Hawk versus Rooster. Does this happen? What makes a "good" rooster?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by counterWULF, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. counterWULF

    counterWULF Chirping

    Aug 19, 2018
    We have 16 hens and 1 rooster. I have read on here about people saying to keep your rooster if he is a "good" rooster. What makes him good or bad? We ordered all pullets, but were sent 2 extras that we did not even pay for. One ended up being a rooster. I believe he is a Welsummer, but my family thinks he is an Easter Egger. His name is Egger. One of the hens is named Easter. We thought he was a girl. Oh well. He's big and beautiful. I'll look for a photo. I don't think we have any recent ones. All of our hens arrived at 2 days old and one hen was always bigger than the rest. I believe she was born a day or so before the others. She also doesn't look like any of the others. Her name is Hey Hey Happy Head, or Hey Hey for short. Well, after a month or two, suddenly one of the "hens" was suddenly larger than her. This fast growing bird was our Egger, who is not a hen after all. When I do a search for Welsummer rooster, 19 of the 20 photos look just like Egger. When I search for Easter Egger rooster, maybe 2 out of 20 look like him. So I'm not sure what he is, or if it even matters.

    I've read on here about roosters protecting their flocks of ladies. How brave are these guys? These are our first chickens and they are about 7 months old. We have bald eagles, hawks, coyotes, owls, red fox, black bears, outdoor cats, and more on our acreage. The main predator that flies overhead while the chickens are free ranging are hawks. I've seen in other threads where hawks will swoop down, kill and begin eating a hen right in front of their humans. Maybe there is no time, but I'm not sure why the humans didn't run over and punch the hawk in the beak. Instead, they took photos while the hawk ate their hen. That hawk would have to fight me first, and I don't think it would win.

    What would my rooster do to a hawk? Run? Die? Fight? I'm sure it is up to each individual bird, but I'm also curious if there is a common action/reaction that these supposedly "good" roosters take when in protection mode. Fight or flight, I hope our Egger would fight. Maybe they know there's no hope and it's not worth his life for one of his hens. "Live to fight another day." (or for him: "Live to protect the majority of the flock tomorrow instead of dying to protect a minority/one hen today.") I look forward to hear some of your experiences on this.

    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Roosters I have are good only in the defense of their offspring, not in the hens. The roosters must be fully adult and not in the middle of heavy molt. Mine good only from about January through roughly August. Predator they do well against are hawks, especially Coopers Hawks, going after their juvenile offspring. Against those they are very effective. Other predators are just as apt to take rooster. The rooster does not give his life, he makes a mistake or miscalculation.
    sourland and counterWULF like this.
  3. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

    Jul 23, 2018
    Apalachin, NY
    My Coop
    It really depends on the bird. Some will sacrifice themselves for their hens. Others will run for cover.
    I believe most will at a minimum watch for predators and sound an alarm.
    If you enjoy your cockerel and he doesn't become human aggressive or too rough with the pullets when the hormones kick in, keep him.
  4. PattyNH

    PattyNH Songster

    Sep 13, 2016
    New Hampshire - USA
    I have 4 cockrels and they sound an alarm call when a threat is near. The hens all run into the barn - door is always left open when they are out - and the cockrels follow standing in the doorway. So far they haven't had to fight off anything (as far as I know). Will be interested to see what they do when that situation presents, as I know it will eventually.
    micstrachan and counterWULF like this.
  5. WthrLady

    WthrLady Crowing

    Jul 24, 2014
    WestOak, Nebraska
    A good rooster at my house:
    DOES NOT attack me or any human in the pasture or coop. PERIOD.
    DOES NOT attack chicks
    DOES NOT bully his hens or stalks them brutally for breeding or control purposes
    DOES have good physical attributes to pass to offspring
    DOES find food for his hens
    DOES keep a watchful eye on the sky and the fields
    DOES graze and forage WITH the hens
    DOES check on and corral hens that go too far from the group
    DOES fight to the detriment of his own safety or life if needed to protect his hens

    I had one rooster follow all these rules. He died saving all but one of his hens from a savage fox attack. I immediately set all my remaining eggs to get a cockerel from his gene pool. I got ONE. He is amazing as well.

    Since then, I have had other cockerels from other sources and have culled or sold all of them. I've had one that was a brutal stalker. One was a chick killer. One flailed me every time I was out working in the yard. One that could care less about being anywhere near the hens.
  6. Abriana

    Abriana Spicy Sugar Cookie

    Apr 26, 2017
    Fools Gold
    I have a columbian rock rooster, he is an amazing boy. He has fought and won battles against multiple hawks (he hasn't killed, but he has pulled out a tail feather, my neighbors were watching my birds at the time and saw it happen). I am the only one able to handle him, even my dad has trouble, so I guess by chicken standards he is a great rooster.
    counterWULF, Bonniebooboo and MROO like this.
  7. MissChick@dee

    [email protected] ~ Dreaming Of Springtime ~

    Aug 18, 2017
    Caliente Nevada
    Roosters can only protect from predators ONCE. And then it’s not really protection it’s just sacrifice. A hen could probably ward off anything a Roo could.
    It may buy the hens a little bit of time to hide. But it’s depending on the predator it might kill the rooster first then move on to the others.
    Hens alert to danger. I believe hyper vigilant breeds of hens are more focused on their safety than a Roo who’s focused on the hens.
    A good Rooster is a gentleman when it comes to breeding with the hens. They are not overly aggressive with hen and don’t challenge humans. When it comes to protection from predators...they can only do so much then die.
    counterWULF, Bonniebooboo and MROO like this.
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have to add to keep in context of title. We have seen chickens interact with hawks many times over many years. The majority of the time the hawk does not nothing beyond getting chickens upset. I am betting 99% of the time. Most interactions involve chickens, usually but no always adult rooster giving alarm calls. The flock looks up and establishes visual contact on hawk. Sometime the chickens will walk or run to cover which a function of the warning call quality. Sometimes the adult chickens, especially the rooster(s) will approach the hawk. When chicks involved, the hen will usually stand her ground and give calls either directing chicks up under her or into cover. Those calls differ. I have seen hens engage incoming hawk aggressively although no contact made. I have seen rooster position himself between chicks or juvenile offspring and go to considerable lengths to attract hawks attention. One time I saw such a hawk distracted hawk swoop in at rooster and rooster really wanted a piece of the hawk. No contact realized there. Another instance a Coopers Hawk chased juvenile chickens into shed where combine as stored and rooster ran in behind hawk and flogged it. A hawk getting flogged by a chicken that is not controlled in talons can be damaging for the hawk. About two years ago a male Coopers Hawk got into a pen with a broody rearing chicks. The hens flogging would have killed hawk if I took much longer than the 30 seconds it took me to get in and extract hawk. The hawk was knocked silly and no longer able to defend itself. Same hawk had killed a half grown juvenile chicken in adjacent pen.

    Chickens above mostly American Game chickens. I have American Dominiques and Missouri Dominiques (Fx hybrid between the two former breeds) where only the Missouri Dominique roosters have demonstrated a clear inclination to engage Coopers Hawks.

    There are age and breed issue that are very important, as are time of year.
  9. WthrLady

    WthrLady Crowing

    Jul 24, 2014
    WestOak, Nebraska
    Roos are wired for the attack, while hens are wired for flight. Which is why we don't see great illegal hen fighting matches deep in the woods late at night. My Roos protect all the time and walk away, sometimes limp away, and only one has ever died from protecting the flock from a relentless predator that wouldn't quit. He died, yes, but the distraction was enough to send the girls deep into hiding and bring me out to finish his mission.

    My other Roos either alarm off and send the girls running, and if the threat persists, then they engage. Ask the neighbors ankle biter dog who keeps wandering 300 yards off his own property. His but has been kicked several times.

    The only thing bat crap crazier than an angry Roo is a broody hen! That's some serious crazy right there!:lau
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    The hens not willing to fight is not entirely true. Those in real know not likely to reply to these threads.

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