Who Rules the Roost......By Roseann Maiorana
I was glad when the winter was finally over, the surrounding fields were turning green, small patches of snow could be seen on the outter edge of the field. My girs had been cooped up in the barn all winter and were chomping at the bit so to speak, to get out and forage in the new spring grass; Black Fly larvae would be easy pickens and delicious after a diet of grain and crumble.
I have five Rhode Island Red hens, Rosie, Tessie, Anna, Clorinda and Florie. At one time I had six but Gladys disappeared never to be found.
Rosie was the largest of the hens and the dominate one. She was the leader of the group and protector. When there was any sign of danger her sisters would come running and stand behind her. She demostrataed her ability to protect the flock.
They had a very peaceful existence; going about their business, free ranging over the field, eating fly larvae or an occasional worm. They thanked me, by giving me six beautiful large brown eggs every day.
I don't know exactly why I decided to get a Rooster. A mutual chicken fancier that I met told me she had a Rhode Island Red Rooster. One to many, It appears that each Rooster has a harem and there were not enough hens to go around. I really didn't know too much about chickens at the time, being a novice's I agreed to take the Rooster.
When she brought him over, I have to admit he was magnificent. I named him Sam after my grandfather, seeing as Rosie was named after my grandmother; the rest of the hens were named after her daughters, Tessie being my mothers name sake.
They were innocent little girls, grown up but never the less innocent.
I kept Sam in a holding cage; I wanted the girls to get used to seeing him; I watched him ruffling his feathers, holding his head up high and back as he crowed expanding his chest; I belive he was doing some sort of courting dance, to impress the girls. I can tell you they were not impressed; they walked right passed the cage.
Sam was making a fool out of himself. Crowing and strutting around in his cage. The girls just walked out the barn door and left him crowing his fool head off. This went on for several days. Then one day Florie stayed behind and sat next to the cage. Sam seemed quite impressed with her behavior; eventualy they all did this with the exception of Rosie.
I waited about two weeks before I let Sam out of the cage, The girls flocked around him; Rosie kept her distance; Sam wasted no time in teaching the girls the facts of life. Reluctantly Rosie gave in; His harem was complete.
The girls quickly learned, who ruled the roost, including Rosie at times; However Rosie was not intimidated by Sam; she had ruled the roost for a year before Same came along. I noticed that he acted very differently towards her; it appeared to me as though he accepted Rosie has his equal. Only she was allowed to roost next to him in the evening; He gave her first choice on treats; it was amazing to observe their behavior. The rest of the girls had their own pecking order within the flock and where willing to follow both Rosie and Sam as they slowly walked about the field looking for tasty morsels.
Sam and Rosie make a handsome pair; Rosie demostrated with out a doubt that it is not always the Rooster who rules the roost.