Premium Feather Member
Yes he's been cuddled and pampered and petted since before Holly decided she was done with them so I can see him thinking of me as a 2nd mother. It also was apparently not a 1 time thing either, he tried it again this evening when I reached down to pick him up to place him on the roost. Hopefully, if I keep jerking my hand away he'll get the message and stop. We had the farrier out to shoe the horses this afternoon so I was outside for a solid 3 hours and half the time he spent beside me or in my lap. I kept watching him and waiting for him to try it again but he didn't. So when it was roosting time I relaxed my guard a little and once again I was caught by surprise. I'll be ready tomorrow night and will pick him up a little different so maybe he wont try it. As long as this is not a sign of future people aggression as embarrassing as it may be I'll work around it and hopefully he stops.
There are quite a few people on BYC who seem delighted that when they go to run their hand down a hens back the hen squats for them. As this behaviour gets reinforced by repeatedly doing this it may get to the point when that hen squats for their keeper when the keeper gets within a certain distance of the hen. That hen, the one that squats, thinks she’s having sex with the keeper. Often this makes a female keeper the rooster in the hens eyes. I don’t read many complaints regarding this type of female chicken behaviour.Wait, if I read this correctly your saying instead of jerking my hand away I need to let him finish? If so that is just lovely. Why my hand branch instead of a perfectly good filthy barn boot. I knew it wasn't really a dance but it looks like it and it's what everyone around me calls it. If one of my young boys try it I just walk through them and make them back up. After a time or two they give up on me and redirect their attention to the hens. I had 1 boy who liked to flare his hackles at me, but did not flog or bite until Butter got injured. She was his favorite hen and after her stay in the house when I moved her back outside and would let her out to exercise he came running to try and breed her. She was too unsteady on her feet so I gently pushed him back on the chest. He circled around and tried it again. I again pushed him back and he crossed the line and flogged. He had a new home with full disclosure in under a week.
I find it immensely frustrating that when it comes to the males, cockerel and roosters all that tolerance and delight disappears. After all, it is the keeper that has encouraged the behaviours in both sexes of chicken. There is a word that crops up over and over again on BYC. It seems that some people are completely obsessed by the concept. The word is dominance. But, it seems fine if a keeper is dominating a hen by encouraging the hen to squat for them.
A further problem is male chickens ime at least, are much friendlier than female hens when they are young. The keeper naturally likes the cuddles and the giving of treats and encourages the cockerel to believe that the keeper is part of the chicken hierarchy. While the cockerel is young sex isn’t an issue but when they mature, there are essentially three types of being in their world, hens that need to be courted, herded and mated and other males that need to be fought and kept away from that cockerel/roosters hens. Then there are the unrelated/undefined like the house dog, other creatures etc.
All creatures, at least those that haven’t been interfered with to the extent that they are essentially toys for humans will defend their young, attempt to mate with others in their group/tribe/flock and show aggressive behaviour to any threat they perceive. It’s no good people banging on about how they are the one that feeds and houses and cares for the creatures in question; very roughly you are either a group member or you are not. As with any group there are expected behaviours for group members.
For a male chicken any females in the group are his females. It really doesn’t seem to matter whether they are chickens or not.
It would of course help if people who decided to get chickens because they are so cuddly and learn’t a great deal more about the chicken and how they behave before they go and get chickens.
A video of some chickens ripping a mouse to shreds, or one of a couple of hens or roosters fighting, might help remind people that chickens are not really the cuddly fluff balls some people take them for. This way, when their true nature becomes apparent there would be less shock and horror when some of the less pleasant or difficult behaviours manifest themselves.
In the simplest terms; If you don’t want a rooster to try and mate with you then don’t lead him on.
If you don’t want him to attack you then don’t pick up his hens. He thinks and so do they, that you are mating them.
Don’t carry out any behaviour that might suggest to a rooster that you are trying to lure his hens away from him.
Finally and seemingly most difficult for humans, accept that these are intelligent creatures that do what they do for a reason and not because they are genetically bad or good.
In my years of chicken care I’ve been flogged, pecked, scratched, charged at, stroked, groomed, the list goes on. If some young cockerel sees me as it’s mum and later as one of his hens, then I am responsible for him believing this and I have to learn how to deal with it, as I am for the vast majority of the chicken behaviour towards me from both sexes.