Cockerel aggression - what are my chances?

Malkaris

Chirping
Sep 20, 2020
51
102
70
Hi everyone! I was hemming and hawing over whether to put this here or in "Managing Your Flock". It's my first day! ;)
Honestly after this evening I think I know what has to happen but I'm here so I'm going to post anyway! Sorry for the novel:

Some background:
I have a 4x7 coop. My birds are Orpington mixes that are now about 18 weeks old. Of the 5 unsexed chicks just one is a cockerel. (I know that a ratio of 1:8-12 is usually recommended, this is just what happened.)

The problem is, the male very aggressive. He's bites me and has drawn blood. You always have to be on guard. I've tried common Internet advice.

More concerning - he badly wounded a pullet's neck. We're starting week 3 since it happened and it's finally made some healing progress. I've read that's pretty normal for cockerels - males mature faster and there's the dominance issue etc. I'd hoped that being raised together would help but the pullets get scared and despite some dancing he's generally very aggressive with them (they're now separate). I was going to give him his own coop and let him free-range. But I'm concerned his personality won't improve with age.

It's not that I need/want a rooster exactly:
•I just want eggs.
•He's probably at least half related to most of my hens - not a good choice for chicks.
•They have a run.
•The hens seem good-natured.

The place I got him from is willing to take him back and provide a pullet (another challenge?).
Buuut... I suspect he'll end up not only far from home in a strange place... but then in a freezer maybe. :/ I feel so guilty since I raised them by hand. But him being here has been very challenging the last 6 weeks especially. I'm tired. Could he grow up to be considerably more agreeable?
 

Sammi_0411

Crowing
Jun 20, 2020
1,635
3,776
251
I know its hard.... but you cant tolerate that behaviour hormones be kicking but in my personal opinion if his hurting u and pullets i would take them up on offer and swap..... its the best thing to do in my eyes nt saying everyone would agree but thats my input
Hope u sort it out
Sam xx
 

MarkJr

Yard Bird Enthusiast
Premium Feather Member
Jun 15, 2020
2,039
7,929
331
Elkton, OR
Give him back and realize for the unknowns he MAY go through, your flock will settle down into something entirely different. Terror of a cockerel is a huge disruptor in a flock. Your new pullet will be easy to introduce in comparison. Separate her and let the girls see her all the time for a week or so. Then let them free range together and then start cooping them at night together.
 

BGcoop

Songster
Aug 5, 2018
743
1,951
226
I agree, swap him out. At 18 weeks you would have a looooong time before he might settle down- like another year or two long and that’s IF he ever does. In my (limited) experience they usually get worse. i know you feel bad about rehoming him now, so if you want, you can give him some more time - a few more bloody fingers/hens may make the rehoming easier🤪
 

-MochiPie-

In the Brooder
Sep 20, 2020
25
33
44
I would suggest the trade. I get where your coming from with feeling bad, but it’s best for you, and your flock. I currently have at LEAST 6 roosters. I couldn’t imagine if anything bad happened to them. But, they are just the sweetest darn things. This is our first flock of chickens ever. (We started in I believe April or May) We have been very fortunate in terms of them being nice so far. But I can say that my neighbor had an awful, mean rooster that jumped on my sisters back a few years back! You definitely don’t want a rooster like that terrorizing you or your flock. My friend also has a rooster, she told me she makes her boys wear rubber boots out to the coop because their rooster will slash at their ankles! So unless this rooster is protecting your hens from predators, and doing something because he cares for them, he should probably get going.
 

Shezadandy

Crowing
Sep 26, 2015
1,995
2,384
337
Portland OR
Please don't subject yourself, your pullets or any of your family members to this continual threat. Consider what could happen if someone with a young child approaches and is attacked - NOT WORTH IT. Some will say let him mature and so on- but in my book a cockerel that is willing to invade my space to bite me, much less draw blood - that's a done deal. no-go, no if ands or buts. If they're willing to take him back in a trade, that makes it easier - but

I'm also going to point out a little biosecurity red flag here along with a potential integration issue. On the biosecurity front, everyone's ground is a little different, and I mean the very dirt our feathered friends kick around - depending on what wildlife frequents the area and so on, the immunity their birds raised on their property have built up might differ from your birds, and as such your birds may make the new bird sick or vice versa, not because any chickens were sick to begin with, but because they've developed immunity based on their environment.
If they're willing to take the cockerel back and trade you a pullet, it sounds good - but please consider that the exchanged pullet will have grown up on different dirt and may have immune system differences - and if they'll take back your problem cockerel ... they've likely taken back others too, which heightens the risk of something from someone else's flock being brought along with the exchange pullet. If I add birds from someone else's flock, they're chicks whose feet have never touched the ground.

From an integration standpoint, adding just one hen might start a whole other problem - it's notoriously difficult to add a single bird, especially in confined spaces.

So ... end of novel - if you're not up to 'doing the deed' and prefer to hand him back, do that- but I would forgo the exchange pullet. You can always do another hatch later ... and really you lucked out getting just the one cockerel to begin with, so you're ahead of the game already!
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
12,173
22,541
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Return him (and be glad that's even an option - I'd "take care" of him myself), and also disclose his aggression problems, so if they can rehome him, he won't mistakenly end up in a home with small kids, or anyone else who is incapable of handling him. You may feel badly about it, but he really shouldn't be in any backyard flock if he's that aggressive already.
 

Malkaris

Chirping
Sep 20, 2020
51
102
70
Please don't subject yourself, your pullets or any of your family members to this continual threat. Consider what could happen if someone with a young child approaches and is attacked - NOT WORTH IT. Some will say let him mature and so on- but in my book a cockerel that is willing to invade my space to bite me, much less draw blood - that's a done deal. no-go, no if ands or buts. If they're willing to take him back in a trade, that makes it easier - but

I'm also going to point out a little biosecurity red flag here along with a potential integration issue. On the biosecurity front, everyone's ground is a little different, and I mean the very dirt our feathered friends kick around - depending on what wildlife frequents the area and so on, the immunity their birds raised on their property have built up might differ from your birds, and as such your birds may make the new bird sick or vice versa, not because any chickens were sick to begin with, but because they've developed immunity based on their environment.
If they're willing to take the cockerel back and trade you a pullet, it sounds good - but please consider that the exchanged pullet will have grown up on different dirt and may have immune system differences - and if they'll take back your problem cockerel ... they've likely taken back others too, which heightens the risk of something from someone else's flock being brought along with the exchange pullet. If I add birds from someone else's flock, they're chicks whose feet have never touched the ground.

From an integration standpoint, adding just one hen might start a whole other problem - it's notoriously difficult to add a single bird, especially in confined spaces.

So ... end of novel - if you're not up to 'doing the deed' and prefer to hand him back, do that- but I would forgo the exchange pullet. You can always do another hatch later ... and really you lucked out getting just the one cockerel to begin with, so you're ahead of the game already!
That's a good point actually - thanks for bringing it up.
The other birds don't live super far away but definitely a wilder and differently. I was worried about different parasites but immunity is definitely something to consider.

I'd be getting my hen's sister but I doubt they'd remember each other so that wouldn't really matter.

-----------

I've been reading BantyChooks' article "A Viewpoint on Managing Roosters" and wondering what I could do and where I went wrong. But he takes up a huge chunk of the time I have for chickens.
 

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