Little wing is our resident rooster. For several years we have maintained a flock of laying hens. We had no desire to have a rooster and were quite happy with our little flock. But as is often the case in homesteading, opportunity knocks and an adventure begins. These are my favorite times. Research is done, plans are put in place, and then bam! everything goes haywire. Little wing’s story starts with one broody hen.
She is not Little wing’s mother but she liked to sit on eggs and wouldn’t move when we collected them, so we decided to try and take advantage of this. We contacted a friend who had fertilized eggs and were able to trade some homemade pickles for a few eggs. Next we marked the eggs so we knew which were the fertilized ones. This way we could still collect the others for breakfast. We then placed the eggs under the broody hen. Everything was going well and we waited the 21 days for the eggs to hatch. By the time they were ready we had lost a few eggs (I’m still not sure where they went). But one day I went to check the eggs and laying on the floor of the coop was a poor abandoned little chick with a wing that looked broken. Although the broody hen was good at sitting on eggs she was no “mother”. We quickly put the chick into a brood box with a heat lamp, food and water.
He would peep and seemed healthy but his wing still looked funny so we began to call him Little Wing. After a few weeks of growing Little Wing began to stand tall and try to kick us when we brought fresh water, this was the first sign he was not a hen. We never really wanted a rooster but we had become attached to him. (a huge danger in homesteading) After 8 weeks we put him outside with the big girls. This is usually a tough time as chickens have a pecking order and can be brutal to each other. To keep the abuse at a minimum we have constructed two separate runs each with a coop. The runs share a fence and there is a door between them. Little wing spent the first few weeks in one run while the girls had the other. They could see and smell each other and even peck through the fence a bit, but we find this keeps the new ones safe and allows the big girls to get used to new chickens. After a few weeks we opened the door between the runs. This is when we were almost sure Little Wing was a rooster, instead of getting chased and pecked he stood right up to the girls. They accepted him quickly and he became part of the flock.
One day while feeding the girls in the morning Little Wing approached me. He looked at me and made the most pathetic noise. He looked as if he was vomiting. I then realized that he was trying to crow. We finally had definitive evidence that Little Wing was a rooster. After a few weeks he figured out how to crow and now wakes us up at dawn. He is a good rooster and does not crow much. He does crow when anyone goes out to feed him, which is music to our ears. It finally sounds like a homestead around here thanks to Little Wing. Sometime in the future we plan on hatching some of Little Wing’s and the broody hens eggs. We have tried it with our ducks and were successful, but that is for another day.