Cock­erel ex­cite­ment

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QMy boyfriend and I keep a few Rhode Is­land Reds and have been think­ing about breed­ing a few more of our own. We have been of­fered the odd cross­bred cock­erel but we really want to do a bit for the good of pure breeds. We are a lit­tle ner­vous be­cause al­though it is ex­cit­ing, we have no idea what to ex­pect and don’t want to dis­rupt our flock (or the neigh­bours too much!).

AGrant Br­ere­ton says: You are right to be ex­cited. Adding a cock­erel to your flock brings a whole new di­men­sion to keep­ing poul­try. It will cer­tainly sur­prise your Rhodies to sud­denly have an out­sider male dropped on them - es­pe­cially the cur­rent boss who [if any] will be the likely can­di­date to at­tempt to fight with him un­til she re­alises it is fu­tile. If he doesn’t over­come the dom­i­nant fe­male, he will likely be too young, so he should look ma­ture. He won’t need any train­ing to go away at night; he will just fol­low his new wives into their house. In terms of what to ex­pect, he will ob­vi­ously crow in the morn­ing - even as early as 4am in the sum­mer months. He will spend much of the day scratch­ing for food for the fe­males and will get very ex­cited at the slight­est thing. He will use this at­ten­tion to per­form a courtship dance which in­volves walk­ing around his fe­males - from one side to the other - with dropped outer wing in hope of an op­por­tu­nity to mate. He will also be the first to let out a high-pitched ‘warn­ing growl’ if any above preda­tors fly past, and some cock­erels even get in the nest box as if show­ing their wives where to lay. He isn’t likely to be ag­gres­sive to­wards you, but you al­ways get the odd ex­cep­tion so be care­ful. I wish you all the best in your breed­ing. You should wait at least 36 hours be­fore ex­pect­ing any fer­tile eggs.

A cock­erel will spend much time find­ing morsels for his wives

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