Back to the series on the farm boys. We’re now up to episode IV [insert Star Wars joke here] about J.R. 2.
Another warning about blunt discussions of animal biology, sociality, and sexuality!
As you might recall, J.R. 1 was jerky rooster #1 who chased lovely and sweet Cleo around the orchard and corn patch. That ended quickly.
J.R. 1 made a delicious roast. It was actually the first time we had roasted a (meaning, our) chicken. Both of us (mostly me, though) have been a bit squeamish about eating livestock that still strongly resembles their living selves. Hence, chicken stew and soup, not roast chicken. But J.R. 1 was jerky–and young–enough that neither of us had any qualms about roasting him. It. Him. And he–it–he was delicious.
Now, what about J.R. 2? He is now in our freezer so you know his eventual fate. How did he get there?
Well, J.R. 1 lost his life because he chased Cleo around the chicken yards. J.R. 2 lost his life because he started mating aggressively with some of the female chickens.
This is extremely common for roosters. In fact, it’s basically the norm. Ron works with a woman, “B,” at our local co-op. She has a rather, er, colorful phrase for this rooster behavior, which definitely crosses the line into so-called sailor’s language so I won’t repeat the apt phrase here.
In doing chicken research, Ron read somewhere that less dominant roosters can actually be more aggressive with the hens than the alpha rooster. They are trying to assert their dominance when and with whom they can. Unfortunately, the hens experience the brunt of this aggression. The roosters can get physical enough that they pull out feathers on the hens’ mid-backs, often leaving a patch of bare skin. Some people will put little apron/saddle thingys on their hens to protect them (!).
Another option is more straightforward: get rid of the aggressive roosters!
J.R. 2 had obviously hit chicken puberty and started mating aggressively with some of the hens for several days. Both Ron and I saw this, and it was reaching the point when we were deciding what to do. Cull the misbehaving roosters? Now? In a few days? Or what? Part of the challenge was that we had three roosters so we wanted to make sure that we targeted the right, um, suspect(s).
Ron decided J.R. 1’s time was up. Then it became J. R. 2’s turn.
But what was probably most fascinating about the whole episode was Tom’s response and behavior. You might recall that Tom, also known as Major Tom (after all, David Bowie died earlier this year), is now the lone rooster.
Ron saw J.R. 2 hop on a poor hen, hanging on. He then saw Tom run over and shoo J.R. 2 away (!). Tom did this several times (!!).
Yes, Tom, a rooster, chased off another rooster, seemingly protecting the hen(s) from J.R. 2’s aggressive amorous intents (!).
And that is how and why Tom became our lone rooster and J.R. 2 ended up in the freezer.