change in rooster's behavior with hens

Sep 20, 2017
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Washington State
Our rooster Peter has always been good with his ladies, sharing food and treats, calling them over when he finds a tasty morsel, etc. Lately, however, he has been doing the opposite, chasing the girls away (particularly those who are his least favorite) in order to stuff his face.

What could explain this change in behavior? The only excuse I can think of is that he's molting and instinctively feels that he needs more nutrition himself in order to fulfill his duties properly. He's not molting nearly as hard as some of the girls though.

Also, Peter has almost completely stopped mating with the ladies. It used to be the first thing he wanted to do in the morning, chasing each hen as they came out of the coop in the morning until he got at least one to squat for him. Now he just makes a beeline for the food (I bring out fresh fermented feed when I let them out of the coop in the morning, and refill in the afternoon).

Any ideas? Thanks all!
 

Wyorp Rock

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What could explain this change in behavior? The only excuse I can think of is that he's molting and instinctively feels that he needs more nutrition himself in order to fulfill his duties properly.

Also, Peter has almost completely stopped mating with the ladies. It used to be the first thing he wanted to do in the morning, chasing each hen as they came out of the coop in the morning until he got at least one to squat for him. Now he just makes a beeline for the food
I think you have answered your own question:)
What protein percentage is your fermented feed?

He may feel that he is not getting enough to eat, you may want to put out a little more food or give some extra protein while they are molting.
Molting birds don't feel that well, this time of year the drive for mating can also be diminished due to lower light levels.

It may also be a good idea to check him over for lice/mites and make sure his crop is emptying in the morning. Getting a fecal float to rule out worms would be good too.
 
Sep 20, 2017
276
304
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Washington State
@Wyorp Rock thank you for all the suggestions!

Glad to hear it is most likely just molting and shorter hours of daylight that are causing this.

The feed is 16% protein straight out of the bag; I've heard that fermentation increases protein absorption but I don't know enough of the science behind it to tell whether it's true or not. We do supplement with generous handfuls of dried grubs as well as small amounts of cooked ground meat, and sometimes plain yogurt or tofu.

We treated the flock for worms last month, and for mites over the summer. I can check for mites and lice pretty easily when he's roosting, but Peter is pretty skittish during the day so I don't know if I can catch him to check his crop in the morning. Maybe if I come into the coop early enough when they're still roosting...
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
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Sep 20, 2015
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@Wyorp Rock thank you for all the suggestions!

Glad to hear it is most likely just molting and shorter hours of daylight that are causing this.

The feed is 16% protein straight out of the bag; I've heard that fermentation increases protein absorption but I don't know enough of the science behind it to tell whether it's true or not. We do supplement with generous handfuls of dried grubs as well as small amounts of cooked ground meat, and sometimes plain yogurt or tofu.

We treated the flock for worms last month, and for mites over the summer. I can check for mites and lice pretty easily when he's roosting, but Peter is pretty skittish during the day so I don't know if I can catch him to check his crop in the morning. Maybe if I come into the coop early enough when they're still roosting...
I would get a little more protein in him along with some poultry vitamins once a week. You can do this with your girls too - won't hurt anybody.

I would watch to see if he's getting enough to eat for sure.
Going out early, while still on the roost is a very good way of checking the crop on a hard to catch bird - sounds like a plan:)
 

chickengeorgeto

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Our rooster Peter has always been good with his ladies, sharing food and treats, calling them over when he finds a tasty morsel, etc. Lately, however, he has been doing the opposite, chasing the girls away (particularly those who are his least favorite) in order to stuff his face. What could explain this change in behavior? The only excuse I can think of is that he's molting and instinctively feels that he needs more nutrition himself in order to fulfill his duties properly. He's not molting nearly as hard as some of the girls....

Peter is obeying the goddess Gia's commands. At this time of year he knows instinctively that this is a poor time of year for him to father chicks and an equally poor time for his hens to become mothers.

And just like hens are hardwired to lay large amounts of eggs in the spring time, roosters hormonal system goes into overdrive at the exact same time that hens lay the most eggs. So just as some people say that hens need a rest from the rigors of procreation, so what is wrong with the roosters taking a little time off?
 
Sep 20, 2017
276
304
156
Washington State
At this time of year he knows instinctively that this is a poor time of year for him to father chicks and an equally poor time for his hens to become mothers.

That is a really good point! Haven't thought of that.

So just as some people say that hens need a rest from the rigors of procreation, so what is wrong with the roosters taking a little time off?

Nothing wrong with that! We definitely don't mind, and I am sure our girls appreciate the chance to regrow their feathers for the winter without having them plucked out daily by our vigorous rooster :)
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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@Wyorp Rock thank you for all the suggestions!

Glad to hear it is most likely just molting and shorter hours of daylight that are causing this.

The feed is 16% protein straight out of the bag; I've heard that fermentation increases protein absorption but I don't know enough of the science behind it to tell whether it's true or not. We do supplement with generous handfuls of dried grubs as well as small amounts of cooked ground meat, and sometimes plain yogurt or tofu.

We treated the flock for worms last month, and for mites over the summer. I can check for mites and lice pretty easily when he's roosting, but Peter is pretty skittish during the day so I don't know if I can catch him to check his crop in the morning. Maybe if I come into the coop early enough when they're still roosting...
He needs a higher protein feed. I personally don't think fermenting raises the protein content, but others think otherwise. My guess by the 16% protein content it must be a layer which is hard on roosters. I would get a higher protein ration, something like a non medicated grower or a flock raiser. Layer isn't necessary and often backyard flocks end up deficient eating it because of all the extras people like to hand out. Your hens calcium needs can be met by a separate bowl of oyster shells which you should already have out.
 

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