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12/24/2013 8:48:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Winter a test for famous rooster, he now has a girlfriend

Submitted by Sherrie Kill

Robellini the rooster has been in his new home for over a month now and he is my new alarm clock.

He crows at 5:30 a.m. and then spends the day pecking and scratching around in his chicken run. I have spent quite a bit of time on the computer lately, searching and learning as much about chicken care as I can. I found out that chickens are very social birds, and you should never have just one chicken.

I had planned on getting a couple of laying hens in the spring but a friend of mine and Dan's had a buff Orpington hen they wanted to give us. Soooo, we now have a female friend for Robellini. Dan named her Juliette, "Julie" for short, after the famous love-story character. Robellini seemed OK with his new coop-mate but it was obvious the first night that his roost was no longer his own, he was going to have to share his space.

After a couple of nights together, they seemed to be adjusting to each other 's company. With winter coming, we added a red heat lamp to the coop, thinking that Julie would need the extra warmth and light for egg-laying. We did not realize this would confuse Robellini's sleep clock. The first morning he crowed at his usual 5:30 a.m., the next morning it was 4:30 a.m., then 3:30, then 2:30, then 1:30!

That's it! We decided the light was getting shut off every night at 6:30 p.m., eggs or not. Robellini's clock reset itself and he's back to his normal crowing schedule.

On Dec. 4, much to our surprise, Juliette lay an egg without the extra light. And since then, has laid 12 eggs in 14 days so far. Julie's previous owners had told us she would lay eggs but would not get off the nest. Not anymore. Now she's only in the nesting box long enough to lay an egg, then spends the rest of the day with Robellini, pecking and scratching in the run.

I had been picking grass and plantain leaves for them until snow covered it up. Now they get kitchen scraps along an occasional treat of dried alfalfa along with their regular feed, oyster shell calcium and chicken scratch.

The cold snap we had early in December proved to be a challenge, as their water kept freezing, even during the day with the light on. We solved that problem with a heater water dish. I clean their coop and run every weekend. Robellini and Julie cluck and talk to me while I work. When I am finished, I love to just watch them scratch and pick at the ground. Their quirky behavior is so entertaining to watch. Or maybe I'm just easily entertained.

Spring may bring another hen to our new little chicken farm. I am sure Robellini and Juliette will welcome her with open wings. They will establish a pecking order to see who gets to eat first, as is natural for chickens to do. I think Juliette established the pecking order for her and Robellini: You guessed it, she's top chicken at this chicken farm.

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