How do roosters communicate with people?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tienchinho, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. tienchinho

    tienchinho In the Brooder

    Mar 30, 2009
    My rooster is 4 months old. Although we did not intend to have a rooster, we have really enjoyed having him. He is just now starting to bite the hens on the necks and try to stand on them. We have 4 hens. The hens don't seem to be seriously injured. No bleeding, just some loose feathers. They are not laying yet.

    I am somewhat worried about my girls who are 4 and 6. The rooster hasn't tried to bite them. They hold the chickens pretty much every day.

    How does a rooster let us know to back off? He does do a little sideways dance and fluff his feathers at me every now and then. It bothers me for some reason, so when he does it, I hold him and talk to him until he is quiet.

    Is this sideways dance a pre-aggression dance? Is picking him up rewarding him for it? Or is it teaching him to calm down?

    Any rooster whisperers out there who can help me? These are our first chickens so I am still learning.

    Thanks so much!

  2. damselfish

    damselfish Songster

    Mar 8, 2008
    Southwest Missouri
    Hi and [​IMG]

    Yes, the little dance is a pre-mating dance & therefore an aggression thing, i.e. he wants you to submit. According to what I've read on here, you're doing the right thing by picking him up and showing him who the boss is.

    About the kids...yes, he can hurt them. I'm not saying he will, just that you should be aware that he can. I don't have kids myself, so I will let others here chime in on how they manage their children and chickens together.

    Have fun with your chickens!
  3. danielbrown

    danielbrown Songster

    Feb 27, 2009
    Spartanburg, sc
    "He is just now starting to bite the hens on the necks and try to stand on them." He is mating the hens.

    "He does do a little sideways dance and fluff his feathers at me every now and then." This is a challenge. You need to show him you are at the top of the pecking order. Chasing him, holding him down on the ground, holding him, and knocking him off of hens when he mates them. Are ways to show that you are boss. The kids need to learn this too. If they run from him then he will chase.
  4. tienchinho

    tienchinho In the Brooder

    Mar 30, 2009
    Well, this is good to know.

    My kids chase all the chickens including the rooster. They have never run away from any of them, only towards them. I had to stop them last month because they accidentally stepped on the rooster's foot and I had to splint it. He is completely recovered now, but I was worried that they ought not chase him anymore. I'll stop worrying so much about that now and just consider the girls part of the chicken pecking order thing.

    Are roosters just generally more adventurous than the hens? He seems to roam far beyond where the hens go, and get into trouble with the neighbor's dog, etc.

    We are hoping that we will have chicks someday so I want to keep the rooster. Plus he is just a gorgeous living piece of art in my yard.

    Thanks so much for such quick answers.

  5. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    You must keep him away from (and thus safe from) the neighbor's dog- if they're vulnerable to dogs on the loose, you are going to have a very sad day- someday.

    Sorry- didn't mean to be blunt, but I'd hate to see a thread on you losing your friends!

    This is a good topic, though- first time roo owners with kids always wonder...
  6. janinepeters

    janinepeters Songster

    Jun 9, 2009
    Hi tienchinho,

    Our experience with roosters has been exactly opposite that of danielbrown. Our observations suggest they become aggressive with people they are afraid of: those with whom they are unfamiliar and those who appear threatening to them. We've had far more success teaching our kids how to respect roosters, and why roosters do what they do. Your kids need to be involved enough in their care so the rooster will be used to them, but also need to learn not to scare him by moving too quickly and unpredictably around him.

    Chasing, kicking, knocking, or being otherwise aggressive towards a rooster is, in our experience, like challenging him to a fight. And many of them will indeed fight you, and cause nasty injury. We know - we've tried that approach.

    Check out Harvey Ussery's articles on rooster behavior at the links below. Part 2 deals with aggressive behavior towards people. It would be a good idea for you to read it now so you'll be better able to prevent aggressive behavior towards your kids. Don't wait until it happens. Here is the link:

    On the sideways dance: In my experience, mature roosters direct this behavior only at hens and pullets. Young roosters, not yet sexually mature, seem to do the dance not just for the hens but for almost anything that walks: other cockerels in the flock, people, the family cat, etc., as if they are "practicing". I don't think at this point that it necessarily means he wants to mate you or fight you. His body is just learning how to deal with those male hormones.

    good luck!
  7. tienchinho

    tienchinho In the Brooder

    Mar 30, 2009
    Thanks so much for another point of view. So maybe I should continue the ban on chicken-chasing. The girls also hand feed and water the chickens all the time. My youngest will dig in the dirt for the chickens. They are so funny crowding around her feet when she has a shovel in her hand. So maybe that part is good for the child-rooster relationship.

    The bit about the dancing is really interesting. I kind of got the idea that our rooster was trying to say something with the dancing. I guess he is like a small child trying different behaviors and seeing what happens. I'm not sure how he perceives me picking him up when he does it. I am not violent about it, just calm. He just seems so anxious when he does the dance I felt I had to help him somehow to know that he doesn't have to be so nervous. And holding him seemed right at the time. Now I'm not sure.

    ChooksChick: Since the neighbor-dog-incident, I have fenced off the area even though now they are too big now to get through anyways. They seem to have a pretty good memory about things like this though. The rooster has not EVER led the hens over toward that edge of our yard since then. I understand what you are saying though. We lost one hen to a hawk. I tried to keep them all in the covered run, but when they kept trying to get out, we relented and now we all are resigned to accepting some loss due to our free-ranging choice.
  8. maizie

    maizie In the Brooder

    May 25, 2009
    I'm laughing at the thought of your kids chasing the rooster cause theres a day coming when he will chase back.
    And they seem to have long memories for such a tiny brained critter. [​IMG]
  9. maizie

    maizie In the Brooder

    May 25, 2009
    Oops, I don't want to sound like I wanted anything to happen to your kids.
    One of my grandkids has teased my rooster and she can't come go in and out of the pen because the rooster remembers her! [​IMG]
  10. Chicky Tocks

    Chicky Tocks Songster

    Oct 20, 2008
    Benton, Arkansas
    I interpret my rooster's sideways dance as him telling me that these girls belong to him and I best to recognize. He also flaps his wings and likes to act very manly when I'm around. He's gone so far as to mate them in front of me just so I know that they are his.

    When I give them treats, he'll prance around the treats and call the girls to them. Then he'll pick up a treat and show the girls, then he drops it in front of one, never taking a bite of it himself. He wants them to think that he's the one that provided it for them and not me.

    My rooster so far has shown no agression towards me, but he still makes me nervous. He reminds me of a pimp.

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