A Suburban Farm of 6th Happiness.

Smores

by Alan - September 20th, 2012.
Filed under: Chickens.

Smores is an Ameraucana chicken whose original family was uncertain if Smores was male or female.  Smores had a longer tail, more typical of males, and also made some crowing sounds, similar to a young cockerel starting to find his voice.  It was the vocalisation that was a problem though as Smore’s original family was worried about neighbours being alerted to their keeping chickens in a town that did not allow it.

Smores as stayed in a cage in my office during night and early morning.  In this way, I could listen for crowing.  Also, if Smores did crow, it would not bother our neighbours.  Our other roosters have cages (large dog crates) in the basement for the same reason.  Late morning, after neighbours are awake, at school or work, they join the hens outside.

I have yet to hear any crowing despite having Smores for a few weeks.  Although Smore’s tail is long, there are no spurs on the legs (although it is possible they could come in later).  I suspect that Smores is a female chicken, who is either naturally dominant, or has an ovarian problem.  In the first case, as a dominant hen, Smores may have simply assumed the duties of a rooster in her original small flock (eg: warning of preditors, drawing attention to food sources, protection etc).  Now, that Smores is around other roosters, smores doesn’t feel the need to fill the role.  Alternatively, Smores may have an ovarian problem, leading to a hormone imbalance.  When this happens (at any time in the chicken’s lifespan), the hen can develop secondary sexual characteristics of a rooster, such as longer tail feathers, spurs and even crowing.

I suspect that Smores is just a dominant hen, because of the lack of spurs; but we’ll know for sure when (if) Smores ever lays an egg.  I have seen long tails on females before, although they are uncommon.  A while ago, I took in three Javas from a woman in the area when a neighbour complained (chickens were not permitted in her town either);  she believed that one of them was a rooster (since named “Sweetie”),  who was exceptionally quiet.    When I introduced the trio to first a couple of hens, it went well, so I enlarged the pen they were in and add a couple more hens.   When the penned area become larger, Sweetie found it difficult to hide behind her 2 companions as they’d often go of in opposite directions.  The other hens would then start to beat up on Sweetie, and the 2  Javas that she came with even turned on her.   Sweetie was brought indoors to have her wounds kept clean and treated with antibiotics.  During this time, we found an egg in the cage with her.  So it was immediately obvious, Despite the long flowing, Sweetie wasn’t a quiet rooster, but a hen; and a fertile one, so she did not have an ovarian problem.

Because Smores is a new chicken to a good sized, established flock, a slow introduction is necessary (failure to do this, can result in the established flock beating up the new comer, often to the point of death).  To start with,  Smores was introduced to Wind up Toy- a bantam barred rock rooster, and Sweetie, the above mentioned Java (she and Toy have been living together happily for some time now;  but only Toy free-ranges with the others.  Sweetie has to stay in penned off areas.  I am hoping that I can eventually increase the number of chickens socialised to Sweetie so that she can free-range in the yard also.)

The three of them have done okay together.  So I introduced another hen to their group:  ‘Butch’, a black Jersey Giant.  She in not yet full grown, but she is highly protective of others.  If  I just pick up another hen, Butch will come running from across the yard and give my foot or leg a swift hard peck.   So far, Butch is getting along with Toy, Smores and Sweetie.  I hope that Butch will come to protect Smores and Sweetie, making it easier to integrate them into the larger flock.  Toy, although a rooster, is rather submissive.

In the photos below, Wind up Toy, Sweetie, Butch and Smores are in an enclosed pen that I made by fittign chicken wire over the legs of a wooden playset that was in the yard when we moved here;  that provides a sheltered/shaded enclosure, the bottom of which is filled with play sand.  I also hung a large branch up in here, which I’ve found Smores and Sweetie using.  There is a “doorway”/gate to this enclosed and covered area, which I can either close, or, as I am currently doing, lift up, and  attach a large dog crate to; this makes for a secure unshaded area for sunbathing.

I throw seeds, corn, cheerrios, etc down inside their pen, and also around it.  This encourages the other free-ranging chickens to come and eat near Sweetie, Toy, Butch and Smores, providing some socialisation time between the small group and the larger flock.

 

Images can be clicked to enlarge:

 

Smores

Sweetie and Toy in front. Butch in back (left) and Smores in back (right)

Smores, in the attached dog crate

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