Recently I went out to the barn and found that #221, my sole Araucana rooster, was unwell. At first I thought he had frostbitten feet due to a thawing day followed by a below-zero night. But I put him in to a cage in my kitchen to warm him up and it seems the feet were not the problem. It seems that Rooster 221 was the victim of chicken-on-chicken violence.
The other 2 roosters in the barn are the probable culprits. Both are Brahma roosters, which means they are not big on fighting compared to chickens of most breeds. In fact, it’s wise to raise Brahma chicks in a different brooder than chicks of other breeds. Especially cheap Leghorn male chicks. But my Brahma boys ARE twice the size of #221 and they do think they own all the hens on the farm.
I moved #221’s cage into my front porch a day ago. That was to expose him to colder temperatures. I’m putting him into an enclosed pen outdoors. I’ll put #221’s wife, #224, with him. I’m also giving him two more hens as mistresses— and a home heating system since 2 chickens don’t generate quite enough heat for an upper Michigan winter.
Yesterday I shoveled some snow out of the chosen pen. I also carried a bucket of barnyard manure to put in the pen’s chicken house (a repurposed calf hutch) as bedding. Winter bedding for my penned chickens consists of 2-3 inches of manure to provide warmth, and an inch or two of waste hay on top of that.
One advantage of my current housing plan is that I will have a jump on the spring hatching season. Araucana hens lay blue-green eggs. All of my other hens lay brown eggs. So if there is a blue-green egg in the pen it’s a pure Araucana egg and can be put in the incubator. The eggs from the ‘mistresses’ will be brown and will be used as eating eggs.
Feisty chickens are part of the chicken raising life. That’s an additional reason why I have pens for groups of chickens. The main reason is that I like raising up my own purebred chicks. In order to have purebred eggs, you have to confine your purebred hens with one or more purebred males. If the hens have been running with assorted breeds of roosters, you have to wait 3 weeks after penning with the purebred roo before you get for-certain purebred eggs you can put in the incubator.