Sunday, 10 June 2012

New Hopefuls

There is not much doubt now that we're are down to three roosters.
One we culled from the flock, and the other, our best breeder, is out of the game.
He is alive still, but in quaratine for his own protection. I don't expect him to survive, but that won't stop us from trying to bring him back into health.

We need at least five roosters, so all eyes are on our early spring group.
The pullets have all been sold, but the cockerels remain.
They all look good so far.
It will be a different dynamic than in previous years.
They have no girls to fight over. (The mature hens are off limits of course.)
They get along well with each other, though they are still very young.
I am watching for individual personalities, outgoing demeanor, and overall vigor.
We don't want birds that are flighty. Nor do we want them aggressive.
They should be friendly and strong.

They do behave like a pack of teenaged boys.
Their confidence runs high we they are on their own, but they are meek in the presence of the older birds.
They stick together and look out for each other.
I'd like this positive behaviour to continue into maturity.
Our last group of roosters was almost perfect.
The recent battles spoiled it all however; they'll never be the same again.
The new top male is a rotten leader and I look forward to seeing him usurped.

We are not limited to these five cockerels for replacement males.
There are one-hundred and twenty eggs in the incubator right now.
A conservative estimate of 60% for a hatch rate means seventy-two chicks.
Of those, thirty-six will be males.
In addition, I will be able to check the chicks that we just sold, once the are becoming mature.
If there are any that I like, I may simply buy them back.

The benefit of the new group we have is that they are already a family unit, and that could work in our favour.

Though I am disappointed that we lost the integrity of our mature group of males, there are many options left open to us.
The number one reason for hatching our own chicks is to mitigate losses from predation or other threats.
We learned last year that if you keep only one rooster, it only takes the loss one bird to lose the ability to carry the flock on.

In fact, we still have the benefit of our chosen males due to the fact that their progeny is in the incubator and also on another farm.
Our best rooster did the most breeding so we may be able to recover him through one of his offspring.
The next batches will be weighted heavily toward the new top male, and despite my dislike for him, he really isn't all that bad.
There is also the matter of keeping a deep gene pool going.
Once there are new males ready however,
I'll make sure the current leadership is removed.

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