So Long, Ringo
It’s been a long time coming, but I finally decided to rehome one of our roosters – Ringo, our silver gray dorking. Now that the roosters are eleven months old they’re all grown up, and although they’ve been raised as brothers since they were little chicks and have gotten along well until now, there’s been an increase in rooster showdowns lately that has me more than a bit concerned. Our alpha rooster, Reuben, is getting challenged by all the other roosters. Reuben is definitely a lover, not a fighter, and he’s been running away with his tail between his legs at the first sign of a challenge. Ramon and Ringo have been doing more than chasing however, and I’ve seen some fairly serious looking sparring between the two of them. It starts with a face off and flaring of the hackle feathers around the neck and lately it’s frequently followed by the roosters jumping in the air with talons outstretched toward each other. Although there have not been any serious injuries, Ringo has suffered a few minor injuries. A few weeks ago I noticed his comb and wattles were a bit bloody and his formerly pristine white hackle feathers were stained brown with dried blood. Ringo treats the ladies well, and is one of the more gentlemanly roosters in our flock, so I was sad to see him at the losing end of a fight. With spring and peak mating season right around the corner, I think it’s likely the sparring will increase so I decided last week the time had come to reduce the number of roosters in our flock.
Deciding which rooster to rehome was a tough decision. I’d like to raise our own chicks one day, and of the breeds we have now I’d like to breed the easter egger first, and likely also the black australorp. That means that Ringo is the one to go. I posted a notice on the chicken group I belong to (PDXBackyardChix) that I was looking for a new home for Ringo, and I found someone willing to take him. It sounds like a great new home for him where he would be the only rooster with a flock of seven ladies of his own. Then in one of life’s little ironies, two days before Ringo was to be picked up by his new owner, I was horrified to see that Ringo was bleeding from the tip of his broken beak! I have no idea what happened, and I can only guess that he was either injured in a fight with one of the other roosters or flew into something and broke his beak. Chickens do break off the tip of their beaks on occassion, and they do grow back, the concern is whether the break is far enough back that it affects their ability to eat. Unfortunately Ringo was having trouble eating his usual feed so I fed him soft food for a couple days, and he seems to be eating fairly well after a couple days of healing. His new owner said that she would still take him, and she came today to pick him up. I’m hoping that he will have a speedy recovery at his new home where there are no other roosters to compete with. Although I’ll be sad to see him go, I hope he’ll be happy at his new home with his very own group of ladies. I will certainly miss him as he is a handsome boy indeed, and he was very striking looking in the farmyard with his black and white feathers and very large red comb and wattles. As much as I enjoy having Ringo in our flock, I’d feel awful if he were to be injured more seriously while living with us, so I know it’s the right decision to say goodbye to Ringo.