Your Chickens - - Contents - JULIE HARD­ING

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.

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