Mighty fowl.

Cock-a-doodle dilemma

Farm lesson #47: Nobody loves cockerels.
In the familiar words of a well-known comedian, they “don’t get no respect.”

Five weeks ago, we purchased half a dozen guinea keets from Ideal Poultry. The business is nearly local, but not so close by that we wanted to pick them up. So we requested them shipped.

We can now imagine the reaction to our order as it came into Ideal’s shipping area. “Hey, get a load of this! Some fool in Mineola ordered six guinea keets. SIX!” (Sounds of whooping and laughter.) “Well, let’s show them what happens when you order ONLY half a dozen birds!”

We now know what happens when you order so few. They use adorable, fuzzy, one-day-old roosters as LIVE PACKING PEANUTS.

Buff Orpington chicks.
Sure, they’re cute. Now.

When we innocently called Ideal the day after the babies arrived–all in great condition and very healthy–the service representative (let’s call her Viola) could barely reply to our inquiry.

“Viola, did you mistakenly ship us somebody’s chickens?” We then followed with this gem: “How do we get them back to you?” Yes, we actually asked that question.

We don’t know if it was contempt or laughter Viola was trying to stifle, but she managed to stutter out a brief explanation before hanging up.

So here we are, with six guinea keets and seven Buff Orpington roos. SEVEN. What are we going to do with all these future sleep-wreckers?

At five weeks of age, all of the birds have grown from adorable, fuzzy chicks to creatures that look very much like baby vultures.

Mighty fowl.
Sitting, but not pretty.

No matter. The cockerels may be unwanted, but we’re still applying our “All Spot On Farm Animals Deserve a Happy Existence™” policy.

We had them in a little Rubbermaid tub for a bit, and then about a week into it, they outgrew it. So we moved them to a 30-gallon feeding trough. That was great for the second and third week.

We’ve just finished building a terrific, A-frame chicken tractor. It’s six and a half feet by eight feet, and just over four feet tall, with plenty of room for the keets and the roos.

All the fowl are much happier now. We move them to fresh turf each day. They feast on organic layer pellets and unsold organic microgreens from OrganiSense. We even turn on a light for a couple of hours just after dark. They devour the protein-rich insects it attracts, as well as the black soldier fly larvae the we obligingly “cultivate” for them.

And we’ve learned some interesting things observing them.

Soon, the guineas will be big enough to roam free during the day, to hunt for creepy crawly bird snacks and rid the farm of undesirable pests. As for the roos…well, they enjoy each beautiful October day on the farm, and we in turn enjoy their antics.

They can’t all stay with us, of course, but we think we’ll keep one. Rodney. He can hang out with the hens to come. Maybe they’ll show him a little…well, you know.