Aslan was a good decision. He reminds one of a dinosaur when he runs, mostly because you can actually hear his footsteps, like timpani pounding on the ground. His crowing is minimal, especially when compared to the neighbor’s rooster half a mile away who seems to crow non-stop. The most astonishing observation of Aslan is how caring he is.
I first observed Aslan’s nurturing instinct when I left two eggs I’d collected on the ground while I did something else. He clucked and circled the eggs repeatedly, acting concerned that his future offspring were left unattended in the open.
Recently our bantam hen, Millie, became sick. She had a neurological problem that became increasingly worse and started remaining in the coop on the floor. As time went on, Millie not only had trouble walking, but could no longer fly or keep her balance. We had to put her up in the nesting box at night and take her down in the morning. When I finally took Millie to the vet (Dr. Cindy Brown in Mystic specializes in birds and loves chickens), she was put on a homemade diet, supplements and antibiotics to see if the cause was a vitamin D deficiency. The other possible causes were cancer or Marek’s disease, but I was unwilling to spring for x-rays and blood work. Millie had to be isolated in a small cage to keep the other chickens from stealing her food. Aslan immediately became concerned, first by looking for Millie in her normal spot on the floor, then by clucking around her in the cage which was placed near the coop. In the end, I had to have pretty, sweet Millie euthanized as her condition worsened.
We often give our chickens leftovers to supplement their diet of layer pellets. The hens come running as the goodies are tossed on the ground. Aslan runs to eat too, but unlike the hens who will steal from each other, he’ll stand back and let the girls go first. He has a bigger body to nourish, but he doesn’t need the calories the hens do to produce eggs.
Our blueberry and raspberry bushes traditionally provide summer treats for the chickens too. As we pick the blueberries, the chickens will stand around and on top of our feet, waiting for the next berry to fall their way. The hens rush in like bridesmaids trying to catch the bouquet, grabbing and running with their prize with the others in hot pursuit. Aslan seems to just supervise and provide. He will actually pick up a fallen berry and, instead of gobbling it down himself, carry the morsel to a hen and drop it in front of her. Who knew a rooster could be such a gentleman?