I am hoping to get some opinions on cockerel behavior from some of you that have been at this a while. I have a cockerel who is 13 weeks old, just now getting his big boy feathers and has started to act in a way that concerns me. He's a bird I was really really hoping to breed but that may not happen because IF what he's doing is a predecessor to aggression he won't be here for that long. I know he's at the phase right now where all his hormones are starting to scream at him and I want to know if you think that I likely have a future aggressive roo or he's just weird. He's being kept for potential breeding because he has several traits I value. But he has flaws too, he makes a strange un-chicken sound when he sees animals outside his run, I think its a warning but it sounds like a woman screaming. And now: he is dancing at my presence.
But only sometimes. Specifically when the other cockerels are in the yard and I enter. If he's the only one in the yard and I enter, he doesn't do it. At all. When he does do it, I've been picking him up, firmly but not rough, hanging him upside down if he struggles(only once) and if not, just carrying him like a football for 15 minutes or so. Weirdest part is that when I reach out to pick him up he just kind of moves in to my arms. He only struggled once and never struggles when being carried around this way. He does that lady-scream when he sees a squirrel or a dog when being carried, which is annoying since its so close to my ears, but other than that, he's not even a pain to carry around. But he's never done any other aggression behaviors. Yet. No raising of neck feathers with me. No tidbitting, or picking stones. No pacing or that agitated behavior when they don't like something/someone. He is middle pecking order, 3rd in charge with 2 FBCM males who are older than him by a month above him in the order. And he's above the three 9 week olds that joined their coop a week ago (added early because one crowed and I try to move them in before they're doing that). The only other even slightly aggressive action he does is to peck the younger birds when they're all in the yard and he “decides” its time for them to go in. He'll peck one of them and kind of herd them in but he never chases them inside or for any other reason and he doesn't pick fights with the Marans in charge of the group either. I almost get the sense the shoulder down walk/dance is for the other cockerels and not for me. Is that possible? What is the value in that? He doesn't do a circle close to me, he places himself between them and me, usually halfway, and walks a line with his wing down between us, back and forth – who knows how long he'd do this if I didn't walk over and pick him up when I see it? I assume I'm above him in the peck order because he submits easily, even eagerly, when I snatch him up but is he sending them a message or is it that he just hasn't shown the other aggressive behaviors towards me yet? Is there a chance he's just practicing his dance? Or is it definitely a predecessor to something worse? I have had an aggressive roo I gave to a neighbor for stew before, but that one never danced, just flared and attacked every human that came in the run as well as bloodying the hens combs whenever he was near them.
The males do not see females at all. They can hear them but they are in a different part of my chicken complex and not in any line of sight from their coop or run.
Also, he doesn't do that when I enter the coop to clean or do other maintenance.
I don't “handle” males. I know it makes it harder when they have an injury that I need to deal with, but with 2-6 males at any given time, I need them to have respect more than I need them to feel unafraid and then be easy to catch. If I have to catch them during the day, it IS hard. They are not accustomed to being handled. Well, except this one now – he almost seems to enjoy being picked up after he's danced the line in front of me.
Their coop is spacious, 6x8, with multiple roosts and space to utilize under the droppings board. There are multiple feeding stations so no one can be held out of food, same with water.
Even if I could “fix” aggression to some extent, I am not interested in breeding a bird with an aggressive tendency no matter how much I favor his traits. I am just unsure if its aggression, it doesn't look like the aggression I have seen before.