By: Jordan Taylor
Amongst the Redford and Shingler apartment dwellers, Trevecca’s roosters have carved out quite the reputation.
They strut through the parking lot, stare down bystanders and proudly crow for those both willing and unwilling to listen.
Overall—each guy is definitely a cock of the walk.
But starting this weekend, Trevecca’s sunrise, and students, will no longer be greeted so zealously each morning.
On Friday, Jan. 20, Trevecca’s chicken caretakers slaughtered (humanely–of course) their six full-grown roosters to thin out the male presence.
“Yeah, you better get it crowed out,” shouts Norm Robinson, Trevecca’s head of Trevecca security, as he stands next to a crowing, death-row rooster named Chanticleer, after the animated movie Rock-a-Doodle.
Roosters show dominance by “mounting” hens. When there are more males, there are more attempts of dominance, thus, more mounting.
“We had one [hen] that had a back injury because she was mounted a lot. There’s no need to have [the roosters] right now; they’re just going to wear out the hens,” explained Tera Kurtz, primary chicken caretaker
So, it was off with their heads.
Kurtz met with Jason Adkins and Alyse Gibson, both caretakers of the flock, in the parking lot adjacent to the coop, hauling tables, pots of boiling water, and yes—knives.
When the Social Justice department began the chicken program last May, they specifically ordered females from hatcheries so they could raise an egg-laying flock.
But apparently a three-day-old chick’s sex is hard to tell, even for professional hatcheries.
So, Kurtz ended up with six male chicks, and now—six roosters.
Roosters naturally ward of predators of their flock, and breed with the females.
When eggs are fertilized, they will only produce a chick if they are incubated. Without heat, an egg remains merely an egg.
So Kurtz and Gibson collect eggs twice a day to prevent incubation, or breakage, gathering 2-3 dozen eggs daily.
The average American eats 250 eggs per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s more than 70 billion eggs devoured each year in America alone.
In order to produce this vast amount of eggs, vast amounts of chickens are needed, or rather—vast amounts of female chickens.
Males are euthanized upon hatching, the accepted method being to dump the young chicks through large meat grinders, as stated by the United Egg Producers.
Unlike commercial chicks, Trevecca’s boys were reared to nearly 9-months-old instead of the normal 3-days.
“These guys have had a good life, they’re just about to have one bad moment,” said Michael Kurtz, Tera’s husband a fellow volunteer.
The roosters were slaughtered in methods reflective of farming techniques. Tera said she wanted to treat the roosters with utmost respect, and felt responsible as their primary caretaker to be present at the end just as she was at the beginning.
“It’s important to know that the roosters, even when we slaughter them and even when they’re on our plate, that they are still being useful and fulfilling their purpose,” Tera said.
The roosters were slaughtered, cleaned, and feathered, then distributed amongst Adkins, Gibson and the Kurtz’.
“I’m cooking Chanticleer. Maybe I shouldn’t call him Chanticleer, maybe I should call him dinner,” Tera reflects. “He was our first rooster, and just beautiful. Even when he tried to attack me every morning, he was just trying to protect his lady friends.”