the egg will scramble.

mig bardsley said...

Bullies being made to lay eggs! I like it :)
As for the big, bad bully, I hope she makes a good dinner!