How to Avoid a Chicken Coop Fire

We are heading into the prime season for a chicken coop fire. Cool weather leading into actual cold weather begins and soft hearted chicken keepers try to keep the coop warm. There are methods to keeping the coop comfortable for chickens and still avoid causing a chicken coop fire. The same prevention strategies will also help avoid barn fires.

Understanding the Chicken and Cold Weather

We might be tempted to view chickens as fragile, helpless birds that need us to dress them and supply a heater in the coop. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are some less cold hardy breeds of chickens that may need special care, the majority of chicken breeds can withstand even subzero temperatures in fine shape. Here’s a great article written by a chicken keeper in a very cold area of the country.

What You Can Do

There are things you can do to lesson the risk of a chicken coop fire.

light bulb and cord covered in heavy layer of dust. This is a chicken coop fire hazard.

If you reside in an area with lengthy sub zero winter temperatures, look for the full size, hardy breeds such as Orpingtons, Brahmas, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Sussex, Delawares, and Buckeyes, to name a few. These breeds and others will feather out heavily after the fall molt. The down feathers under the flight feathers will grow in thick and fluffy. The down layer insulates by expanding, creating a layer of warm air close to the chicken’s body.

Chicken coop fire title image for pinterest

Roosting bars, positioned so that the chicken can cover it’s feet while roosting, helps prevent frosty toes and frost bite. The roost bar should be big enough for all to claim a space. You will notice on cold nights the chickens will perch closer together to share body warmth. They know instinctively what to do to survive cold weather.

Provide a coop that is well ventilated but draft free is the best coop structure.

roof line vent in chicken coop blocks good air flow of damp air. Chickens will be colder in a damp coop.

In short, providing the correct environment for your chickens will help you avoid using additional heat and prevent chicken coop fire.

Cleaning the Coop to Avoid a Chicken Coop Fire

Cleaning the coop with fire prevention in mind includes more than cleaning out the floor and nest boxes. Other areas will have formed cob webs or dust bunnies, and often these hang down from the ceiling, adding to the risk of a chicken coop fire. If the dust bunnies sit too long on a hot light bulb or heat bulb, they can cause sparks and lead to a chicken coop fire.

Barn and Chicken Coop Fire Safety

Here are some tips to help you increase your farm fire safety awareness.

  • Using power strips, or surge protector blocks can actually increase your fire risk. Drawing too much power can overload the wires and cause a fire.
  • Choose heavy duty extension cords if you have to run electricity to the coop or barn. I get it. We don’t have our barn and coops wired for electric. I know it’s a risk and we check the cords for heat, frequently. When using extension cords, choose the heavy duty outdoor rated cords. Going for the bargain cords in this scenario is adding barn and chicken coop fire risk to your homestead and your animals lives. Don’t skimp on this.
  • Clean the dust from ceilings, light fixtures, bulbs, cords, outlets. Just clean the dust, ok? Seriously though, chickens cause dust. I don’t know how but they do. We don’t even brood chicks in the house any more because of how much dust they create. Big chickens equal more dust. Those dust strands on the ceiling are a fire risk if you have light bulbs, cords, and heat lamps. Grab the broom and sweep the ceiling and walls. Dust any light bulbs. All of this goes a long way to reducing the risk of chicken coop fire.
  • Heat lamps are dangerous. I know, I hear you sighing. You’ve probably heard it all before and think that your system is safe. At best, you might lower the risk of fire. Using a heat lamp in an outdoor chicken coop is the number one cause of a chicken coop fires. Yes the alternatives cost more money. But, it’s my homestead at risk and my animal’s lives. There are safer alternatives for keeping chicks warm. Ninety Nine percent of the time, chickens in an enclosed coop do not need additional heat provided. If you’re cold, put on a sweatshirt. Your chickens are most likely fine if they are healthy and have a draft free coop to shelter in. Check these alternatives to heat for chicks.

Where do you store your animal hay?

  • Hay storage is another potential barn and chicken coop fire disaster. Any moisture left in hay, can cause spontaneous combustion as the hay sits. Wet hay causes heat to build as it ages. Store your hay away from the barn and monitor the temperature. Break open any hot bales. In addition to being a fire risk, hot hay bales can cause mold to grow. (Don’t feed moldy hay to your horses, goats, or sheep.
  • On the same topic, hay does not make a good winter bedding for your chickens. The moisture content of hay is higher than straw and can result in a damp coop. Dampness can lead to frost bite and respiratory problems.

Predators and disease aren’t the only causes of death for chickens. Unfortunately, a chicken coop fire can wipe out your flock, and possibly spread to your family home. Take the precautions now while getting ready for cold weather. Let’s have a safe winter!




Fall Chicken Care Tips For a Healthy Flock

fall chicken care tips

Getting ready for fall starts in the late summer. Fall chicken care thoughts begin to run through my head. Chilly weather will require some changes to routine, and buildings need to be checked for repairs. Using the days with pleasant weather to get these things done keeps us from repairing and scrambling during a storm. Are you preparing now? Here are some of the things we begin to do.

Health Check – Beak to Tail Chicken Checkup

Making sure that your individual flock members are ready to weather the upcoming changes is important. Some minor ailments can be treated successfully when found early. Are any chickens showing loose runny droppings? How about bony breast bones or crop issues? Is the flock eating a healthy whole grain organic layer feed? Quality ingredients help your backyard flock maintain a healthy digestive tract and resist parasites and other diseases.

Molting season has begun here. The flock requires an increase in protein during the feather regrowth period. You want to support this nutritionally with a well balanced feed and tasty supplements such as grubs, cooked meat scraps, and even scrambled eggs if you have any to spare. Help your feathered friends get fluffy before the snow falls and the temperature drops.

fall chicken care tips

What about Pumpkins and Chickens?

The facts about the health benefits of feeding pumpkin seeds and flesh might surprise you. We have all probably heard that pumpkin seed can help your birds repel internal parasites. While there is a tiny grain of truth to this and I have even said it before myself, there is more to the story.

Pumpkin seeds, in fact the whole pumpkin supplies a powerhouse of nutrients for the flock. Chickens love fresh pumpkin and it’s a great nutritional boost.

Pumpkins have a richly colored flesh that contains high levels of beta carotene. The beta carotene is the precursors to vitamin A. In addition, fresh pumpkin is a source of Vitamin C and E and contains most of the B complex vitamins.

Do Pumpkin Seeds Repel Internal Parasites?

Feeding pumpkins is a good part of fall chicken care And, if you can get a hold of some free pumpkins from neighbors or friends after the holidays, take them! If they haven’t been carved into jack o’ lanterns, they will store a long time in a cool area of your home or basement.

The seeds from the pumpkin are also packed with good nutrition. High in protein, pumpkin seeds are a smart choice for a chicken flock treat right in the midst of the fall molting season. Increasing protein during molt helps your birds grow in their glossy new feathers with less metabolic stress. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Fall Chicken Care Tips

Another theory on fresh pumpkin is the possibility that the seeds will help your chickens avoid an overload of intestinal worms. This is a partial truth, so be careful not to count on it. Especially if you have birds that are suffering with internal parasites.While the seeds of pumpkin and other squash contains cucurbitacin which acts as a paralytic agent on tapeworms and round worms, it is a very mild treatment. In a mild intestinal worm situation, the pumpkin seeds may be enough to paralyze the worms so they can be excreted. But don’t count on it. In order to use the pumpkin seeds most effectively, a tincture should be prepared, and then used to dose each animal by adding it to the water.

Feed Healthy High Protein Treats as Part of Fall Chicken Care

Meal Worms are always a welcome treat and these little goodies are bringing a protein punch. Great for helping your chickens recover quickly after a hard molt and a great training tool. Chickens will cooperate better when meal worms are involved!

Seed blocks, peanut butter treats and other commercially available boredom busters are good to keep on hand for times when the chickens have to be cooped up. If you don’t normally purchase scratch grain, fall and winter are a good time to have some on hand. I feed a small amount to my flock in the evening during cold weather.

The key is to keep the amount of scratch or seed treats at a treat level. This should not become a major part of your chickens’ diet. Seeds are high in fats and can lead to obesity and internal fat deposits. Use the treats as a tool, to get the flock to go where you need them to go. It’s a great incentive for getting the chickens to go to the coop in the evening.

Coop Upkeep for Fall and Winter

Now that you have taken care of buying lots of pumpkins and treats for the fall and winter, what other fall chicken care steps should you take?

chicken on a nest

Managing the Annual Molt Mess

Molting makes the dust in the coop even messier. I recommend doing a thorough coop cleaning while the weather is still nice. Scrape out old bedding. Inspect for rodent holes, insect evidence, and wet areas. Take care of any structural problems now so you don’t have to take care of building maintenance during a winter storm.

  • Clean the roost bars and treat with DE powder (Diatomaceous Earth) . The DE powder will kill off any mites trying to take up residence on the roost bars.
  • Check for leaks in the roof, or other parts of the building. While you are checking for leaks, also check that your ventilation is optimal. Ventilation refers to the air flow circulating air inside the coop and keeping it from becoming stagnant. Ventilation is very important in winter because stagnant air can also lead to moisture collection. Moisture in the presence of sub freezing temperatures can lead to frost bite on combs, wattles and feet. 

Fall chicken care tips

Decisions about Heat and  Additional Light

I can’t speak about every area of the country but I will say this. Chickens are extremely cold hardy. If the coop is draft free, has good roof ventilation, can be closed securely at night and during storms, there is little chance that you need additional heat. After the chickens go through the molting, they grow in healthy new feathers and downy under feathers for winter. Chickens will go to roost at night, fluff up their feathers and cover their feet on the roost bar.

Chickens are built for cold weather

It is amazing to me, how much heat is generated by my chickens during the night. The coop is usually very comfortable inside when I arrive in the morning. The chickens are happy and there is less chance of fire. Only once in our chicken raising have we used additional heat. Now, perhaps you live in a particularly frigid area during the winter. I can’t make this decision for you. Draft free goes a long way to keeping the chickens warm enough. Don’t rush to heat the coop just because you are feeling the chill of winter.

Another thing to consider is what happens during a power outage. If your chickens have not been allowed to acclimate to the seasonal change in temperature, they are more likely to succumb to cold if it occurs suddenly.

fall chicken care tips

Should Lights be Added to the Coop?

Adding light may in fact keep the hens laying eggs longer into the winter. I prefer to let them have a natural rest. We use lights only for a short time in the evening while we are cleaning up and feeding/watering the birds for the night. This extends their light by possibly an hour and is not really a factor in their egg laying. Naturally, egg laying slows down during the cold, darker months. This gives the hens a rest and allows energy to be used for warmth. I still collect enough eggs for our use during the winter.

As your hens age, they may lay very infrequently during the winter months. This is normal. If you can add more chickens in the spring, your young layers will carry you through the winter with enough fresh eggs.

Fall Chicken Care – Keeping Fresh Water Available

If your coop is a distance away from your home as ours is, you will need to plan ahead. Empty the hose after each use. Filling containers of water to keep at home will help you avoid frozen water when you are feeding in the morning. I refill gallon jugs and sit them by my back door. In the morning, I grab the water jugs and refill the water bowls with room temperature water from home. The chickens all run to get a warm drink!

With just some foresight and minor upkeep, repair and fall chicken care, you, your chickens and the coop will be ready for winter weather.




Sheep Care on Small Farms and Homesteads

sheep care on small farms and homesteadsIs sheep care part of your future? Can you raise sheep in a large backyard? In some cases the answer is yes. Sheep are adaptable and can be cared for in a paddock or small field if their needs are met. It may be a little more labor intensive and take a bit more effort and management to raise our sheep this way. Here on the farm we raise a little bit of everything. Well not really everything. But we do have quite a variety of animals. We have successfully raised goats for many years, a small herd of beef cattle and my sweet little herd of sheep.

Did you think that you have to have a large pasture of grassy grazing land in order to raise sheep? For many years, we did not have any grazing other than the grass surrounding the different areas of the farm. We successfully raised a small flock of sheep this way for six years. Here’s what we have learned about sheep care and how we do it.

Eventually we did add more fenced pasture area, and began working on our silvopastures in the woods. You can see more in the video towards the end of this post.

Have a Shelter

Sheep care

The shelter for sheep can be simple. They will do quite well with a three sides open shed, sometimes called a run in shed. Our small flock of four sheep actually have access to a stall in the barn but prefer to spend most of their time outside in the pen area.

Sheep Care Includes Appropriate Fenceing

When keeping sheep on a small homestead, make sure you have adequate fencing to keep the sheep from getting into the roads or the neighbor’s gardens. We are using board fencing, and livestock panels with T posts.

Some people have success raising sheep using the netting type fences. When we first tried netting fences with our flock, they kept getting tangled up in the netting. I still think it can be a viable option, as many shepherds use this type of fence.

Feeding

Raising care

Sheep are grazing animals. If you had a large pasture, they would eat grass all day long, stopping only to rest and allow the rumen to process the grass. This is called chewing the cud. Since our sheep spend a large part of their time in a pen, they are fed a grass hay. They react pretty much the same to the hay as they would to grass. They eat, then rest and ruminate. We do feed a small amount of grain to make sure they are getting enough nutrition and vitamins. By small amount I mean a small handful.

If a sheep begins looking thin and parasites and illness are ruled out, we separate that sheep out and feed extra alfalfa-timothy pellets with a small amount of grain.

Click Below to Buy My Book on Sheep Care

It is important to feed hay with grain so that the rumen does not become inflamed. When choosing hay for non-lactating sheep, choose a grass hay and not an alfalfa. Alfalfa has a high percentage of protein, and since it is not needed, can lead to urinary tract problems. It can be easy to want to over feed grain. Sheep will insist that they are still very hungry! Look at the condition of your sheep. If they are nicely filled out they are getting enough to eat. The majority of their diet should be grasses and hay. 

Cleaning the Sheep Pen

When we did not have pastures for rotational grazing, we had to frequently clean up after them in the pen. This has lessened as we can leave them out during the day, but some cleaning in the barn is always necessary. Old hay is raked up and removed along with feces and any wet moist spots. Replace the bedding in the stall or shed as needed to keep it clean and free of insects. Smelly, wet, dirty bedding is a breeding ground for insects, parasites, worms and disease. Dirty stalls and barns can lead to flystrike which you do not want to deal with.

Free Grazing Time

When we are on the farm we give the sheep time to leave their pen and roam freely. They can browse and graze on grass and various forage. One of our large grassy fields is available now that we are no longer raising cattle. Over the years we have added additional grassy areas. Since there is a large open cattle shed in the field, the sheep can spend all day lounging around and grazing as they wish. We do still bring them back to the barn at night, although with some fencing improvements, they would be fine staying in the field at night, too.

Water

Make sure the sheep have access to fresh water in buckets or a low water trough at all times. Try to keep some water in a shady location so it can stay cooler during the hot weather.

sheep

 Sheep Care includes Worming

  Keeping the sheep in a smaller area can lead to an abundance of parasites. Instead of worming on a schedule, we have switched to worming when there is a problem. Good management of your flock includes observing and checking them individually on a regular basis. Look for paleness in gums and lower eyelids for indication of a parasite problem. Check into becoming educated on using the FAMACHA scale of parasite management.

Some shepherds will choose to worm on a routine basis as part of their sheep care plan. Since we have such a small flock, we prefer to worm when necessary and avoid increasing the resistance to some worming products. 

Grooming – an Important Part of Sheep Care

Sheep care

With sheep care for a small herd there are some jobs you will probably want to just do yourself, rather than hire someone. Trimming hooves, checking for teeth problems,  checking overall condition are some things to keep in mind. Starting at an early age, train your sheep to be comfortable being handled. Hold their feet even if no trimming is needed. Inspect for stones or any softness or problems in the hoof. Check eye lids or gums regularly for healthy pink color. 

Shearing Time is Part of Sheep Care

Most sheep being raised for wool will require a once a year shearing. In some cases, with a heavy fiber producer you may be able to shear twice. Even with a small flock, doing  the shearing yourself can be backbreaking. We did all of our own shearing of our fiber goats and sheep for many years. Then we hired a professional one year and I will never go back to doing it myself! Our sheep shearer does the job in much less time and yields better fleeces. I am glad to know that I can shear if I have to. It’s an important part of sheep care. But knowing a professional and getting on their schedule will make your life with sheep much more enjoyable. If you choose to do it yourself, consider attending a sheep shearing school to learn the tricks of the trade. 

sheep care

 You can check out our available yarns here. 

sheep care for small farms and homesteads

or on our Etsy shop

Update on Our Silvopasture in this Video

Why We Keep Sheep

We raise our fiber goats and sheep for the beautiful fleece. After shearing, I will pick through the fleece to remove any badly matted parts or debris. This is called “skirting”, and is a very important first step. I ship or drop the fleece off with a fiber processor to have it made into yarn. Some shepherds will want to do the entire process themselves, including skirting, picking, washing, combing, drafting and spinning. Someday I hope to learn more of the steps but for right now I am doing what I can. 

With a little more thought and adjusting the management style, it can be possible to learn sheep care and keep a small number of sheep on a small homestead. If you want to learn more about how we raise fiber animals for our yarn business, read this post. Let me know how you have raised sheep and learned to do sheep care on small farms and homesteads.

Sheep care

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Sheep care on small farms and homesteads




Cooking Peaches, Preserved, Baked and Delicious

Cooking Peaches- The Ultimate Summer Fruit

Peaches preserved baked delicious

Summer fruit brings to mind tomatoes, nectarines, plums, peaches and more. My favorite remains peaches. For sweetness and aroma cooking peaches can’t be beat. Preserving this summer goodness is easy. While you’re at it, save enough to enjoy now with ice cream, fruit toppings, fresh fruit salsa and in baked goods.

Start with fresh ripe peaches with little to no overly ripe soft spots. Choose for the delicious aroma, also. Whether you grow your own or buy from the local farmer’s market, harvesting and buying and cooking peaches, at the peak of the season will give you the best taste and texture.

Peaches

Preparing Peaches for Canning or Freezing

Soft fruits, such as peaches, tomatoes and nectarines are easy to prepare for canning or freezing. Once the fruit has been quickly blanched in a simmering pot of water,then, removed to a pot of ice cold water, the skin slips right off. The peach often practically splits open for easy removal of the pit. The peach halves can be canned as is, in a simple syrup or plain water. Or, you can slice, dice or chunk the peaches. Add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or citric acid, to keep the fruit from browning. Mix to distribute the lemon juice throughout the fruit.

cooking peaches

At this point, you can place the peaches into freezer bags or into canning jars. I use a slotted spoon so I don’t get a lot of liquid in with the peaches I am freezing. Freezing is easy but has a shorter shelf life than canning due to possible freezer burn. I use a sturdy zip lock style freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. I flatten out the peaches into a single layer in the bag, which makes it easier to stack the bags in the freezer. When ready to enjoy, thaw the peaches in the bag in a refrigerator. 

Using the Skins

(note: if you have farm animals or chickens that you like to treat to your kitchen scraps, be aware that pits and seeds can be toxic. I do not feed peach pits to my farm animals for this reason. The skin however, is a welcome tasty treat)

Canning Peaches to Enjoy Later

Fill the jars with the cut up or sliced peaches. Add the peach juice and boiling water to fill the jar within a half inch of the top of the jar. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean wet cloth. Add the flat lid and the band to close the jar.

Process canned peaches for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts in boiling water in the Water Bath Canner.   Look for other recipes such as brandied fruits, peach jam and jelly and peach pie filling to use your peaches with, also. Since peaches are a high acid fruit,(pH under 4.5)  you will can most peach recipes using a hot water bath canner.

Other High Acid Fruits

Apples, peaches, tomatoes, nectarines, citrus fruits, pears and berries fall into the category of high acid fruits. It is important to use an approved canning recipe when using a hot water bath canner, because the acidity must be in a certain range. If you add non-acidic ingredients to the peaches, the total acidity will be lower, making it unsafe to can using a water bath canner.

peaches preserved baked and delicious

Dehydrating/Drying Peaches for Storing

Peeled peaches can also be dried or dehydrated for long term storage. I use an electric dehydrator,  but you an also use a sun oven for the same purpose. Store your dehydrated peaches in an air tight container or mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Use the dehydrated peaches in trail mix, and bake into cakes, or eat plain.

Eat Fresh!

While you have the abundance of good fresh peaches in front of you, don’t forget the obvious opportunity to enjoy them fresh. Serve peeled sliced peaches with ice cream, cereal, plain, and keep a few on hand for lunch boxes. We prefer our peaches cold from the refrigerator but they can sit in a bowl on your counter or table, taking a turn at being a summer decoration, too. Grab one as you run out the door, for a healthy snack. Cooking fresh peaches into a thick topping is delicious when added to homemade vanilla ice cream!

peaches preserved baked delicous

Baking with Peaches

As you can imagine, cooking peaches is amazing when baked. This will be a delicious way to enjoy the harvest. Peaches taste and smell like summer. The cakes, pies, crumbles, cobblers, quick breads and triffles you make with your fresh peaches will prolong the taste of summer. Preserving the peaches from the season gives you the chance to enjoy peach pie and peach cake for any occasion, all year long.

The Recipe

When I was on an extended stay in Georgia one summer, when my little Georgia Peach granddaughter was born, I really enjoyed baking for her family. I came up with a peach cobbler recipe one day, by melding together a few different recipes from the internet search. Some weren’t quite what I was looking for and some were just full of ingredients that we didn’t have on hand. I came up with an experimental cobbler that turned out to be very popular! After all, isn’t this what Grammas do? One trick I learned while developing the cobbler recipe was to precook the filling for a set time, and then add the top crust batter. This resulted in a more crispy and less soggy crust on the cobbler. It also kept the crust from over cooking.

cooking peaches

Georgia Peach Cobbler

Peaches preserved baked and delicious

for printable version of this recipe click here

FOR THE PEACHES

  1. 10 – 14 peaches, peeled, pit removed and sliced
  2. 2 teaspoons citric acid or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  3. 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
  4. quarter cup packed brown sugar
  5. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

FOR THE CAKE TOPPING

  1. 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup white sugar (generously full)
  3.  packed brown sugar -1/4 cup
  4. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 3/4 teaspoons salt
  6. 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into small pieces
  7. 1/4 cup boiling water

FOR THE TOPPING

  1. sugar – 1/4 cup
  2. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  3. 1/8 teaspoons nutmeg (optional)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 425 F.

  1. Using a large bowl mix the peach slices and the citric acid together.
  2. Add the sugars, cinnamon, and flour.
  3. Stir to evenly coat the peaches.
  4. Pour the peaches into greased 2 quart baking dish or 7 x 9 baking pan.

BAKE FOR 10 MINUTES

FOR THE CAKE TOPPING

  1. combine flour, both sugars and baking powder and salt
  2. mix in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks.
  3. continue to mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  4. add the boiling water and mix until just combined
  5.  Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the cake topping in spoonfuls all over the top of the peaches.
  6. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg mixture over the whole dish
     

     
    BAKE UNTIL TOPPING IS GOLDEN BROWN ABOUT 30 MINUTES

    1. cool 10 minutes in pan
    2. serve warm

More about Peaches!

Peach Butter – Attainable Sustainable

Peeling, Canning and Drying Peaches – Common Sense Homesteading

Spiced Brandied Peaches – Homespun Seasonal Living

Peach Jam Two Ways – Common Sense Homesteading

Georgia Peach Cobbler – Timber Creek Farm

September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, In 2015 I teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm

Peaches, Preserved, Baked, Delicious




Why Keep the Rooster with Your Flock?

Why would you keep the rooster? The general feeling from most chicken keepers seems to be just the opposite. Rightly so in the case of neighborhood rules, or possibly having small children around. But in many cases, if you keep the rooster, your flock will benefit from a good leader.

When you picked up your chicks this year, the little fluffy balls of fun were so cute! No doubt one was your favorite. Now that the chicks are reaching 10 to 12 weeks of age, you have begun to notice something a little different about your favorite chick. It may be slightly bigger, stand a little taller, have bigger feet and it may be growing a slightly more noticeable comb or wattles. You may have a rooster! But will you keep the rooster?

Sexing Chicks is Rarely 100% Correct

Before you get upset and jump to possibilities and options, lets explore some reasons why you might want to keep the rooster. If you can legally keep the rooster in your neighborhood or town, there are some good reasons to have one around. You may have heard that a rooster is mean, ornery, and dangerous. These reasons can be true but they are not always the case. (Read more about Cranky Roosters in this post.)  I am not advocating keeping an overly aggressive rooster.

I find the roosters are a great addition to our flock. We currently have fourteen roosters. Before you make a move to have my sanity checked, let me tell you that they are not all staying! But we do keep quite a few throughout our six flocks. They work hard every day, keeping the hens safe. Let me explain a few reasons that I am glad we keep the rooster.

The Rooster as a Peacekeeper

Peacekeeper – The rooster in a flock is in charge. He will assume this role and do what he has to do to maintain his position. Other roosters may be able to be part of the flock, too, as long as they don’t challenge him. In addition, the rooster will keep the hens from squabbling among themselves. In the absence of a rooster, a hen will often take the role of flock leader.

keep the rooster

Keep the Rooster for Flock Protection

Protection – Roosters are on alert most of the day, watching for predators, alerting the hens, and making sure they take cover. While the hens are dust bathing or eating, the rooster will stand guard and stay alert to possible danger.

The Rooster will Provide

Providing – The rooster will search out tasty food bits and call the hens over to enjoy the snack. He makes sure that his hens get started eating first in the morning and then he begins to eat too. In addition, roosters provide the necessary actions for having fertile eggs, in case you want to hatch out eggs in an incubator or let a broody hen set on a clutch of eggs.

Keep the Rooster

The Crowing?

Crowing–  Now I am sure you are wondering how I can put a positive light on this noisy ear splitting wake up call. First, roosters don’t necessarily start crowing before  dawn. Ours will often stay quiet until they hear me in the feed shed, dishing up breakfast. Roosters crow to warn other roosters to stay away. They also crow to celebrate, such as when breakfast arrives, after mating, or to show pecking order. In addition, they will crow to let the hens know the location of the flock, when it’s time to head back to the coop at night and various other reasons. But the best reason for flock security would be the crowing to warn of an approaching visitor.

keep the rooster

While you may decide to re -home your cockerel and just keep the pullets, I am very glad I kept one particular oops rooster. Even though I ordered all pullets, we received a rooster in the bunch. He is a white rock cockerel who we named King.

I see benefits and uses when you keep the rooster. Let me know how your surprise roosters turn out.