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Rooster has become recently aggressive

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm a newbie with chickens and am having an aweful situation that's over my head, so I'm turning to the wonderful community in hopes of someone providing me with advice.

 

I need help with my flock: the rooster has recently become very aggressive to me (understandable-that's his job, but really, attack the one that feeds/waters you?) and overly aggressive with his 'sister'. I need some great advice. It's a tough situation: I must find a resolution to this, and quickly, and I'm terribly stressed out (the hens too). He is my favorite of the chickens. A really big beautiful black Astrolorpe--Festus. Like all the others in the flock, he was hand raised by me from day 2. Now, he's becoming a problem. I think there may be a few issues contributing to this situation, but I need help figuring out solutions to each situation. He's attacked me or tried YESTERDAY, 3-4 times, mainly (I think) because I intervened in the strange situation going on here. Please help with answers . Before I go into the details of his environment, I'll give as brief a synopsis as possible, but there are a couple contributing issues that I just cannot fix over night, or even in the month. Please read and offer solutions...couldn't find anything in my book collection So here's a breakdown of what's going on:

 

~So, last mid-October, I got 2 each of 3 different breeds: 2 black astrolorpes (the ones I really wanted); 2 Plymouth Barr rocks; and 2 Easter Eggers. Balanced, I thought two of each breed, keeping an eye on each one's development. At about month 2-3, it became evident one of the Astrolorpes (the one breed I wanted) is not a pullet, she's a HE--a HUGE guy; tho I initially thought maybe 'she's' just developing quicker than the flock mate. Well, I know you know what's coming...it isn't a female but a rooster.

 

We were all getting along well. The main problems were things like, the hens are friendly with me and want to come close. He HATES that the hens want to hang with me...but a few times, mainly when I picked up the other black Astrolope for inspection, he CAME at me with a 3-4 foot wing span, talons first SEVERAL times while I was holding the Astrolorpe hen, Henny Penny. I did manage to fend him off and very quickly!, completed the inspection on the other Astroplorpe--a big back female who seemed second in command, maybe third in line in a 5 hen pecking flock order.  It ended with Very scratched arms! (I wanted 4 hens, but folks said, at 2 days old, I'd best get a couple extra chicks as they die of dieases, etc,  so I picked up 3 sets of 2 different breeds 2 chicks over my limit.. Seemed to be a good choice at the time cause 1-2 will die. But no one died and one turned rooster!)

 

I ordered a pre-fab coop which would have been adequate IF I had ended up with the original 4 hen (coop seller says good for 6 chickens--NOT-maybe Bantams would work) It's a cute coop: 2 small coops (we refer to them as the chick condos!) adjoined with an enclosed run. Seemed so nice to us, so we ordered. it Cute, but definitely not big enough. (I can send pics if anyone wants to look.)

 

~SOO, now he's 6-7 months old and becoming more aggressive with me, which I cannot deal with--don't want to go into the run as he tries to sneak up on me, doesn't like it when the hens come close and after 2 more attacks, I'm ready to get rid of him. 

BUT THAT'S NOT THE MAJOR ISSUE (TODAY!). Yesterday afternoon I noticed HP (HennyPenny) wasn't acting right, staying alone in the dark coop, she seemed scared and jittery, making some weird, low repeating sound. So, when she showed her face in the run, he charged after her, penning her to the ground, very rough and not the usual 2-5 minute 'romance'). When he had Henny Penny penned to the ground, continuously pounding on her, then 2-3 of the hens came and start pecking on her as well. Messed up! I broke it up. I looked for wounds on her, but didn't see any. It's hard to see with all those beautiful feathers! Here's where we are now:

 

~We are attempting to separate her from the rest in the late evenings/early morning so she ( HP-Henny Penny) can sleep and have a bit of a break. The 2 separate coop apartments are truly only good for housing 4, ( 2&2) so last night, we had HP in one side and the other 4 (Including the huge rooster) on the other. Extremely tight accommodations! Tonight, I moved one of the other hens in with poor, picked on Henny so, 1) she wouldn't be alone and 2) it will relieve some of the crowding in the other side. Really only comfortably accommodates 2, not 3-4 plus a huge rooster.

 

~Now for my questions: why would a hand-raised rooster suddenly start attacking his flock mate--his 'sister'?: She looks like him, but is not aggressive at all. In fact, this evening, much like yesterday evening, after she was able to stand up after the pounded he meted out,I let her out of the run and into the surrounded dog pen (which we don't use with the dogs anymore.. She was SO happy--in heaven; no rooster to viciously mount her, no superior hens to add to the disgrace. What can be done here?

 

~We are trying to find a farm near here that may take him for us. (I admit that I'm sad...he is the most interesting, SO beautiful, intelligent)  If I cannot find a farm...any ideas? I guess if I can find someone to kill him, I think the local meat market can process him. I really think that he is without a doubt, the most interesting of all the chickens so don't really want to go that route. I'll have to find someone to come kill Festus for me, just can't do that myself. He's not old, feeble but very strong and not afraid--aggressive.) But if I'm reduced to selling to someone that will just eat him, I'd rather do it myself. I just can't kill him, and deal with the bloody aftermath!

 

~I know I need a new coop, but our funds are depleted now. That's another project I am not physically able to deal with right now. But it is on the agenda.

 

I realize this was long, and I hope it made sense. If anyone is interested, I can send some photos of the chicken "apartments", or Festus. This has been so, so very stressful. Any help/ideas would so very gratefully appreciated. I don't know how to handle this situation. My husband has been supportive, but is not interested in building a second coop right now (which I understand, totally).

Please tell me someone has some helpful ideas for me. I've been so very stressed out that my low back, upper thighs (syatica? sp error for sure) are so whacked out and with tonight, I can barely walk or move. Thanks so very much for making it through this post. Now, HELP ME PLEASE! Much appreciation! 

Thanks so very much and I hope you are not experiencing the stress and pain I'm feeling now.

All the best, LVB

post #2 of 7

Your situation is not uncommon. Here is an interesting article on roo rehabilitation that may help you out a little, should you wish to keep him around.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1101665/the-complete-life-cycle-of-a-mostly-happy-rooster

 

Good luck

 

CT

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #3 of 7
At the end of this my suggestion will be to get rid of him. I understand him being your favorite. When growing up they have personality because they are bold and curious, as a future flock leader should be. And when they feather out most roosters are beautiful. The females aren’t as pretty and are normally milder and more cautious in their behavior. You fall in love with the cockerels.

I don’t know how much total room you actually have. I suspect your run space is pretty limited too. People tend to fixate on coop space but run space counts too. A very common source of behavioral problems is them being crowded. Some flocks can handle it better than others but lack of space is seldom good.

The only reason you need a rooster is for fertile eggs. Everything else is personal preference. I always suggest you keep as few roosters as possible and still meet your goals. That’s not because you are guaranteed problems with more roosters, just that problems are more likely. It sounds like the right number for you may be zero.

You do not have hens and a rooster. You have immature pullets and an immature cockerel. The cockerel’s hormones are running wild. He just doesn’t have a whole lot of control over them. It’s not just about sex and making the eggs fertile. It’s a lot about flock dominance at that age. The pullets are also going through a transitional phase. They mature at different rates. As they mature there are sometimes shifts in the pecking order. Usually these are pretty much unnoticeable but occasionally they can get rough. And chickens can have a mob mentality. They may attack one that is down or injured.

What I suspect is that there is a dominance battle going on between your two Australorps. The cockerel is bigger so he can be more physical but the pullet hasn’t totally given up. I’ve seen that before, but between a cockerel and a mature hen that had been flock master. The cockerel matured enough to take her on and defeat her. That point is not determined by size but by maturity. With mine that battle was decided in a couple of days with no injuries and the hen and cockerel became best of buddies. But I have lots of room. In tight quarters the odds of her getting seriously injured go way up. It’s possible over time they will mature out of this but I think you have a dangerous situation to her.

But to me the deciding factor in his fate is his human aggressiveness. Yu can get all kinds of different opinions on what makes a cockerel become human aggressive. People will say do this or don’t do this when you are raising them. You’ll find that no matter how they raise them some people wind up with good roosters and some don’t. At this point those discussion and disagreements are irrelevant. You have a human aggressive cockerel that is and will be a danger to you, your kids, any visitors, and your husband. That cannot be tolerated. He needs to go. If you absolutely must have a rooster there are too many good ones out there to tolerate a bad one.

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 #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure what you mean by 'you don't have hens,you have pullets'? When does a pullet become a hen? These are almost 8 months old. Hmm. I'll likely try to separate him in the short term while I try to find a place for him elsewhere. We've had a few folks interested but nothing definite. I do understand what you mean. He wasn't supposed to be a rooster-I had no choice in that: he was supposed to be female. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I'll be in touch with updates!

post #5 of 7

LMVB, I would hate for somebody else to sustain the injuries this rooster will cause others if you decide to give him away. And chances are he will injure somebody else. It isn't easy to change a rooster behavior. I have read here at BYC that it is possible, and I am not doubting anyone. I just haven't seen it happen to anyone I know who owns an aggressive rooster. I know people who resort to raising the rooster in a cage because they have run out of ideas and places to put it after they have tried every behavior modification possible. Being locked up in such a tight space is no life for an animal. Also, he is keeping you from enjoying your flock and that I believe is what raising backyard chickens is all about. IMO, you may want to consider the idea of giving him to someone who will process him for meat. Hope this helps.

 

A pullet is a hen who hasn't grown into full maturity  yet. 

post #6 of 7
Technically, a pullet is a female chicken less than a year old. Your pullets aren’t totally mature yet though they are probably acting more mature than that cockerel, especially if they are laying.

Individual chickens mature at different rates. I’ve had some of both sexes pretty mature at six months, but you can often tell a big difference in behaviors between a mature flock and an immature one.

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 #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Ok, you're probably right about changing his behavior. He only attacks me when I'm examining the hens. Not normally. So, when are pullets fully mature? And thanks for your taking the time to help me with this issue. I so appreciate everything that the respondents have said about this situation.! Many thanks!

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