Brabanter Roosters are THE WORST

Well, everyone is still in the main paddock right now, all breeds, just growing out until the day they give me some eggs. The Brabanters ended up with around seventeen breed worthy hens (which I will have to recount soon.) I thought I had fifteen roosters but it turns out I have twenty! Fifteen was insane enough, I draw the line at twenty! Maybe I wouldn’t if they weren’t the bane of my existence but this is what they have been up to…

First they were getting loud so I spent two and a half hours putting No-Crow collars on all my boys, including the Brabanters which took up the bulk of my time because they were, as usual, running around screaming at the top of their lungs, panicking the rest of the barn, and trying desperately not to be caught. Before I even got done collaring them and setting them lose four had already gotten them off and left them lying in the dirt in the pasture. If that’s not enough to make you want to kill them the next series of events certainly is.

I should mention the Brabanters crow like nothing I have heard before. It is not the deep manly sound of a dignified rooster. It’s the shrill shrieking of nails on chalkboard and they’re all insistent on out-shrieking each other. I don’t mind crowing, but this was making me homicidal. Add to the fact they were pecking each others collars off and I was feeling more a little agitated at the situation. Remember in Jurassic Park when the main cast kept getting outsmarted by velociraptors? That’s how I was feeling… this feeling got worse as they began terrorizing the barnyard.

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While some of my hens started to show genuine curiosity in me and what I was doing the roosters were insistent on beating the tar out of anyone near by. After plucking all of each other’s tails clean off they moved on to less fight worthy opponents. Now if a hen was standing in their way they’d viciously attack her, grabbing onto clunks of her feathers, making her scream, and refusing to let go until they found my boot up their ass! I have NO respect for roosters who are wife beaters. They have an uncanny ability to end up dinner at my place because yes, my hens deserve better! (See this sweet little hen? Don’t you think she deserves only the sweetest rooster? I think so.)

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When they weren’t putting the hens in their place they were picking on the Dorkings and the Cornish (who are huge but think they’re quails and put up with a lot of shit.) After tormenting them they then turned to braver endeavors which included charging me (so long as I was walking away from them) and plucking fresh duck feathers off our sleeping water fowl (they would have put up far too much of a fight if they were awake!)

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Between the crowing and the screaming of their victims they also liked to add constant alarm calls to the cacophony of noise. All day long you could see them head down, running full speed in a horizontal velociraptor pose, back to the barn while screaming their heads off. Why? In about 0.001% of these instances there was a hawk, the rest of the time they were screaming because their imaginary friends gave them the stink-eye, or a bug that was far too big flew by, or they could see me. Obviously I’m worse than a bear, especially when weeding the garden within their eyesight and God forbid I have anything in my hands – a shovel, a rake, a camera, a bowl of food – all got the same treatment. THE SKY IS FALLING!!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!! Clearly that fable is written about these birds. (As you can see in this photo of a curious hen there is a rooster in the background alarm calling his fool head off. You can also see two Dorkings completely ignoring him because they have learned the Brabanters are just mental.)

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I had had enough, my hens had had enough, the other chickens had had enough, and I am sure my neighbors did too. I asked the wise chicken elders what to do. This was chaos. They told me make a bachelor pen out of sight of the girls, lock them away, and hope they grow some goddamn manners. So I spent another two hours weeding them out from the rest of the flock (in their coop/stall mind you) and putting their collars back on, half of which were missing after three days. I then threw them into their own hellish bachelor pad – an empty horse stall. I will give them access to their own pasture in a bit but for now I think they need the time out! After finding out there was 20 of them and not 15 I said nooo noooo nooo. I will be taking out the four with the Polish-looking head combs and whoever keeps getting out of their collar within minutes of putting it on. That’s not a skill I want to encourage! In the meanwhile they are pissed at me as could be… and all twenty of them go off as loud as they can alarm calling whenever I pass by their stall or have the audacity to feed them. They sound like three car alarms going off at once and they do not shut up. Yep, it’s time to weed some out. They provide a pathetic amount of meat – but waste not want not.

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I was asked why I am still trying… and I don’t have a good answer. Maybe for the sake of the hens who are slowly growing to trust me, even if it is only very slightly. Maybe I am a masochist. Maybe I really do like an unending intellectual challenge. Maybe the idea of feeding the same number of large dual purpose birds makes me want to cry. I don’t know, but for now we’re sticking to this. And in the meanwhile, despite the fact my boyfriend now hates the Brabanters that I got because of him, I have decided to take it one step further by visiting a breeder in the Netherlands in a few months, in Brabant if possible. There I will use my boyfriend as a translator (which I know he just loooooves to do for me…) and ask a couple simple questions:

1) Are European Brabanters this insane?!

2) Do they breed “true” or is this going to be an unending pursuit to achieve beards and crests of perfection??

3) Anything else they’d like to add – history, personal stories, whatever.

2 Comments

  1. Carrie

    Oh my! You sound like you have truly gotten your hands on a batch of ne’er-do-wells for certain! On behalf of the normal Brabanters, please accept their apologies. I’ve been breeding Brabanters for nine years now and I can assure you that most American Brabanters do not act that way. But, a few wonky birds in a breeding flock could spread their genes far and wide and, sadly, there are some folks out there who have bred birds they should not have for the sake of a buck. My gold Brabanters, especially to boys are very kind, sweet gentleman. Now, I personally love the crisp clear sound of the Brabanter crow, but that’s certainly a matter of taste. When you’ve eaten up all those ridiculous knuckleheads (and properly bred Brabanters have a very good amount of quite tasty meat), let me know and we will have to be certain you get a proper fellow who will capture your heart and treat your lovely gals as they should be treated. Demon creatures such as you describe are not at all what this breed is about! They are the perfect chicken! They should be highly intelligent, docile, quite friendly with their owners, yet wary of things they are unfamiliar with until they ascertain there is no danger. Typically, they are quite quiet, yet watchful while they size up something unfamiliar. While your birds have some nice physical characteristics, the insane creatures you describe clearly need to be on your dinner table rather than in your poultry yard!

    • Well since then I put the 20 cockerels in a bachelor pen… that just about threw me over the edge. They were alarm calling ALL DAY from sun up to sun down, at NOTHING, and once one was going they’d all chime in and when the original stopped the other nineteen would be screaming their lungs off, like dominoes one would tick off the others and it never stopped… Each alarm call lasted around 45 minutes. Each burst of silence maybe 10-15… It was SO LOUD around here. I had enough and killed all but the best five. Two went into a breeding pen, the other three I kept as stand-bys to switch out in a few months… well my girls have been terrible at laying since I put them in the breeding pen and one of the two boys keeps attacking my butt every time I turn around. The other three I recently released into my main eating egg flock hoping for some fun mixes but one of those was brutally attacking my stump-footed hen all day every day because she was easy pickings. He didn’t seem to learn from having me kick him off and yell numerous times so he went to the chopping block too. I have found them to be perfectly lousy for meat purposes. They have no breast meat what-so-ever and I have seen frog legs bigger – not to mention they are so high strung and flighty they make themselves so chewy!! Maybe I am spoiled by the larger dual purpose birds I have now… I don’t know but I just slaughtered 15 of my dual-purpose sex links (Heritage RIR X Dorking) I bred four months ago and even being that small they had significantly more meat on them than a fully grown Brabanter! In the meanwhile I have hatched a few Brabanters out, not a lot, and they were raised in my main mixed flock as the absolute minorities… the one rooster from them has a MUCH more humble attitude!! He’s not out gang raping and screaming all day and he looks better than his pops. I think breeding out the bad qualities (which are also clearly Spitzhauben traits – there’s rumors they were cross bred in the US for greater genetic diversity) I have also inadvertently selected for calmer temperament. After six months they are FINALLY starting to lay a bit so I am going to hatch out a large batch to replace my now two year old original flock and go from there. I still have no love for any of the roosters… unlike in all my other breeds… but the hens continue to amuse me. For now we continue with this project hoping for the best. That being said if you ever are in the market to send me some eggs (obviously for a price) let me know! Any time of year! I will hatch them. We’re always looking for genetic diversity here. Also thank you for stopping by and commenting! Glad to hear this might not all be for naught!

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