Do all roosters grab the hens heads when breeding?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by goldielocks, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2009
    I have a SLW Rooster and he grabs the girls heads when he is breeding them. My Buff Orpington has a long cut on her comb and a cut on her eye lid. He could have blinded her. Is this normal behavior for a rooster?
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Yep, it's normal behavior for them to grab the feathers on the back of the hen's head.
  3. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 23, 2008
    Bailey, Mississippi.
    they will grab whatever they can i believe. I have seen, comb, feathers on the back of the head, hackles, and even the wing..
  4. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2009
    [​IMG]...i figured so, i just hate how rough he is.
  5. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    If he's a young roo it will probably get better once he get s little older and the hens start cooperating better.
  6. WeRnew2Chicks

    WeRnew2Chicks New Egg

    Apr 19, 2013
    I wondered the same thing. I feel so bad for my babies (hens), but I guess that is nature.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Chicken Mating

    The rooster dances. He drops a wing and sort of circles. This signals his interest.

    The hen squats. This gets her body on the ground so the weight of the rooster is spread out instead of all of it going through her legs.

    The rooster hops on and grabs the back of her head. The head grab helps him keep his balance and get in position so he can hit the target. It is also a signal to the hen to raise her tail up put of the way so he can hit the target.

    The rooster touches vents and hops off.

    The hen stands up, fluffs up, and shakes. This fluffy shake gets the sperm positioned right in her body.

    There are a lot of variations of this. Not all roosters dance to signal their intentions. That’s considered bad form. He really should dance.

    The hen may run instead of immediately squatting. If she runs, the rooster may just walk away. She’s just not worth the effort.

    If she runs the rooster may chase her. Often the hen will squat after a very short chase. She was just wondering if he was serious.

    Sometimes she keeps running. The rooster may give up or keep on until he catches her. She may then squat or keep resisting. He may force her. As long as the hen winds up squatting and he does not injure her, it’s OK. But they both need to do their part, the hen as well as the rooster.

    It’s more complicated than this though. Often when they are adolescents, the pullet and cockerel don’t have enough control of their hormones to do their part. Their hormones are raging and they can’t control them. They don’t always have their techniques down quite right either.

    It gets more complicated. A male needs to wow the female with his magnificence and behavior. Some hens will squat for anything in spurs, but many females, especially more mature hens, expect the rooster to dance, find them food, keep guard for danger, maintain peace in the flock, break up fights, just do the things a good flock master should do. Many adolescent roosters don’t do these things. A mature hen may not only withhold her favors but may beat the stuffings out of any young cockerel getting fresh with her. If a rooster calls them over for food but really doesn’t have any, he just faked them out to get one close enough to jump her, well the hens don’t appreciate that immaturity.

    It gets more complicated. The mating ritual is not necessarily about sex. It’s a dominance thing. The one on bottom accepts the dominance of the one on top. Many times the female will not accept the dominance of the rooster and will actively resist him. I’ve seen a dominant female go through the mating ritual with another hen, including touching vents, when there was not a dominant male in the flock, just to show her dominance. I’ve seen that dominant hen knock a young rooster off a willing pullet to show him that she is boss. He was about a year old before he matured enough that he could dominate that hen.

    The rooster has to be the dominant chicken if he is to be a good flock master. What good does it do to warn of danger if they won’t pay attention to him? How can he break up fights or keep peace in his flock if he is not in charge. Sometimes a good rooster has to demonstrate to that hardheaded bossy hen that he is the one in charge. He is not doing his job of he doesn’t dominate her.

    The hens and pullets have their part to play and they can disrupt the entire flock if they don’t do their part, but a lot of times you see these problems is when the rooster is not mature enough to truly dominate. He may be big enough to force the others but has not learned how to treat a lady right to earn her respect or learn the proper techniques.

    Sometimes hens or roosters either ones can just be brutes, but most of the time if given a chance to mature they will grow out of it.
    Mrs123Wife likes this.
  8. bj taylor

    bj taylor Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 28, 2011
    North Central Texas
    so ridgerunner; my black australorp rooster is a year old. very big for his age. he does all the good things you say, but he's real hard on their backs. part of it is that he's so big & is juggling on them for balance. you are saying he might get better with some age?
    he's a great rooster except for this rough mating. he's so magnificent and does everything else so well I have hated to think of taking him out, but I have been gearing myself up to do it. is it feasible that he's going to smooth out some?
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    He may get some better at a year old, but he’s fast running out of opportunity for improvement. If he doesn’t get it pretty soon, he’s not going to. I did have one that really did not assert himself until right at a year old. So, maybe.

    But is it really his fault? You say it is on the backs. Is it all the hens or just one or two? Is it a specific hen problem or a general flock problem?

    I few years back I had a problem that a couple of hens were becoming barebacked. I permanently removed those two hens and the problem went away. How could I blame the rooster if taking the hens away solved the problem? I later found out that some hens just have brittle feathers. They are so brittle they break really easily. I think that is what was happening with those hens. That is genetic.

    A little feather loss is not a big deal. It’s not unusual for an occasional feather to go flying in a mating. It’s when the hen loses enough feathers where she is in danger of getting cut that it’s a problem.

    Something else I did when I had a young rooster being rough on the hens was I trimmed his toe-nails. You see people on here talking about trimming the spurs when that’s happening but he was so young he didn’t have much to speak of on the way of spurs. He was still tearing up the hens backs. When a rooster mounts a hen, he does not stand on his spurs, he stands on his feet and grabs with his claws.

    I took a Dremel tool and cut the tips off his toenails. I did not try to remove all his toenails, just cut the sharp point off so they were dulled. If you just take the tips off it’s like cutting your own toenails, but if you get too deep to where you get in the quick he can feel it and it will bleed. It won’t kill him to cut into the quick but I don’t like causing pain if I don’t have to.

    When I trimmed his toenails, the hens quit losing feathers. By the time he grew those claws back and got then resharpened, he had matured and improved his technique so the feather loss was not a problem.

    These things are not always cut and dried. Sometimes it is the rooster’s fault. He just never learns the right technique or is just rough on the hens. I really don’t know what is going on with yours.

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