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Rooster is bullied and injured by hens, help!!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I think my rooster won't live through winter sad.png I love him and I'd like ideas on how to solve this problem.

My rooster is a meat bird that was attacked by a predator at 5-6 weeks old. I cared for him, he recovered and I kept him since he was so nice.
He is part blind (maybe 100% blind in one eye). One of his eyes is OK, the other is partly closed and I'm not sure he can see with it.

So he is a quiet rooster. Doesn't attack, doesn't jump/fly, bite, etc.

I have 6 layers and they have cohabitated with the rooster since he was 2 weeks old.

The layers didn't attack when I had 20 meat birds AND my rooster.
Then I processed the meat birds and kept only this rooster.

From that point he was bullied. Even with all the chickens lose on my property AND giving them 4 bowls of feed (for 7 chickens..), the dominant hen will RUN from her bowl to attack the rooster when he eats. She will just push him off when they are outside, no real injuries, but he hates it (ironically, at the same time it's kinda saving him, otherwise he would eat too much and probably die of a heart attack or leg problems. He is still "slim" and looks very healthy, probably partly because the hen's don't let him eat as much as he wants).

I tried:
- Giving a ton of food so they wouldn't feel like they would run out
- Standing ground in front of rooster and pushing back dominant hen thinking she would eventually understand
- Sewing a coat for rooster to prevent wounds, thinking that eventually the hens would accept him. He removes the shirt all the time, can't find a perfect fit / model.

He doesn't even go back in the coop at night, he is too afraid of the hens. I have to manually put him inside the coop (at night they don't attack him, of course, then in the morning I let them outside again and it's "ok").

It's getting cold here, and snowy. The other day I had to spend the day away from my house and it was the first really cold day of autumn. I left around 5AM, birds sleeping.. I didn't open the door for the outside pen.

The rooster was "confined" with the hens all day in the coop. When I came back he was missing all his beautiful feathers on the neck, on his butt and thighs and had one wound on the wing. It is clear that if I leave him there for a week he will be near dead.. he can't pass the whole winter like this.

Is there anything else I can try? My last idea is to remove the dominant hen for a few days but I'm afraid that an even meaner hen take the leadership of the flock.

EDIT: I have read post that say to separate the bully. Would this work if the rooster is permanently injured? I mean, would it be natural for hens to attack the weakest and it will possibly never end? sad.png
Edited by Sabz - 10/21/15 at 7:31am

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply
post #2 of 8

Maybe you could build him his own little area to live in? I do not think the bullying will stop.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

If it comes to that I'll cull him :( We have cold winters here would have to bring electricity to the second coop (for water heaters), insulate it.

The cost of it, plus the fact that the rooster will never fertilize eggs if he is separated, I don't think it's worth it.  I know, maybe he will never fertilize even WITH the hens, but at least there are chances ;)

 

Thanks, I'll keep that in mind anyway, I also think maybe it's an impossible situation.

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply
post #4 of 8
How old are the chickens in question? To me it sounds like you don’t have a mature rooster but instead have an immature cockerel. Your hens, at least the dominant one, sounds like a mature hen.

Some hens, mature or not, will squat for about anything in spurs. But many mature hens expect a male to pass muster before she will accept him as the potential father of her children. To win her respect he has to act like a mature rooster and flock master. He also has to dominate her with the magnificence of his self-confidence. Immature cockerels often have trouble with that.

It’s not unusual for a mature dominant hen to not only dominate an immature cockerel but be pretty brutal toward him. She has the top spot in the flock and sees him as a future rival for that top spot, so she keeps him down by beating him up. That may not be what is going on but it sounds like it could be. One method dominant chickens maintain their dominance is intimidate by keeping them away from food.

With normal cockerels they eventually mature into the role of flock master. That can take a full year, depending on the personality of the dominant hen and the personality of the cockerel. They might make that adjustment fairly peacefully, it may take a lot of fighting, chasing, and attacking. You might be a lot better off isolating that cockerel until he grows up and can handle the job.

Occasionally you may get a hen that just won’t give up that top spot. Sometimes a cockerel never matures to the point he can dominate all the hens. They are living animals, they don’t come with guarantees. It’s possible things may never settle down. If he is partially blind that may or may never develop the personality to take over. But he might.

I always recommend you keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals. It sounds like your goals include hatching some of your eggs so you need a rooster. Whether this rooster is the one you need is up to you.

The way I see it you have several options. You can keep on the way you are going. He might live and develop into the rooster you want. He might not.

You can try isolating him until he is old enough to dominate that lead hen, then put them back together.

You can try removing the lead hen for at least a week, totally isolate her and see how the others interact with him. What often happens when you do that is the isolated hen loses her pecking order rank and has to regain it when she is put back with the flock. She may never regain the lead position. It may go pretty peaceful when you put them back together or it may get really vicious between the hens. Different people get different results.

You can remove that rooster and try to find another one, maybe on Craigslist, to use instead, hopefully a mature one.

It’s not easy to know what to do even when you are looking at them, let alone across the internet. I wish you luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #5 of 8

you could re home him. there may be someone who would like a gentle rooster.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

He was born may 1st, so he's 6 months old. No he is not completely mature but my other rooster from last year was accepted even before being mature.

 

And yes, my hen is a mature one!

 

You're third paragraph gives me hope, Ridgerunner, but the second one scares me. I doubt he'll ever be confident. I'll post a video tomorrow. He moves slowly, he seems scared of everything. At some points I thought his injuries affected his nerves or brain.. but after further observations I think it's just the blindness. He looks nothing but confident, poor baby. I wish I knew how to teach him.

The rooster's been isolated for a while already. For all summer, he was lose on my property. Never, ever caged, even at night (LoL, I know, dangerous.. but he manages so well, he hides to a point where I can't even find him when I try). Sometimes he sleeps under my BBQ or under the deck. He was reluctant to go back to the coop so I just told myself: "well, we'll see, maybe I'll process him at the end of summer". But no, he's so cute. He knocks on the door to come in the house, he is nice to my dogs, to baby chicks, to the hens..I can pet him, hold him. Basically do everything we are NOT supposed to do with roosters! I know.

But I also know that I am persistent and all my animals co-exist peacefully (birds, cats, dogs, fishes). I really want this to work, so for the last month I've tried to incorporate him to the flock but that's not working out.

I'll remove the dominant hen for a week! We'll see. My others are leghorns and they look very peaceful. They can live with week old chicks without problems.

What I would need to do is help him be confident and defend himself. I will stop cuddling him and inform myself on the dominant behaviours. If I fake dominance with him, maybe he'll learn. As example, if having a tail up in the air means a chicken is trying to be dominant, I'll tape his tail up! :) That's probably not true, but do you get what I'm trying to explain?

Here he is in pictures.

This side is the bad eye, but we don't see it well:



He is ALWAYS with my dog:

 

 


Helping to setup a shelf:




Our favorite thing to do:

 


Part of the damages:



A test shirt I made him. He is funny in that pic!


Edited by Sabz - 10/21/15 at 1:28pm

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply
post #7 of 8

love the pics! he sounds like a really cool, special  rooster. .could he sleep in the garage or in the house with your dog for the winter? . if he is used to hanging out with the rest of you, then why cant he keep doing that? there is nothing wrong with chickens being pets.  it sounds like you really like him so why not make it work? we should never try to make anyone or a situation something its not, everyone is an individual and we cant use should s or base our expectations on others. alot of people bring their chickens and turkeys in the house.

 

he is going to be bullied since he hasnt been part of the flock, since he is new to the rest since he has been out and about. they say you should never introduce one chicken to an established flock, always at least 3, preferably 4 or 5 or more. the fact that he is handicapped may always make him a target. depending on the temperaments of the rest of your flock, its hard to say if it is going to work or not. you definitely cant keep him locked up in a coop with no room to escape, chickens need space and will go after each other if they dont have alot of room. your hen sounds extra dominant and he is at a disadvantage.

 

maybe its not meant to be for him to live with the hens. we have 3 roosters and a turkey that roam around and live with our goats. they are too mean to be in with our girls. we also have a silkie and a mille fleur bantam roo that live with our girls that are just fine.

 

unless you are set on breeding quality chicks, a rooster isnt necessary for your hens. our mille fleur a lady begged us to take, since she needed to rehome him, so we rescued him, and my daughter wanted a silkie, and he is a cuddly little guy. the other three were supposed to be hens.

 

best of luck in finding a great solution, its worth the extra effort when we have exceptional animals. all of our animals get along together really well. that is something that is important to me too.   

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Oh Chicbaby, I wish he could live in the house!!!!!!!!

1st issue: the truck load of poop I have to clean each morning. He doesn't stay in one place, like my other chickens do. I guess since he is partly blind, he doesn't mind the darkness as much. He is the only one that eats, stays out, walks in the dark, after the sunset. So he poops, then walks on it.. which is no fun to cleanup in the morning. And then while I'm at work he goes into all the different rooms of the house, putting poo everywhere. I love him and I cleaned up almost all summer after him, but summer was easier - he could go outside during the day.

2nd: I heard it wasn't good for our lungs and our own health.

 

3rd: when he drinks out of the dog water bowl, he puts a foot on the side and it tips over the bowl ALL THE TIME. So now I remove the water, but I need to pay special attention to my dogs or the rooster asking for water. Then I give him the bowl and HOLD it until he is done. I'd need like a cement bowl or something if I keep him inside.

I didn't think I really tried to introduce him to the flock. I'm not really sure. He lived with the flock (same coop) and the meat birds until he was attacked (5 weeks old). Then he came inside for about 3-4 weeks until he was better. Then he was outside 100% of the time. The hens sleep in the coop, but they are outside during the day. I thought that since they co-existed outside all summer, it would be easier to let him inside the coop in autumn. I guess I was wrong and they find it a lot easier to accept him outside then inside their own house :(.

I left him outside yesterday, even when he knocked furiously on the door. I was so sad. He uses his beak to knock on the patio door when he wants to come in. I waited until it was dark and took him to the coop.

I made such a mistake to care for him. Now I'm stuck with a rooster that probably will never mate and that I love too much to cull.

He is SO intelligent. I can't believe how chickens learn fast. He knows how to ask for water inside the house, food, he knows the dogs, he freaked when I put his shirt on the first time, then he let me do it without problems. He thought stuff to the others also!  I put up a tarp in front of the coop door for winter, this way I'm protected from rain/snow/wind when I go feed them AND they can play outside in a protected area with plenty of light. But the turkey was afraid of the tarp and the first day she didn't go back to the coop at night. I was cooking, when suddenly I heard a big BANG, like someone throwing a rock in my window. In fact she gave ONE big knock on my patio door with her beak!  I came outside and she walked calmly besides me until we got to the coop. I held the tarp so it wouldn't move in the wind, then she went in hahaha. I'm sure she saw that when the rooster knocks, the door opens, so she did it.

When he was a teen and his injuries were healing, I put him to sleep in the living room then went to bed. Well he walked to my room (there's a long corridor he had to walk through) and then jumped into my bed! hahah that was amazing. We slept together many night when he was smaller and less poopy. He came to work with me at first since he was so badly beaten up..

Here are more pics :)

He sleeps in my hand whenever I pet him:

 


Him perching on my largest squahs of the garden (46 pounds):

 


This is what he does everyday. I come back from work and go outside to see the chickens. He comes to me, I knee down and we hug. He put his face on my back, like this (except that time we were watching a movie):

 

 
Him, sleeping on the couch in a really funny way haha

 



Here are the kids, near the day of the attack. Maybe he is in there, I don't really know!

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply

Flock consist of 6 layers (leghorns and brown layers) + some meat birds that come and go.

All guarded by TarzanBoy, the big rooster with a missing toe!

Reply
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