Tales from the Animal Whisperer: Earl the Rooster

I have hens – no rooster. We lived in a place with neighbors, and I didn’t think they’d appreciate a rooster, but now that we have the farm, I kept my eyes open for the last two months for a chance to re-home an unwanted rooster. You know, people get a bunch of chicks every spring and always end up with surprise roosters they don’t want.

A friend of mine posted on FB that he had a rooster available and included this cute picture. He was hatched three months earlier by a kindergarten class and eventually moved to a home with four kids who loved him and played with him. Do you know what that means? It means this rooster isn’t a jerk! How sweet is this little guy?

I drove two hours to get him, and found he was quite a bit bigger than the initial photo. I put him in a crate for the ride home. He cock-a-doodle-dooed as soon as he got in the car and it was REALLY REALLY REALLY loud. I figured it was going to be a long ride home, but once we started rolling, he was quiet the rest of the drive. I talked to him and sang to him all the way home. If we were going to be stuck in the car for two hours, we might as well bond a little bit. By the end of the trip, I had named him Earl. My hens are Henrietta, Myrtle, Lucy, and Trouble-maker Betty, so he needed an old-fashioned name that would match.

Earl spent the night in the crate in our laundry room, and I was sure he’d cock-a-doodle-doo again in the morning, but he was a little stressed and very quiet. In the morning, I placed the crate on the shaded back deck and decided to leave him in there for the day while I went to work. I planned to transfer him to the coop the second I returned home.

When I got home, I grabbed a wood-framed cattle-fence panel and put it across the middle of the coop, so I could separate him from the girls until they had a chance to eye-ball each other for a few days. I know adding a single rooster to a flock of hens usually isn’t a problem, as there’s no pecking order to be established, but I still didn’t want to stress him or the girls out. It was probably hard enough on him just being in a weird new place. And the girls certainly wouldn’t want a stranger suddenly appearing in their coop. I covered the edges and top of the cattle fence with sheets, zip ties, and staples, and stabilized it with cinder blocks, placing a few piece of lumber between the panel and the chicken wire window, etc and so forth, to make sure everyone was safe and stayed on their own respective sides of the fence.

The next morning was busy and they were quiet, so I didn’t check on them before I left for work. There’s nothing I could do for them at 5 am anyway. It was going to be what it was going to be.

But I was not prepared for what I saw when I returned home.

After work, I found Earl and one hen on the hen’s side of the fence and three hens on Earl’s side of the fence. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans took place or how they got on the other sides of the fence, but they were all fine. Even though it was, and still is, a huge mystery, I took the fence out and let them get to know each other. The three girls who were not lock up with him for the whole day were a little skittish at first, but by the next day, they were all getting along. I kept them locked in the coop for a week so Earl knows where his home is.

This photo is their first venture out of the coop. As you can see, Earl has grown even bigger since I brought him home and his little harem loves him! He’s a joy!

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