Little Freaky, the cou-nu cockerel, has just crowed himself to the top of the menu. Up to now he’s been well behaved, only giving the occasional sneeze-like crow at civilised times of day. But this week he’s decided that 5 a.m. is the time to get shouting, so that’s it. Doom sealed. Chicken dinner coming up!

publicdomainpictures.net

Why do cockerels crow anyway? Hormones, of course. The daylight causes a surge in testosterone. This is what’s behind the dawn chorus. While that’s gentle and melodic, a cock’s crow is anything but. However, it’s serving the same purpose. It’s sending the message to any lurking males who are thinking of moving in on either your territory, or far worse, your women, that you’re here and you’ll bash them. It’s also letting your females know you’re here to keep an eye on them and there’s an element of typical male optimism too in that you’re hoping to lure in any passing unattached girls who might just hear your dulcet tones! Obviously hens have fairly low standards.

Sudden noises can get a rooster going – slamming a door, starting the car, sneezing. Roosters take these as a threat to their flock and so send a clarion call to rally the troops. And they might go on to attack. We’ve all heard of cock fights. Cockerels can be very aggressive, using their beaks and their spurs to attack with. That’s another reason we don’t hang on to our males too long. One once had a go at Ruadhri and we don’t need a repeat performance aimed at anyone, thank you.

We could always castrate our cockerels and turn them into capons. However, castration is a fiddly process and so simply not worth it. The meat may be tastier apparently but we’re not fussy. So The Rule continues to hold sway: Roosters welcome until they start crowing!