Culling in Flock Management. It's a part of the whole.

I tried to re-home 5 of the six..... 

I tried to mitigate the situation with separate housing and fencing. What a lot of extra steps to manage things, for the survival, but lack of quality of life for all!!

I had tried to attend to the end of a bad situation – by culling the extra 5 roosters the night before, using a technique I'd seen which seemed most humane. It was quite intimate with the bird- first stroking it's head to make it relax and then fingind the jawbone to slice the carotid artery (not the airway), so that it simply expired without a struggle - but I could not do it.

The bird kept looking me in the eye, and he was one who since last month, slept in the trees at night- quite a game bird personality, and not trusting, so making him trust me so I could kill him just seemed twisted.

My dad (who is weeks away from 85), and I, killed the 5 roosters in the morning. Before 1st light.
It went smoothly, but was really, really, hard to do - and I hated myself for needing to do it.

I really wanted my special ‘roo chick’ to be a good rooster so I could keep him- his feathers were so artful... 

...but he would not tame, and he was tearing up the hens' backs, and he was way too small to consider improving the flock with.
I considered plucking his beautiful feathers, (afterward) but it seemed wrong to gain something from his loss. I felt I didn't deserve them for being the cause of his ultimate demise, but they were all torn up from other rooster challenges anyway.
We didn't gut them or pluck feathers- we put them on the public lands a mile away - for the coyotes and buzzards. Back to nature is still not 'wasted'.

The rest of the flock will reside with the old gray roo:

(Roo is now 4 y/o) until next spring, and he has little interest in mating and chasing. Though he does have SOME interest, I can’t say he’s especially good at it, lol.
He responds to me and I can pick him up (though it ruffles his feathers (dignity) to do so, lol.)

I've been letting the 2 chicks out into the coop yard this weekend (with the momma) and first a cochin hen came over to investigate them and offer a peck at them, but I shoo'ed her away a few times before she got the msg.

Then the littlest hen of all, the one who is at the bottom rung of the pecking order, went to peck my red chick. Momma hen squawked at her and the chick got out of the way, but she was relentlessly trying, so I went and pointed a finger at her - a stern warning that she respected. She ran from me and kept her distance thereafter.

Roo also went to investigate and acted like he disapproved of them- making gutteral sounds and strutting... making momma hen ruffle all her feathers to look bigger and more threatening- so I pointed my finger at him and he walked away too.

You see, we have an understanding and agreement of the pecking order - the perfect kind of flock to have.
(The artfully feathered 1 y/o roo which I didn't keep, was running to attack the chicks every second my back was turned!) He refused to take orders of NO, or to let me be the top of the rung - never a good thing with a rooster because they'll constantly challenge you - it's no fun being attacked from behind.

My little chicks are outside their chick enclosure for day 3 and enjoying life in the coop yard, and out of the coop yard too, free-ranging.... So we have a peaceful chicken yard again and will not have to listen to the cacophony chorus of 6 roosters each morning an hour before sunrise and all day too (because of competition).
It was WORTH their demise, but I despise doing it.
My hubby was hoping it was something that I could grow 'used to'. I had to tell him no - it's not something I'll ever get used to, it's simply something I did because I HAD to.
We do what we have to!
And I feel at this time that meat prices will skyrocket eventually pricing us out, unless I am familiar with doing this adn can successfully process our own birds. I will do it for my family, just as has been done for centuries on end.

Next spring I will have to end the old cochin’s life as well as his flock of gray cochin hens (I believe only 2 are still reliable layers of good eggs and one is a layer of eggs good for dogs). They will be 5 years old next spring and too old for their own good -too many age-related maladies to deal with the risk of.
I will hopefully be purchasing a new rooster and 6 hens (sexed chicks) then.
Anyway, that's the plan. But you know how plans can go awry...

To clear up some confusion, I WAS planning to pluck and roast (for stock) those five 1 y/o roosters.
But in the end, decided it wasn't worth it just for broth which I can buy just as easily.
Also, I didn't go to bed until midnight (the first butchering attempt was so dis-settling), and then Mishka (the lab) woke me up at 2:44 with his cavernous howls and then I woke up before 5am thanks to our windows open for the breeze (roosters crow at first light about an hour before sunrise). Since I wanted to do the deed before sunrise....I got up anyway, but the energy wasn't there for the whole process, as well as a lack of will by then.

The entire reason is that I just had to do it. No one could bail me out of the circumstances but myself. Nowhere else to put them, no way could I just 'dump' them somewhere, and I did try to find homes... they are a dime a dozen you know.

We are losing our home, and we can't move with that many roosters- no one would approve it and anyway, it would BE bad coop management.  Imagine cooping up 5 roosters in a separate enclosure all 6-month winter long! More water dishes and feed dishes to clean up around and more hassles all around, plus a loss of money for feed for birds who do nothing productive, and of course more hearing loss... no thanks!

The one thing I want to do well, is manage my own messes, and do right and good by the flock in my charge. Even if it means putting some of them down. Fortunately my dad did the hardest part, I just held onto them, and that was bad enough.

Dad said, "I came here intending to be more help than bother". I think he felt a nostalgic reverence and connection to his own mom. He grew up around many, many, ( if not every), woman, being able to catch and clean their own hens-  for a Sunday dinner. I bless him for his willingness to help with the deed.
We talked a lot about The Waltons' show at lunch the day before. I told them, that was an ideal living situation to me... everyone in the family has their place and helps in some way that others can't.

Anyway, the best part of having done that thing, is that we finished up just as the sun was rising, so that when it became light, it felt like we had already lept into the next day- and a little distance helped my psyche greatly!

1-day update
I went past the coop yard to water the bees & a hen made a sound from the bushes of the coop yard - it momentarily brought the thought that it was the giant sexlink rooster again. Like he lived after all. Or came back to haunt me. I reprimanded my imagination for getting the better of me.   I felt badly for his end all over again. It’s so quiet in the yard w/out all 6 roosters rooster song. But I felt the loss of it profoundly.

2-day update
I'm enjoying the peace of the chicken yard again- the way it should be, but I woke to a bad dream; that I had been butchering rabbits, and one was not deceased afterwards, so I had to watch it suffer, linger. And of course it resembled one of our rabbit pets from before.

I will never hatch random eggs again, only buy pre-sexed chicks or specifically hatch birds FOR meat birds. You don't get attached to them in only a few short months.

The roosters I'd had for over a year....and I knew their distinct personalities; they had individual person-hood.  I think it would be best to trade the butchering job with a neighbor- to  trade meat bird flocks for the processing. No attachments to someone else’s birds. Maybe. But for sure, I'll just have to wait and see if we're priced out of meat first... I won't do it voluntarily.

Anyway, the flock is as it should be and life must go on. It was traumatic because killing just is, but it needed to be done. and as a team we stepped up & did what had to be done. I’m sorry for their loss, but not for mine!

The day is bright blue, and promising to get hot again...and since there are always many other things to do to manage a flock, I’m off to get busy.

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