Cockerel behaviour towards child

Chicalina

Songster
Aug 1, 2020
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UK
My very docile Silkie cockerel attacked my 6 year old child, mainly because said child was chasing some hens to try and pick one up. I don't blame the Cockerel, he was only doing his job. But obviously I need harmony and safety in my home.
I picked him up and sat him on my lap and got my son to stroke him, to try and build a bond. I am not sure if I should try and make sure the cockerel sees my son as 'friendly and not a threat' or as 'dominant so don't mess with him'. All was fine until about 2 weeks later when the cockerel chased my son, and all he did was walk past a bunch of hens (they free range).

Cockerel has never, and would never attack me. I pick up his hens all the time, and some of the less time ones squawk like crazy when I do. I'm not sure if he sees me as dominant to him, or as just not a threat. Probably dominant if I think about it. I can reach out and put my hand on his back and if he doesn't run away first, he squats. I can pick him up and he never pecks me, just sits there. I raised him as a day old chick. I don't want to keep them penned up but I need to be confident my son is safe around him. He is 2 years old btw and has never attacked any other human. He is generally really chilled.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
9 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,741
1,443
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Finger Lakes, NY
My very docile Silkie cockerel attacked my 6 year old child, mainly because said child was chasing some hens to try and pick one up. I don't blame the Cockerel, he was only doing his job. But obviously I need harmony and safety in my home.
I picked him up and sat him on my lap and got my son to stroke him, to try and build a bond. I am not sure if I should try and make sure the cockerel sees my son as 'friendly and not a threat' or as 'dominant so don't mess with him'. All was fine until about 2 weeks later when the cockerel chased my son, and all he did was walk past a bunch of hens (they free range).

Cockerel has never, and would never attack me. I pick up his hens all the time, and some of the less time ones squawk like crazy when I do. I'm not sure if he sees me as dominant to him, or as just not a threat. Probably dominant if I think about it. I can reach out and put my hand on his back and if he doesn't run away first, he squats. I can pick him up and he never pecks me, just sits there. I raised him as a day old chick. I don't want to keep them penned up but I need to be confident my son is safe around him. He is 2 years old btw and has never attacked any other human. He is generally really chilled.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
O boy!
Well, I don't have kids but maybe my thoughts can help a bit. Firstly, 'said child' needs to be told not to chase the hens - period. Apart from putting him in danger from the roo it can play havoc with the egg cycle!
My best suggestion is to have the child sit quietly holding a compliant hen with you sitting very close by holding 'roo in your lap. This may need to be repeated several times.
When you go into the chicken yard take child with you and have him/her stay close to you. Repeat frequently and have child pet hens (no chasing).
For the childs' own safety s/he probably should not go into the chicken yard w/o you for a while until things settle down.
http://chickenrunrescue.org/filter/Care-and-Rehabilitation/Rooster-Behavior
You sound like you are cool with your 'roo but the above link does have some good points if you care to read it, I think your 'roo recognizes you as a 'non-threat' now the trick is to extend that to your child!
Kids don't realize that fast movements around the flock upsets them and puts them on alert, so try to slow things down a bit.
Hope my ramblings are of some use to you :)
 

muddy75

I’ve got the “Blind Doggie Blues”
Premium Feather Member
Aug 17, 2018
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from experience silkie cockerels can be the most dangerous because they are underestimated due to their size and “cuteness factor” there are some really good articles on here regarding dealing with aggressive behaviors in cockerels and roosters. maybe @BantyChooks can help point you in the right direction to some helpful articles. I can tell you that attempting to “reason” with them typically shows little success. I removed mine after he actually drew blood attacking my legs.......
 

Chicalina

Songster
Aug 1, 2020
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UK
thanks for the replies. Yes I've told my son not to chase the hens. He didn't mean any harm, just wanted to pet them. He was scared by the attack more than injured, but the spurs did scratch his legs. He is now super careful around all of them, so i think he has learned his lesson!! He totally understands the rules, just pushes against them sometimes!

I've kept chickens his whole life (he is 6) and another 10 years before that. I've never had a cockerel problem before. Not that this is a problem, just some bird behaviour that needs managing and I know it's up to the humans to do that, not the cockerel. I think we all got a bit complacent.

Great idea to have him hold a hen while i pet the cockerel. Will try that.

Any more thoughts on whether he should hold the cockerel too? I think he is too scared to though.
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
9 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,741
1,443
371
Finger Lakes, NY
thanks for the replies. Yes I've told my son not to chase the hens. He didn't mean any harm, just wanted to pet them. He was scared by the attack more than injured, but the spurs did scratch his legs. He is now super careful around all of them, so i think he has learned his lesson!! He totally understands the rules, just pushes against them sometimes!

I've kept chickens his whole life (he is 6) and another 10 years before that. I've never had a cockerel problem before. Not that this is a problem, just some bird behaviour that needs managing and I know it's up to the humans to do that, not the cockerel. I think we all got a bit complacent.

Great idea to have him hold a hen while i pet the cockerel. Will try that.

Any more thoughts on whether he should hold the cockerel too? I think he is too scared to though.
I would hold off on that until he is more comfortable in being around 'roo. When all the dust has settled then perhaps try...
 

BaaKaaawk

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Apr 4, 2011
754
2,326
291
Huntersville, NC
So two things here as you've seen already- need to help the child understand how to act around the flock. I have a 5-year old and she used to chase my chickens too when younger (I guess we have chase instincts in humans too!) and I had to correct that. It really comes down to the fact that they just want to hold one- so help them catch one in a calm manner and they get to hold it and all is usually good.

The second is - need to help the cockerel understand how to act around the family. On my farm it is unacceptable for a cockerel to attack humans, period. The first time a cockerel challenges me (which they ALL will do at some point it is their nature) I chase him down, pin him, pick him up and carry him around upside-down by his feet for about 5 minutes in front of all his hens. Of about 10 now, only one has turned on me after that and he was removed.
 

RainbowHen

Make eggs, not war
Premium Feather Member
Jul 10, 2020
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Wisconsin
The second is - need to help the cockerel understand how to act around the family. On my farm it is unacceptable for a cockerel to attack humans, period. The first time a cockerel challenges me (which they ALL will do at some point it is their nature) I chase him down, pin him, pick him up and carry him around upside-down by his feet for about 5 minutes in front of all his hens. Of about 10 now, only one has turned on me after that and he was removed.
I use this method also. Always worked well for me.
 

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