Culling Cockerels and Pullets
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Thursday, 04 August 2011 14:15

5 week old cockerelOur chicks are 5 weeks old! The cockerels (young roosters) began play fighting last week. This week, it seems slightly more serious than week 4. The good news is that for now after they get rough, they take a nap side by side, tucked in like best friends. I know that won't be the case much longer, and we'll have to make decisions about the ones that cannot stay and cull  the best cockerel to keep as our manly man of the bunch. Around 3 weeks, I began to notice differences between the birds. There were 5-6 that looked bigger, had much larger combs and wattles, and seemed like boys to me. 2 weeks later, it seems my instincts were right on - I think we have 6 cockerels. I've picked one out that I think bears all of the characteristics of a true French Black Copper Marans bird: feathered shanks and feet (some hatch with clean shanks), copper feathers around the neck, and fairly docile (though we do want a protective guy, too). This one in particular is the one that likes to be held the least. Though I wish he would just sit still, this might be a good thing. We think that we eventually want to breed these birds, and to true French standards, so culling the best of the bunch can only make our future Marans more quality birds. They are all beautiful, but we can only keep one male and will keep all the pullets. I read today about a farm who keeps 2 Marans roosters per 8 hens, so I'm going to do a bit more reading just to be sure. Typically I thought it was no less than 8 hens per rooster, but if we can keep 2, that's one less we have to get rid of. A friend of ours would like a rooster to introduce to her 9 hens, which I think is wonderful, but the remaining 4 we may have to process. I'm still holding, petting, and hand-feeding them every day, even though that might make it harder to say goodbye.

 

Our pullets (young hens) are just downright sweet, and they busy themselves scratching, grooming the beaks of the cockerels, and eating tomatoes and worms I leave in the box. The 3 chicks that I have named (Hunchie, Little Girl, and Guido) are all pullets, I'm pretty sure. Guido has the fullest feathered shanks and feet - you can't even see her legs or feet at all. She's short, dark, and "hairy" and loves tomatoes. Her father was in the mob.

We are so ready to move them outside, but we aren't quite finished the last few touches on the coop - we have to lower it off the trailer, line it with linoleum, and stabilize it on the sloped ground. It's going right next to the Sugar Maple that looks out over Peter's Mountain - lovely! We'll let them acclamate to their coop while we work on building their run - the fenced in area they'll free range in until they are fully grown and able to have full run of the yard. In the meantime, my house is covered in dust, the cheeps have turned into pubescent squawks, and we have 2 very curious cats who are growing curious-er by the day.

Check out the 50 newest images in the gallery to see the chicks at 5 weeks old... http://www.thefirstmuse.net/image-galleries/entrance-gallery

 

Cockerel stretched out

Who's your daddy?

 

Eatin' Birds

Chow time!

 

Perchin'

Trying out the new makeshift perch mom gave us!

 

Little Girl

My name is Little (or Pretty) Girl, and I sure am cute.

 

Perchin' Copper

If I stick around these parts, the ladies will know me as "Earl" cus my daddy's name was Duke. I'm the Earl of Duke. Look at my gorgeous copper feathers!

 

Eyeless bird

Check it out - I can hide my eyes!

 

Guido and her tomatoes

That's Guido there eating tomatoes - her shanks are awesomely feathered! Her mama makes good sauce.

 

Stay tuned for more updates! Next time you hear from me, the chicks will be outside!