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Dealing With Roosters Roo Behavior

A guide to understanding and dealing with roosters and their behaviour
  1. rooster-red
    Dealing with Roosters

    The purpose of this page is to help you help yourself when faced with an aggressive rooster problem and help you decide if you want to keep a rooster in your flock.
    First of all let's identify rooster behaviors. Knowing what motivates their behavior is key to understanding why they do certain things that we, as humans, might mistakenly take as just being mean.

    A rooster is born preprogrammed to do his rooster duties. At a certain age (around 4-6 months) he matures and his
    instincts take over, and their drive is very strong to do what nature has intended for them to do.

    (1) Protect the flock from all threats at all costs including fighting to the death. A threat to a rooster may be quite different than what we perceive as a threat. We need to understand and respect this instinct. A small child could be perceived as a threat in a rooster's eyes even if you and I know the child never intends to harm anything. By placing a child in this situation you are provoking the rooster to attack, and you would only have yourself to blame if something were to go wrong. I highly recommend that if you have small children you wish to let interact with your flock, lock the rooster away in a pen before the child /children are allowed to enter the area because if the rooster perceives them as a threat, the child might be attacked.
    Your kitten/puppy/cat/dog could also be perceived as a threat, and while some roosters are quite docile and will sit in your lap, please remember that being a cuddly lap baby is not in his programming, so don't expect it from him.
    Also don't expect him to get along with other roosters, that is also not in the programming. Very few roosters will get along without fighting and tearing each other up, even to the point of killing each other. I personally own 3 roosters, 2 of which get along together with very little fighting, while the other one would kill the other 2 given half a chance, therefore I have to separate him from the others.

    Given the choice between an aggressive rooster and a very docile lap baby rooster, I'll take the aggressive one every time to watch over my flock, because he is doing what roosters are made to do and will be the better protector for the flock. He just has to be taught that attacking humans is not acceptable.

    (2) To insure proliferation of the species by frequently mating with the hens to provide fertile eggs to be hatched out. This is self-explanatory. To insure that the hens are not overmated and possibly scratched or injured in the process, you'll want to provide enough hens. Generally, a ratio of 10 hens to 1 rooster is sufficient.

    (3) To provide a place in the flock for future generations by sacrificing himself if need be in protection of the flock.
    This is a continuation of #1, and is another reason why he would be motivated to fight to the death with any predator.

    Dealing with aggressive roosters

    One of the first things to ask yourself when faced with an aggressive rooster is "Am I overly afraid of my rooster?"
    If the answer is yes, go no further, rehome your rooster. If you are not overly afraid of roosters, and don't mind giving your rooster a chance by spending a little time with him, then the following may help you achieve your goal of modifying his behavior to a level you both can live with.

    First of all, roosters have a kind of pecking order. The dominant or king or head rooster is referred to as the Alpha.
    When a rooster acts aggressively toward you, he thinks of you as either a predator or an underling rooster.
    This is the behavior you want to modify, to establish you as the Alpha.
    To modify behavior you must be consistent each and every time he shows the slightest bit of aggression towards you or any human.

    There are 3 ways to deal with an aggressive rooster that I personally know for a fact work:
    If you are concerned about being scratched, prepare by wearing long sleeves and gloves.

    (1) At the first sign of aggression grab your rooster up and hold him no matter how much he kicks, screams and protests. DO NOT PUT HIM DOWN! Walk around with him, do chores while holding him or whatever, let him calm down and stay that way for 15-30 minutes until he has settled. Then at your discretion you can put him down. If he kicks, screams or squawks while you are releasing him, pick him up and repeat this cycle until he submits to you, and will walk off peacefully when you let him down. Do this every time he shows aggression, repeat as needed. If after 3 weeks of doing this every day his behavior is still the same, proceed to the next level.

    (2) At the first sign of aggression grab your rooster up, hold him upside down by the legs, and let him flap, scream or whatever until he just hangs there without moving, showing his submission to you. After he submits, let him go and repeat as necessary.
    WARNING: This procedure is dangerous to the rooster as his lungs are located close to his backbone and can collapse, causing suffocation. If he has food in his mouth when you turn him upside down, he can choke.
    This procedure should be used as a last resort before culling or rehoming.

    Some will tell you not to let a rooster mate while in your presence, but I can only tell you from my experience that interrupting mating seems to have no effect in relation to aggression toward humans. I let mine mate at will and still hold that Alpha position in their eyes.

    Sometimes a rooster will bite, usually when you pick up a hen who squawks, sometimes unprovoked. I deal with this simply by grabbing him up and grabbing his beak and holding it for several seconds. A couple of times doing this will usually convince him not to do it again. A refresher course may be needed now and again.

    Now go out and take your place as Alpha Roo, and enjoy your chickens.

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  1. kimthom66
    Is there a difference in Roo behavior of a young roo vs an older roo? Mine has tried to come after me a few times but other than those few times he is very nice? Is it because he is young and trying to establish he is boss and will grow out of it?
  2. TJordan
    Thanks so much for these tips... My 19 week old rooster has started biting... And with young children I need him to see ME as the boss....
  3. chart
    She sounds like a kick! I have a small Sicilian Buttercup that often takes his aggression out on me. I built a 'net' out of a metal hoop and part of an old trampoline net. I have caught him, carried him around, shoved him back with my foot, and trapped him under the net. Sometimes he'll leave me alone for a while, but he seems to need a heck of a lot of reminders! He is a nervous nit and is constantly trying to round up the hens. They act like he's not even there. The dude runs on nervous energy. I don't know how he keeps it up! I have tried to give him away and begged people I know to shoot him, to no avail! I don't have the guts. There have been times when I was so angry and couldn't catch him, that I would have shot him, But I live right on the edge of city limits and for sure I'd get reported! He's a year old. Is he too old to eat? I also have a giant sized Bar/Buff Cochin, 5 mos., non aggressive. Any takers around in the Prescott, Az. area? They are lookers. HaHa!
  4. BellChell123
    My grandma once got so fed up with a roo's behavior, that the next time he attacked her, she scooped him up, stuck him in his water dish, and used him to scrub it out. When she was done, she grabbed him by his legs, and threw him across the coop. That old roo never went near her again.
      GmaClucky likes this.
  5. Min27
    I got a bantam cochin roo for Christmas and I never had these issues. Granted, he's the only rooster in the flock, and he did bite me for the first few weeks when I tried to pick up his girls, but now he's a sweetheart. He doesn't bit me at all and actually lets me pick him up and cuddle him.

    Only problems I'm having now is him fighting with other bigger chickens. I get worried he might get hurt when he takes on chickens twice his size. We have a flock of australorps that are kept in a separate run, and we let all the chickens out together in the afternoon. Recently he's decided he wants dominance over these chickens too.
  6. Phoenixxx
    My "pet" roo has taken to attacking me on occasion; not sure if he's just practicing using me because he doesn't want to upset the balance by fighting the head roo? Anyway, I just hold the feed pan in front and block his attacks on the days he does this while telling him "no, NOT ME!" Now, my neighbour that has only hens has suffered predators and his chickens are fully enclosed; mine are not, birds can get out and predators can get in 24/7. So, that being said, I think my roosters - even the pet one that attacks sometimes (another roo attacks as well, but his attack was towards my husband's new snowmobile, rofl!) are doing an excellent job protecting the flock. I don't have young children (my son is almost 19) but if I did, I would keep the roo and advise the children to be wary, perhaps tell them to carry a shield of sorts (baking tin, garbage lid) when they go near just in case. Btw, Greybeard, despite rare intermittent attacks, still allows me to pick him up and handle him at will. This is why I think he's just using me for practice, or maybe to show the ladies how manly he is
  7. Alm8807
    I have a Black Giant who was born last March so almost a year old. He is an awesome protector and overall fine to have around. About a month ago he started showing aggression towards me. He will throw himself into me. My chickens are free range, but during winter they aren't out as much and so it's been very difficult for me to do my chores and collect eggs now. I have to rush around him and either lock him outside of coop while I am doing chores or inside. I have 3 small children and am not sure what to do. I want to be able to relax when we are outside.... Do you think pinning him down will stop him from coming after my 4, 2, and soon to be 1 year old. He has yet to go after them because I keep a very close eye but I am always nervous. We have had roosters in the past (Rhode Island Reds) that were too aggressive and had to get rid of them. I would hate to get rid of him because he is truly a beautiful bird, but I will not risk my children being hurt. ....any advice would be greatly appreciated. !!!
  8. Phoenixxx
    Queenofkings: I haven't been a chicken owner for long and the few years I had them growing up we never had roo issues. BUT what I do know for sure is that they all have different personalities and, in many ways, are like raising human children (an area that I'm VERY experienced in!). Just like kids, chickens will respond differently to certain punishments depending on their personality. I'm guessing, from what you wrote, that you have the insolent, cocky personality in your roos, meaning they took your yelling and smacking as a challenge and are now challenging you back. Obviously this isn't the solution for your boys so try killing them with sweetness Make "friends" by offering treats, and try to get them to come to you and take them from your hand after a while. My first roo (since having my own flock now) was not a people person AT ALL, especially since the day I got him he had to endure a lengthy chase and tackle by me when I got him, followed by a lengthy chase and tackle by my hubby when I got him home. He always kept his distance and attacked my husband once; now, my hubby tortured him on a regular basis by grabbing up a hen periodically and saying, "whatcha gonna do, huh?" so that attack was definitely called for, lol! But I insisted on petting him each night in the coop and he nipped me - not hard at all - only once (but he fussed and complained EVERY TIME!) Now I have new roos, BIG ones (I swear, they're the size of small turkeys!) that I've raised since chicks. Despite daily handling since 4 weeks, they still hate being picked up! You mention that picking up your boys isn't practical for you... What about doing so at night when they're roosting and you go to lock them up? Or in the morning while their faces are buried in feed and they're not paying attention? Try that, and hold them, scratch them, talk to them gently until their fussing stops (they'll be looking you in the eye when they're done) and gently put them back down again. Bread crusts are good to toss out for treats (tear small pieces off so everyone has a chance of getting some) along with other scraps. Good luck!
  9. QueenofKings
    Would you happen to have any advice for dealing with large roosters? I have Jersey Giants, and it's a bit of hassle to constantly try to pick them up. I have two roos currently, with only 4 pullets (can't add anymore since I have to renovate the coop and add more land space.) These roos are huge, and they are both fighters, I've taken to yelling back and giving them a smack on the side whenever the try to pick a fight but now they're teaming up on me and trying to take me out when I'm cleaning their coop!
  10. jstlitlome
    I didn't want a rooster, but I love my little silkie rooster, David Bowie, even if he hates me. lol

    He is a great rooster with the ladies, watches intently for predators, gathers them up when they are lost and makes sure they go in their coop.He also says please and thank you with his "duties" and they seem to like him. He will attack my legs if they start to follow me instead of him, but so far, its not more than a chest bump. His spurs are growing in so I will keep an eye out for him.

    I find that If I put him on his side on the ground and just hold him there, the ladies will go up to him and give him a couple of pecks. Very humiliating. That seems to put him in his place, at least for the day. :)

    Great article! Thank you!

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