How do I deal with a rooster who is scared to death of me?


Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Dec 11, 2009
Colorado Rockies
And please spare me the "eat him" suggestions. Seriously.

Darrell is a very handsome five-month old Black Cochin cockerel. I hand raised him with five other chicks and they all got plenty of attention, handling, and lap time. However, as soon as Darrell began showing signs of being a "he" instead of the "she" I was led to believe, he almost overnight became hysterically afraid of me.

Darrell isn't in the least bit aggressive or mean. He's the flip side of being a "mean roo". He is segregated in the rooster pen with two other boys, and all three get along extremely well. The girls are all in a pen adjacent so they can commune, but not physically interact.

When I come around, Darrell flees, even if I simply walk by. Darrell sulks and glowers at me. If I reach for him, he panics and goes berserk, jumping over stuff, running blindly in any direction, once mistakenly jumping right into my arms. If I manage to catch him, he goes into instant, screeching meltdown, legs kicking, wings flapping, and neck feathers sticking straight out.

I've tried everything - bribing him with treats, talking calmly to him, extended holding, being firm and showing him I'm boss, humiliating him by pressing him to the ground and making him stay still, putting him on his back and rubbing his tummy, stretching his legs out straight and then letting go but staying there with him, then getting up and leaving him there. He remains there for a little bit, then gets up and walks off. But if I try to pick him up again, it's melt-down all over again.

I realize Darrell's hormones are making him crazy, but I have never heard about anyone having this kind of problem with their roo. I understand how to deal with a mean rooster - I successfully rehabilitated my two-year old SLW roo Stan, but I'm at a loss with Darrell. Has anyone ever successfully dealt with a rooster that is this crazy with fear? Please tell me how you did it!
I just got 2 Roos, ones a 2 year old Barred Rock the other is a (dont know if he is pure breed, this is just what the lady said he was) 6 month old Americauna and the americauna is not aggresive at all, I find him most of the time running from the rest of my hens who are all a month or 2 younger and are smaller than him lol. On the other hand He will let me pet him and is pretty cool bird. Now the Barred Rock is the other way, gets along great with the other birds but is scared to death of me also. I keep trying to hand feed Rock(the 2 year old BR) cracked corn and he wont come near me, now Elvis (the 6 month black Americauna) he will run strait to me and eat out of my hand lol.

Wish I could get the BR Roo and my 2 other new hens to loosen up around me. The Black Americauna sure has, I think he is beginning to be one of my favorites. His little muffs on his head crack me up (hence the reasen for naming him Elvis, they remind me of Elvis's side burns).
Adolescents are sometimes like that; that's all. It sounds like maybe you've had a lot of fairly cuddly chickens, which is great, but some of the deal may be that this guy's not quite so cuddly as everyone else. I would just let him be; he should mellow out over time; like you said, he's raging with hormones right now. I'm not sure any species acts right during that time period.
I really don't see the problem. If you are wanting a cuddly chicken well it sounds like your roo isn't going to be what you wanted. I have never had an overly friendly roo, but they have not been terrified of me either unless they were raised by my crazy game hens! If you are trying to catch him and holding him down and flipping him over I would think that would make him even more terrified of you. I would just give him his space and continue bribing him with treats. Eventually he may or may not come around. As long as he is good with the girls and doesn't attack you he sounds like a keeper. He just may be more high strung then most.
Great observations. Yes, I figured rather quickly that tactics meant to tame a mean roo were counter-productive where Darrell's concerned. I have been respectfully giving Darrell his space lately. However, due to the coop and pen set-up, it's necessary for me to take the roosters out of their compartment in the coop and carry them to their pen where they spend the day, then carry them back to the coop at night. So catching Darrell is a necessary evil. I just wish it were an easier chore.

Darrell gets so hysterical when I touch him, I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself the way he goes off. Any more ideas out there?
I am not a rooster expert. In fact I've only ever had 4 of them and that's been just this year. I have one that we call Kyle who is the low roo of the group even though he is just as big as the main roo. He gets picked on a lot and sometimes after being picked on I'll find him cowering behind a small bush or a statue in the yard. I feel so bad for him that I'll go out and give him treats all by himself. I know the situations are different but all I could suggest is give him room and keep treating him well. Hopefully he'll come around.
However, due to the coop and pen set-up, it's necessary for me to take the roosters out of their compartment in the coop and carry them to their pen where they spend the day, then carry them back to the coop at night. So catching Darrell is a necessary evil. I just wish it were an easier chore.

Darrell gets so hysterical when I touch him, I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself the way he goes off. Any more ideas out there?

I have an EE roo that wouldn't come within 30 feet of me -- or anyone -- in his youth, but he's calmed down with age and now comes and watches when I do chores, chatters to me, etc. But he still keeps 5 feet or so distance and doesn't like to be touched. He's a beautiful boy, great roo, just doesn't like being handled. We free range so it's not a problem. He goes in the coop with everyone at night and comes back out in the morning.

With age, your roo will likely calm down some too, but will probably never be a chicken that likes being held. It's not a problem in and of itself. But it is a problem in your specific situation because you don't have the appropriate facilities for him. So either alter your facilities to accommodate, or re-home him to somewhere that can.​
I just posted last night about my SLW roo (Stewy) who flew at my head. I did everything with him that you described - including holding him down. He always kept his distance (which I viewed as a good sign) until last night when I bent over to pick up a hen and he charged from across the coop and launched himself at my head. Now I'm wondering if I pushed him to hard and that he was reacting because he was scared of me or if he's just a jerk? I'm giving him until this weekend. I'd love to say I could rehab him but I work away from home (often clear across the country).

I wish you luck.

How did you rehab your SLW? I know the breed can have aggressive individuals - the SLW's are at the top of the pecking order in our flock! Stewy is gorgeous and good with the flock. Seems that I'm the only one he has an issue with!
It did cross my mind that Darrell could get aggressive all of a sudden. And I do believe it's fear that's behind most mean roos' behavior.

My SLW Stan was aggressive as soon as his hormones kicked in. He took his rooster role seriously since he was the one and only male in the flock at the time. I remember how he was so afraid I was taking his food AWAY rather than giving it to him that he pecked me as I was putting grain in his dish.

I followed all the protocol for taming a mean roo, carrying him around while I did chores, beating him up when he flogged me (but not hurting him, just boxing his ears) and after a YEAR of this constant fighting with him, he turned into a pussy-cat practically overnight! He now stands at my feet and actually begs to be picked up and held! He hasn't so much as looked at me with a challenge for months. I think he finally convinced himself I was no threat to him. Also, I got tired of him de-feathering my girls and have kept him segregated from them. So maybe he feels relieved of a lot of the responsibility he carried. Having two other cockerels in the flock now may also play a role in his sudden personality change.

And you're soooo right on about SLW's being top of the pecking order! My Wyandotte girls are all terrors! Even the new five-month old is turning into a bully!

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