We have had much work to do over the Christmas period, in addition to the normal festive season activities (as well as spending weeks trying to fix my blog and my computer). A situation I experienced was with one of my young Roosters. I had placed three from my batch of 9 hatched chicks into a separate chicken tractor. These three had been identified as males, yet I still had 6 left in my other area of who I was unsure of their gender. After a couple of days of observation I witnessed one (which I had on my “possibly a Rooster” list) pecking the other chickens to assert his dominance. I felt bad for them and moved him to the Rooster pen. Those Roosters bullied him around a little, yet it seemed like they had accepted him, so all seemed well for a week.
While I was feeding them one morning after Christmas I noticed that the newly moved Rooster was having a little trouble walking. He seemed to stagger a lot. I thought he may be unwell, so I decided to keep an eye on him, yet as I was busy with other chores I left him alone. When I fed them the next morning I noticed that he was not walking at all. On investigation he seemed very lethargic and unwilling to move to even eat the food I placed in the pen. I decided to check him closer and when I picked him up I realised he was almost starving… he had wasted away till he was almost skin and bones. I felt terrible for him, I am supposed to look after these animals and I had allowed him. I gathered some feed in my hand and fed him some, yet he ate very little. I decided that it might be best to place him in the original pen to protect him from any predators (such as cats) and hopefully he would recover.
The next morning my son was checking the animals and he came to tell me that the chicken was injured. I rushed out and found the Rooster, able to stand now, yet still unable to walk properly. His head was a bloody mess, with missing feathers and a large amount of injuries. It appears that the chickens had taken revenge, or possibly just bullying an injured Rooster. I quickly took him from the pen and decided that I had no place to place him but to allow him to free range. I gave him some additional feed, yet I let him roam the garden with the other fully grown chickens and Rooster. I didn’t expect him to survive long, as he had trouble moving, and I was concerned the Rooster (or a cat) would kill him.
Now it is a week later, and he is going well. He is very nervous and is sometimes chased by the chickens, yet he is now able to run and walk. His wounds have almost fully healed and now he spends his days with me when I am in the garden. I don’t believe he is with me out of love, I suspect it is due to my frequent intervention when he is being chased by another chicken as well as the fact that I often throw him a snail or two if I find them in a garden bed.
Despite all this, I sometimes think about this guy’s future. He is a Rooster, so I won’t be keeping him. I will have to get rid of him eventually, and people don’t normally buy Roosters. It most likely will come to me to eventually eat this little guy, and I am not really looking forward to that. I have formed a bit of a bond with him, going so far as to name him “Buddy”. I don’t have to make a decision now, so I will have to consider my options as time progresses.