dominance over your roos?


7 Years
Apr 7, 2012
After deciding to keep a rooster, I was surprised to hear from others just how aggressive a roo can become, even if it loved to sit on your lap as a young cockerel. This has me worried as I have one that loves to eat while laying in my lap. I'm totally new to chicken hierarchy and am probably missing a lot of warning signs from my young pullets and cockerels.

I'm seeing a lot of jumping at each other from the cockerels. (I see 2 do it more than any of the others) The pullets will also stand up to a cockerel before backing down, but one in particular seems to like to get her say in on the matter.

I did some reading on aggressive roosters, and what to do to assert your dominance, and one thing said that when feeding, make the roos stay away to let the pullets eat first.

Also, do I need to break up the little scuffles I'm seeing?
4 pullets and 5 cockerels that are all around 8 weeks old. I plan to just keep one roo though.
The cockerels jumping at each other is normal, sorting out the pecking order. Do they have plenty of space? - They're not too cramped together? Make sure the less dominant birds have a place to run and get away (I used 2 large mason blocks and log to create an obstacle/roost in the run), plus they can get under the coop itself....

I have a quad of 9 week olds, 3 roos and a pullet. I re-homed one roo yesterday, to a SF breeder. The other 2 roos have already established an order.

Sometimes pullets can be a little aggressive, nothing to worry about, she'll find her place too - or your roo will find it for her

I wish I could tell you which roo to keep! There are good ones :)
They do have plently of space because they are turned out during the day.

I'm just wondering if at this young age, I should be making myself the dominant one. I read that when they are chicks, and a sparring, you should step in and break it up to discourage any scuffling in your presence. Is that true? Does that go for when they are 8 weeks old?
They will scuffle, if you're there or not. It's just how they establish order - as long as there's no bloodshed. That's fighting, and you should break it up.

My roos ( French Marans and Ameraucana) get along very well (bizarre!). They are almost a year old and daily they "do the dance" and jump around a little, but nobody ever gets hurt. I think they mostly do it to put on a show for the girls....

I don't allow breeding in my presence. - That doesn't mean I sprint across the pasture to break it up, but in my immediate area - no-no.....
Based on my own experience, problem roosters are more likely to be problems because of their inherent personality - their individual personality, as well as the typical personality of their breed, and any particular personality of whatever strain they are from. Handling, cuddling, asserting dominance or not asserting dominance, do not play as much of a role as what is in the birds to start with.

Confession, I have over 30 roosters. Several inhabit mixed-sex pens with access to girls to fight over. I have had minimal problems with rooster-person aggression, and relatively few problems with rooster-rooster aggression... I think this is largely because I have some fairly mellow breeds. And I say this based on comparison to my current headache, a crop of Mottled Houdan cockerels from Cackle who are very randy, intermittently quarrelsome, and territorial (as a gang) with other birds, although even they are peaceful most of the time. Among all my males, there are only 4 real problem personalities: two very angry, mixed ancestry 4 year old silkie roosters, equipped with tremendous spurs, who I hold onto for sentimental reasons (they are attractive, and are "senior chickens"), one belligerent, unusually small Creve out of 8 from Sandhill, who I kept to try to investigate his size, and one guy from Urch Turnland who seems to resent me for some reason but is a nice specimen and has fathered some nice sons with nice personalities.

The two silkies rule their group of small roosters like a joint monarchy, but neither one of the two mean Creves is the dominant rooster in his respective pen.

The balance in my yard are a mixture of timid guys who run away, and what some on BYC have referred to as "loofahs" - they let you walk up to them and pick them up, like feathery footballs, and if you wanted to rub them all over your body there would not be a problem.

I suspect that having several roosters around helps keep any single rooster from developing too inflated a self image.

Best - exop
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Thanks for the input exop. I think you're right about the genetic aspect.

Do you put mixed age roos together, or is your group all one age range? I would like to have a bachelor pen, but I don't think it works like I want it to (in my head).
I have a couple bachelor pens... grouping birds by temperament seems to give good results. There's a high energy, small-rooster pen with a tree and some bushes in it (that's where the killer silkies live), and a "mellow" pen where some placid large roosters (Buckeyes) keep the peace among a group of other smaller breed roosters. If someone persists in causing trouble in the mellow pen, they go in the high energy pen, where they realize immediately that they are not such a tough guy after all. Usually without any conflict taking place. Roosters seem to be able to sense how much of a badass eachother is (that's not a very grammatical sentence, eh).

Best - exop

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