Originally Posted by HurstFarmChicks
I'm devastated my favourite chicken has turned on me and become nasty. He used to be so tame and sweet never crossed my mind he'd turn out aggressive. 'Henry' is a mottled perkin and only hatched April 27th, so still very young! I incubated him and he was the only roo out of his breed I got. (Very lucky as it was exactly what I wanted) I'm not sure what to do. As I raised him and all I feel very close to him, and it was as if he turned aggressive over night. Ideally i'd like to keep him as I hope to breed some chicks naturally but will need him to do so. What do I do? Put him in his place? Ignore it? If I put my hand remotely near him he goes for me and usually succeeds, When I come up to the run he starts doing a 'rooster dance'. I'm worried he'll get worse with age. Advice please!!!
I completely understand your remorse. Every time that I get attached to a ROO he turns out to be aggressive. The ones that I ignore seem to be regular ole ROO's, that give me no problems.
It boils down to understanding a little chicken psychology. These are animals that are essentially hardwired. Raise a chick from egg to ROO and at some point he will crow, nobody taught him hwo to crow he just does it. Its instinctive, chickens thrive on instinct. In chicken social structures, they are constantly testing the social boundaries of the flock to see where they are currently ranked; have they moved up or down in the pecking order.
A Roo wants to be on top. The Flock Boss gets the girls. In a Roo's eyes, “Handlers” are threats to their social standing. A threat that needs to dealt with in a poultry sense.
I have a 12 week old Buff Orpington cockerel, goes by the name of Pecker. This little guy is following the same pattern that you are describing. For the last few weeks he has started squaring off with me and doing his dance; causing me no end of irritations with his attempts at being top bird in the flock. I have been working with him...training him, and had the problem about solved. Our little spats were becoming few and far between, until my wife let me sleep in the other day and thought that she'd do me a favor. She went out to the run to let the flock out and Pecker went after her. For the first time ever Pecker won a “social challenge” with a person, and he has been a pecker ever since. So I have started the training all over again.
Here is my approach:
Usually social challenges with ROO's will start off small, they will do their little dance and display and then they will grab you. That is the way of it with chickens. So any time a ROO comes at you in a stiff legged frontal profile, he is most likely going to challenge you in some fashion. If he has been abused by you, hit or kicked, the problem will only escalate and his attacks will start coming from behind and he will duck for cover. Once it reaches this level, make him the center piece for dinner. He will never succumb to you being Flock Boss…If you don’t play by the rules; he won’t play by the rules either.
When these social challenges occur, he needs to know immediately that, in your eyes, he IS a hen and you are Flock Boss. Take the ROO firmly and press him so that he is on his tummy on the ground. This is what a ROO does to hens. By doing this you are telling him in very direct terms that he is a hen. He will struggle and fight...do not let him up, hold him firmly until he stops struggling and then hold him a bit longer. Once he quits and succumbs to your ....advances; let him up. Most likely he will attack again. Grip him firmly and repeat the process...and again if need be.
This is not a one-time cure...This is a training process. The Roo needs to know that if he squares off with a human, any human, he will be made into a hen. ROO’s are not quick learners...it will take awhile. You will need to teach anybody that comes in regular contact with the flock what to do if the ROO challenges, until he is trained. Even then I’d be in the yard with any visitors, unless you want to start this over again.
There will be times that your ROO is going to be especially trying. If you you’ve pressed him down and its just not sinking in, then grip him firmly and turn him over on his back and hold him to the ground. A ROO is very vulnerable when on his back…this is the ultimate insult to a ROO. If he knows that if he challenges you; he will be made into a hen or even worse, he’ll be held on his back then things start to change in your favor. Holding a ROO on his back for the first time will be a challenge, he will not like it and at the moment he will not like you at all. Hold him firmly until he stops struggling, do not let him up until he has stopped. In all likely hood you will be putting him on his back several times.
Word of warning….do not mix punishments. Chickens are not rocket scientists. If you firmly press him to the ground and then follow with turing him onto his back…he will be confused. If you press him the first time…then that is the chosen punishment for that challenge until the encounter ends. Once he decides that he's had enough, let him walk away, he’ll think about it. If he comes back later with another challenge, do the same punishment or maybe put him on his back and hold him…he now has a new punishment. The punishment for the encounter needs to be the same punishment during the entire challenge…or it will mean nothing to him. It will be a missed opportunity to train him about who IS Flock Boss. If you change punishments during the encounter, in all likelyhood he will continue to challenge you again. Give him a very clear clear signal by using a single type of punishment.
Through punishment, you have shown the ROO that you are the undisputed Flock Boss. Once the challenge is over and he is thinking, let him be for bit then offer him a treat. Show him that you are also "the provider"; offer him a treat. Timing is everything, so the treat needs to be offered after he has walked away from you. If you offer it to soon, then you are just training the ROO to attack you so that he will get a treat. Wait a minute or so before offering the treat.
When the treat is offered, he may not take it at first. But if you manage your flock so that they are used to taking treats from your hand, then usually a hen will rush in and take the treat. Fortunately chickens are like sheep. Once one of them goes first, the others will follow. Once he takes the treat; all is forgotten…until the next time.
Ultimately you are attempting to change the ROO's perception of your presence. You don't want your ROO's to think of you as a threat, if they do they will always challenge you. So after an encounter is over, give the ROO a treat...distract him with a treat...You want him to see you and think of only food. You are not a threat to his position in the flock, you are the provider, and by giving him a treat you are his provider.
Does this training work all the time...No. There are ROO's...there are breeds....where nothing seems to work. I have ahd times where I just seem to keep rotating Roo's until my lucky number and one is right. But this approach has worked often enough that I use it. It works wonders with young Cockerels and Roosters. That ole Rooster that has been abused....he'll be dinner once you give in and say enough is enough.
Rule #1: Never make friends with a ROO...no good deed goes unpunished. (I break this rule way too much)
Rule #2: Never hit, kick, or physically bring harm to a ROO. He knows a cheater when he sees one and when the rules are gone...you loose...Sooner or later you're gonna make him dinner.
Rule #3: Play by the chicken rules.
Edited by Rock Home Isle - 6/26/12 at 7:11pm