The Boys Cause Problems

April 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

We had originally planned to bop all four boys. Too much trouble. But then, as Ivan grew (and grew … and grew …) we started to think that maybe, just maybe, he might be good to keep. After all, having a rooster is supposed to reduce the bickering between hens. And with Neroli and Lily bullying poor Bessie whenever they get the chance (toads that they are), that was a very appealing prospect.

So we started giving the Horde supervised interaction with the main flock. We knew there would be fights between the hens and the pullets to sort out their pecking order. And there were, but really quite minor ones. Poppy wasn’t taking any rubbish from any of them (I’m pretty sure I heard her say the chicken equivalent of “I brought you in to this world, and I can take you out of it”). Not even Ivan, who weighed more than she did. A couple of good pecks, and he was off with his tail in a very submissive position (not easy for a rooster). Boissey (being Boissey) tried a couple more times, but Poppy established the Horde’s submission to her satisfaction.

We wondered what would happen with Claire and the boys – would they see her as another rooster, or as a hen? Would they try to fight her, or bonk her?

As it happened, they all took one look at her wattles and decided that they had business on the far side of the run. Sorted!

Interestingly, Lily has also managed to cow the Horde. She’s had a couple of scraps with Holly (mainly the chicken equivalent of handbagging) and one with Ivan, but that’s pretty much it. Neroli is not so bolshie, and tends to withdraw into the backgound. Or run away. (I’d have a lot more sympathy for her if she didn’t persecute Bessie so much!)

Initially Bessie was also able to assert herself. But then one day Ivan managed to get the jump on her, and she dropped into the submissive crouch (triggered by pressure in the right place on her back in this case, rather than an actual desire to submit). Poor Boo. Big mistake. Because once Ivan had discovered the joy of sex, it was all on. Whenever he saw her, he jumped her. (Or tried to – lets just say her fluff got a little … um, mucky.) (Sorry.) We felt sorry for her, but she wasn’t being hurt, and had almost certainly been through such things as a young hen before she came to us.

Trouble was, Boissey and Kim started to notice … and try to join in. Not nice. So I tried to stay nearby, to assist Boo if needed. (The least I could do.)

The boys try it on with Ella too. It’s mad, because she is still bigger than any of them. But Ivan and Boissey (especially Boissey, for some reason) only have to come near her for Ella to let out a wail and start running. (And they chase … heaven help her if they ever work out how to act as a team.) It’s wrong of me, I know, but I can’t help laughing at the sight of it. Poor Ella.

But then one day, for whatever reason, Ivan got really aggressively rough with Bessie. There’s nothing romantic about a rooster’s mating at the best of times, but he really grabbed her, first by the scruff of her neck (vaguely usual) and then by her comb. I heard her shriek and came running. She wasn’t badly hurt, but after this she would run at a mad panic any time she saw him. Which, naturally, prompted him to chase. And Boissey. And Kim. (Olly doesn’t seem to be interested in that sort of thing.) We’ve tried a couple of times to see if things would be ok if we just made sure it was only Ivan, but Bessie is too scared and he is just being too damn rough. There are going to be some serious injuries at this rate, and Bessie deserves better. Chocolate and flowers is unlikely (or whatever the chicken equivalent is), but not being attacked as well as ravished would be nice. He’s a lovely boy in every other way, but I’m not going to tolerate a rooster who beats up the hens.

So that’s that. We revert to Plan A: all four boys will get the chop. The countdown has begun.

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