Thursday, February 5, 2009

Don't Bite the Hand That feeds You!

Don't bite the hand that feeds you, sometimes we hear that expression in conversation but I am living that expression at the moment with my little buddy Chico. When I got Chico in the fall he was a cute little guy, almost like a windup kid's toy. He already was a year or two old and he lived with a group of Silkie chickens and ducks. I had gone to this farm to buy the black sex-link hens and the woman had different groups of chickens in various barns. While there I saw a cute little brown Silkie rooster walk up to a door, she said "your late, its time to go in" and she opened the door to let him in. I looked in and there were two brown roosters and three white ones, she only had a couple of Silkie hens so she would not sell them but said she was selling the roosters. I had no white chickens yet so I asked for a white one and she grabbed Chico.My little guy 'Chico Chicken'

My friend Dan came up with the name, I was saying that silkies were from China and I wanted a name that sounded Chinese, like Chow or Chen and my friend said "how about Chico... Chico Chicken"! I laughed so hard because it sounds more Mexican than Chinese but I liked it and so Chico Chicken it was. Just in case a new chicken person reads this, you absolutely do not need a rooster to have the chickens lay eggs, in fact some hens lay better when they don't have a rooster to bug them, just without a rooster you will never have chicks hatch from your eggs as they will not be fertile. The reason I have a rooster is I like the crowing sound, their looks and the little dance they do. Also most roosters are great to watch out for predators and warn the hens. I had bought Chico to replace Fred my first bantam rooster.
'Fred' being camera shy

Fred was much prettier than Chico but sadly he had issues. He was not mean with people, in fact the farther he could get away from me the better. Fred's problem was he became aggressive with the girls, he was large enough to mate with them but still he would not bond with them. At night he would sleep at the other end of the perch and during the day he often attacked them. The girls got that they would have nothing to do with him as in the picture above, when he was out they were in and when he was in they were out. He started to pull their tail feathers and that was the end of him, I sent him back. I wanted a bantam rooster because they are smaller, less feed and less stress on the hens but still they can do all the other jobs. Actually with the smaller voice, most of the people around say they never hear the crowing which is a good thing, I don't want to bother anyone. With Fred gone it was a spot open and Chico filled the position.

Chico just about to crow

For the newbies, they are called Silkies because their feathers appear silky, are softer and look at times more like fur than feathers. It was hard to get these pictures, he is very active and will not stand still. However if you notice his head cocked a bit, it is because I have lowered my hands to snap the picture ...and that is now the problem with Chico. If he sees my hands he will attack and let me tell you, for a little guy he sure can bite! It all started when I got Gracie the Cochin bantam. Chico was becoming frustrated with not being able to breed the hens because of their larger size. Some of the red hens he can mate with but the black hens and the larger red hens he is too small to climb on and stay on, also because silkies don't have proper wing feathers to balance. He started to attack the black hens, so I thought if I bought some bantams to raise chicks in the spring, he could mate with them and not be so stressed. A man offered me Gracie so I took her as a buddy for Chico, it was love at first site on his part. The trouble was Gracie needed to be kept in a cage until the other hens got used to her, being smaller there was a good chance they would kill her. This made Chico even more upset and when feeding Gracie or caring for her, Chico started to attack me to protect his little hen. Now he has it in that little chicken brain that I am the enemy and nothing can change that. When he attacks my boots it is kind of funny, an attack puff ball. Now however the little monster has learned to bite my hands, he waits and pretends not to be looking but the minute I go to pick something up or move something, he is right there. He even knows the difference between me having my hands up my sleeve or thick gloves on, he has learned my weakness. I may have to part with him as the local children love to come and see the chickens, they also like to feed them and now sadly I can't let them do that as Chico would hurt them. For certain I will try to get another Silkie, I am actually hoping for a Gracie-Chico son, either way he will be small and hopefully cute. First I will wait until summer, I am hoping once they can go back outside that it will bring back the calm Chico.

Has anyone out there crossed a Cochin and Silkie? What did it look like?

5 comments:

Amy said...

He is gorgeous!! i want him!! Sally and Jenny my "crossed with something" silkies would adore him!
Amy x

nobody-but-us-chickens said...

Thank you Amy, he is a nice looking bird. He is not as mean as some roosters, just I have to watch him if I'm bent over doing a job. He runs up fast to bite my hands. Your hens might like him but I don't think your children would!

Amy said...

Really! do most roosters get aggressive? obvously my children go in the pen with the hens and jenny is the one who chases after my son, but i think i would keep them away if we got a rooster.
Amy x

nobody-but-us-chickens said...

Amy: not all roosters are aggressive towards people. It can also depend on the breed as well. If you get a rooster try to get an older rooster like over a year old. If he is not aggressive by then they usually stay calm. With a young rooster you never know what you will get until he is fully grown. I find it best to ignore a rooster also, not to try to pet him etc as they can become cross when no longer afraid of you. Example: Chico was fine until I started handling Gracie, he would run in to see what the fuss was about and my interactions with him led Chico to start to attack me. Also sometimes a rooster will not be aggressive towards the person who takes care of him but will attack a stranger or family member so always watch your children around them. Mostly though, just like people every rooster is different.

Amy said...

ok then, thanks for that!
Take care Amy x