Any farmer or veteran backyard chicken enthusiast knows it’s not uncommon to have an unruly rooster.
Instead of accepting this troubling problem, a solution can be sought by calling on Metchosin’s chicken whisperer.
Cy Hemus and his wife, Linda, have kept chickens at their home for nearly a year, but it’s only in the last few months that Cy’s chicken whispering talent emerged.
“We had too many roosters,” he said.
With only nine hens, they needed to get rid of five of their seven roosters, leaving Big Red and Goldy.
Two males was still too many for the small flock, especially with Big Red causing some problems for the hens. The Hemuses offered him to Ragley Farm in East Sooke, where the resident rooster died.
“It was a perfect setup because then he’d have his own girls,” said Linda. She figured Big Red’s aggressiveness might go away without another rooster to compete with.
Within a couple weeks, however, the couple got a call saying their former rooster was causing problems.
“He was terrorizing the egg man,” Cy said. “He was being very protective over the hens.”
Ragley Farm also hosted a Saturday farmer’s market and Big Red wasn’t very welcoming to the customers.
Without a plan, Cy told the farmer he’d come by and sort things out with Big Red.
He went into the coop and grabbed the problem bird. It was challenge, but once Big Red was in his arms, he went to work.
“I petted him and told him what a pretty rooster he was, then I got the egg man to pet him,” said Cy, adding the farm worker was reluctant.
After about five people petted the rooster and passed him around, Cy put the bird on the ground and pushed it into a squat. He did this to demonstrate dominance. “When he stood up I pressed him back down.”
Then he tied a string around Big Red’s foot. He’d let the rooster walk away, then pulled him back.
“I did this so he’d get used to being caught. The whole process took about 30 or 40 minutes.”
The group went inside for coffee then came out and repeated the steps again.
“It’s like a dog who thinks he’s the alpha,” Cy said. “The rooster needs to know who the boss is. He has to respect you. He’s the alpha for his hens, not for people.”
Cy adapted some techniques he’d read are useful on dogs. He read a technique to control chickens was to grab them by the feet and hang them upside down.
“I didn’t want the rooster to be scared of me, I just didn’t want him to be rough,” he said.
“Cy was fabulous,” said Ragley Farm operator Josephine Hill, who wound up giving her aging hens and a calmer Big Red to another farmer.
Involving staff in the process also helped solidify the relationship between her employees, she added.
Chicken whispering part of services auction
Cy Hemus’ talents are among the items up for auction in the annual Metchosin Services Auction. Bidding continues online at http://www.bit.ly/1iSwcir and a live auction happens at Metchosin Community House, 4430 Happy Valley Rd. this Friday (March 28), from 7 to 9 p.m.