We’re looking for the full, complete package in Mr. Right. We’re picky, but we deserve no less. He must be handsome, willing to protect his ladies from trouble and be selflessly devoted to them. He can be proud, but not a bully, and he must never pick a fight with humans. He must grace the farm with old-fashioned charm. Does such a guy exist? Should we just give up on our search now? We will not compromise. We’d rather be lacking a rooster than merely tolerating Mr. Wrong.
When our first batch of chicks arrived from the hatchery, we had six cockerels. Over the past 20 weeks, all but one has been eliminated. One was terrorizing the hens, another was bullying our baby chicks, a third was crowing non-stop beginning at 4am, and yet another was destroyed during a mink raid. These Mr. Wrongs, with the exception of the mink victim, have all taken a one-way trip to the kill cones, and our farm has been more peaceful as a result. This left us with two promising candidates for Mr. Right. Of these two, we thought the Speckled Sussex was going to work famously. We were so in love. He seemed to satisfy the qualities of the complete package. He defended the hens against attacks from other roosters, sometimes stepping in front of them mid-pursuit or chasing them far away from his harem, he calls over to his hens when he finds a tasty morsel, giving the treat to them rather than consuming it himself. He is handsome and we felt he would improve our flock with his genetics, hopefully producing meaty cockerels and above average layers.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The Speckled rooster has begun chasing the kids, jumping up on them and even stalking me when my back is turned. As much as we wish it could be otherwise, the Speckled rooster will, too, be taking a trip to the kill cones. Although he is just trying to protect his hens, we simply won’t tolerate aggression on our farm from any species.
We have whittled the competition down to just one. The Dominique rooster, who has now been awarded a name (Roy), is also handsome and we have never witnessed him bothering the hens. He seems to leave the new chicks alone for the most part and has never challenged nor given a sideways glance to the humans on the farm. For the moment, he has been granted residency. The Dominique hens have long been our favored breed. They quickly captured our hearts with their personality. They remain the only birds that are friendly enough to be held and, if sitting quietly in a chair, the hens will jump into our laps and settle in for a snooze. The Dominique breed is not common, and most birds with this barred appearance belong to a different breed, the Barred Rock. We possess interest in preserving this thrifty breed developed during rough colonial times and maintaining purebred stock on our farm.
However, we have not put all our eggs in Roy’s basket. We have been burned before by whom we considered Mr. Right, and we may forever be circumspect. When we ordered our second batch of chicks, we decided to throw in a Buff Orpington cockerel. Buff Orpingtons are known for being friendly and docile, including the roosters. They are acceptable layers with a heavy carcass. If, for whatever reason, Roy can no longer stay on our farm, our search for Mr. Right will recommence with the Buff Orpington rooster.
I know good roosters are out there. I’ve talked to farm folk who have snagged themselves a good one. I guess you just have to kiss a few frogs before you find a prince.