Cockerel Aggression

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SchipAlong, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. SchipAlong

    SchipAlong Out Of The Brooder

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    This morning my 6.5 month old d'Anvers cockerel came at me spurs flying, bit me hard enough to draw blood from both hands (a very tiny amount, but still broken skin regardless and it's a behaviour escalation), and he had bitten down on my pant leg so firmly that it took effort to pull him off. Before now aside from being a grump on the roost and giving me nips if I tried to pet him or the pullets at bedtime, he was good. We left for about 1.5 weeks over Christmas and I assumed he would be aggressive when we first returned, but it's been over a week since we got back and his behaviour just seems to yo-yo. Sometimes he's fine, sometimes he's not. Yesterday afternoon I had them out free ranging and he was fine being held to ham it up for the camera. He seems to be the worst in the morning, but I don't know if this is because it's the first time seeing me each day or if he's just a grump in the morning.

    I knew when I decided to get d'Anvers that the males had a reputation for aggression, but he was so good up to this point so I let myself get pretty attached. The thought of butchering or even rehoming him to a non-pet farm is hard for me to consider, but at the same time I don't want to have to live with an aggressive chicken. He's pretty good with the girls. He doesn't bully them, calls them over if he finds something tasty, and while he hasn't exactly mastered the art of courting he doesn't force-mate either. If they scream and pull away he lets them go.

    Is this normal testosterone-laden cockerel behaviour and will he calm down with age, or is this something I can expect to only get worse? Because of winter the pullets still haven't laid any eggs, but I think they might be starting to get ready now. Could it have something to do with that?
     
  2. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry to say, but In my large fowls males I've never seen it get better.....usually just worse. In our case, we initially felt bad, but after a few painful attacks we were happy to see him go. Now we get rid of them at the first sign of aggression.

    We did have a d'Uccle rooster that would sometimes come at me with his spurs. Since it was pretty rare and he was so cute and small, we did keep him. But only because he was a bantam and we all knew to keep an eye on him when going into their coop.
     
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    He is very unlikely to get better. I'm not a fan of any bird who attacks me for any reason, and even a little guy can take out an eyeball from roost height! If you have children or other adults out there, it's just too dangerous. You MIGHT be able to get him to respect you (unlikely, but possible) but he will go after everyone else. Life is too short to support an idiot who attacks the hugely larger individual who feeds him! And his offspring will inherit his nutty behavioral tendencies, not good. Mary
     
  4. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What everyone has said is right on target. The only thing I would add is if you really like the rooster and the aggression had just reared its head a little bit (Unfortunately sounds like it is past that) would be to carry him around calmly until he settles and give him an "attitude adjustment" if you're able. I'm assuming your chickens are all similar age, but if you have different ages it works wonders to throw a young cocky cockerel in with the adult laying hens or into the bachelor pad if you have one. I've tried both tactics and have stood ready to intervene if necessary. It wasn't. I was really surprised the first time the roosters would leave the young guy alone the minute he behaved. I couldn't have done it better myself.
    Most of the roosters who have come up "through the ranks" so to speak are better behaved than those raised in small groups the same age.
     
  5. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL on the idiot part!

    That is a great point on him passing on his aggressive tendencies. It's true.
     
  6. SchipAlong

    SchipAlong Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the replies. As a test I left them alone this morning and didn't go out until the afternoon. He was a perfect gentleman, even calmly accepting having his new rooster collar* readjusted. Perhaps I just need to install a tiny coffee pot in their coop to fix his morning aggression lol.

    For now I'm going to see what happens. These are my first chickens so I'm probably softer than I will be after I'm a more seasoned chicken-keeper, but right now I'm willing to give him a chance. He's not a good example of the breed standard, so if I were to hatch eggs they would be ordered in from someone else so him passing on his temperament isn't a concern. The only reason I have him is that I could only get d'Anvers straight-run and was lucky enough to only end up with one male.

    *Roosters are walking a very thin line of acceptance where I live. I get the feeling the people in the next acreage over aren't the type to like the sound of crowing, and I don't want to give them a reason to go vote on banning roosters next time it comes up.

    Right now he's just in with two d'Anvers pullets his own age (I know that's not a large enough ratio. I'll be adding more once the avian flu outbreak is under control), but I do have a separate LF pen that has a grouchy Barred Rock hen. I'm giving him some time to adjust to his collar so I don't pile too much stress on him at once, but he might end up moving in with the big girls so they can put him in his place.
     
  7. ChickenLady2014

    ChickenLady2014 Feathered Frenzy

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    Sorry to say that my experience with an aggressive rooster has not gotten better one time. In fact because he isn't even to spring yet when his hormones will be raging, I would be extremely concerned. It's very unfortunate, if you have kids be very careful, an aggressive roo has no qualms about attacking a child as well :(
     
  8. ChickenLady2014

    ChickenLady2014 Feathered Frenzy

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    Edited : over time
     
  9. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    Rooster aggression can be managed because humans have larger brains and opposable thumbs. I appreciate a rooster who is aggressive so long as he is good to his hens. It is their nature, and expecting them to abandon their instincts isn't realistic. I've had 10lb to less than 1 lb roosters that were aggressive and every one of them could be managed with short filed spurs. If you have toddlers, don't let them play in the chicken yard. When a kid gets hurt, it is the parent's fault for not teaching them. You can't blame the rooster for being a rooster. It's like the people who try to make a pet out of a chimp, and someone gets their face ripped off. Perhaps they shouldn't have tried to make a chimp a pet in the first place.
     
  10. SchipAlong

    SchipAlong Out Of The Brooder

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    I agree, I was just hoping it was a phase or that there would be suggestions on what to do. Being bitten/spurred just for cleaning up their pen isn't much fun. I didn't consider him telling me off for pestering them on the roost aggression (I actually find that kind of funny), and I took the hint and leave them alone at night. Even though his behaviour made it harder to take care of them, part of the reason I was hesitant to remove him is because he's so good with the hens. I'm of the opinion that it's much more likely a child will cause injury to the chickens than the other way around, so on the off-chance someone brings a small child over to my house being able to use the rooster as an easy excuse not to let them in with the chooks is a huge bonus lol. At the same time though I don't want to just have to live with it, so I'm going to try everything I can.

    I should probably update this for anyone else having the same problem:
    I've been treating him same way you would condition a dog that has trust issues with people. Every time I see him I dole out treats (lettuce, fresh herbs, lentils, sardines...), and it seems to be working. I was expecting progress to be a lot more slow but he actually hasn't even nipped me since I started doing this (possibly because of his age? Less set in his ways than an older bird who would likely take more time to see people as a good thing). I've begun phasing out the constant treats to just occasional reminders that I'm a positive thing to have around, and it seems to be working.
     

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