When a farm is named Wicked Rooster Farm, there is the natural assumption that roosters are the main attraction and all else is secondary. Granted, roosters can be mean, domineering, …
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When a farm is named Wicked Rooster Farm, there is the natural assumption that roosters are the main attraction and all else is secondary.
Granted, roosters can be mean, domineering, attention-seekers and loudly outspoken, but they are only part of the equation at a chicken breeding farm in Elizabeth. Yes, it is a memorable name leading each rooster to believe it is all about him, but his five to six or more hens know the truth.
Jennifer Tenney owns Wicked Rooster Farm, a breeding farm of rare and heritage breed chickens, and would be the first to tell you that the name is simply catchy and there is no meaning beyond that, despite what you might hear from the roosters.
Jennifer breeds heritage and rare breeds of chickens that cannot be found on every farm. The Wicked Rooster Farm is National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) certified and specializes in rare breed chickens, colored egg layers and autosexing breeds (meaning breeds where sex can be determined right after hatching, facilitating the preference for pullets).
Jennifer deals with a company that scours the world for and imports rare breeds of chickens, including her 12 different breeds. Some of the breeds Jennifer offers are the Basque hen, Rhodebar, Bielefelder and golden cuckoo Marans, but she points out that not all 12 breeds are functionally breeding — whether it be due to lack of motivation, or they may just not sell well.
Jennifer is hands-on with her chickens, building the coops and naming some of the chickens. It is obvious that breeding rare and heritage chickens is a personal mission as well as a business venture when she pauses to acknowledge chickens greeting them by name as she points out the salient qualities of each breed. Most breeds seem to have a personality of their own, though individuals within the group can be anomalies. Some breeds such as the Basque hen, one of Jennifer’s favorite, are consistently even-tempered, garnering popularity among breeders and customers. Jennifer can attest to the Basque hen nature. She owned a Basque hen chicken that was her sidekick, following her everywhere and always willing to be held.
Meanwhile, another breed of rooster from Germany, aptly named Voldemort, is her irascible nemesis and she claims, “He has a black heart and tries to kill me every day.”
Unfortunately, the Basque hen breed is disappearing in the United States. Jennifer has been trying to help remedy that scarcity for the last three years with moderate success. They were imported until about three years ago. Currently, she offers free chicks to customers interested in the Basque hen breed if they will maintain a separate flock and create their own little breeding group.
As for her chickens, they lead a charmed life living in custom coops, being fed a custom food mix, and having Jennifer to watch over them in a motherly manner. Though they have coops for shelter in the winter, they may experience frostbite if their comb is particularly tall or they play in the snow too long and freeze their feet.
Playing too long in the cold would seem counterintuitive, but Jennifer has to admit that “Some chickens are smarter than others and if you find a smart group they are worth their weight in gold.”
The roosters may have limited intelligence but nature compensated by giving them the ability to communicate with a deafening crowing, sometimes compared in intensity to an air raid siren. It is enough to make the ears buzz. At the Wicked Rooster Farm, rooster cacophony is not responsible for hearing a minor buzz but originates in the beehives near the coops.
Not only does Jennifer raise bees but she is on a list of people who will come and retrieve a swarm of bees that have settled in your eaves or anywhere else. She transports the hive to her farm and integrates them with her hives. As a point of interest, bees tend to swarm when their home becomes too small and they scout out a new spot, and it may be under anyone’s eaves or any other convenient spot.
The birds and the bees are a dream come true for Jennifer because she always wanted to be a farm kid and a horse woman. She would often daydream of being in 4-H but there was no 4-H near her in Orange County, California, to assuage her passion for the rustic life. Now she rules the roost with horses, chickens, dogs and as she says, “I am leading my dream life.” She is finally living the life of a “farm kid.”
For more information call 720-849-0371 or find Wicked Rooster Farm on Facebook.
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