20wk old cockerel behavior

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Toddrick, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The sweetest chick I hatched, Sweety, turned out to be male. He used to always jump up on my shoulder and want to be held even when the others acted frightened. He has always been their leader and the most intelligent.

    Of course, now that they are most full grown, none of my birds like to be held, although they will all eat out of my hand. Today I heard Sweety making cawing sounds the same as his father, not a crow, but the warning sound from the back of the throat that all adults make. Later I went out to close the coop since they had been free ranging, and the adolescents were all in front of the door, so I stepped towards them to get them in, and Sweety charged and pecked my foot!

    I never expected Sweety to see me as a threat. Do you think this just a normal temporary pubescent aggression? Does the way they acted as a chick even matter as to how they will be when grown?
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Well, I would guess that 'Sweety" regards you as an equal and now that he is becoming mature you are just another member of HIS flock that needs to be subordinated. Very frequently the friendliest most socialized cockerels are the ones that become human aggressive because they regard humans as their equals. Such behavior tends to escalate if it is not squelched immediately. Time to show him that you are dominant to him. When he comes at you again, firmly force him to the ground and hold him there until he stops struggling. Wait a bit longer and then release him. If he comes back at you, force him down again. Snatching such a rooster up in a short handled fishing net and carrying him around while doing chores can also be effective. Striking or kicking at them only feeds this aggressive behavior as this is how another cockerel would react to him. Good luck with him, and be especially careful to keep children away from him.
     
  3. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That makes perfect sense. I wasn't sure how their behavior as a chick would evolve, but now I get it. I almost grabbed him up after the toe pecking attack, but my hands were to cold to bother. I'll be sure to hold him for a while the next time I get a chance.

    His father was overly agressive for a long time. And you're also right in that fighting back or kicking does not help. It just solidifies their belief that you are another chicken to fight I guess. But I held that rooster one time and he (almost) never attacked me again (others, not so lucky). I'm sure Sweety will mellow out after I hold him some more too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    With this rooster, the 'holding' may not work since it is something that he is accustomed to. Subordinating him by carrying him around in a fishing net would be far harder on his ego.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    At 20 weeks yours may be almost grown in size but they still have a lot of maturing to do. Right now hormones are running wild, at least in the cockerel, and he does not have the experience to control them. He’s doing what his hormones are telling him to do, become flock master. You need to give him some experience.

    There is always the debate of how much of a rooster’s behavior is nature or nurture, probably some of both. But that is not a rooster yet, he’s just a cockerel, so you have a chance to straighten him out. It may or may not work, but good luck with that.

    It’s perfectly normal and pretty much to be expected that your most curious and daring chick, the one with the personality, is male. Part of their job is to check out danger and take care of their flock. Some of that behavior can be observed in some chicks from hatch, though others are slower to develop. They are all unique individuals and develop at their own pace.
     
  6. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    One of the BYC users Sweet Dreamin' gave me the idea about a year ago to use a squirt bottle on a rooster. It sounds a bit strange...HOWEVER it kind of works like magic. At around 2-years old I had one that became overly protective of the hens and charged me. When I squirted his face with water -- he didn't know what to make of it. It was completely outside the realm of any rooster vs. rooster battle. He was kind of stunned. It took a couple of face fulls of water -- and now all I have to do is shake the bottle or squeeze the trigger and he strolls in the opposite direction. I leave it hanging on the fence for any time I should ever need it.

    The things I like most about this approach are you don't need to scurry around and try to capture your scrappy rooster -- no scratches -- in fact you can just stand there and aim -- I think this bottle I have squirts a strong stream over 12-feet. I also like that it doesn't harm the rooster in the least. One thing about my breed is that they are very protective and courtly to their hens. I don't see hens with feathers worn off their backs even with just pairs and trios - and the roosters will without fail provide treats to the hens when fed -- they don't help themselves first. -- If you really observe -- they manoeuvre them selves between you and the hens -- very subtly. It is really interesting to watch.

    One other thing I noticed about rooster agression is that if there has been a threat in the yard recently they are more likely to be jumpy and easily set off. One time at the ranch a calf got into the house yard where the chickens were...somehow either the rooster drove the calf off or the calf got out - because by the time we got back to the house the only sign of entry was a fresh pile of calf manure -- however - the rooster was especially jumpy for a few subsequent days.

    Sourland's advice is so good to make certain that there are no children around. Infact years ago - I was trying to remember who gave me some good advice about a rooster that was picking up and dropping a stone -- it didn't seem like he thought I was a hen -- and it was food, it was strange behavior---and who ever it was told me he was saying -- see how I can mess with this stone--- well you're next. funny -- and it turned out to be true a couple of years later!
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Consider yourself lucky that you've noticed Sweety has now come into his hormones, and you have the opportunity before he gets all the wrong ideas to head it off and train him properly.

    The main issue, as has been so astutely pointed out already, is to establish your dominance over Sweety. You may get lucky and be able to accomplish this rather quickly. My last cockerel fell into line in just a week. My first one, six years ago, insisted on contesting dominance every day of his two years of life.

    He is like a teenager. This stage of unpredictable hormones lasts at least until one year of age. Most roosters have pretty much mellowed out by age two, though.

    These next six months are critical, though. You need to read up and understand rooster psychology, and be on your toes. How you and other members of your family behave around Sweety from here on will have a direct affect on his behavior. Understanding why he does the things he does will help you to train him more effectively. I recommend you read Olychickenguys' essays on chicken psychology. He has had years of experience raising roosters and runs a rooster rescue in Oregon. I think you'll find his writing fascinating as well as helpful. http://olychickenguy.blogspot.com/s...d-max=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=5 Read all his stuff if you have time. You'll learn a lot. He also has a link on his site to youtube videos he's made on how to train a rooster. I guarantee you'll not encounter a more interesting person anywhere.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015

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