Tag Archives: Rooster

Hens eject unwelcome mates

Chickens have their own battle of the sexes, and scientists have discovered a secret strategy used by hens to control who fertilizes their eggs: After mating, hens can eject the sperm of less desirable, low-status roosters.

A new study has shown that, during an average ejection, a hen jettisons 80 percent of the sperm a rooster deposits in her reproductive tract. This has a huge impact on the competition among males fighting to father her future chicks, according to study researcher Tommaso Pizzari, an evolutionary biologist and university lecturer at OxfordUniversity in the United Kingdom.

“It is beginning to appear females can play a much more subtle, but powerful role in the battle for fertilization,” Pizzari told LiveScience.com.

A few things to know about chicken sex: Both sexes are promiscuous, mating with multiple partners. Hens, however, often don’t have a choice in mates. They prefer males at the top of the pecking order, but other roosters with lower status will force the hens — about half their size — to mate. Rather than attempt to fight off the undesirable mates, hens appear to have developed a more subtle way to reject them.

Scientists already knew that hens could eject sperm, but in the recent study, they set out to find evidence that hens were actively using this technique to control fertilization.

Using chickens from a flock that lived in a semi-feral setting, similar to their wild ancestors, the red jungle fowl, Pizzari and other scientists led by Rebecca Dean who conducted the study while at Oxford and is now at University of Uppsala in Sweden mated hens with various roosters; the scientists ranked roosters’ social status from 1 to 6, with 1 being the most dominant. They then videotaped any sperm ejection that followed the mating and collected the results. To determine how this compared with the total sperm the roosters had deposited, the researchers captured all of their semen during another set of controlled mating attempts.

Their results confirmed that sperm from the least desirable, low-status roosters suffered the most for several reasons.

When mating with a series of roosters, hens ejected more semen from the later mates. Since lower-status roosters don’t get the first shot at the hens, for this reason alone, their sperm are more likely to be ejected, Pizzari explained. But even controlling for mating order, status had a strong effect on whose sperm the hens kept. In addition, lower status roosters were more likely to ejaculate more semen in one shot, and the team found that hens were more likely to eject larger ejaculations.

“It is likely in more natural situations, subdominant males are disadvantaged in many ways,” Pizzari said.

The study appears in the September 2011 issue of the journal The American Naturalist.

Source: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/hens-eject-sperm-from-unwelcome-mates


What’s the crowing about?

Roosters come in a multitude of breeds including the Golden Laced Wyandotte which is the rooster pictured on a certain breakfast cereal box. Growing up to 8 1/2 pounds the rooster is one of the most handsome of all breeds. The Black Jersey Giant is a prized show-bird weighing in at 11 pounds; standing out from the crowd, his black feathers have a green sheen and he has greenish-blue legs. Both these large breeds have good lungs for crowing at length and are extremely protective of their harem of hens. Acting as “look-outs” you will find these breeds frequently up trees scanning the horizon for danger.


  • A capon is a rooster that has been castrated. The rooster’s reproductive organs are mainly internal although a short organ is produced from his body for mating purposes only. Once these organs are removed through surgical procedure, the capon will develop a buff, meatier appearance; the meat will not be stringy and tough like a regular slender rooster, but melt-in-the-mouth tender dark and white meat. The capon loses his aggressions and territorial instincts that he once possessed and acts more like a hen; he also loses his need to crow. The capon’s dark and white meat is considered a delicacy to connoisseurs of fine meats.

Why Crow?

  • A rooster crows because he has an internal clock that helps him anticipate sunrise. Like all birds, roosters sing – or crow – in a daily cycle. Almost all animals have daily cycles of activity known as circadian rhythms that roughly follow the cycle of day and night. Roosters anticipate sunrise to get a head start on their daily hunt for food and defense of territory.

    But if one rooster in the neighbor has an internal clock that’s set a little early, he can stimulate other roosters to crow early, too. The rooster’s sunrise song is actually a way of establishing his territory. When a rooster crows, he’s sending a signal to other roosters that if they trespass, they’re asking for a fight.

    A rooster will often crow from a vantage point above his territory so he can make others more aware of his presence and so that his songs travel farther. Even though roosters are the most famous crooners of the chicken world, hens aren’t exactly silent, either. When a hen spots a hawk, she’ll let out a harsh scream to send her chicks into hiding. But if she sees a less-threatening human, she might just cackle.


  • Bantam roosters as well as standard roosters crow as loud as the other despite their small size. Rooster’s start crowing at around five months of age and crow regularly until they die of natural causes or get put in the crock pot, which is the only way to cook them tender enough to eat.

Seoul’s Chicken Art Museum – A Place of All Things Fowl

For years, Kim Cho-gang kept her oddball art collection out of sight, hidden away in a basement.

She admits hers is a rather unusual assemblage: wood carvings, paintings, puppets and embroidery — all celebrating the lowly chicken. There are roosters and hens big and small, birds depicted clucking, scratching and crowing.

Since 2006, these works have had a public place to roost.

Setting aside her lifelong dream of opening a child-care center, the 70-year-old former public health professor runs the Seoul Museum of Chicken Art, a private facility containing all things fowl.

Kim is crazy about chickens, including their looks and their historical and cultural significance in countries across the world.

“I do not buy luxuries. I don’t buy cosmetics. I am only indulged in chickens,” said Kim, an elegant gray-haired woman with glittering chicken earrings and a multicolored rooster brooch. “Whenever I make money, I mostly spend it buying chicken art pieces.”

In 2000, the South Korean government passed a law that opened the door to for-profit private museums of all kinds. Since then, Seoul has become the home of a wide variety of private museums containing collections of what many might consider offbeat subjects.

There’s a museum dedicated to kimchi, one of Korea’s national dishes. There’s a dumpling museum, a sex museum, and showcases for rocks, masks, owls and traditional knots — many in the same neighborhood as Kim’s museum.

“There are so many Koreans who are passionate about collecting,” said Kim In-whoe, president of the National Trust Cultural Heritage Fund of Korea. By opening a museum, he says, they can try to turn their passions into profits.

Kim Cho-gang’s gallery shows that the East and West have something in common when it comes to the chicken — an emblem of luck, fertility and wealth across cultures.

The rooster was once within a whisker of being picked as the national bird of the U.S., Kim says. In Russia, she notes, chickens signify arrogance and in China, they are a symbol of the zodiac. In Korea, they represent wealth, fertility and protection from evil.

Kim got her start as a chicken icon collector decades ago when she came to the conclusion that the bird’s image wasn’t fully appreciated. She was taken aback to see puppet roosters burned as firewood in the countryside. Those roosters were originally attached to a traditional Korean funeral casket.

“I saved a few of the unlit puppet roosters and brought them to Seoul,” she said.

Kim collected chicken art while on vacation and during her academic travels. When she retired a few years ago, she decided to share her acquired knowledge of chicken culture.

Scholars say her fascination with chicken art is far from outlandish.

“The chicken is one of man’s universal livestock, absorbed in various cultures, but barely known,” said Kim In-whoe of the National Trust Cultural Heritage Fund.

The tiny Museum of Chicken Art, in a fashionable neighborhood not far from South Korea’s Constitutional Court, contains 2,000 exhibits. Many artists have donated or lent their works on the winged creature to the museum.

The art is not for sale, but Kim Cho-gang charges a small admission fee and sells souvenirs and postcards.

A brace of chicken sculptures from Mexico seems to cackle in a doorway while a roomful of chicken-shaped charms from Europe reflect light nearby.

There’s a display of bronze, wooden and porcelain fighting cocks from countries that ban cockfighting and those that regard the battles as national sport.

And there is a collection of the wooden roosters that got Kim started as a chicken arts expert: A showroom features kokdoo, bright sculptures that were once a common decoration on Korean funeral biers.

Yu Yeon-joon, a former art magazine writer and freelance photographer, marveled at the range of color at Kim’s museum. “If Picasso was alive, he’d extol flamboyance of chicken arts,” said Yu as he took in the gallery one recent morning.

But not every visitor to Kim’s chicken menagerie gets the point.

One walked in with an unusual question: Does the museum serve chicken soup?

Source: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/19/world/fg-korea-chicken-art19

Do roosters really know what time it is?

The rooster‘s morning cock-a-doodle-doo is driven by an internal clock, finds new research, suggesting the male chickens really know the time of day.

The study, detailed today (March 18) in the journal Current Biology, found that roosters put under constant light conditions will still crow at the crack of dawn.

Past studies have found that a myriad of animal behaviors are driven by an internal clock: at night, a dip in insulin causes humans to process food more slowly, and even blind cave fish use a circadian clock to tell time.

“‘Cock-a-doodle-doo‘ symbolizes the break of dawn in many countries,” said study author Takashi Yoshimura of Nagoya University, in a statement. “But it wasn’t clear whether crowing is under the control of a biological clock or is simply a response to external stimuli.”

Because stimuli throughout the day — such as car headlights — will set off a rooster’s crow at any time, it was also possible that increasing light was the trigger for the cock’s crows.

To find out Yoshimura and his colleagues put 40 roosters in a setting with constant light, then recorded when they crowed.

Sure enough, the chickens crowed at daybreak regardless of the light conditions. The roosters also crowed at other times of day and in response light and the crows of their fellow chickens, but those behaviors were much stronger at daybreak. The findings suggest that an internal circadian clock, rather than external conditions, drive the behavior.

As a follow-up, the team hopes to determine the genetic underpinnings of other animal sounds.

“We still do not know why a dog says ‘bow-wow’ and a cat says ‘meow,'” Yoshimura said in a statement. “We are interested in the mechanism of this genetically controlled behavior and believe that chickens provide an excellent model.”

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51227278/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.UW60H34tDS0

Trimming Chickens Spurs & Toenails

https://i1.wp.com/i30.photobucket.com/albums/c331/IvanIvanovich/Dispurs/SpurryBird103080.jpgWhy shorten a rooster‘s spurs I hear you ask?  Well, trimming and removing the spur outer shell or blunting the roosters spurs can help with several problems:

  • Being aggressive & attacking people: Trimming or removing a rooster’s spurs can help make it less dangerous and cocky.
  • Roosters fighting too much & aggression with each other: When roosters are persistently over-aggressive & fighting, trimming or blunting one or more roosters spurs can help reduce injuries.
  • Hurting hens & giving them bare backs: If a rooster is causing hens to get bald backs from breeding, trimming spurs might help alleviate injury & damage to hens.
  • Less hurt when introducing new roosters: rooster behavior will be aggressive when meeting new roosters.
  • Comfort / difficulty walking: some roosters’ spurs grow so long and at angles that make it difficult for a rooster to walk comfortably.

This great article from our friends at The Ultimate Fowl blog tells you everything you need to know about the removal of spurs.  Click on the picture or the link to go to the article.

The Ultimate Fowl Blog

Trimming spurs on roosters is primarily done for several reasons. Most people trim them to help protect their hen’s back from getting punctured from being topped, but they also need trimmed to avoid injuries from roosters sparring, and in extreme cases, to allow them to walk easier. There are basically two methods for doing this, cutting the spur with a saw, or twisting the spur off with pliers. The method I prefer is to cut the spurs off because when you are done, you will have short, blunt spurs that will be as safe to your other chickens as possible. If you decide to twist off the spurs, you will have short spurs, but they will still be sharp, and can still do damage.

Cutting off spurs is very simple, and does not hurt your chickens at all. Spurs have an inner core, which is the live part, and an…

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