This is just a brief, no pics update on the status of our coop.
Yesterday morning, I moved Dots’ med cage to sit next to the coop, so he could be seen but not touched. After observing him ‘talking’ to the girls, I decided to leave him there for the day. It would help if they could see him.
When I returned home from work, I gave him his daily supervised visit. There was some chasing, but not bad.
Last night, after spending an hour before lockup with the flock, Dots went up to the rooster to sit next to his sister, Abby, and Maicey. I was hesitant to give him because him sitting next to the hens rather than being afraid of them is preferable. So I kept watching.
As everyone found their way to the roost, Philip eventually joined them, choosing to sit in the same general area as Dots. In the jostling for positions, he wound up with one hen between them. I watched, nervous, to see what would happen. Philip reached over the hen twice to try and pull Dots’ hackle feathers (but never actually did) and finally settled in to sleep. Dots settled in, nestled between Abby and Maicey, and that was where I found him this morning.
I did some more observing this morning, and other than a mild altercation with Sylvester, I saw nothing to be concerned with. Philip did not see the need to attack.
On the issue of Dots’ eye, it is healing. It looks better. He’s been waking up with it shut due to watering, but the Vetericyn spray opens it up and it remains open all day.
His status is the coop is still up in the air. Sylvester is still trying to secure his bid for 2IC. Based on this morning’s bought of chasing, he still views Dots as a threat to that.
I don’t. Dots has been making submissive rooster noises, noises I associate with hens and younger boys. If Sylvester and Philip come that same conclusion, maybe life will go back to a new normal.
If they don’t, we need to keep Plan B on the table.
I hate Plan B.
However, if we go for it, the other summer roosters are ready for Freezer Camp. Or the Pressure Cooker. This bunch in particular is very rowdy and there is too much chaos in my coop. I suspect getting ride of them would help settle things for the boys left to protect the flock, because their hands would suddenly be full of hens in need of protection.
Could Dots be included in the boys going with Plan B? I don’t know. I want to see how he is received in the next couple of days. If the new head rooster and 2IC can accept then, maybe not?
I will admit ( and this is hard) that my orginal plan was to remove Dots this spring to make way for new blood. By “original” of course, I mean back when we first decided to keep him in the first place. So… About three years ago, before we knew he was going to be such a loveable rooster. I’ve flip flopped about it since then.
However, watching this dominance struggle reminded me that he won’t live forever and that, if the Boys don’t think he can still do his job, maybe they know more than I do. Them being actual roosters and all.
At this point, however, I don’t particularly want to cull him after spending a week trying to heal his injuries. It seems inhumane to have gone through those motions. If they can accept him as a ‘regular joe’ then maybe I could still hold off to spring?
I do have a short list of older hens I’d like to cull, to make room for new chicks. It has been four years. We do need fresh genetics.
It’s just always a hard call to make.
I welcome insights, if you have them.
4 thoughts on “An Unsure Future”
It is very encouraging to hear how Dots is doing. It sounds like your flock could be on the way to a new normal, but it’s still early days.
On the flip side, that doesn’t make it easier to come to a decision about Dots’ future. Getting the young cockerels out of the way sounds like a great plan but I can’t really tell you what to do with Dots. The logical thing to do would be cull him because of his age, but he’s not just any old roo, he’s Dots. He’s top level emotional connection and flock contributor. Some chickens are extra-special and we’re allowed that, if it’s workable. It would be like me trying to make a hard decision about Frodo.
So, while the best thing for the flock would be to cull him in the near future, he has earned a position of special consideration. Sorry, I’m not being much help! When it came to Pip, I could more easily say cull him, because Dots was still there and the genetics of the flock were getting too close. I could more easily make the tough call with other hens I’ve loved, but if it came to Frodo, she would get special consideration because I regard her so highly.
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Yes, it is very encouraging. They are still chasing him and I have noticed a couple of instances where someone has picked his poor comb, but no full on attacks like before. He’s running away from conflict and still close to the hens who congregate in the coop. It very much appears that the changing of the guard has been accomplished.
Philip is now the head rooster. It ought to be Sylvester, him being bigger, but Philip is a few months older and Pavelle’s son by Pip. He’s got the guts and personality to lead, so he is.
Sylvester is 2IC now.
I do not know who will step up to be the 3rd. Or even if I will keep a 3rd when it comes to culling. I’ve been trying not attach to the Summer Boys.
Trying not to. Sylvester fathered a sweet tempered boy I call LRJ and he has the makings of a 3IC.
Dots fathered young Manly, who is a bit wild, but I see some of his father in him.
Then there is an EE cross who is too much like Luke to entertain keep. Those genetics are strong for what would be Luke’s grandson. He looks and acts just like him.
And then there is Branson, a bantam cochin Pavelle raised. He’s a little shithead. Cute as a button but all full of ‘small dog syndrome’ and he thinks he’s a ladies man. The ladies are mortified by him and even his own momma doesn’t like him.
I have had plans to cull those four. Either this spring, or sooner, if winter remains mild enough to convince DH we need to.
I could perhaps see keeping LRJ, as I like him, but I would also like to raise new chicks this spring after I decide on the list of older hens.
Dots… He will not be the 3IC. He doesn’t even crow anymore. He did the first couple of days, but since returning to the coop, he makes submissive noises. It is very weird going into the coop and not hearing his voice amid the choir of morning greeting. He used to lead the songs.
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I’m glad everyone is getting along, although it is a weird change for you. Keepsies decisions are always hard. Well, for most chickens. Getting rid of the mean ones is easy! I am watching my two young boys grow, the Annie boy & the blue Frodo boy, and thinking I’ll have to make a decision at some point, just not quite yet. Oh, to have more space for all the feather children… 😉
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This is hard.