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  • Writer's pictureChristina Swaan

Here we go again

When spring kicks in and breeding season for many species begins. In our domesticated poultry we see significant changes in their behavior and habits, and vocalization, aggression, and other territorial behaviors seem to explode from even the most mild mannered birds.

For Rufio (who's attitude is generally pretty strong to begin with) this means acting out on these seasonal and hormonally-driven tendencies with increased vigor. Although I am fortunate that this year he has not decided to direct his frustration towards me (I think we established who makes the rules around here last summer) it seems he's been particularly rough on his hens - of which there are 14 - which has resulted in missing back & head feathers on some of his favorites. Although this is pretty typical of poultry mating habits, it does leave the hens with a rather ragged and unkempt appearance. To mitigate this, I've had to adorn several of the girls with made-for-purpose "coats" to protect their backsides.

Coats are all well and good, and give the hens some protection - however, this is only one piece of the overall method of managing changes in poultry behavior.

The least pleasant of Rufio's behaviors this time of year are of course his perception that small humans (such as my 4yr old daughter) are a threat that must be dealt with. Tears and potential goring to the face are not something any parent wants to deal with - so when Rufio reverts his attention to charging my child despite the amount of work I've done to try to get him to ignore her drastic measures must be taken. Unfortunately the "Rooster Booper" isn't quite enough.

I'll admit I spend a lot of money on my birds... probably "too much" by most normal people's standards, but for me they're not just pets they're companions, and animals who deserve respect and kindness.

In order to manage Rufio's behavior, separate him from the flock to give the girls a break, and safely contain him so he doesn't try to terrorize my child I opted to buy him a brand new coop this year. I opted to go with a prefabricated coop marketed as being able to house 8 chickens (or in this case 1 Rufio-sized rooster) Without disclosing the amount spent, the justification I offered my husband was that we could re-use the coop for our new/grow-out chicks once Rufio's behavior has been successfully adjusted. We'll see how well that ends up working out.

So, Rufio is on time-out, our hens are getting a much-needed break from his constant romantic interests, his brother is able to catch a breath from having to constantly run away in fear, and my child can play in the back yard without getting mauled. Although Rufio is mildly annoyed by his current living arrangement I suppose the money spent on yet another coop is well-spent in this case.

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