I adopted Mozart (aka originally named ‘Kung Pow”) from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter last fall. He had been dumped there at 5 months of age by his previous owner, who claimed he crowed too much. Funny enough, Mozart rarely crows, and when he does, it is not very loud and sort of resembles a baby crow. Mozart is probably the most happy, friendly, and easy-going of all the roosters.
Mozart is considered to be a “gamefowl” type breed, which people often associate as ‘aggressive’ or ‘unfriendly’, because they are used for cockfighting. Gamefowl are genetically similar to the red junglefowl (the ancestor of all domesticated chickens). This means that they are more likely to behave like chickens would naturally in the wild. In the wild, red junglefowl live peacefully in flocks with other roosters and hens. They are less prone to developing stereotypical compulsive behaviors and negative side effects often seen in domestic chicken breeds.
For example, gamefowl are less likely to be aggressive with the hens, as opposed to the overaggressive mating behavior often seen in the larger, ‘meat-type’ rooster breeds. Gamefowl hens are less likely to suffer from egg-related issues like the modern day laying hens bred to lay an unnaturally excessive number of eggs.
Bringing Mozart Home from the animal shelter
At first, Mozart was very skittish and nervous around humans. He was a bit difficult to catch and did not like to be touched. Now, all I need to do is call his name and he comes running, eagerly awaiting to be picked up and given a hug. Integrating Mozart into my little bachelor flock of roosters was hands down the easiest newbie integration I’ve ever had—and I have had quite a lot.
Since I had just taken in two young silkie roosters from a gal the week prior, I initially focused on introducing Mozart to them. Normally, I would have kept any new birds in quarantine for several weeks before introducing them to my existing flock. However, I waived this period this time, since I knew that Mozart and the silkies both came from decent homes and were young, therefore the risk of them introducing something to my flock was low.
Mozart and his new silkie friends.
For the first two nights I kept the birds in separate kennels next to one another, and let them all out together for monitored play sessions throughout the day. Once I was confident that they all got along, and were eating and drinking together without any drama, I let them all stay as a group. I relocated them to where they would be ultimately living---in the rooster enclosure, but added a partition to separate them from the other birds. This was so the new birds could get to know one another and become familiar with the space, but couldn’t get hurt. This is how it was for the next couple weeks. Each day, I had short ‘introductory sessions’ where I put certain birds outside in the pasture together and watched how they’d interact.
Mozart and the other birds during an introductory meet session.
It was clear that Mozart actually had the most submissive personality—--meaning that he didn’t like to fight and anytime another rooster threatened him, he would flee instead of fight. Please note that anecdotally, it can sometimes be hard to introduce two gamefowl to each other, especially when keeping them together in limited space. Each and every introduction is very different and there will be some occasions where certain birds just do not get along and should not be kept in the same space together.
Also, there is a difference between ex-cockfighting birds and gamefowl that needs to be pointed out. Ex-cockfighting roosters will most likely NOT show submission to other roosters who challenge them. Even with non-fighting roosters, not all roosters will submit. This means that in these cases, they will fight to the death---or at least close to it. Therefore, it is very important that each and every time birds are introduced that they be closely monitored and that you're prepared to separate them quickly if nobody submits.
Mozart, Oscar, and Zoolander.
In Mozart's case, everything worked out great since he was so submissive. The other roosters accepted him with open arms---or wings really, and they even look after him. I have witnessed Oscar and Zoolander actually give Mozart the treats I give them, first--like they would their hens. It is really cute.
Mozart is one of the most genuine, friendly, and interesting roosters to watch and interact with. I love him so much and am so thankful I found him!