Monday, July 30

C is for Cockerel!

Following the ABC of the Nesbitt Chickens brings us to C  our cockerel,  Ernest.




A common misconception is you need a cockerel if you want to keep chickens for eggs. Hens do not need a male around to lay eggs. Just as with human females, releasing an egg and having a period, female chickens do not need a cockerel to produce an egg. It happens whether or not there is a male around, the only difference is that it won't be fertilised if there is no male.

In the past, in fact when we first kept chickens back in 1990 we did have a cockerel and went through the whole experience of raising chicks. The cockerel we had back then was named Maurice and he had 2 hens for company - and other favours (wink wink!) This increased to about 10 and then he became quite rough with the girls and he had to be dealt with!

When we decided to keep chickens again we decided against a cockerel. A couple of years ago our neighbours borrowed Mabel and Bev - who at the time were broody. Their own eggs were not fertile so they were given some fertile eggs to hatch. Bev lost interest and walked away from the eggs but Mabel stayed and indeed hatched a chick. Sadly the chick died in the snow but Mabel meanwhile had developed a bond with the young bantam cockerel. This bond lasted a few months and when our neighbours moved from the village they asked us if we would keep the cockerel - who was "in a relationship" with Mabel. Being a Bantam (banty) he is small, so not large enough to properly mate with the hens so any fertilisation can not take place, we don't have the worry of raising the chicks and both the hens and Ernest are happy.

Like all our chickens he has a proper name, Ernest was the middle name of the neighbour who gave him to us.




Ernest is a faithful soul and when Mabel goes into the hen house to lay an egg he will wait outside. The cockerel is often portrayed as crowing at the break of dawn ("cock-a-doodle-doo") Ernest can often be seen sitting on fence posts or other objects, where he crows to proclaim his territory. However, this idea is more romantic than real, as a cockerel can and will crow at any time of the day. Ernest usually starts crowing at about 5am in the morning and we hear him throughout the day - not too much and in any case things like this are tolerated here in the village. Ernest has several other calls as well, and can cluck, similar to the hen. One particular sound he makes which I find endearing is his patterned series of clucks to attract hens to a source of food, the same way a mother hen does for her chicks. When I feed the chickens with tit-bits Ernest will call the hens over to share anything he has obtained. A lovely way with his girls I would like to think!

42 comments:

  1. Oh Ernest is very earnest no ? Sound like a very good name for him.
    Love the way he calls the hens over for treats ! Very sweet, he is a good boy.
    Thanks for this series, I really enjoy reading about your chickens.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Thanks AP - I will pas on your comments to Ernest - we NEVER call him Ernie! So pleased you are enjoying this series - I know we are - that is myself, the girls and Ernest!

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  2. He is a handsome chap and so thoughtful :)

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    1. Will pass on your comments Wendy. Feel free to print off his picture and keep it on your wall! Maybes you could meet him one day - we are not far away at all!

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  3. He looks DELICIOUS, Denise! lol Two weeks until we leave! Getting SO excited!

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    1. Great Leslie - you will meet the tribe then and witness Ernest's calls!

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  4. Hi Denise, What a lovely part of the world you live in. I was recently at Raithwaite Hall near Saltburn- it is a beautiful setting. Have you been?

    Have you reared pheasant chicks- they are notoriously hard? My friend has pecan bantams- they get very dirty feet feathers- do you have this problem with Ernest?

    Regards,
    Nico- I am a girl.

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    1. Hi Anonymous - haven't been to Raithwaite Hall but have passed the signpost on route to Whitby manytimes.
      No - not raised pheasant chicks - Ernest enjoys his dust baths so keeps his feet feathers clean.

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  5. Glorious colors! As a mini-rooster he is adorable. :)

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    1. Yes a definite mini version! Lovely boy!

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  6. What a handsome chap and considerate too. A real gentleman!

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    1. You have hit the nail on the head there SP! Perfect gentleman!

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  7. What a faithful soul, and he is handsome in addition.

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    1. Kate - yes he always poses for the camera! lol!

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  8. I am such a City girl that I had no idea hens and cockerels had great personalities. They are much more interesting than I ever thought.

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    1. Indeed Suzanne - a whole series on my chickens - I must feel confident. lol!

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  9. Beautiful birds. My daughter in Brookings OR, just bought a rooster and a hen, and two phesants from a shelter. Now they will have a good home. She loves all animals and have a huge yard and a little forest with a lot of wild life.

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    1. I am sure they will give her many hours of pleasure Wands.The little forest sounds an idal place for them.

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  10. Great name although I think of the play, The Importance of Being Ernest (which I just saw - directed by David Hyde Pierce - a weird take but a blast of a play) and can't help but smile. Have a great week!

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  11. My Buff Orpington cockerel makes that lovely clucking noise to call his girls to any food we put down - they do love scraps from the table whatever they are.
    I love that little bantam chap, Ernest. Banties have always been my favourites. I used to have a lovely breeding trio of Pekins and got two or three lots of chicks from them. Ernest is a really handsome bird.

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  12. Ernest is a good name.:p my dad used to have fighting cocks and hens but we never named them. i cried every time we had to slaughter a chicken.

    C is for...

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  13. Hello.
    Ernest looks and sounds like he knows how to treat the ladies! LOL
    He has The Confidence Of A Man (smile).

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  14. Lovely colours but all I can think is ...chicken chicken chicken! lol

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  15. You made those chickens come alive. Unfortunately you also made me feel that their lives (certainly their love lives) are far more interesting than mine at the moment. ;-) My story this week is called Culmen ’79.

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  16. He looks like a lovely cockerel and sounds like a great 'leader' to his womenfolk!

    I have never been overly fond of crowing cockerels, when I was still living at home, I would wake up from them every single morning as did my cousin who was living with us. The funny thing was though: we both slept at the other side of the house and my family sleeping at the right side of the house (ie where the cockerel was), never heard him!

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  17. You so vain,
    You think this song is about you,
    don't you?
    When u want to proof what a Macho, you chase us around.

    Mrs. Nesbitt just told us we don't need you.

    All the girls/hens in the whole wide world, stand up.

    When I was young, I used to watch the rooster chase just the hen he fancied. Boy, was he proud when he scored.

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  18. Ah that is adorable, how lovely is Ernest. Missing having hens here myself so it is nice to see yours!
    Sarah x

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  19. What a beautiful love story! He is quite dashing, too.

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  20. We keep getting offered cockerels but we really don't want any! The majority of our hens lay eggs and we recently got a dozen pullets which are laying gorgeous eggs, albeit a little on the small side as yet.

    CJ x

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  21. Delightful post and most informative ~ Love Ernest and his devotion ~ Great photos ~~ thanks, namaste, (A Creative Harbor)

    ps. Am your latest follower ~ great blog !

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  22. He certainly looks the man about town. I like hearing cockerels crow but then I live in a town so its a bit of a novelty.

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  23. he is a handsome fellow and so glad to hear he's a gentleman too! I love listening to my boys telling the girls to come over for dinner!

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  24. What personality and what a sweetie Ernest is! We had one when I was growing up that wasn't all there if you know what I mean. He'd 'crow' at all hours UNDER the house. His crow sounded as though he'd been drinking heavily.

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  25. Well I learned a lot today about laying eggs!!I've heard they have quite unique personalities. I know Martha Stewart loves hers!
    Ann

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  26. He is handsome Denise. Catching up with ABC.

    C is for...
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

    PS.. COMMENTS makes me happy!

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  27. Lovely to meet Earnest, a true gentleman and handsome too! I love that he shares his food so generously and waits outside when Mabel lays an egg. My late father (also named Earnest) had many of the endearing qualities you have described in Earnest.

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  28. I love that copper/bronzy color on Ernest. I still miss Henrietta, the chicken from next door who adopted us. Do you remember me blogging about her? I still have her model outside the den window, but the rats have chewed her up a bit.

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  29. Late, in keeping with my recent posts, I am here to say I thoroughly enjoyed your story about Ernest and his exploits. He is a handsome fella.

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  30. What a lovely colour Ernest is and what a faithful friend - no wonder he is such a hit with all the females.

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  31. We've only had one cockerel and he was a psychopath!! Never again.

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Thank you for your comments, always nice to know somebody has taken the time to let me know what they think.

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