Is this normal or aggressive?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mirandalola, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. mirandalola

    mirandalola Out Of The Brooder

    81
    1
    36
    Oct 13, 2016
    NorthEast Texas, USA
    I have a new flock of one rooster and a handful of hens. This rooster decides every now and then to jump on top of a hen and pull out a few feathers of her neck as he jumps off. Is this normal, establishing his position at the top of the pecking order, or is he being aggressive?
     
  2. tony30536

    tony30536 Chillin' With My Peeps

    109
    4
    121
    Oct 8, 2008
    Ellijay Ga.
    Normal....that is how baby chicks are made
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    10,220
    3,276
    461
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    He's engaging in normal mating behavior. That's how a rooster positions himself so he can transfer sperm to a hens cloaca to fertilize the next several eggs she will lay. Securing her neck with his beak helps him to balance so he doesn't fall off.

    Watch and you may see some epic "fails" such as losing his balance and doing a somersault over her head or falling off sideways. It takes some cockerels a good while to improve their technique and it can be the source of much mirth and hilarity.
     
  4. mirandalola

    mirandalola Out Of The Brooder

    81
    1
    36
    Oct 13, 2016
    NorthEast Texas, USA
    LOL! I realize that roosters mate with hens in a fashion similar to this, but I didn't think that they could do the deed that quickly! This guy jumps on and it's as if the hen's back is a trampoline, he's right back off just as soon as he touches her back. Also, he seems to do this when I scatter treats on the ground, like he's chasing them away so he can have first pick of the treats.

    The first hen he did this to, he was so rough that he pulled the SKIN off her entire back of her neck. She's still a chick (6 weeks old), I don't think he was trying to mate with her.
     
  5. mirandalola

    mirandalola Out Of The Brooder

    81
    1
    36
    Oct 13, 2016
    NorthEast Texas, USA
    OK, so now I've gone and educated myself and I can firmly attest this rooster is not mating with the hens. I know chicken reproduction is a fairly quick act but he's not even on for that long at all, and his tail stays high up in the air the entire split second.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    19,580
    7,590
    546
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    You might want to separate him from them if he's being aggressive enough that he's tearing their skin.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,426
    299
    198
    Jul 4, 2014
    Maine
    I agree with Lazy Gardener; he should be separated. How old is he and how old are the pullets/hens?
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    10,220
    3,276
    461
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    After you've supplied more detail, it sure doesn't sound like he's mating. I have a few very aggressive hens, and when they hate another hen, they engage in the kind of behavior you're describing. Jumping on the back and wailing with their beak on the head and neck of the victim has nothing to do with mating.

    I wouldn't keep a rooster like that.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    34,557
    7,767
    596
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You say hen and rooster......implying they are over a year old......but, how old are they?
    'Cause, sounds like young cockerel behavior to me.

    Semantics maybe, but communicates important in formation when discussing chicken behaviors.
    Female chickens are called pullets until they are one year old, then they are called hens.
    Male chickens are called cockerels until they are one year old, then they are called cocks(or cockbirds or 'roosters').
     
  10. mirandalola

    mirandalola Out Of The Brooder

    81
    1
    36
    Oct 13, 2016
    NorthEast Texas, USA
    Rooster is full-grown, I don't know the age for sure, but I'd be surprised if he's under a year old.
    My "hens" are mixed ages, from 6 weeks to over a year. After I saw his aggression I separated the 6-week-olds but the 4-month-olds are still with him. I thought that it was the tiny size of the 6-week-olds that made them his targets, but after I took them out I saw him attack a 4-month-old as well; she fared a lot better than the little ones did!

    He was at the bottom of the pecking order in the home he was in before. He's only been with me for a week today. I can't really blame him for not knowing how to socialize!

    If I separate him from the pullets and hens, in separate but joined pens (so they can still see and talk to each other through the fence), then put him back in with the others after a week or so, might that improve his behavior?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by