Being a rooster is nothing to crow about.
To the young males in this class of 2012, please peck and strut for all you're worth because ... well, we can't bring ourselves to describe your fate. OK, Sunday dinner.
About now, many backyard chicken farmers are trying to figure out what to do with the roosters that were once those cuddly, photogenic chicks purchased at the feed store. It's a 50-50 gamble when you buy "straight-run" chicks that aren't genetically modified to show if they're male or female based on their color. In other words, it's almost impossible to tell when they're toddlers which chicks will turn out to crow and be useless in egg-laying endeavors.
Take Buttercup, for instance. (Did we mention that lots of hopeful backyard chicken raisers give their roosters girl names?) Buttercup turned up on a local classified-ad site seeking a new home. And as of last week, "I haven't had a single person call," said owner Marc Anson of Syracuse.
Roosters are often at odds with backyard chicken-raisers like Anson. They're doomed if they're in a household that wants only calm egg-laying girls, that doesn't want to offend neighbors, and that wants to follow city ordinances, like those in North Ogden and Bountiful, that prohibit roosters. "There really is no reason to include a rooster unless you want to raise baby chickens from eggs," explains Weber County's Utah State University Extension agent James Barnhill.
"Please come get this beautiful rooster. He is kind and fairly quiet. Good mate for hens. FREE !!" reads one Ogden classified ad.
"We got some chickens and got the one in a million rooster," reads another ad, from Layton. "So hoping that he will go to someone who will give him a good home or make him a good dinner."
Right now, Buttercup's happily pecking away with the hens and "ruling the roost," said Anson. "He's not really causing any problems, other than he's being mean to the hens."
Anson is trying to find a new home for his rooster since his city, Syracuse, doesn't allow roosters because they're up at sunrise, crowing at the sun.
The rooster's cock-a-doodle racket also won't fly in a city like Riverdale, which has no specific chicken ordinance, instead operating on a "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy that presumes if residents raise quiet, contained hens in their backyards, neighbors won't complain.
One of two fates awaits the cocky little critter Buttercup. As Anson explains, "With a rooster, you either have to eat it, or give it to someone who wants it. Poor thing."
And that dinner part? That's a hard proposition for a backyard farmer who only wants eggs -- not the responsibility of "harvesting" and de-feathering a bird he/she once named.
Anson sighs. "I wish someone would give me a call because he has to go to someone who wants him."
-- Janelle Hyatt