Cockerel Behavior Aggression or Something Else?

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

  1. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    lazy gardener -

    Amazing and very specific knowledge. Thank you. I was familiar with the no cuddling birds part but the rest of that is really good to know.

    How long with that type of behavior modification until you usually start seeing some change?
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    1 - 2 weeks max.
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    It seems so counter intuitive, because with dogs and cats, if you are nice, they for the most part are nice. They like affection, and people like to give affection and feel that it is returned.

    Chickens are a flock animal, and they all get along, as they figure out who is higher and who is lower by giving very distinct signals. Unfortunately people often time misinterpret these signals. You are recognizing that this is not what it seems like, many people without experience do not, until they are being flogged. Then come and say that the darling is now the nightmare. Chickens equate fear with respect. If they are not afraid of you, they don't respect you, and they will get bolder and bolder, eventually attacking to prove the point.

    When a chicken goes up to another chicken, there are three possible responses. The second chicken can attack, chest bump, or peck. This is stating I am a higher chicken than the other. Or the chicken can squat down or run off and hide. That is saying I am a lower chicken than the other.

    Often times the rooster is the most outgoing of the chicks, they are fearless, and come up to you so friendly. When people give them attention, it is like a hen cooing at the rooster, telling him how wonderful he is, and they believe that they are dominant. These are the chicks that will sit in your lap. They are not afraid. This is especially true of roosters that are raised with just flock mates. People are not in the coop 24/7. Most of the time, he is the top bird, and there is nothing bigger than him to teach him respect. In my experience roosters raised with just flock mates often times become aggressive to people.

    So when the rooster comes up to you, toward you, he is asking, 'where are you in the pecking order? When you bend down and pick him up, he is not afraid, he is in the seat of power. He hears you say that he is above him.

    if a rooster comes toward me, I stomp toward him till he moves off. If he does not move off fast enough, I chase him till he is pretty desperate to get away from me. If he puffs up, crows excessively when I am there, flaps his wings at me, sneaks around behind me, or stares at me, he is culled.

    I think it is good that you are recognizing that something is not right. I, too, have a hobby for eggs and a bit of meat. I enjoy my flock, and any bird that does not make me happy is culled.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
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  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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  5. TabITSWD

    TabITSWD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mrs. K -

    Wow, great explanation. [​IMG]
    Thank you, that makes a lot of his behavior make more sense now. And I have a bit of an understanding as to why to keep male birds at arms length now. I knew to do it, I just never knew why.

    The cockerel I am having the problem with has always been bold, the first to seek food voraciously, and now that I am thinking back, when he was only 7 weeks old he started flying up onto my head when I would bend down to fill their feed trough. I shooed him because it was startling and bizarre but probably that was where I made my mistake - given your (very good and clear) explanation, I probably needed to chase him at that time until he ran causing him to have fear/respect.

    I noticed he was into it with the most dominant bird in his pen a couple times today, and he was dancing at that bird before attacking him the 2 times I saw it. Nothing serious resulted. Yet.

    Too bad he's pretty, he doesn't have a future here. But there are too many better behaved males to choose from in my coop.
     
  6. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I realize this thread hasn't been active in the last couple of months, but I very much appreciate the depth of information offered by the voices of experience. We've got 2 cockerels, 6 weeks old- one intended (Super Blue) the other an 'oops' (Welsummer) from the hatchery. This is our 2nd batch of chicks- first was all pullets.

    My question relates to the effectiveness of using feeding time to demonstrate to the cockerels their place in the flock as it relates to the people. The chicks have free choice chick starter 24/7, but of course the fresh scoop brings all the little corn bits they feverishly pursue the second the feeder hits the ground.

    At one point I had it so the boys couldn't approach the coveted fresh offerings until I leave- one (the SBEL) would go all the way out of sight into a corner and the other would stay a respectful distance from the food-- moving in only after I was out.

    Neither is interested in much handling and will run run run to avoid us, which seems like a good start. If they're both good citizens, they both have a shot at staying as there are a total of 16 pullets and hens.

    Is this worth while or counterproductive leading to issues down the road?

    Any insight would be very welcome!
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    I ignore my male chicks as they grow up, I ignore most of mine, I'm not into excessive handling. When boys reach sexual maturity and start making the hens scream if I'm in the area they will get chased off or I will toss my plastic feed scoop in their direction to startle them. It very similar to what a dominant rooster will do, he will take any opportunity to go after younger or lower ranking roosters, chasing them about 10 feet away sometimes farther. Eventually my rooster run out of my way and keep a respectable distance. After they reach about a year old I don't really do anything to them unless they are doing stuff that annoys me like mating in front of me.

    I haven't had any roosters come after me since using my technique and keep multiple roosters of all ages and breeds. I don't even think about it. You need to be the dominant one, but you also need for them to know you aren't a part of the flock by not petting and handling them.
     
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  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with the above. It sounds like you are on the right track, but roosters are a crap shoot, and one must be aware that they can be fine... and then go wrong. You need a plan for if and when they go wrong. A way to separate them, a way to cull them and be able to respond rather quickly.

    It can work, it sounds like you are off to a good start, you just cannot wish them nice, and if they start getting aggressive, then in my mind, they are done.

    Mrs K
     
  9. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The feed thing started because it was the only time they willingly came running towards me. Growing up with horses and then later working at breeding farms gave me a very healthy respect for not getting cuddly with hormone driven animals, males of all ages in particular. I didn't like how the boys would come barreling in to the food-- setting a precedent for approaching me without fear/respect when they otherwise practice avoidance. The Super Blue unfortunately has had his back picked clean by the Welsummer cockerel- just stands there and lets it happen- so there has been handling to address that problem, but even in doctoring I try to take the "just cleaning my shoe" mindset- treated and returned.

    Thank you for including information about what to do once they're starting to do their rooster thing. These will be our first roosters- I'm hoping the presence of full-grown ladies will help mitigate issues. Thanks again!
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  10. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We decided to keep chickens for pleasure of it, their contributions in managing what the goats leave behind and of course their rich leavings, but most of all for the glorious eggs! But pleasure comes first and foremost, so if we find ourselves with an aggressive rooster(s), whether towards the hens or us-- it will end abruptly for the aggressor. Obviously not what we're hoping for, but we also know it's a real possibility.

    Our friends have the kind of roo that everyone wants- quiet, respectful and good to the ladies, so we've seen an example of what can be with the right one. Which brings me to the thought that if neither of these fit the bill, maybe the next time I have a broody I should hit them up for some fertilized eggs ... hmmmmm...

    Thank you so much!!
     

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