Help please! My rooster is attacking the hens.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chicken Little Lady, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. Chicken Little Lady

    Chicken Little Lady Just Hatched

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    Hi Everyone!

    I'm a first time keeper and could really do with some help please!

    We have had 4 pekin bantams all from the same hatch and breeder since they were two weeks old. 1 rooster and 3 hens...well we think!! We also bought 2 Silkie bantams again from the same hatch and introduced them to the brooder with the others when they were all 4 weeks old.

    They are all now 10 weeks old and happily settled into their outside abode! They love scratching around and climbing! They particularly love cooked spaghetti...hilarious to watch! Our cockerel has started crowing so we're obviously now positive he's a boyo! One of our silkies we're not sure on the sex, but we're pretty sure the rest are girlies!

    Anyway, our cock has started attacking the girls, 2 In particular, and holds onto the feathers around their necks and heads and sort of shakes them and pulls them! The girls obviously cry out and one of them, the not sure Silkie and his/her sister Silkie are very nervous and skirt around the edges of the run to avoid him! One of our other pekin girls sometimes pulls their tail feathers or has a peck at them too but not as aggressively as the cock! He's also started to peck my husband and I if we need to get into the coop/house for any reason!

    We have handled them every day since having them, so they're all happy to be cwtched! Can anyone offer any insight into why he's being so aggressive and what we could do to stop this behaviour?
     
  2. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    You don't have a rooster and hens. You have a cockerel and pullets. They are juveniles with hormones starting to kick in.

    Cockerels mature more quickly than pullets. Think of him as a 15 year old boy with no impulse control and no adults around to teach him manners. He's reaching breeding age and the pullets aren't ready yet. Many of us separate the males at this point to give the pullets a break. Maybe you could divide your coop for a while?

    As for biting humans, that you need to stop now. I'll see if I can find Beeskissed's excellent post on rooster boot camp.
     
    bobbi-j likes this.
  3. Chicken Little Lady

    Chicken Little Lady Just Hatched

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    Hi Keesmom,

    Thank you so much for answering so quickly, I really appreciate it! Sorry about the incorrect terminology, haha, it's our first time so we're still trying to get our heads around what's what! We're typical new parents, getting on google for every little thing just incase!

    Homer, our boy, is a massive baby if you get in the run and pick him up for a cwtch, so I don't know where he thinks he's getting his big boy attitude from all of a sudden! Haha! The girls are getting really cheesed off with him. I think separating him would be a great idea! How long would you say to do this for?

    There seems to be a lot of loose feathers over the floor recently too, silly question but do chickens moult or would this be from Homer being a bully? None of the girls have obvious bald spots?
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Best not to cuddle the male....can lead to dominance aggression towards humans.

    It will take the girls another 2-3 months to reach sexual maturity and start to lay.
    Keep boy(s) separate until then...even then it might not be pretty.

    10-12 weeks is about when they go thru their last juvenile molt,
    so good chance that the feathers you are seeing.
    Look for new pin feathers growing in.
     
  5. galean

    galean Just Hatched

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    Bear with me, this is my first flock. I have 4 buffs, and 5 bsl's. One of the buffs is a boy. They are 16 weeks, and the cockrel "carlos" is terrorizing the girls. He grabs them by the neck and drags them around, and slams them on the ground. He doesnt bother me or the wife, but im worried about the other chickens. How much abuse is normal from a rooster? He is snatching feathers out of them.
     
  6. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    While what you are seeing is "normal" for your situation, that does not mean it is acceptable.

    Cockerels mature more quickly than pullets. You have the equivalent of a 16 year old boy in with a group of 10 year old girls. There are no adult birds to whip some manners into him, so he is going to act upon his impulse to attempt to breed the pullets even though they are not mature yet.

    If you want to keep him it would be in your pullets' best interest to separate him until they start laying. If you just have chickens for eggs you don't need a male anyway.
     
  7. Chicken Little Lady

    Chicken Little Lady Just Hatched

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    That you all so much for your advice and experience! As of this morning Homer (our randy teenage boy) has been put into hormonal rehab! Well you know, separated to his half of the run! Haha! He and the girls can still see each other, he doesn't seem to impressed by the new arrangement, but the girls are strutting around quite happily! A couple of them are lying next to the divide mind, so they must be missing him!

    I read an interesting article on cockrell aggression towards humans! It said to imitate the cocks behaviour in a kind of stand off. I.e. Spread your arms wide and step/run towards him and wait it out until he backs down! So if he starts getting a bit big for his little feathered boots out in the garden I shall try it and let you know how I get on!

    Thanks again everyone! Greatly appreciated! X
     
  8. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like a good setup. He can see them but not harass them.

    If he continues to be a butthead towards you try Beekissed's method of rooster rehab. Yours is young so it shouldn't take long to get the point across.

    This is cut and pasted from a post she wrote a while ago:

    I'm going to give you a clue on "rooster speak"....holding him down doesn't mean anything to him. If you'll watch how roosters interact between dominant ones and subordinate ones, there is rarely any, if ever, holding a bird down for a long time when there is an altercation. There is very quick flogging, gripping by the back of the head and flinging him away or getting him down and giving some savage pecking to the back of the head or neck. No holding him down and nothing else. That's a rooster on a hen maneuver, not rooster on rooster.

    Because your rooster is attacking you, you are the subordinate in this picture. You are getting dominated by your bird simply because you are walking where a subordinate isn't supposed to be walking when a dominant is in the area. What you never see is a dominant rooster getting attacked by a subordinate rooster unless there is going to be a definite shift in power, at which time the sub will challenge the dom and win...or lose. So far you are losing and not even challenging.

    If you want to win this battle, you must go on the offensive, not the defensive. He who attacks first, and is still claiming the area when the other guy leaves it, is the winner. Some people never have to go on the offensive because their movements in the coop are so decisive that they move and act like a dominant and a 2 ft. rooster is smart enough to recognize a dominant attitude and behavior...which is likely why he's never attacked your husband. Most men move more decisively than do women and children and they rarely step around a bird, but walk through them.

    Carrying him around also doesn't mean anything to him...it just doesn't translate at all. His environment is that coop and run floor and that's where you need to speak to him, in a language he understands. Because they are quick on their feet and can evade you, you need a training tool like a long, limber, supple rod of some kind...cutting a nice switch from a shrub or tree that will lengthen your reach by 5 ft. really helps in this. Don't use a rake or broom because they are too clumsy and stiff and can put the hurts on the guy when you don't really mean to.

    When you enter your coop, walk with decisive movements and walk directly towards your rooster. Move him away from the feeder and the rest of the flock and keep a slow, determined pressure on him until he leaves the coop. The stick will help you guide him. Then...wait patiently while he gets his bird mind around what just happened. He will try to come back in the coop...let him. When he gets a good bit into that coop, take your switch and give him a good smack on the fluffy feathers under his tail if you can aim it well. If you cannot, just smack the floor near him very hard and fast until he hops and runs and keep at it until he leaves the coop once again. Repeat this process until he is too wary to come back in the coop.

    Feed your hens. When he tries to come to the feeder, you "attack" him with the switch...smack the wall by the pop door just as he tries to enter. If he makes it inside, pursue him with the stick either smacking the floor or tapping him on the back or the head until he leaves in a hurry. Make him stay outside while you sit there and enjoy watching your hens eat. Use the stick to keep him from the flock..just him. Don't worry about the hens running and getting excited when this is happening...they will get over it. This is for the future of your flock and your management of it.

    When the hens have had a good tucker....leave the coop and let him come back in. Go out later and walk through that flock and use your legs to scatter birds if they get in your way...top roosters do not step to one side for any other bird in the flock. You shouldn't either. Take your stick and startle him with a smack on the floor next to him when he is least expecting it...make that bird jump and RUN. Make him so nervous around you that he is always looking over his shoulder and trying to get out of your way. THAT'S how he needs to be from now on in your lives together. Forget about pets or cuddles...this is a language and behavior he understands. You can hand feed him and such later...right now you need to establish that when you move, he moves...away. When you turn your back, he doesn't move towards you...ever.

    Then test him...take your stick along, move around in the coop, bend over with your back turned to him, feed, water, etc....but keep one eye on that rooster. If he even makes one tiny step in your direction or in your "zone", go on the attack and run him clear on out of the coop. Then keep him out while everyone else is eating.

    THAT'S how a dominant rooster treats a subordinate. They don't let them crow, mate or even eat in their space. If the subordinate knows his place and watches over his shoulder a lot, he may get to come and eat while the other rooster is at the feeder...but he doesn't ever relax if he knows what is good for him. At any given time the dominant will run him off of that feed and he knows it, so he eats with one eye toward the door. If he feels the need to crow, it's not usually where the dom can reach him...maybe across the yard.

    If your rooster crows while you are there, move towards him and keep on the pressure until he stops. He doesn't get to crow while you are there. He can crow later...not while you are there.

    It all sounds time consuming but it really isn't...shouldn't take more than minutes for each lesson and you can learn a lot as you go along. And it can be fun if you venture into it with the right attitude....this is rooster training that really works if you do it correctly. This can work on strange roosters, multiple roosters and even old roosters...they can all learn. You rule the coop...now act like it. Carrying is for babies...you have a full grown rooster on your hands, not a baby.
     
    TominWa and lazy gardener like this.
  9. Chicken Little Lady

    Chicken Little Lady Just Hatched

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    That's really helpful! Thank you very much!
     
  10. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    In a natural free range setting there would be a big bad cock bird in the flock who would make it his mission in life to knock the cockerel into next week for usurping the adult rooster's status.

    In fact the cockerel would be lucky to get within 30 feet of the hens. I think that is what keesmom is trying to tell you. I doubt that this young man is old enough yet to father a chick if he did manage to act on his impulse, and if he did manage to complete the act it is unlikely that his chicks would hatch out strong enough to live to maturity.
     

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