The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The Italian Cockerels must go

Photo: Alfonso and Massimo

Photo: Alfonso and Massimo

Yesterday evening I noticed a brown envelope on the front door mat. I assumed that it was a circular and turned it over just in case. It had our address hand written on the front so I pulled out the typewritten letter and as I read the first few lines, my heart sunk.

“Danny, it’s a letter from our neighbours. The cockerels are waking them up at 4.30 am – they can’t cope.”

We have four cockerels. Beatyl, the diminutive cockerel hatched by Mrs Boss, Baby the tiny undersized Leghorn and the two Italian cockerels. Danny is not over keen on the latter. They do make a racket and are prone to covering some of our elderly – no longer maiden hens – on a daily basis. Even the gentle Massimo can be a bit of a bully with the smaller birds. But I do like the Italian cockerels – they are beautiful and elegant.

As the letter stated that the disturbance had been going on for a year now this correlated to the time that the Leghorns arrived from Caroline and Kevin’s care. So hopefully Beatyl’s cries can’t have been a problem. Baby can’t crow yet, thank goodness.

“Why not ask Emma if she’d like a couple of cockerels? She took the Guinea Fowl.”
“Most people don’t want cockerels. Especially if they have a breeding flock – they are usually trying to get rid of their cockerels. I remember offering her one before.”
“The best option is to offer the birds to Doug (another neighbour). He’d know how to kill them and prepare them for table. We could even try eating one ourselves.”
Danny looked unimpressed.
“Or we could take them to the chicken rescue place. But that would just be passing the problem onto them.”

Danny telephoned the neighbours and assured them that we will get rid of the noisy cockerels. Now we just have to decide whether they go in the pot or to the chicken rescue.

My Aunt Pickles regularly slaughtered her own birds and they were the most delicious chickens that I have ever tasted. She had a few named pet chickens and the rest of the flock in the meadow were there for meat and eggs.

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  1. James P

    “I really don™t understand people who choose to live in the country then moan about birds making a noise.”

    Me neither. Some people move near churches and then complain about the bells, too!

  2. Luckily our chooks are far enough away from the neighbours not to cause too much of a nuisance. But of the four chicks we have managed to raise this year, three are boys. We know from experience that eventually they will start fighting among themselves and with their father. Last year we managed to find homes for all the cockerels we raised, but this year we wondered about eating them, and my daughter has gone vegetarian just at the thought of it! It wouldn’t be so bad if she liked vegetables… (although she did eat a tortilla loaf stuffed full of courgettes tonight without noticing them 🙂

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Caroline

      Slow cooked home reared cockerels are delicious. We’ve eaten one and one’s in the freezer!

  3. sarita shields

    I really sympathise….and live in a tiny rural village, and am a country girl born andbred. But I would resent being woken at 4am everyday. I have also lived in the city with the drunks and car alarms. Its different if you are alittle wat alonf from your neighbours, but if my neighbours had a cockerel outside my window I’d be pretty peeved. I have chhoks but no Cockerel, as I sleep badly and I couldn’t stand the crowing!! You may have to do the dastardly deed…….and by the way…someone in our village complained about the noise of the children playing in our school playground…( I’m a Teacher there…) Would you imagine the coversation in the staffroom..

  4. Magic Cochin has put it perfectly. And cockerels DO crow in the dark,some may not but plenty do,them leaving it until day break is a myth trust me!
    Some cockerels have a lovely cry,my New Hampshire Red has a deep low very story book sort proper cock~a~doodle~doo,the other 2 a silver wyandotte & a welsummer have the most ear splitting annoying screetches.They are all different. I had a stunning Light Sussex & he used to go off at 2am, 3 am,you name it,it drove me NUTS & he was mine so I figured if I was quite frankly irritated lol so was anyone else in earshot.
    He was killed,I got my farmer neighbour to do him as he was too big( & mean) for me but other cocks I have killed myself.

    There are not enough places for every cockerel to get moved on too,sure sometimes folks are needing one,I went looking for my NHR, & particulary if they are a specific breed as yours are,so advertse them first, then if no takers, eat them.
    Its not harsh,its the way it is.
    & it will taste wonderful trust me(dont roast them though) slow cook &/or soup but am sure you would suss that out!
    GTM x x

  5. Jo@LittleFfarm Dairy

    I sympathise entirely; & had a very similar experience to poor HON above, where we used to live. We kept a few hens & had a cockerel (who incidentally was remarkably quiet & very seldom ever crowed) but when new neighbours moved in next door to sample “the good life” the complaints started almost immediately – & they weren’t at all polite.

    They even complained to the farmer who owned the field behind the houses, about the noise of his cows mooing…! Yet it was apparently OK for their boys to run around the garden shrieking & screaming until late in the evening when everyone else was trying to get a little peace & quiet.

    It got so bad that it was actually one of the reasons we decided to move – so in a way we have a lot to thank them for…!

    And whilst where we are now appears such a rural idyll with no traffic noise; no near neighbours etc etc; I STILL get woken between 3.30-4am every single morning by a very noisy swallow who sits on the electricity cable under the bedroom window & chatters away constantly for an hour or two like a budgerigar on speed. It’s maddening & when I have to crawl out of bed I feel jaded for the rest of the day. It’s much worse than a cockerel, I can tell you…!

    At least your neighbours had the decency to politely complain (albeit indirectly) to you, though. I was amazed the other day when the Animal Welfare Officer turned up here, having received a complaint that all our goats are apparently suffering with acute mastitis on account of their “purple udders”. Being British Toggenburgs our goats are, of course, chocolate in colour; & when they go out in the summer the pigment in their skin causes the udders to ‘tan’ so they too go a dark colour, unlike a cow’s udders.

    If only the misinformed individual who had made the complaint had just come to me first & asked whether there actually was a problem, all this would have been cleared up immediately & no time wasted. As it is the vet could have been dealing with a genuine welfare case rather than chasing a spurious issue.

    Mind you I was delighted that the vet was so impressed with our premises & our animals – & that we were “officially” vindicated.

  6. I do sympathise with your dilemma; I’m not sure what I’d do. I’d be torn between trying to keep the neighbours happy and resentment that ‘normal’ country noises are now seen as disruptive.
    It’s a particularly sore point for me as I have been reported to my local council for being a ‘nuisance neighbour’ because of my chickens and ducks! We live in a small village and don’t have a cockerel. The council, actually, have been great, but it’s still been a difficult couple of months. (Incidentally, we’ve lived here for years, as have the neighbours in question.) I know the standard response is to butter them up with some eggs, but they’re not the easiest of people anyway(you wouldn’t believe the other things we and other neighbours have been accused of!) and I REALLY don’t want them to have any of my precious eggs!! I can just manage to be civil to them at the moment…
    Hopefully it’ll all blow over, but it’s horrible having this animosity hanging over us.
    Good luck with whatever decision you make.

  7. mandi

    I think you ought to kill them rather than upset them by moving them or pass the problem on to someone else. They may not like a cockeral rescue if they are one of many fighting with other little kings for top place. But in saying that I would definately make a point of turning up on the doorstep of the neighbour with a carcass. Gut it if you like but leave the head on, and feathers, let them see what they are responsible for. I really don’t understand people who choose to live in the country then moan about birds making a noise. Its like these saddo’s who buy a house in the flight path of heathrow airport then go on rallies to stop planes flying overhead DDDOOOHHH! Sorry they have to go they are such a handsome pair x

  8. Dangerous Variable

    Hey if you don’t wanna slaughter the cocks, my friend puts his cock in store room which is dark before he goes to bed.

    He they release the cock when he wakes up at 7. Unless you wanna eat them, I say slaughter them.

  9. Having had enforced coq au vin recently, I really do sympathise! We had to do this for similar reasons. Though we live in a rural village, we didn’t want to fall out with the neighbours – and to be honest, the cockerel had become overly protective of his ladies and was a risk to me and visitors.

    I agree with previous comments. Though not easy, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. And he’ll most definitely have to be coooked slowly!

  10. Audrey

    I have heard that if you have a low ceiling above their heads they cant stretch up and crow.

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