The gelding, the wether and the cock

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Our herd is quite small here on the farm, but it still offers opportunity for observation and subsequent introspection.

Specifically, how the male and female members of each species interact with each other is quite fascinating. On the surface one would lean toward certain assumptions based purely on environmental and confirmative bias, and in general, these assumptions would be wrong.

Let’s start with the llamas. We have a gelding (castrated male) and a female. He is older than she by some 8 years or so and they are not related. Their barnyard demeanour makes it very clear that he is the dominating presence. He eats first, he drinks first, he takes whatever position he likes and she, having already established the order of things, is quick to oblige. If he finishes his meal first, it is quite clear that he will then eat whatever she has not yet finished eating.

Moving on to the goats. We have a wether (castrated male) and a doe, and they are twins. Their barnyard demeanour suggests that they are still kids (in both the figurative and literal senses), however when it comes to food or position, he, like the gelding, is clearly the alpha presence. The goats do possess an additional, almost human, characteristic of FoMo (fear of missing out) and will run from whatever they are doing/eating over to the other and swap positions endlessly. In this, the “time to swap” is always determined by the male with the female defaulting to opposite.

Finally we have the chickens. We have a cock (rooster) and eight hens. They were all raised from chicks at the same time and have never been around other chickens. Contrary to how his barnyard counterparts behave, the rooster is clearly ONLY focused on two things: making sure his hens are ok and making sure the eggs are fertile. In this, if he discovers a food source anywhere, he will call the hens over and then back off to let them eat. He will then sporadically jump in and ensure he has some as well, however he is never the one to “clean the bowl”. In the event that the llamas warn of danger or he himself senses danger, he calls the hens over and corals them to a safe place.

Thus we have the observation.

As for the introspection front, well, it would seem that the hens are happier than their counterparts and that the rooster experiences a whole lot less angst than his. Can I get you some more tea, honey?

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Glen Hartle

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