31 August 2010

Roosters?


I've been thinking a bit about keeping roosters lately. To keep or not to keep, that is the question.

We have two flocks of chooks at the moment; the flock of chooks that came to us at one day old and had a couple of roosters in amongst all the hens, and a flock that we bought at point of lay with no roosters at all.

The reason I've been thinking about them is because after a few rooster attacks on me and the girls while gathering eggs, we are all a bit afraid of visiting that flock. I'm sure they are only protecting their girls but gosh it hurts and I have some scars to prove it.

But one of the most important things to us at Daylesford Organics is biodiversity and we don't believe you can be bio diverse if you have 1000 female of a species and no males.

Also, we feel that it is our responsibility to provide a good life for our hens. A life that is as close to their natural life as we can facilitate whilst protecting them from predators and the elements. This means keeping roosters.

The flock with the roosters appear calmer than the one without and if you watch them carefully, you'll see the roosters calling to the hens to alert them to something to eat or to a threat.

And I guess what's a farm without the early morning crow of the rooster?
Even if it means always maintaining a supply of ear plugs when they are up near the house over winter.

Its a hard one, but we are lucky enough that none of the boys seem to mind visiting the rooster flock to feed them, move them along or to collect the eggs, so we don't have to make any difficult decisions at the moment.

But I do believe that keeping roosters is probably the difference between a free range organic egg farm where the chooks have a lifestyle and an egg factory.

But its interesting to think and talk about. To consider from all angles and to make our minds up and then change them again. After five years in the egg business, we are still learning every day.