Adopted an abandoned Silkie rooster

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by MilesFluffybutt, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. MilesFluffybutt

    MilesFluffybutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 16, 2016
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    Hello citizens of BYC,

    I need to pick your brains about Silkie rooster behavior and introducing a companion. I'll try to keep this post short, but no promises, so stick with me.

    I live in a very rural, very small and very northern Vermont town where most of my immediate neighbors raise some sort of livestock - horses, cows, chickens. So when I found this rooster hanging around my house about a month ago, I assumed he had wandered over from one of the neighboring properties. However, after inquiring with my neighbors about this stray rooster, I found that none of them raise Silkies. One of my neighbor's suggested that some folks abandon roosters in wooded areas as opposed to putting them in the stew pot. Whether this rooster was intentionally abandoned at my house or nearby matters not, I suppose, because I now have a rooster. And honestly, it's fine. Miles Fluffybutt, as I've named him, is cute, quite chatty, generally friendly, although he isn't totally comfortable being picked up and he loves good bread as much as I do.

    I finished the majority of his coop - a 4 ft. x 8 ft. ark with a 2.5ft x 4ft house on one end - two weekends ago. I finished shingling it last weekend and I hope to finish painting it this weekend. It should be large enough to fit three or four chickens comfortably. In the Spring, I plan on building a larger run. Unfortunately, I cannot let them free range - my neighbor's dogs visit a lot and I'm caring for two feral-ish cats plus I have my own dog and cat that both would love to eat chicken. Don't worry; the cat stays inside and the dog has her own run in the front yard so Miles can have the backyard for his run. If the dog is with me - helping garden, hanging out, whatever, she's leashed.

    Miles is moulting, I think. He's leaving a few feathers here and there, and the 'streamers' on his crown and a few feathers around his neck look different, but not worrisome. If he's not molting, do you think he might be stressed? What are signs of a stressed rooster? What can I do to alleviate his stress, if he is stressed? He doesn't crow a whole lot and seems to be a little less active than a month ago. Although, that could be contributed to the waning light and cold weather settling in.

    I know chickens are social creatures so how do I introduce a female companion? Or two companions? Does it matter the species or age? I don't eat or really have any use for eggs. I'm not interested in raising a bunch of chickens, so would it make sense to seek out an older hen who may not be laying well or at all? What would the challenges of that be?

    The folks at the feed store and my friends who raise chickens agree that Miles is likely less than a year old.

    And while I'm thinking of it, I should ask about table scraps. What can I feed him as a treat? What is an absolute no-no? Right now, I give him a cracked corn and meal worm mix - a little bit scattered on the ground and with his grit, some bread - usually whole wheat. What should he be getting for fruits/veggies on a regular basis, if any at all? What about cooked rice? Can I share that with him? Should he be getting oyster shells or is that more for laying hens to ensure enough calcium for hard shells?

    His regular food is Manna Pro organic layer pellets. He has a heated water fount and I scatter grit on the ground for him. I tried putting it in a bowl, but he just pooped in it. Will I need build in space somewhere for a dust bath or a water bath?

    These might very dumb questions, but I'm new to raising chickens. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. If you have questions, please ask.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this not-so-short post.
     
  2. GitaBooks

    GitaBooks Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    That's awesome that you saved that rooster. Silkies don't do well in the wild, they aren't good at dodging predators or finding food because of their feather shape and extra toes.
    He wouldn't be molting if he is under a year old, but he could be a little stressed or else just be dropping some feathers because of his difficult wild living making him preen less often.

    The best friend for a rooster is 2-3 hens of similar breed, since larger breeds may bully a silkie rooster if not raised with him. You could get cochins, silkies, any breed that is calmer. If you get an older hen, a retired layer, ect, there is a good chance they will die in a couple years (before the rooster) due to excessive laying while young. It is awesome to adopt out a retired layer, but they may not make the best long-term companions for a rooster.

    As far as table scraps go, anything excessively sweet, salty, oily/greasy or processed should be avoided, but bread, vegetables, fruit, noodles, eggs, seeds and nuts, and cereal are all loved but chickens.
    I would certainly avoid avacado (said to be toxic to birds), candy, milk (yogurt is okay), or raw meat.

    My chickens enjoy cooked rice, worms and grubs, and grains and seeds. He shouldn't need any calcium, and avoid layer feed (chick food or non-laying rations are best). He needs a balanced diet, so just plain corn, bread, or meal worms is not enough, as they are not that high in nutrients.

    Silkies love to dust bathe, but they don't do well getting wet, it can give them a chill. They aren't water-proof like chicken with normal feathers so avoid letting him get into mud or puddles.


    I hope this helps! Best of luck!! : )
     
  3. MilesFluffybutt

    MilesFluffybutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 16, 2016
    Vermont
    Hi Gita,

    Thank you so much for your informative reply. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so.

    I don't know how long he was out there, but I noticed my dog and one of the feral-ish cats acting funny about three days before I found him pecking around in one of my flower gardens. He doesn't seem to preen as much as other chickens I've met.

    He is incredibly social with people. He'll follow people around the yard and chatter away. He isn't terribly comfortable being outside the coop without a person present, even if it's just for a brief moment. With the cats, dogs and other critters, who can blame him? He might be little more confident once he has a couple of friends.

    Speaking of friends, I had posted to a community forum seeking a non-laying hen or two. I got two offers - one for two Black Sex Links and one for as many Cuckoo Marrans I wanted. I thought about it - researched the breeds, but ultimately decided against it for the very same reasons you outlined. I'd certainly be crushed if I found the poor little guy pecked to death. I'll see if I can find some other Silkies. Companionship may have to wait until Spring when chicks are available since I don't have the setup or space to hatch them.

    I'll see if any of the feed stores in my area carry rooster feed. If not, I might be able to get them to place an order for it. I did wonder if that was too much calcium and too little protein. Do you know of a specific brand I should inquire about? I'm a vegetarian so he'll have plenty grains, fruits and veggies in his diet.

    As winter moves in, I don't suspect he'll want to go out of the run too often to forage so I'll see about getting some worms from a hunting/fishing supply store. I assume those are okay.

    What about Scratch? Is that something you'd recommend?

    I'll see what I can do about setting up a dust bath for the winter. There's plenty of space in the run.

    Again, thank you so much the information.
     
  4. GitaBooks

    GitaBooks Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Worms and scratch are great treats. Scratch isn't as nutritionally balanced as "complete diets" such as pellet or crumble, but they are an excellent supplement to the diet. Different areas have different brands. We use DuMOR, but it is mainly for laying hens and isn't very healthy for pets. I wish I could afford a better diet for my own, but finding a brand that makes food for pet chickens can be difficult and the food might need to be ordered in.
     

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