Can I keep a chicken that's been wandering on my property?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by suliah, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. suliah

    suliah Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think I know who he belongs to, as there are a couple of farms within 1/4 mile who free-range nearby. However, I was forced to contain my own chickens when the neighbor complained about mine free-ranging (apparently it's against the ordinance but nobody knows that unless someone complains). So I have 10 hens and 2 ducks in a coop and run. Anyway, a lone rooster wandered onto my property about a week ago, and he's come back every day since. He's nice, he now comes when I call him and eats the scratch I throw him. I do want a rooster, (I had one before but he got mean as he matured and attacked my kids, so he was thanksgiving dinner) but I need a nice one. This one is nice.

    So my question is, can I keep him? Legally? I don't mean like tie him down or anything, but my run has just a 4' fence that he could fly over if he wanted (I clip wings to keep my girls in), but can I toss him into my run and see if he wants to stay?

    My other question is why would he be wandering in the first place? I'm guessing he's older and been recently displaced from his pecking order, so he may in fact be looking for another flock. But I truly have never had a chicken just appear in my yard and decide to stay (he disappears every evening but is back the next day).

    thoughts?
     
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    If you know who owns him, why don't you just ask if you can have him? Lots of people are happy to give away a rooster. Plus it's not really fair to keep him if he's someone's pet that they want to keep. This way you'll have him legally, because I'm sure it's technically illegal for you to steal someone's rooster if they want to keep him.
     
  3. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    He disappears every evening because he goes home to roost.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    If nearest keepers are more than 1/8 mile away, even if he came originally from them, then he is likely no longer going back even at night. In all likelihood he is roosting closer to you. Mine when ranging maximally as like now seldom range more than 400 yards in any direction from their roost site. Most do not even go half that far unless guided by a fencerow and not finding food. If he is no longer going back to original owners, then I would call him feral so finders keepers would apply.

    Show picture of him.
     
  5. suliah

    suliah Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well I have an idea, but it's one of 2 houses so I'm not totally sure... and I don't actually know my neighbors, so yeah I just don't have the guts to do that I guess. The weird part is I haven't seen either of those 2 houses' chickens out free ranging in a couple of months, so maybe I'm wrong? I just assumed he belonged to one of them because it's Michigan and we don't have wild chickens here.
    I figured that, but then he comes straight back to my house in the morning. There isn't anyplace for him to roost here unless he's in my coop, and it's snowing so he needs shelter. I have a feeling he'd already be trying to nest with my girls if he could.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2015
  6. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    Well, I guess it's possible he got kicked out of the flock and his original owners aren't concerned or don't care and don't really want him, or, also likely, someone dumped an unwanted rooster and now he has no home. If either of those are the case, you could certainly keep him. There's also no harm in giving him shelter. You could always give him back if someone comes looking for him. Just make sure he is healthy. You don't want to introduce any diseases to your girls.
     
  7. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like you're a bit worried or scared to meet your neighbors. I bet you'd rest easier if you find out for sure who's he is, or at least perform due diligence to try. Otherwise, you'll be going to sleep every night wondering if you stole someone's chicken. It sounds like whomever owned him perhaps doesn't care about him, but to assume could taint your conscience and/or future relations with neighbors. What if for some reason one of your neighbors ends up at your home (packaged delivered to wrong address, etc) and sees the roo and get's upset over it because it was their roo? Sure, they could have gone looking for him and yes, you could have gone looking for the owner. If you at least do that and don't find the owner, then I'd say keep him if you want and you'll be able to sleep with a clear conscience. I'd suggest to take a picture of the Roo ("Found Rooster with your phone # or email addy), make some copies and go to the homes you think he might be from. Ask them if they know the rooster and if not, if they know who's he might be. If they're not home, you could just leave the flyer at their doorstep.

    It's the same most people would do if a healthy looking dog showed up at their door.

    I think would be different if you KNEW where he came from and you KNEW his owners were abusive to him. In that case, I would take him in and if they came asking for him, tell them they can't have him back because he was being treated poorly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    He may be going back to a coop to sleep at night, or a favorite tree. this is a good chance to get out and meet your neighbors. i'm sure they won't bite you. It could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Ditto^^

    Just go knock on the door and ask....base your next move on the reception you get.
     
  10. suliah

    suliah Chillin' With My Peeps

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    FYI-- the rooster walked into my open coop a couple days ago. I have a low fence (with lots of ways to climb out, my girls with clipped wings still occasionally hop the fence if they see something more interesting on the other side) and he has chosen to stay. He integrated into my flock like he belonged there, so I have a feeling he'd been hanging out outside the fence talking to my girls for a lot longer than I knew!

    I really don't think I stole him, in fact at this point I think I saved him by letting him in. It's below freezing outside with over a foot of snow this week :/
     
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