Making Sure Your Rooster Knows You Are Top Dog

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CalgaryFarmer, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Most of my chickens are handled minimally although all handled as chicks even when hen-reared as that helps calm them when they mature. Handling that is done with most as adults usually restricted to roosting time. Exceptions to this involve a smaller group of no more than 20 birds that taken of property for use as educational tools. Those birds are handled extensively with many trained to interact with people they do not know. Males in particularly as juveniles are inclined to peck in an effort to solicit more food offered although care is taken not to have myself or public respond in a manner that involves retreat or aggression coming from the handlers. These birds are used well into adulthood with little trouble. The trouble would be easy to realize by being aggressive or submissive to the more intensively handled birds.
     
  2. izziebean

    izziebean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If your roosters are not showing aggression, I wouldn't just shove them. Raising so many boys last spring, I learned that if you point at them.. and I mean.. POINT AT THEM... stare long into their eyes.. when they are doing any behavior unfavorable.. they will likely stop what they are doing and just stare at you. By unfavorable I mean, I had a few roosters who would just go over and try to peck out the eye of the chicken next to them. No reason. No food around. No trying to be the top dog. They were just mean. One I even named 'mean bird'. If that doesn't work, you can ever so softly touch them with the tip of your finger. In reality, you don't even have to touch them and most of the time they will squawk and jump away like you have just smacked the crap out of them when in reality you might not have even touched them at all. It's the pointing. The touch would be like you are pecking them. It works really well for docile roosters. I've also been able to use that thing.. it's something that characters in movies will do when they are trying to signal that they are 'watching someone else'. They use two fingers and point at their eyes and then switch the hand around to use the same two fingers to point at the chicken. Usually the rooster's head will pop up like 'me?'. I can be as far away as fifteen feet and they'll react. Also, my mottled houdan hens love to escape the pen every day. Don King likes to keep a lookout so he follows them over the fence. When I come out in the afternoon, I will open the gate, snap my finger, and say 'get in there NOW'. Don does his little thing and gets the hens in and then follows after. I think I'm training them like a dog.

    Also remember to talk nicely to them on a day to day basis. Even if you have to scold or point, to them.. that's like a peck from another bird. They understand that language and they really don't take it personal. You can then turn around and talk nice to them.. give them treats.. they'll eat out of your hand.. so it's okay to be stern and then be nice. Roosters can be really cool... especially when your hens escape the cage and a bengal cat is in the yard. Called Don over to show him the cat and he had all of the girls rounded up in less than sixty seconds. He flapped his wings at the cat and the cat sunk down and wiggled her butt. He starts to charge over to the cat. I interrupted and chased the cat out of my yard. He would die to protect them. So, I have respect for him even though he drives me nuts some days!! [​IMG]
     
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  3. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    Interesting read. Our last rooster went from pet to attack chicken, tried the carrying stuff but no success. Do you think sometimes it's as much to do with the temperament of the rooster as anything we do around them? Have people done the same things with more than one rooster but the outcomes be totally different?

    Have a chick I suspect could be a rooster at the moment so hope to have a better outcome this time.
     
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    I've raised many cockrels over the years, and, like donrae, don't try to make them cuddly pets. They move out of my way and never threaten me. I have had some total jerks, and the tasted great! One bantam boy started going for me at eight weeks of age! Some cockrels just don't have what it takes to be a safe useful rooster, no matter what you do or don't do with him, and that shows a lack of brains and common sense on his part, not worth having him around. When he's attacking the huge individual (you) who brings food daily, he's not looking out for hawks and other real threats to the hens. He certainly shouldn't reproduce himself! Selecting for temperament is part of good breeding. Mary
     
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  5. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I raise game chickens. I establish dominance by beating them soundly in a game.[​IMG]

    Connect four for instance.
     
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  6. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I believe this is true. It is especially a crap shoot with hatchery birds since they breed for numbers and not so much for traits. Personally, I don't agree with the premise of this thread at all. (Sorry OP [​IMG])

    I think the best role for a human in the game of chicken life is NPC. Rather than have to fight and dominate for position in my flock's pecking order, I prefer not being a part of it. I also think that it's better to leave the rooster training to the professionals, other chickens. From my experience, when you raise hens and roosters together in a brand new flock, you're asking for problems. The roosters mature and grow faster than the hens resulting in bullying and possible human aggression. You put that same rooster in a mature flock, with or without other roosters, and the mature birds will thump some manners into him.

    When I started my flock, (for the 2nd time) I started with 16 hens and 2 roosters. They were born in early summer so they started laying very late fall. As they matured, the dominate SLW rooster would aggressively mate the hens and attack the #2 Wellie roo for trying. I hoped the flock would endure through the season and things would get better but by the time the flock was into their first spring, I had several bare backs, a couple of bloody shoulder injuries and all my EEs no longer had beards. As the weather warmed up last spring, the aggression in the flock towards the hens and the Wellie roo were escalating. The Wellie, however, was displaying traits I wanted to see. Unlike the SLW roo, he would actually dance, tidbit and fluff the nesting boxes for the girls.

    One day, I happened to be in the local feed store where a couple was looking for a rooster for their mature Jersey giant hens. A light bulb went off in the head and I immediately offered them my SLW. Those big ladies would teach him manners, lol, and my sweet wellie would be free to care for his harem. Well, that didn't exactly work to plan. The Wellie decided since this is now his harem, I didn't belong there anymore. The first time he attacked me, I whooped his butt with a litter rake and named him Mr. Soup as a reminder to him of where this was headed should he want to continue. The 3rd time he attacked me just happened to be the day before I was going to process some meaties so needless to say, his story ended there.

    The girls spent most of the spring and summer without a roo. At this point I added 4 Australorps and lost one wellie, putting the flock at 19 hens. The SLW girls (surprise, surprise) became the bullies, constantly attacking and pulling feathers out of the new girls.

    Another day at the feed store and the owner mentioned a 2 year old rooster he needed to get rid of. He said the guy he got it from claimed it was an EE but he looks more like a Delaware mix. He had him in his own flock and the EE girls took to him. Even when he was isolated to be sold, his EEs would get to the closest fence they could to him and layed their eggs there. I didn't jump on it right away. He stayed in an isolated pen at the feed store for a few weeks before I finally took him. The owner didn't even charge me since I wasn't buying him to eat. He even trimmed his spurs for me. When I brought him to the coop, I set him down in the carrier just to see how the girls would react. As soon as he started to make noise, one of my EEs approached the crate and immediately squatted for him. When I let him out, the girls all started rushing him and squatting. Since then, he's taken to the new girls as his favorites and seems to like thumping the SLW hens. Karma? LOL

    As far as how he feels towards me, he doesn't seem to care. Just the way I like it. He doesn't crow or stretch and flap his wings when I'm around. He doesn't avoid putting his back to me. When I bring them food, he focuses on feeding the girls and ignores my existence. Pretty much all he does is verbally protest when I have to handle or redirect a hen but doesn't mind if I pet them. I call it a happy ending.

    Right now, nearly the entire flock is molting. I'm only getting about 3 or 4 eggs a day and the coop and run look like a pillow fight. I'm so happy my girls' backs are filling in and my EEs are getting their beards back. [​IMG]
     
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  7. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Now, why didn't I think of that? [​IMG]
     
  8. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I go to public, educational events, too. I can pick any random rooster out of my flock, regardless of previous handling, take him out of a cage and set it on a towel on my knee, and expect them to perch there and let strange people walk up and pet them, by the hundreds, without any aggression or trying to fly off. I can bring them inside if there is something wrong with them, and generally walk up to them and pick them up if they get loose in the yard. It's all in the breeding. If you want to have a cuddly rooster that craves human attention, try a breed that has been selected for thousands of years for close human contact, without human aggression. This is a definite trait, and it can be selected for. The only time I might have problems is if they are in molt. They don't like being handled then. Acts of aggression will usually be met with acts of aggression, if they are prone to human aggression, they will challenge you at some point, regardless of how many times you drop punt them or feed them by hand.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I can take a group of 10 full-sibling line-bred American Games, split them into two groups of five, then rear them under two different care regimes to yield two groups distinguishable on behavior alone as it related to interactions with humans. The first group would be either brooder or hen reared where contact and training is minimal that will result in adults that will stand for handling as described above after just a few days of acclimation in the keep. The second group that is hand reared with intensive training will walk freely among a crowd and come to me when called and fly up into my hands when directed to do so. No genetic differences required. Some birds will be exceptional in one direction or the other but averages are very predictable.
     
  10. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can basically catch a hen reared oriental game out of a tree one night, that has just seen me around the yard, and turn him loose in a crowd of people the next day after a few minutes of handling and walk up to him and pick him up, perch him, etc. I can only imagine what I could do if I was smart enough to teach them tricks.
     

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