Cockerel Behavior Aggression or Something Else?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TabITSWD, Feb 1, 2016.

  1. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    I am hoping to get some opinions on cockerel behavior from some of you that have been at this a while. I have a cockerel who is 13 weeks old, just now getting his big boy feathers and has started to act in a way that concerns me. He's a bird I was really really hoping to breed but that may not happen because IF what he's doing is a predecessor to aggression he won't be here for that long. I know he's at the phase right now where all his hormones are starting to scream at him and I want to know if you think that I likely have a future aggressive roo or he's just weird. He's being kept for potential breeding because he has several traits I value. But he has flaws too, he makes a strange un-chicken sound when he sees animals outside his run, I think its a warning but it sounds like a woman screaming. And now: he is dancing at my presence.
    But only sometimes. Specifically when the other cockerels are in the yard and I enter. If he's the only one in the yard and I enter, he doesn't do it. At all. When he does do it, I've been picking him up, firmly but not rough, hanging him upside down if he struggles(only once) and if not, just carrying him like a football for 15 minutes or so. Weirdest part is that when I reach out to pick him up he just kind of moves in to my arms. He only struggled once and never struggles when being carried around this way. He does that lady-scream when he sees a squirrel or a dog when being carried, which is annoying since its so close to my ears, but other than that, he's not even a pain to carry around. But he's never done any other aggression behaviors. Yet. No raising of neck feathers with me. No tidbitting, or picking stones. No pacing or that agitated behavior when they don't like something/someone. He is middle pecking order, 3rd in charge with 2 FBCM males who are older than him by a month above him in the order. And he's above the three 9 week olds that joined their coop a week ago (added early because one crowed and I try to move them in before they're doing that). The only other even slightly aggressive action he does is to peck the younger birds when they're all in the yard and he “decides” its time for them to go in. He'll peck one of them and kind of herd them in but he never chases them inside or for any other reason and he doesn't pick fights with the Marans in charge of the group either. I almost get the sense the shoulder down walk/dance is for the other cockerels and not for me. Is that possible? What is the value in that? He doesn't do a circle close to me, he places himself between them and me, usually halfway, and walks a line with his wing down between us, back and forth – who knows how long he'd do this if I didn't walk over and pick him up when I see it? I assume I'm above him in the peck order because he submits easily, even eagerly, when I snatch him up but is he sending them a message or is it that he just hasn't shown the other aggressive behaviors towards me yet? Is there a chance he's just practicing his dance? Or is it definitely a predecessor to something worse? I have had an aggressive roo I gave to a neighbor for stew before, but that one never danced, just flared and attacked every human that came in the run as well as bloodying the hens combs whenever he was near them.
    The males do not see females at all. They can hear them but they are in a different part of my chicken complex and not in any line of sight from their coop or run.
    Also, he doesn't do that when I enter the coop to clean or do other maintenance.
    I don't “handle” males. I know it makes it harder when they have an injury that I need to deal with, but with 2-6 males at any given time, I need them to have respect more than I need them to feel unafraid and then be easy to catch. If I have to catch them during the day, it IS hard. They are not accustomed to being handled. Well, except this one now – he almost seems to enjoy being picked up after he's danced the line in front of me.
    Their coop is spacious, 6x8, with multiple roosts and space to utilize under the droppings board. There are multiple feeding stations so no one can be held out of food, same with water.

    Even if I could “fix” aggression to some extent, I am not interested in breeding a bird with an aggressive tendency no matter how much I favor his traits. I am just unsure if its aggression, it doesn't look like the aggression I have seen before.
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Umm. I forgot the question. That post was so long and not broken up into paragraphs, I kind of lost my way. [​IMG]

    Oh yeah, the early aggression signs. Yes, it indicates his future temperament. You probably don't want to select this one to breed.

    Whew.
     
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  3. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    Sorry so long. :(
    Long habit of being overly thorough.

    But thank you, for your weigh in. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2016
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I had a rooster like that, the screaming and dancing quickly turned into screaming and attacking, nothing I tried worked, carrying him made him angry, yours is allowing you to pick him up because he's asking and you are doing, I would try ignoring him or shagging him off and not allowing him to dance at me.

    I think all young roosters should grow up with an older mature rooster who knows how to correct that type of behavior, and older hens who will remind him of his place.

    I think you will find him escalating his behavior as Spring gets closer and will probably have to make him your supper.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    I'm also having a problem seeing exactly what he's doing that's concerning. He's alerting to potential threats? And dancing when you're present? Is there anything else?

    The alerting I wouldn't worry about. He's learning what is a threat and what isn't. My young potential keeper is alerting to everything right now, cause he just learned he can.

    Dancing around you is easily fixed. I don't pick them up, I shoo them with my foot. Push them, stomp at them, chase them a few steps, whatever. I don't like picking my birds up, so I make them move away, it's easier for me. That's a simple re-training fix.
     
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  6. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you oldhenlikesdogs and donrae for chiming in. :)

    I will try shooing him with my foot. I think that you are right, oldhenlikesdogs – that somehow HE is telling ME to pick him up and I do. Ending that now.

    Donrae - good to know about the alerting and learning, that makes sense. To answer your question, no there is nothing else. He doesn't seem aggressive which is why I am confused.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    He's still young and it could go either way, best to try to distance yourself from him so he doesn't try to make you his lady.
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    It's not about too much info, it's about unorganized info.

    You say near the end that you don't 'handle' males, but mentioned several times earlier about picking him up?<shrugs>

    He's very young.....and you have other males around, that seriously complicates the situation.
    Multiple males creates an environment of competition....removing all but one male can make a huge difference.

    Not sure what your setup and goals are.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    My general rule: All roosters must stay arm's length away. No picking up, no cuddling. However, if I am doing dominance training, I will pick up a youngster, and hold him while forcing his head down below chest level. When he picks his head up, I push it down again, and keep repeating till he willingly leaves it down. then I set him on ground, while still holding, and repeat. When he submits on the ground, I let him go. I had a little one who was determined to protect his Mama and sibs from me. I did that with him, and he became a civilized boy! There are other aspects that go into dominance training, but that's a good start.
     
  10. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Out Of The Brooder

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    Aart...
    “It's not about too much info, it's about unorganized info.”
    I get it, I'm not accustomed to online socializing so I'm getting the hang of it. Who knew there'd be a negative to avoiding online social networking, I'm a bit green with my form.
    I can see that post is disorganized.


    “You say near the end that you don't 'handle' males, but mentioned several times earlier about picking him up?<shrugs>”
    I meant that I don't normally pick up males but in this case I have been picking up the cockerel in question, in an attempt to let him know he is not the boss. I did that because this forum is full of people who advise picking up the roo “to show him who's boss”. I had to do something because if there's a problem I have to deal with it. My DH will not get involved in chicken stuff in any way.
    And clearly that picking up the cockerel thing didn't work for me. :/


    “...removing all but one male can make a huge difference”
    Yes! You're right. When I get down to one breed. I am in the process of phasing one breed out right now but I still have 3 others.
    Those 3 breeds I want to keep distinct until I know more. Segregating roosters is the best way to ensure this for now. For me, this is the correct way – lots of people successfully keep multiple roosters this way.


    “Not sure what your setup and goals are.”
    This is my hobby, a thing I choose to enjoy, and spend some of my surplus time and money on. My goal is to find the right breed or two that will give me eggs the way I want them and meat the way I want it also. I am trying different breeds and methods, and learning from experience which I like and which I don't.
    This, what is happening now, is part of the process – I am learning which cockerels to keep.
     
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