RULING THE ROOST
I HAD a bantam cockerel for many years. He was born on my smallholding and he ruled the flock, never in the slightest bit concerned that the majority were ex-bats and about twice his size. As a chicken keeper, his presence gave me a strange sense of reassurance, as he strutted around, ensuring that his harem ate before he did and were all safely in the coop as evening encroached. Imagine my horror when I went up one evening to shut the birds in and he had vanished without a trace. There wasn’t even a single feather which might have signalled a fox’s visit.
Jeremy Hobson’s delve into cockerels’ capers (page 6) makes fascinating reading. Such is their powerful presence, many fables and folklores have built up around them. It is said that Devil’s Dyke in Sussex was created due to the crowing of a wise woman’s cockerel.
In this special issue that pays homage to the vocal male bird, Grant Brereton has some sage advice for those whose cockerels love to crow — and potentially upset the neighbours (page 8). And at December’s two major poultry exhibitions there were some fine specimens on show. Turn to pages 14 and 16 for a glimpse of a few of the winners — both male and female.