Cockerel challenging hen

leighks

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Apr 15, 2017
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I have 4 hens that are 4 years old. I added some EE chicks this spring that are now 4 1/2 months old. One of them is a (surprise) cockerel. The older hens have put him in his place multiple times and things have been pretty peaceful so far, but today I saw the cockerel and one of my older hens fighting- they both had their neck feathers flared out and they were jumping in the air and kicking each other. After they did that that at least 5 times I broke it up because I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. I know he is probably working his way up in the pecking order, but this fight was kind of brutal- and the hen he fought with isn’t even the head hen! He has not tried to mate with anyone yet but I guess he’s feeling his hormones. He has not shown any signs of being human aggressive.
My questions are is it normal to see this kind of fighting between a cockerel and a hen? Is this a sign that he may become a bad rooster, or is he just a teenager checking his boundaries? My older hens are molting now and not feeling too hot, maybe he knows they aren’t at their best and he’s using this to his advantage.
 

DobieLover

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Jul 23, 2018
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My questions are is it normal to see this kind of fighting between a cockerel and a hen?
Yes, it is. If he is getting obnoxious with them, they will put him in his place.
My older hens are molting now and not feeling too hot, maybe he knows they aren’t at their best and he’s using this to his advantage.
More than likely. He isn't so much trying to work his way up the pecking order. I don't really see the roosters as part of that. He is trying to brute force his way into getting what he wants. Mating rights. Has he mated with the pullets yet? Has he ever tid-bitted any of the girls? Stand watch while they dust bathe? Dance around them? Any "roosterly" behaviors?
If he continues to harass the hens, I would lock him up within the flock until the molt is over. That may very well force him to be more polite by trying to encourage them to come near him.
 

leighks

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Yes, it is. If he is getting obnoxious with them, they will put him in his place.

More than likely. He isn't so much trying to work his way up the pecking order. I don't really see the roosters as part of that. He is trying to brute force his way into getting what he wants. Mating rights. Has he mated with the pullets yet? Has he ever tid-bitted any of the girls? Stand watch while they dust bathe? Dance around them? Any "roosterly" behaviors?
If he continues to harass the hens, I would lock him up within the flock until the molt is over. That may very well force him to be more polite by trying to encourage them to come near him.
Thanks for the info. I haven’t seen him do the wing dance yet. I have seen him tid-bit a few times but in a weird way- he will go into a corner and tid-bit. The pullets will gather near him when he does this but he stays facing the corner. He usually doesn’t stand watch if they dust or sun bathe, he usually joins them. I haven’t seen him successfully mate with the pullets yet, but twice this week I did see him grab the feathers on the back of their necks. They ran away screaming so he hasn’t mounted (at least from what I have seen). I think he’s just starting with these behaviors now- like suddenly this past week. I was just so shocked to see him try to fight a hen, and that the hen was fighting back. Yes I agree, think I will have to separate them until the hens are through their molt in a few weeks.
 

ElizaMay

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May 11, 2021
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Thanks for the info. I haven’t seen him do the wing dance yet. I have seen him tid-bit a few times but in a weird way- he will go into a corner and tid-bit. The pullets will gather near him when he does this but he stays facing the corner. He usually doesn’t stand watch if they dust or sun bathe, he usually joins them. I haven’t seen him successfully mate with the pullets yet, but twice this week I did see him grab the feathers on the back of their necks. They ran away screaming so he hasn’t mounted (at least from what I have seen). I think he’s just starting with these behaviors now- like suddenly this past week. I was just so shocked to see him try to fight a hen, and that the hen was fighting back. Yes I agree, think I will have to separate them until the hens are through their molt in a few weeks.
I have two young males separated for now till they mature, for unnecessary roughness and trying to mate their agemates who are completely unready. The mature hens won't take that crap, and it was great watching them just look sideways at a cockerel twice their size and he jumps ass-first to avoid a nasty peck.

They were in the same pen, but yesterday I even have to separate them.

One is standard and the other bantam, and they used to be buddies. But now that horomones have hit, I had to go in and boot the standard one off of force-mating the bantam who was understandably screeching his head off. It was a sort of weird justice though, considering the bantam was forcing mature bantam hens and immature standard pullets. He kept falling off the pullets but wouldn't let go of their neck feathers so they were running squealing around the yard with him hanging on like a rabbit on a great dane.
 

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