Special Needs Roosters Adopt a Little Brother
Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org


Rachel McCrystal, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary
May 2018

All the babies we rescued that year had a bacterial infection, and that caused Magnus to lose his eyesight. Phoenix slipped his tendon in his right leg before he was rescued, probably as a result of the way these birds are bred.

Roosters Magnus Juan Phoenix

We make generalizations about farmed animals and their care often. We even do it at sanctuaries as we have to make decisions about housing, medical care, and enrichment based on what “most” pigs or cows or goats do in a certain situation and what is the best for “most” ducks or chickens. One of those generalizations is that roosters can’t live together or can only live together if there are a certain amount of hens.

But Magnus and Phoenix have a different story. They are both large Cornish Cross boys—the type of chicken bred to be killed and eaten at six weeks old. They were rescued from religious rituals in NYC in September of 2015 and came to us along with dozens of other scared, sick, and traumatized baby chickens.

Sadly, all the babies we rescued that year had a bacterial infection, and that caused Magnus to lose his eyesight. Phoenix slipped his tendon in his right leg before he was rescued, probably as a result of the way these birds are bred.

Because of Magnus’ blindness and Phoenix’s permanent leg condition, they were both unlikely to fare well in a big flock. But they immediately bonded with each other and have lived as a bonded pair for the last two and a half years. They sit in the sun together, eat together, and guide each other. Because of their breed and Phoenix’s injury, Pheonix is likely to not live much longer.

Rooster Juan

When Phoenix passes, Magnus will be all alone. While the caregivers here were thinking through what the options will be for him without his longtime companion, Juan the chicken arrived.

Juan was found a few weeks ago in NYC – just walking in the middle of the road! He was only four weeks old—still a chick. Given those circumstances, we can assume that he came from a live-kill market and narrowly escaped slaughter. Thankfully, some kind people recognized that he needed help and picked him up and drove him upstate to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

Although he is just a baby, we know he’s a rooster as he has the biggest feet we’ve ever seen on a chick of his age. He’s so friendly with people and other birds but we don’t have any other babies of his age to introduce him to…so we thought, what about Magnus and Phoenix? Could these sweet big roosters welcome a little friend?

As it turns out, Juan is great at making friends! He runs to Magnus to snuggle up during the day when they are all outside together and the three of them sleep together at night, Juan in the middle. Phoenix keeps an eye on him from his blanket as Juan walks around their yard. This little lost chick and these two disabled roosters, all from the streets of NYC, all rescued from near death, have become the sweetest threesome at the Sanctuary.

When the time comes for Phoenix to pass, we are grateful that Magnus will have a companion. He’ll never be alone. He’ll have Juan.

Please come and visit and see some of the residents here this visiting season. Hearing about their friendships with each other is one of the best ways to start seeing them all as individuals. Here at Woodstock Sanctuary, we give everyone the space and time to develop friendships with each other. So that can be a friendship of over a decade like that between goat Burt and sheep Bubbles (who are currently our oldest goat and oldest sheep), a maternal connection like between cow Maribeth and steer Mikey, or the head-butting sibling friendship of Louie and Luna, twin goats who lost their mother in childbirth but will live out their lives together.

If you visit often, you’ll see the same animals hanging out together and choosing to be with each other month after month, year after year. It’s really special but also reminds me every day of how many families and friendships are broken up as a matter of course in animal agriculture. We are so honored to be able to give our rescued residents the space to find long-term friends and family here.

And of course, if you visit and come back a few times, you will get to know the animals. And even start developing your own friendship with a goat, a turkey, or a Juan. I can’t think of a better friend! We can’t wait to see you.

You can sponsor Juan, Phoenix, Magnus or all three of them on the website for Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

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