I’m enjoying the company of a good friend that I’ve known for over 50 years. We are at a site near Asheville, North Carolina where the adjacent property is home to a donkey, chickens, and roosters. When we arrived yesterday, we were humored by their noises. They became less enjoyable at 3 a.m. when we were awakened when the roosters announced that they were uninterested in keeping the peace. It made me curious about why people keep these annoying, sleep interrupting, crowing cocks in the first place. Unlike other species wherein males and females need to do their thing to procreate, I’ve thought that the eggs that we eat are produced by chickens who need to look no further for their production than the blessing of divine intervention.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
Roosters exclusively contribute to fertile egg production . They engender the kind of eggs that hatch into chicks. They are reproductive superstars.
A key rooster responsibilities is aggressive security of its flock. Roosters are vigilante community robocops. They keep an eye out for predators that roam the grounds as well as those who circle in the sky above. Get back, raccoons. Run for cover, raptors. Roosters have also been known to attack humans who get too close to their chickens. Rooster anti-aggression training is an authentically hot commodity where their innate barnyard hostility needs adaptive behavior modification. Someone should rise to the cause of becoming a rooster whisperer.
Roosters aren’t monogamous. They mate with as many as 20 hens per day. Years ago when I worked in the natural foods industry, I went to a folk remedy vendor who sold “rooster pills” to help men with sluggish libido. This person also kept a stash of ”king rooster pills” for the weekend. Men who think they are good in bed ain’t got nothing on roosters. Pharmaceutical manufactures don’t want the power of rooster comb extract to become widely known.
Senior citizen hens don’t like to sacrifice their dominance when they become old maids. They are capable of pecking smaller, younger members of the congregation to death. Roosters don’t like to lose members of the clucking tribe, including vulnerable chicks. They’ll peck at the aggressive older hens if necessary. Roosters work 9 to 5 to maintain the pecking order.
Incidentally, a peck is a strike or a bite with a beak, or quarter of a bushel, or a light kiss. Go figure.
Though I don’t see it, roosters are sometimes deemed handsome. I acknowledge that they add color brilliance onto the canvas of an otherwise drab flock of chickens. They earn this acclaim with their combs and wattles, the fleshy growth beneath their beaks. Rooster combs contain cartilage that is reputed to not only enhance sexual performance but also to relieve arthritis when injected. Step aside, ibuprofen. Whereas fleshy growth beneath a human chin makes plastic surgeons see dollars, dangling red organs beneath a rooster beak are considered to attract the opposite sex. Imagine the seductive quality of a rooster strutting in the barn yard while flapping its wattle.
Whereas cowboys use their spurs to signal to the horse that it needs to take action, roosters have spurs that they use to defend themselves. Kickboxing enthusiasts, take notice. Check out a barnyard or two.
Roosters are known for their ritual mating dances, the wing drag, the shuffle, and the feathers hackle. First they circle in front of the chicken, doing their Mick Jagger thing. Then they circle around to the hind area where they have their hen encounters. There is injustice in animal husbandry. The males run circles around their female counterparts.
Roosters don’t appear to care about their press clippings, including this blog post. They’re downright cocky. Now that’s a fowl attitude.