Originally Posted by appps
Do you think sometimes it's as much to do with the temperament of the rooster as anything we do around them?
I believe this is true. It is especially a crap shoot with hatchery birds since they breed for numbers and not so much for traits. Personally, I don't agree with the premise of this thread at all. (Sorry OP )
I think the best role for a human in the game of chicken life is NPC. Rather than have to fight and dominate for position in my flock's pecking order, I prefer not being a part of it. I also think that it's better to leave the rooster training to the professionals, other chickens. From my experience, when you raise hens and roosters together in a brand new flock, you're asking for problems. The roosters mature and grow faster than the hens resulting in bullying and possible human aggression. You put that same rooster in a mature flock, with or without other roosters, and the mature birds will thump some manners into him.
When I started my flock, (for the 2nd time) I started with 16 hens and 2 roosters. They were born in early summer so they started laying very late fall. As they matured, the dominate SLW rooster would aggressively mate the hens and attack the #2 Wellie roo for trying. I hoped the flock would endure through the season and things would get better but by the time the flock was into their first spring, I had several bare backs, a couple of bloody shoulder injuries and all my EEs no longer had beards. As the weather warmed up last spring, the aggression in the flock towards the hens and the Wellie roo were escalating. The Wellie, however, was displaying traits I wanted to see. Unlike the SLW roo, he would actually dance, tidbit and fluff the nesting boxes for the girls.
One day, I happened to be in the local feed store where a couple was looking for a rooster for their mature Jersey giant hens. A light bulb went off in the head and I immediately offered them my SLW. Those big ladies would teach him manners, lol, and my sweet wellie would be free to care for his harem. Well, that didn't exactly work to plan. The Wellie decided since this is now his harem, I didn't belong there anymore. The first time he attacked me, I whooped his butt with a litter rake and named him Mr. Soup as a reminder to him of where this was headed should he want to continue. The 3rd time he attacked me just happened to be the day before I was going to process some meaties so needless to say, his story ended there.
The girls spent most of the spring and summer without a roo. At this point I added 4 Australorps and lost one wellie, putting the flock at 19 hens. The SLW girls (surprise, surprise) became the bullies, constantly attacking and pulling feathers out of the new girls.
Another day at the feed store and the owner mentioned a 2 year old rooster he needed to get rid of. He said the guy he got it from claimed it was an EE but he looks more like a Delaware mix. He had him in his own flock and the EE girls took to him. Even when he was isolated to be sold, his EEs would get to the closest fence they could to him and layed their eggs there. I didn't jump on it right away. He stayed in an isolated pen at the feed store for a few weeks before I finally took him. The owner didn't even charge me since I wasn't buying him to eat. He even trimmed his spurs for me. When I brought him to the coop, I set him down in the carrier just to see how the girls would react. As soon as he started to make noise, one of my EEs approached the crate and immediately squatted for him. When I let him out, the girls all started rushing him and squatting. Since then, he's taken to the new girls as his favorites and seems to like thumping the SLW hens. Karma? LOL
As far as how he feels towards me, he doesn't seem to care. Just the way I like it. He doesn't crow or stretch and flap his wings when I'm around. He doesn't avoid putting his back to me. When I bring them food, he focuses on feeding the girls and ignores my existence. Pretty much all he does is verbally protest when I have to handle or redirect a hen but doesn't mind if I pet them. I call it a happy ending.
Right now, nearly the entire flock is molting. I'm only getting about 3 or 4 eggs a day and the coop and run look like a pillow fight. I'm so happy my girls' backs are filling in and my EEs are getting their beards back.