Beta Rooster Habits and Quality of Life

angelinagreena

In the Brooder
Oct 26, 2020
32
79
46
Tennessee
Hello everyone! I have a 6 month old buff cochin (Ezra) that I recently discovered is a rooster and is subservient to our rose comb brown leghorn (Barry, same age)! It's very interesting to me because Ezra is probably 2 times larger than Barry and looks like he could kick his butt...however that definitely isn't the case, haha! He does not crow and hides in the back of the coop most of the day except for a few times he comes out to eat. Every time Barry is near him he hides under the nest boxes. He interacts ok for the most part with the hens when they come inside the coop to lay but he does chase them/try to bite their necks (assuming trying to mate), and I've seen many of the hens hesitant to come in to lay. Barry comes to their rescue immediately and chases Ezra down if he hears the hens make a noise at all. He can't go out in the run and forage or be social with anyone else without getting chased back into the coop. Interestingly, I saw one of our female rose comb brown leghorns attack Ezra today over some food. I didn't realize even some hens can be above a beta rooster in the pecking order.

It doesn't seem like this is the way for a rooster to live - I worry Ezra might get depressed or have health issues later on because he's not really doing what chickens are supposed to do. Has anyone had experience with a Beta rooster? Are they happy being in that position? I am considering building a second house and run and giving him a few of his own hens...or getting rid of the alpha (Ezra is nice to me, Barry is not, haha)! Any advice you may have would be helpful! Thank you :)
 

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SueT

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
May 27, 2015
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SW MO
Cochins are naturally timid. A couple years ago I got a 6 month old bantam Cochin cockerel named Carl and almost everyone bullied him, and btw, he was the only male. At the time I was letting them free range, and when he was about a year old, Carl disappeared. I think they drove him away and he was likely taken by a predator. I don't really know what happened to poor Carl. I feel I put him in harm's way by mixing him with more aggressive breed hens.
 

DaintyBess

In the Brooder
Oct 26, 2020
19
60
43
How long has this been going on? How many hens do you have? I usually see them come to some accommodation though the terms of the accommodation change over time. Your Ezra may figure out he's bigger and change the game, but he may always be the beta too.

Ezra probably is miserable the way things are. Do you handle your birds much? I would say that if you do handle your birds and are established as what I call an "other benefactor" you might be able to show them where Ezra stands by giving individual attention to the roosters in front of one another (e.g. petting, hand feeding, etc), while continuing to give preference to Barry (i.e. feeding him first, allowing him interrupt you briefly when you are feeding Ezra). Hopefully, and there's no guarantee, this would reinforce with them that Barry is number one (in case he was worried) and maybe establish that Ezra is special and welcome. I have no science behind this, but I've observed that my dogs, cats and even birds study how I interact with animals they consider a threat or a meal. They always seem to change their attitudes when they see us feeding and handling.

If that doesn't work, you ought to consider rehoming one of them. It's no way to live.
 

angelinagreena

In the Brooder
Oct 26, 2020
32
79
46
Tennessee
How long has this been going on? How many hens do you have? I usually see them come to some accommodation though the terms of the accommodation change over time. Your Ezra may figure out he's bigger and change the game, but he may always be the beta too.

Ezra probably is miserable the way things are. Do you handle your birds much? I would say that if you do handle your birds and are established as what I call an "other benefactor" you might be able to show them where Ezra stands by giving individual attention to the roosters in front of one another (e.g. petting, hand feeding, etc), while continuing to give preference to Barry (i.e. feeding him first, allowing him interrupt you briefly when you are feeding Ezra). Hopefully, and there's no guarantee, this would reinforce with them that Barry is number one (in case he was worried) and maybe establish that Ezra is special and welcome. I have no science behind this, but I've observed that my dogs, cats and even birds study how I interact with animals they consider a threat or a meal. They always seem to change their attitudes when they see us feeding and handling.

If that doesn't work, you ought to consider rehoming one of them. It's no way to live.
Very true! I noticed this beginning about late last month when all of the hens started laying. I have 11 hens (was supposed to have all hens but that didn't work out, haha)! I don't think it's a way to live either which is why I am working on figuring out how I can give Ezra his own space. He needs to be social and needs exercise! I handle and hand feed all of my babies except Barry, he's not a fan of me. I am trying to break him down and make him love me by capturing him and carrying around, but it's no easy task!
 

angelinagreena

In the Brooder
Oct 26, 2020
32
79
46
Tennessee
Cochins are naturally timid. A couple years ago I got a 6 month old bantam Cochin cockerel named Carl and almost everyone bullied him, and btw, he was the only male. At the time I was letting them free range, and when he was about a year old, Carl disappeared. I think they drove him away and he was likely taken by a predator. I don't really know what happened to poor Carl. I feel I put him in harm's way by mixing him with more aggressive breed hens.
Aww that's so sad, I'm sorry that happened. I love the breed so much; they are super sweet!
 

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