Chickens are remarkable animals. We use them for eggs and pest control and fertility. The hens can do all of these things gently. After 3 years, they become stew hens.
The roosters though. They don’t lay eggs. They fight for dominance. They can occasionally get uppity with humans and their children. They tell you about the sun before it ever shows up. They don’t taste good when you cook them. (Different texture in the meat once they get big enough to bother cleaning out. Stringy.) Roosters exist in the same category of livestock as Emus: Borderline useless and nearly always a hassle.
In previous years we would incubate eggs, keep the hens and cull the cocks and move on. Then we had pigs and I could feed the cull birds to the pigs and everyone who was around to be happy, was happy. Then we ate the pigs and had a batch for 11 chicks with 9 roosters with no where to go. We have enough issues with predatory canines that I can’t feed them roosters now. 😞.
David the Good writes incredible garden-action-adventure novels, funny gardening books and runs a productive YouTube channel. He mentioned using chickens to prepare garden beds, and that got us thinking.
What if we could redeem these truculent juvenile roosters to be productive members of the farm society?
What if they could help reclaim the garden? We lost track of it with a newborn baby in the fall and it became a jungle.
I took the electric net from the pasture. It surprisingly fit perfect to cover the bottom, and then loop back to cover the top. The birds get food and water. They scratch up the grass and the weeds and the old growth. They smash down the tomato and okra carcasses. They fertilize everywhere for the coming spring. Fun for them, saves me from having to do more work. Where I throw their kibbles, they scuffle and prepare for spring.
That’s the plan. How did it work?
It’s gone alright, a solid C grade. 2 roosters continued to escape to try and hang with the ladies through a fence. The remaining roosters have done good work but the density is low. I have two other roosters preparing a different bed they haven’t escaped from after they left the jungle. Hard to deal with winter weather issues in there though, no shelter. You can see the irrigation lines running across the beds. The birds don’t mess them up like a tiller or cultivator would. This will take some tweaking for next fall. The proof of concept is good. We now have a way to redeem the roosters.