Sunday, January 25, 2015

Losing Tarzan

We lost our young rooster Tarzan yesterday.

It was very strange. I tucked him into the coop as usual the night before, and he was just fine. I always keep roosters separated at night because Snap, our mature rooster, will beat the tar out of any young whippersnappers left in his clutches in the coop overnight. Tarzan is used to the routine and obediently goes into the inner cage (I usually leave him with a few hens).

But yesterday morning as I released the birds, I saw he was huddled on the floor, head on the ground.

He had no visible injuries, and he was lusty and strong the day before. What happened? Who knows. I can't imagine he was ganged up by the hens since hens aren't known for aggressive behavior toward roosters (though a few have chased him away when he got too persistent in his attentions).

After keeping a hopeful eye on him for a few hours, it was obvious something was terribly wrong and he was dying. I finally asked Don to put him out of his misery.

I find myself very upset at losing little Tarzan. From the crop of young roosters we hatched last summer, he had the nicest disposition and the handsomest appearance, and I was fond of him. Who knows what went wrong?

We're back down to just one male, faithful Snap, whom we hatched in 2010.

He's getting up there in rooster years, though still vigorous and fertile. We'll get another rooster this upcoming summer to share the load.

Sigh. Bye Tarzan, you were nice while you lasted.


  1. I'm sorry Patrice. It's kind of like life, the sweetest and loveliest are taken early.


  2. I'm sorry for the loss of your roo. He sure was a handsome fellow. We, too, lost our favorite roo recently. The same way - no signs of sickness or injury the day or weeks before. Just went out to let them all out in the morning and discovered he had died during the night. No other chickens are sick so it must have been his time,

    It is always hard to loose good stock.... especially the nice ones.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about Tarzan. It's amazing how attached we get to some of our flock. When I lost my favorite hen to a skunk I mourned her for days. I was surprised that it hit me so hard. But she was a great companion, and always quite the entertainer.

  4. :-(

    Sorry for your loss-- He certainly was a handsome fellow.

    Do hope you're able to figure out what happened, though I know that can be next to impossible.

  5. Sorry for your loss I know it can be hard losing stock you grow close to.

  6. I am sorry for your loss. We have a buff orpington that we call big girl because of her size. The last 2 summers she has gotten something that goes into her lungs. She sounds horrible! Both times we have separated her from the flock and fed her tetracycline and she has pulled through. I suspect we will have to go through this again this summer and just hope we do not lose her. She is the number 2 in the flock but is not overly vigorous as an enforcer. We seem to lose 1 or 2 every year and have added 3 new hens every year but this year we will probably skip the new ones as we get all the eggs that we and our neighbors can eat.

  7. So sorry for your loss. It breaks my heart anytime I lose one of my banties. Some are more dear than others, but I still grieve for them when they die. My husband tells me I must toughen up if I want to be a homesteader.... I'm just not there yet.

  8. Whenever I call my best friend to complain about sick or dead animals, she says, "Where there is livestock, there will be dead stock. And often you'll never know why."

    With that said (and she really does mean that to be comforting - that there is nothing we can do about it), it's a shame about your rooster. Last month I walked into the henhouse to find a hen dead on the floor with her neck broken. NO idea how it happened. I really hate losing animals.

    I'm interested in your old rooster beating up the young ones. We had our four young ones gang up on our old one. We had to kill him because he was just too badly beaten (twice!) and had kind of lost his drive. He stood in the corner all day and hid his face (which I guess he thought made him entirely hidden).

  9. Sorry. He looks beautiful, and nice dispositions in roosters are sometimes hard to come by.

  10. Poor Tarzan.... and poor you.

    I'm sorry for your loss :(

  11. I am sorry to hear about your promising young rooster, Patrice. I lost a beautiful liver chestnut (flaxen mane) 3 year old mare that we had started under saddle, a number of years back. She was home raised with a lot of talent in her pedigree. (We still have mom & dad but as anyone who breeds livestock- or has children knows, each one is different.) She was found in the pasture - no sign of distress or injury. Did she aspirate something - have an aneurism? Who knows - she was gone. My family kindly "disposed" of her without my having to see her dead.

    That said, this is one point where I feel kids raised around livestock learn to appreciate things a little more and have a different perspective on life and death. I have city friends who have a difficult time differentiating between the value of a human life and the value of an animal life. I am probably opening a can of worms here because I will do a LOT for our animals, however, they are not a human and human lives must come first. I think farm kids learn that you do what you can, within means, and after that it is in God's hands.

    I have driven all night to a University vet hospital in an another state attempting to save a newborn critter. I have gotten up every two hours to milk a momma and feed a baby who can't get up or lost its momma. I have a cat that should have died of exposure/hypothermia that lost both ears, half its tail and both back feet, but it didn't give up so I didn't give up on it. (It can run, jump, go up and down stairs - has adapted quite well - and that was with home care - after I was told $1000/foot to amputate I knew I couldn't do that.) The clinics I called were mad that I didn't just drop everything and bring it in, but rather asked for suggestions on the kindest way to put it out of its misery if I needed to. (Of course the $2500 to $3000 bill would have been my responsibility had I done the "right" thing and took it in.) The local humane society didn't want it because they too would have been on the hook for the bills.....but they could sure get nasty when I told them I wasn't taking it in.

    I just wanted to add this for any of your readers who are raising kids and livestock. The kids learn responsibility, how to care for (and often doctor) animals, the joys that being around animals can bring and sometimes the hard/sad lessons along the way. I believe that they will remember times and lessons learned that, when they look back on later, will be helpful in their travels through life......Good luck in finding a new rooster. I have a wonderful bay mare now also home raised and trained - and a 2 footed cat......Natokadn

  12. Ah, that's a sad happening. I remember when we lost our Big, Red rooster. That's what we named him, Big Red. We were his second home. He did well until just a week or so before he died. He was a good protector of the flock and took care of his hens. It was tough to watch him fail. Some parts of life are just plain sad. Cindy

  13. Oh gee, sorry about losing Tarzan, I have also lost favorite hens, to predators and illness, and it IS sad. My biggest loss happened when a stray rooster appeared in the hens yard, and eventually stole all 4 of my hens!! I saw it coming, but short of shooting Mr Rooster, I couldn't stop the girls from eloping with him, Im still so mad about it!! Well, when we have livestock, we get all the many joys as well as the losses. Love your blog BTW!

  14. Did you have Don do an autopsy? At least cut open his stomach to see if he had eaten something that did him in. Perhaps a wire or other bit of metal. Be good to know for the future.

  15. Sorry for the loss of your rooster. It does often seem the sweet and gentle are the ones we lose unexpectedly, while something such as a mean barn cat or a rooster that is rough on hens will seem indestructible.
    My husband found one of our young hens, dead under neath the big tumbling com poster, where the chickens would take their dust baths and rest in the shade. No visible foul play (no pun intended) just a healthy looking dead New Hampshire Red year old hen.
    I guess it happens, but we can still be hurt by an animals passing.

  16. Aw, man. I hate it when I don't know why an animal died. I just plain hate it. And it breaks my heart into 20 pieces to see an animal suffer. What a difficult thing it can be to have dominion over them.

    Just Me

  17. I've cried my eyes out over a few of the fowl around here meeting an untimely end. I get so attached to them, but I swear some times I think they die just because they can. It hurts.

  18. Are you SURE he's dead? Maybe he's learned anew trick like Ol' Roy.....

    This farmer has 500 hens but no rooster so he goes to his neighbour and asks him if he could buy a rooster for $100.
    The neighbour says, "You can have this rooster. His name's Roy. He'll get all your hens pregnant. He's a real stud."

    So the farmer takes him home and says, "It's your first day so take it slow, okay?"

    The farmer puts Roy in the hen house and then hears all the hens crying and yelling. Roy nailed every one of those hens and then nailed a duck and a goose at a pond.

    The next morning the farmer finds Roy lying dead with his legs sticking in the air and buzzards circling overhead.

    The farmer says, "Roy, did you have to die?"

    Roy says, "Quiet! They're about to land!"

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  19. I'm sorry to hear about Tarzan. I've got 4 random roosters that ended up here after their owner taped them up in a box and dropped them on a rural gravel road. When someone came upon it and realized there was something alive in the box, they called the Sheriff's office, and since the Deputy knew we had chickens, we apparently became the "chicken rescue." They're actually very docile for roosters (our last one attacked my 3 year old and made a tasty pot pie).

    Referring back to the comments about kids growing up around livestock, last summer we had a hen that my 9 year old found in poor condition. She came and got my husband and myself, and it was obvious that she'd had a large prolapse and was in considerable pain. Being the trooper that she is, she stood by while we put the poor hen out of her misery. While she was teary eyed, she herself said that we couldn't let her suffer. Sick animals are tough to deal with -- we once had a goose that got encephalitis that we tried to treat for 2 weeks before we had to accept that she just wasn't going to get better, and a Springer Spaniel with an infectious paralysis that we couldn't fix, even after 10 days at the vet's with IVs and home for 2 weeks with therapy. Not everything can be fixed, and it actually has helped bring our family together working with "livestock" and pets but understanding that there are things that can't be fixed, but that we can do what we can to make sure that a living being doesn't have to suffer needlessly.