White Plymouth Rock Rooster
Backyard Chickens, Roosters

Re-homing Chickens: Where to find that seemingly impossible forever home for roosters and old laying hens.

Every summer and fall, our customer service team receives a higher volume of calls and emails from broken-hearted chicken keepers who have raised their sweet spring chicks from local feed stores to maturity only to find out that they have male chickens that they can’t keep. We know there are a lot of reasons chickens need to be re-homed, and it doesn’t translate to failure as a backyard chicken keeper. There are fussy neighbors to contend with, confusing and changing city regulations, unexpected moves to a home or city that doesn’t allow for chickens as pets, unknown allergies to pet chickens or eggs, aggressive roosters and hens, chickens that need specialized medical treatment, and more.

chicks as pets
Kids raise chicks to be companions. Photo by: MichelleWarrenPhotography.com

It’s a hard phone call to answer because we know that chicken keepers, especially youngsters, have formed wonderful bonds with their new pets. The time and care put into raising the chicks into a companion is forfeit, most often because of city regulations regarding roosters. Dare 2 Dream Farms does not rescue roosters or other chickens that weren’t originally purchased from this farm originally; in short, because the farm must maintain a bio-security system put in place to protect the chickens for sale and the homes they’re sold to.

It seems a hopeless task to find a home willing to take in a rooster or old laying hens. But we’ve got some great avenues for you to pursue to make sure you find the perfect forever-home for Henrietta, now aptly re-named Henry.

HAVE HOPE: Loving chickens can find forever homes in a lot of great places, where their egg production isn’t the primary purpose for being kept. Homes in rural areas may lose wonderful pet roosters that actively protect their free-range laying flock against predators, and may be in need of a replacement rooster who will be chivalrous to the hens, and good with the kids. Chickens are also beginning to provide therapy alongside other farm animals for anxiety and other conditions. Calm and well-behaved chickens are used by animal specialists who provide trained animals for filming. Hobby farms, or petting zoos may be searching for sweet chickens that are especially good with young children who visit them. They may even be accepted as a donation to a local orchard or organic farm who needs additional pest and weed control.

What's not to love?
Chickens provide more than just eggs, like companionship or even therapy.

GET CREATIVE: Advertising chickens through listing services like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Letgo can be successful, but spend the extra time to make the listing enticing. Give your chickens their own story, or personality, and post beautiful, fun, or loving photos of them. In the advertisement, remember to share why you think they are so special. For example: they greet you every morning, they’re particularly sweet with your kids, they love to be held, they’re excellent foragers, they’re a rare breed, or they’re still good egg layers. Next, consider giving them monetary value. Selling a chicken for $10 or $15 gives the impression that they have value as egg layers, breeding stock, or simply as wonderful pets, and potential forever homes will value that too. “Free to a good home” may convey that you’re desperate to get rid of them for an undisclosed reason. Plus, anyone looking to fill a soup pot won’t spring for a $10 chicken. Also, remember that backyard chicken breeds are bred for their feathering, egg production, and to maintain heritage breeding lines. They’re not useful for cockfighting, so you can rest assured they won’t be abused.

TO THE RESCUE: If you’re not successful in finding a private forever home for your chickens before your deadline, non-profit organizations exist whose primary function is to rescue, care for, and re-home chickens and other farm animals. We’ve made a listing of animal rescues in California that may help you get started. To find other places near you, search local listings for “chicken rescue,” “rooster rescue,” or “farm animal sanctuary.” Be sure to call the organization to be sure they have openings for your animals, and schedule a time to drop them off so they can be properly cared for upon arriving.

PLEASE DON’T DUMP: Dropping off chickens on private or public property without permission is illegal. Cities like Arroyo Grande and Fair Oaks in California have fluctuating populations of city chickens, unwanted and dumped roosters and hens that roam the streets and roost in the trees near city halls. Somehow they seem to be fed and find a place to sleep at night, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t also catch the eye of resident raccoons or stray cats looking for lunch, and cause someone the headache of scraping bird poop off of park benches and sidewalks. Dumping animals is illegal, whether it occurs in underpopulated wooded areas, or in the middle of a downtown area; and chickens cannot be expected to survive on their own foraging skills alone after being provided for. While we’re being forthcoming about survival, it should also be noted that animal shelters are not the ideal place for leaving your chickens. Shelters usually don’t have much space for fowl, and chickens there have a low chance of rescue and a high chance of being euthanized.

Roosters can be a productive member of a backyard chicken flock.
Roosters can be a productive member of the flock. Photo by Melissa Folks Photography

FINDERS > KEEPERS: Lastly, if you find they hold a place in your heart, you might find a way to keep your chickens. Chickens that are no longer high production layers still provide excellent companionship, organic weed and pest control, and entertainment. Many homes feed dogs and cats who eat far more in food, and never lay an egg. Chickens have started to prove to the world that they have value as companions alongside traditional house pets. Roosters, although they don’t lay eggs, can also provide value to the health of your flock (more on that here). If your main concern is their noise, there are creative ways to help control the sound of roosters: no-crow collars and insulated soundproof boxes have been created to limit the sound of a rooster until late enough in the morning that it no longer disturbs the neighbors. Some chicken keepers in love with their roos have simply moved roosters into the garage, spare bathroom, or dog crate in the house at night to muffle the sound of the morning crowing. Neighborly love for your bawking chickens could also be bought with occasional gifts of a half dozen fresh backyard chicken eggs with a cute stamp. An invitation to meet the flock can’t hurt either, so they can see just how much personality their tiny feathered neighbors have. If you’re lucky, a new bond between your neighbors and your chickens may also mean that you have an offer for a chicken sitter during your next out of town adventure.

Author: Megan Raff

Co-Owner/Founder of Dare 2 Dream Farms

 

 

Advertisements
Backyard Chickens, Fresh Eggs, Pecking Order, Uncategorized

4 Important Things to Consider when Ordering your First Chickens

In addition to looking forward to scrumptious and beautiful eggs, as backyard chicken keepers, we also hope that our feathered, breakfast-making ladies will be our pets too. As you prepare to get chickens for your coop and backyard, there are a few important things to consider in order to foster a flock that is healthy, happy with each other, and happy with us. (Note: this will certainly make for the-most-delicious-tasting eggs.)

  1. Choose wisely when deciding on the number of chickens you’ll get. First, check with your city ordinances to find out if there is a limit to the number of chickens you can keep. Next, determine the maximum number of chickens you can keep based on the size of your chicken coop. Chickens, like most living beings, need personal space and some freedom to move about. If you pack too many hens into a small area, you’re asking for heavy cleaning and loads of bickering (or worse), somewhat like taking kids for a long car ride! You can generally assume that about 10 square feet per chicken should be sufficient, less if you plan to free range them outside the coop. Lastly, determine how many eggs your household will reasonably use, sell, barter, or give away. On average, a good laying hen will give you 5 eggs per week.
  2. Keep pullets around the same age or size. We recommend keeping adolescent pullets within a couple months of age of each. If you’re starting with baby chicks, keep them all within a few weeks of each other – they will need much different heat requirements if they’re too far apart in age. If you’re starting with mature hens – they’ll all be the same size and the age does not matter. It may seem like a great idea to get some chickens that are ready to lay to appease our excitement to harvest fresh eggs, and some chickens that are small and fluffy that we can bond with. Unfortunately, putting together a group of chickens of wildly different ages can be really tough on the little ones, and its never okay to put baby chicks together with adolescents or adults who are not currently broody and ready to be mothers. Younger chickens in a flock of older birds will often get ostracized from the group, kept away from the food and water, and subjected to a much tougher and lengthy pecking order. Baby chicks will not survive the cold or the pecking order, and getting just one baby chick for your brooder will make it lonely, stressed, and cause other health problems.
  3. Avoid including just one chicken who looks different from the rest. Surely you’ve heard the saying “Birds of a feather flock together,” and it’s true: chickens seem to know when they look like each other. They’ll pair up or stay in groups that look alike and the one chicken that doesn’t look like anyone else will get left out. Our favorite recommendation is to get all different breeds. Chickens become like pets and will probably all get names, and this makes it easy to tell them apart. You could also get all the same breeds, get pairs or multiples of different breeds, or make sure there are at least 2 chickens that look different from the rest.
  4. Integrate chickens as few times as possible. It may seem like a good idea at the time to start with a couple, and get more as you go but the pecking order can be a nasty score to settle for some chickens. This is not to say it isn’t possible or it’s too hard, but it’s not pleasant and it can be quite a bit of work.  Unless you’re absolutely not prepare to bring your ideal number of chickens in all at once, or your heart is set on breeds who will hatch in different times of the year we recommend getting everyone at once.

For more helpful information on getting started with chickens, purchase tickets to our Backyard Chickens Classes or browse our free Care Guide!

by: Megan Raff