Rooster Parenting

Rhode Island Red Rooster contemplating parenthood

June 28, 2009

         We now have two mama hens with lots of little chicks. Our first time letting a hen hatch eggs was a disaster. We counted the days until the babies would hatch from under their mom out in the chicken coop. The kids crowed in delight as the chicks emerged  – only to watch horrified as the evil rooster Spike (named after the evil gremlin in the movie “Gremlins”) slaughtered them all. From then on we’ve kept the roosters away from any babies. 

         Now though, the hens hide out where we don’t find them and show up in the yard with mass quantities of babies. One of the roosters running around has taken over helping to care for them. The first hen to hatch out a brood, the one of 20 chicks, has had trouble keeping them all together. When they get separated, you can hear the rooster calling the chicks, keeping the ones around him together until mom gets back with the rest of the siblings. Now there is another hen with lots of kids and the poor rooster hardly knows which way to go with so many to watch over.

         The chicks are busy catching moths that seem like they would be way too big for the chick to eat but they manage somehow, running off from the others who are trying to snatch their tidbit. Sometimes to escape they run inside another cage of chickens as they are small enough to go through the openings quite easily. Those adult birds look at the babies running around and usually ignore them although some of the hens do try calling them. We have never had another rooster like Spike, thank goodness, and any that promised to be that way found new homes or purpose in life quickly.

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2 Responses to Rooster Parenting

  1. Antonia says:

    I’ve always wondered about human equivalents to Spike.

  2. Micki says:

    We had an uncle who alternately terrified us and charmed us in our childhood. Like the chickens who learned to stay away from Spike, we learned to let him open a dialog, humor him in his bad humor and finally learned that Ovaltine and cold milk were a way to get him to mellow. Never tried Ovaltine and milk with Spike though and we all have scars from him when he was having a bad day.

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