Pavarotti sings to us daily.
Pavarotti sings to us daily.

We have chickens free ranging here at Howling Duck Ranch. This is Pavarotti, the patriarch of the flock. We bought the place in April 2005 and he hatched out in May that same year. He is one of the first livestock to live on the farm; I hatched him myself. My first son, as it were. He is now three years old, as old as the farm.

Pavarotti is a gentleman with his ladies. He spends his time finding food and clucking to his gals when he locates tasty morsels, then lets them eat from his beak; I hardly ever see him eat. He is also a great ‘watch-rooster’. He lets me know if there are foxes about with a particular cluck: fa-Ox, fa-Ox, fa-Ox. The cluck for deer is entirely different: da-da-da-DEER. He has a call for when my neighbour is on her way through the treed fence-line, and another for hawks and overhead danger. I’m not kidding. Chickens have a language, and you can learn it if you are attentive.

Lots of folks tell me that roosters can be stroppy or vicious. Maybe, but not Pav. He’s a keeper, and will live out his days on the farm into old age. Any new young roosters that challenge him get put in the pot. Ones that know who’s king get to stay and add to the gene pool. As for the gals, I let all my hens express themselves as chickens; if they want to become mothers, then they are free to do so. This is an unusual farming practice; today, thanks to genetic modification, we are breeding broodiness out of chickens, because what industry wants is a chicken who lays an egg every day. like clock-work. Most of these factory farmed hens (including the organic and so-called ‘free range’ varieties), of  course, never see the light of day, let alone get the chance to become a mother. In fact, they generally die of exhaustion at the ripe old age of two or less.

It is all part of my ‘ethical’ farming practices: to let each animal be what they were meant to be, not just a food machine for human consumption.

Check back here for future updates and photos of the chickens on the farm.

This little Rhode Island Red gal is only 2 months old.

This little Rhode Island Red gal is only 2 months old.

This part Americana rooster is new to the farm. We saved him from the chopping block. It's a good thing he's so handsome!

This part Americana rooster is new to the farm. We saved him from the chopping block.

How do you like my sideburns?

How do you like my sideburns?

Barred Rock mother and baby who hatched here on the farm in July.

Barred Rock mother and baby who hatched here on the farm in July.

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

'Hen at work'.

'Hen at work'.

9 responses to “Chickens

  1. hello I have coop plan building

  2. larry

    very beatiful hens they look so happy and healthy they must enjoy youur garden very nice rooster to .

  3. Brenda Poff Hill

    Dear Howling Duck Ranch Folks,
    It warmed my heart to read the story of Pavarotti and your other “babies”.
    I am a retired art teacher who loves animals, though I only “own” three cats, and who is continuing to paint and even win a few awards. No website yet, but you can probably Google my name and pull up a few newspaper articles.
    I just wanted to tell you I wish God’s blessings on you all and pray for your continued success.
    Brenda Poff Hill

  4. Chocolate Chip Cookies

    We used to raise chickens when I was growing up about 10 years ago, and I loved every moment of it. We rarely put our beloved chickens to the chopping block, and we let them roam around the yard until our watchdog herded ‘his’ baby-birdies back into the coop at night, after dust-bathing.

    I just wanted to applaud your efforts in caring for your animals the way you do, you inspire so many of your readers, and hopefully you’ll continue to open the industries eyes that ethical farming is truly possible 🙂

    Thank you, and good luck on all future endeavors.

  5. Stephanie

    I love your website! My question to you is can bantum and full sized chickens live together in the same coop. We currently have one full sized rooster and four hen. Along with one bantum hen and rooster. We also have one runner duck and 4 chuckers.

    • Hello Stephanie,

      Yes you can raise bantams and regular chickens together! In fact, I had a hilarious time with blending of mine. I had a very stroppy rooster who bullied all the other roosters. Then along came a pint size bantam. He actually put the run on my big full sized bully! So, there’s no telling who will be the ‘herd boss’. In rooster terms, apparently size doesn’t matter.

      See Elvis has left the building for the big bully story.
      And The Romance of the Revolution for the pint sized story.

  6. Shelby

    Is there any way to tell when they are chicks whitch ones are roosters?

  7. We free range out chickens. We really have them for bug control. We have a rooster we had to give away because he kept attacking my little ones when they play. We thought they had come to terms with each other, but out of the blue he got my youngest with his spurs when his back was turned. They went in pretty deep.

    This is our first year with these free range chickens. My kids just successfully hatched two eggs. One is a rooster. I would love to keep him. I love listening to my rooster crow, but i can’t have him attacking my kids. How do you free range a flock with a rooster safely with kids? Any advice. Is it purely the disposition of the rooster? Will a rooster always attack when a person comes near his flock?

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