Lost without a Roo?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BarbiD, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. BarbiD

    BarbiD Out Of The Brooder

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    When I purchased 8 baby chicks at Tractor Supply in the Spring, I ended up with two Roosters. I loved and handled them more than my pullets because they were so sweet and friendly. As everybody matured, one Rooster obviously became the alpha male and the other was his wing man. A few weeks after Baldwin (the alpha male) began mating with our girls, he started being aggressive towards me only I didn't know that at the time. He started coming over and pecking me but I didn't know that was aggressive behavior as I'm brand new to chicken keeping. I would just laugh and tell him, "no, bad chicken!" Then one night he started stalking me and tried to spur me. I kept him for another week wearing high boots and keeping a water bottle with me to spray at him and I was scared but I loved him. He finally pecked my husband, so he got culled. Next up....Caesar (previous wing man, now the only male) started out fine for the first week and a half but as soon as he started treading all the girls...I somehow became a threat again. Two days of threatening me and now he's gone too. I just don't understand what I did to cause them to turn on me. It makes me really sad and both my husband and son especially liked Caesar and was upset about having to cull him. And, of course, neither rooster attacked me when my son and/or husband were around. They weren't, however, afraid of my Pitbull....go figure! When I signed up enthusiastically for chicken keeping, naturally it was for the eggs, manure for my garden, and their bug eating! Not to be terrorized in my back yard :(

    However, my girls seem lost now the roos are gone. They do not go out on foraging walks like they did when we had a rooster(s), they stay close to the house and coop. Every morning when I go to let them out, they walk around squawking loudly like they are mad. When I go outside to collect eggs, they come running at me which kind of freaks me out because they never did that before. Now, I'm afraid of them a little and wonder if they are going to peck me? Will they eventually settle down and realize they do not need a rooster to find them bugs and worms and that every time I go outside I'm not giving them treats to compensate? I want to make sure they know treats are special and they need to be foraging all day while free ranging. They do have full access all day to their feed and two waterers that the can choose from. My hens are laying, but they have never "sat" for me, so I don't think they now think I'm their rooster?

    Thanks for any comments or advice....really confused :)
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Roosters a very important hierarchical factor in flocks. When they're removed - especially when all of them are removed - it will definitely cause an upset in flock behavior. They should return to normal in a few weeks, maybe as long as a month.
     
  3. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote: Its quite simple, you acted submissive to them.
    You let them peck you and did nothing to stop it.
    This is submissive behavior, you became the beta. Not a threat, but an underling to be put in your place.

    This could have been easily fixed by turning the tables on them and dominating them. All you needed to do was pin them on the ground and hold them down for a few minutes. Then every time after that when they approached you, tap them on the back with a stick and drive them away. After a short while they would have figured out you are not to be approached.
    There are long threads about this on the forum. In the end you didn't really need to get rid of them, you just needed to change your behavior towards them.
     
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  4. BarbiD

    BarbiD Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you, CarlF. I did stand up and puff out my chest and I did stamp my foot at the first one. That only seemed to make him MORE aggressive towards me because he went from pecking me to stalking and then trying to spur me. My husband did kicked him when he pecked him and he backed off. BUT everything I read about aggressive roosters here and on other sites was if you win that one match...they keep coming back to try again. I just wasn't up for a barn yard fight every day. Maybe I didn't do enough research???? I thought I did and I spent a whole week looking into it. Trust me...I did LOVED my roos. They were always my favorites. I know I'm a newby and I'm sure I made mistakes...that's why I'm posting. Appreciate your advice and view!
     
  5. BarbiD

    BarbiD Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you, QueenMisha. I appreciate the advice! I took them out on a foraging expedition this evening. They seemed happy :)
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I think you did the right thing in getting rid of them. I would have done the same thing.Retraining roosters can work, but not always.
    Handling, petting, and being friendly with them can often cause aggressiveness for the reasons listed above.

    As for your hens, chickens don't like change, but they'll get over it.
     
  7. carlf

    carlf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hope I didn't come off as too harsh, sorry!

    When you kicked at them & puffed up at them, all you were doing was continuing the fight, not dominating them. And they like to fight!
    By grabbing them and holding them to the ground until the stop struggling and then some (or picking them up & walking around with them until they stop) you are making them to stop fighting you and submit. After that point you maintain the dominance by not hand feeding them, not letting them approach you and if they do approach, give them a tap on the back with the stick and run them off.

    Roosters are a whole different ball game vs. hens. Cant coddle them until they know whos boss and even then you have to reinforce it now & then.
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    We've all been newbies at one time or another, and we've all made mistakes.(I personally don't think getting rid of those two were a mistake) Heck, even the most experienced chicken keepers are still making them now and again. We learn and move on. You don't need to put up with a barnyard fight every day. If you really want a rooster, there are plenty of non-aggressive ones looking for a new home - especially this time of year when people are realizing they have way too many cockerels in their flocks. In my opinion, the best rooster is the stand-offish one. The rooster who moves away and continues to do so when you walk toward him. A rooster that is a good flock leader can be a lot of fun to watch. He calls the hens over when he finds goodies like fresh bugs, breaks up squabbles between hens and will get between a broody hen with chicks and another bossy hen. A couple of years ago, I had a broody hatch out a clutch, and when they were about a week old, I integrated them with the flock. (Allowed them access to the whole coop instead of the half I was keeping them in) The hen decided she needed a dust bath RIGHT NOW so she hustled on out the pop door and immediately dropped and flopped in the dust. The rooster stood guard at the pop door, keeping an eye on the chicks and keeping them inside.
     
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  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Being new to chickens, you made a very common mistake. You simply did not realize roosters are intact male livestock. You tended to treat them more as children, or even dogs. It's something folks do all the time, usually with the same results you got. Can't blame folks, it seems to make sense. Love the animal, cuddle it, bond with it, and it will love you in return. Thing is, it just doesn't work with roosters (or other intact male livestock).

    from the start, I teach my roosters (well, all my birds actually) to respect me. This basically means, move out of my way when I'm around. No approaching me unless I'm feeding treats and calling you. When I move toward you, you yield to me and move away. It doesn't ahve to be a scatter and run scared, just yield. Move away enough you're showing me respect. I start them doing this pretty young, and really don't have many issues after that.

    If a bird does get bold and acts like he wants to challenge, I scare the living daylights out of him. You have to catch those first behaviors, sometimes they're pretty subtle. Basically, any failure to move away from me is considered a challenge. If he doesn't do that, I stomp at him, get vocal, wave my arms, and chase him around for a minute. Not terrorizing him, but making him move away quickly, in a hurry to vacate my space. Once he moves away ten or twenty feet, I quit chasing him and release the pressure. Go back to what I was doing, but keep an eye on him. I don't make it look purposeful, but I make a point to walk toward him frequently after that, giving him plenty of opportunity to yield to me.

    Overall, I want to treat my roosters like I don't even notice them, and they don't notice me. That's what it would look like to a bystander, anyway. In reality we both know where each other is and what we're doing.

    The takeaway from this is....hens make good pets. Roosters do not. Treat roosters as livestock with a job to do, and leave them to do their job. Cuddle the hens if you must, leave the roosters alone.
     
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  10. verrucktes huhn

    verrucktes huhn Just Hatched

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    This is very good information, written well. Thanks :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016

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