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Spring Fever

By Audrey Pavia, Urban Farm Contributor

Monday, May 2, 2011


Photo by Audrey Pavia

My roosters Mr. Mabel and Mr. Molly get along great—until springtime.

The flowers are all blooming on my property: huge pink and white blooms on my cactus, purple and yellow starburst on the native plants around the yard. But the most evident sign of spring for me is the behavior of my roosters, Mr. Molly and Mr. Mabel.

Brothers hatched from the same clutch, these two guys usually get along really well. Mr. Mabel is the dominant roo, and it’s not surprising. He is bossy, loud and very opinionated. Mr. Molly, on the other hand, is sweet and laid back. He seems happy to fade into the background while Mr. Mabel runs the show. That is, until spring comes.            

The trouble usually starts around March, when the hens start laying eggs again after a winter break. Mr. Molly, who usually just wanders around with the flock like one of the hens (except for his morning shuffle dances and clucks when he finds something good to eat), begins to get amorous. He starts paying more attention to the hens until finally, one day, he tries to mate with one of them.

This is when Mr. Mabel kicks into high gear. If he sees the indiscretion, he runs at Mr. Molly and the adulterous hen and chases his brother all around the yard. If Mr. Molly retreats, all turns out well in the end. Mr. Mabel, satisfied with the chase, stops and walks away, confident that he has made is clear that mating with the hens is his privilege only.         

The trouble starts when Mr. Molly refuses to back down. 

This happens every year. So far, it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m waiting.            

When Mr. Molly decides to “flip the bird” at Mr. Mabel, things can get ugly. The two brothers start fighting, just like roosters do in movies that feature cockfighting. They peck and claw at each other with such violence, blood quickly begins to flow.

The only way I’ve found I can break up one of these fights is to turn the hose on them. When both roosters are completely soaked with water, they stop fighting. If the battle wasn’t decided, it’s only a matter of time before it starts up again. In the end, I’ve found that I just have to let them work it out, hoping neither one gets seriously hurt.           

It’s the beginning of May now, and so far, the two are getting along. I did see Mr. Molly sneak one in the other day with one of the Jos. Mr. Mabel saw it and chased him off. Mr. Molly retreated, as he should. I can only hope his cowardice continues.

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Audrey, I guess it's just a natural instinct for roosters to fight for dominance of the yard. It must have been why Mom never had any roosters on the farm. How long does this season last before the chicken yard settles down again? I hope they both make it through the testosterone season without too much injury.

Have a great chicken pecking order day.
David, Omaha, NE
Posted: 5/15/2011 6:43:46 AM

About the Blogger

Audrey Pavia

Audrey Pavia
Keeping farm animals in the city can be a real hoot. Follow freelance writer Audrey Pavia's adventures in Southern California with a yard full of urban livestock, including horses, chickens, a Corgi and an urban barn cat. She somehow manages all these silly critters while working full-time, with no one to help her but her husband, Randy, a born-and-raised New Yorker. And you thought "The Simple Life" was out there?

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