The Cottage Smallholder

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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. PatioPatch

    My heart sank reading this – I disagree with the comments as I’m rather sick of ASBO’s for cockerels when here in London I am often woken in the early hours by noisy delivery vans, shop alarms going off, binge drinkers etc. None of these can I do anything about – least of all eat them – so I think your neighbours are unreasonable but I’m not surprised. Your cockerels would only make boilers at their age – I suggest offering some chicken soup to your neighbours and wish them a goodnights sleep


  2. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife

    I’m with the others advocating murder. I butchered my first chicken in April – a rather randy boy raised by my brother-in-law from a day old chick – and found it easier than I expected. Not fun but easier than I’d thought it would be.

    Throwback at Trapper Creek wrote an interesting post about it at the start of the year actually:

  3. Caroline

    We solved our problem with our former neighbours by locking Clovis our first rather noisy cockerel in the darkened chicken shed and letting him out with the hens in the morning. They don’t crow if they can’t see daylight. Mind you, that didn’t stop him during the day. We renamed him Pavarotti.

  4. I agree with Tamar, a lot of animals slaughtered for our tables aren’t given the respect and happy life that your animals certainly have had. Eat them and enjoy them.
    (However the vegetarian in me still cries out,” Save them!, Save them!” !!!)

  5. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    I’m voting for the pot, too, as hard as that may be.

    Chances are, you’re going to eat chicken some time in the next couple of weeks. If you were to buy it from the market, it’s a good bet that the bird had a rotten life (here in the US, a VERY rotten life). But if you consign your cockerels to the stewpot, you will be eating animals who were treated well and lived happily. That, I think, is the essence of responsible meat eating.

    Big talk, coming from me … we haven’t eaten any of our chickens yet — and we just got four turkey poults.

  6. Toffeeapple

    A sad conundrum but, on the whole, I’d say ‘to the pot with them’. Your neighbours have been patient though!

  7. Rae Mond

    a chicken dinner Joanna?

  8. Joanna

    Your neighbours have been patient, but didn’t they say anything to you personally? Maybe you could invite them around to share in a meal and cement a friendship?

  9. I’m so sorry to hear that.

    I did once read about someone who used to put their cockerals in cat baskets when they were dozy in the evenings, then put a cover over the top and put the whole thing in a shed. That apparently used to muffle the noise of the cockerals. It is a bit of a fag to do if you have a few conkerals every night, but maybe if you kept one of them back so you could use him to breed with it might be more feasible.

  10. Pamela

    Oh, such a dilemma, although something you have always been concerned about. Do you and Danny not hear the cockerels at 4 am? They are magnificent birds with such extravagant plumage. However, I say eat them – with great ceremony and much enjoyment!

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