Meet Rocky. He's pretty much the only rooster here at the farm that we've bothered to name. This is because tend not to name animals that we know we're going to eat, and all Brood Farm roosters have, heretofore, been dinner.
Here's a little backstory on Rocky.
Some time ago, we decided that it isn't very cost-effective for us to continue ordering chicks from the hatchery to replenish our laying flock. So, one of our farm goals for 2015 is to begin experimenting with hatching out our own chicks.
While we may eventually expand this to include several different breeds, we currently only have the infrastructure for one breeding operation and this is still in its experimental stage, so sticking to one breed makes sense for now. But, which breed?
We would like to eventually be a one-stop shop for all things "chicken." We could sell eggs, chicks, laying-ready hens, and even meat. This means that the breed we choose should lay a good number of eggs, be a popular backyard breed, and grow large enough that the males would reach a good slaughter weight in a reasonable amount of time. Considering all these variables, we determined that the Barred Rock could be a good breed to begin with.
We have plenty of Barred Rock hens to experiment with, but we'd have to raise a rooster. In fact, I had just begun readying the barn to hold the new chicks we were about to order (we figured we ought to order a few to allow for loss and help refill the freezer). But. . .
The other day, I was giving some farm visitors a little tour and as we drove down to the chicken field, I heard it . . . ER-er-Er-er-EEERRRRR. Yep, one of our young Barred Rock "hens" was crowing. Turns out we already have our Barred Rock rooster!
And, it gets better. From the time these new chicks began getting their true feathers, we had a favorite Barred Rock. She was beautiful. Her feathers looked softer somehow, her barred pattern more beautiful. We were careful not to sell her when we were selling hens out of that batch (good thing!). And, wouldn't you know, she turned out to be the he! So, we've we got our rooster, AND he's beautiful!
Since we don't like to sell fertilized eggs, my niece who was among the visitors snatched him up out of the field, and we carried him back up near the barn to what will be the breeding pen. As soon as we can get our hands on an incubator, we'll move a few Barred Rock ladies in with him and see what happens.
It seems like a lot of times in this farming life, things get done the hard way. It sure is nice when something happens like this and the pieces just kind of fall into place!