Mating dance or dominating?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MilesFluffybutt, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. MilesFluffybutt

    MilesFluffybutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello BYC,

    Recently, my 1.5 year old rescued rooster, Miles the Silkie, has started doing what I thought was the mating dance, but I'm starting to wonder if it's actually him trying to assert his authority.

    Last weekend, I had a visitor over, whom he has met before, and almost immediately after she got out of her car, Miles dropped his wing and side-shuffled toward her, wing first. He misjudged the distance and smacked into her leg. (It was actually quite funny. He and my friend are okay; both are embarrassed.) He was perfectly silent through this whole bit. He didn't try again after that, but he paid her a bit of attention, which she ignored.

    This evening, my roommate's friends and their young kids popped by, and the kids, being the loud, rambunctious asshats they are, triggered this same behavior. I scooped him up, walked him around a bit and put him to bed early.

    I noticed very similar behavior when I let my five week old chicks out to play and for a mini-meet n' greet. In the case of the chicks, he growled/grumbled a little bit after the side-shuffle and stared them down. Frankly, the chicks weren't interested. They just carried on investigating their little yard.

    I think I introduced him and the chicks BEFORE the weekend incident. So I'm not sure if maybe that triggered this odd behavior. He's never done this to me or my roommate. So what do you think he's doing? Trying to mate or trying to dominate?

    (Frankly, he can run off all the kids and unwanted visitors he likes. I'll put up a beware of rooster sign and call it square.)
     
  2. Elyrian1

    Elyrian1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ah the wing drop side shuffle... Says look at me girls I'm hot stuff I can dance! Haha! Sounds like a lovesick rooster to me. ;)

    Dominance is very much feet forward flying through the air with spurs coming at you...
     
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  3. MilesFluffybutt

    MilesFluffybutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Awe! Poor little Fluffybutt. What I hope are ladies will be available soon enough. (I'm trying not to be jealous, btw.)
     
    Mace Gill likes this.
  4. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dominance and could be trying to impress,both mean same things and he needs to stop,this behavior isn't acceptable and needs culled if he cannot be fixed,he could hurt young kids,and you.
    Flogging the leg is not because he thought he was off a bit,he was showing aggression.
     
  5. MilesFluffybutt

    MilesFluffybutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My gut said it was dominance/self-defense with the kids; they were being mega assholes that started chasing and screaming at him. If I had caught on to what they were doing sooner, I would have booted their asses myself. (I don't like kids, and I especially don't like kids that treat animals and other people's property with such disrespect.)

    That said, how do I non-violently 'fix' him if this becomes an actual problem? I won't hit him with a shovel and I won't cull him. He can live in the bachelor coop.

    The bit with the leg crash, though, that was purely accidental and in no way to me indicated any sort of aggression. The visitor stopped short, and he, not noticing because he was looking downward, crashed into her calf.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes. It was a show of dominance. No. It's not cute, not acceptable behavior around people, even obnoxious little ass-hats.

    Why Miles did this was because his world was suddenly knocked out of kilter, both by the invasion of new, strange chicks and strange, new people, and the obnoxious behavior further aggravated his sense or order.

    Roosters are a lot like some humans who display bad behavior when they feel insecure in situations they feel they haven't got full control over. The objective in disciplining a rooster that is behaving as Miles has, is to let him know the behavior is not acceptable while at the same time taking steps to help him bring some order and security to his world so he will not feel so insecure and mistrustful. It's really not as difficult as it sounds.

    Just as you would discipline other animals, you discipline a rooster's bad behavior immediately when it happens by immobilizing him until he calms down. Roosters are a lot smarter than they let on, and they learn very quickly. The way you help him gain security and trust is to keep ass-hats away from him. If he behaves badly with you or other members of the family, you need to examine what it is in the humans' behavior that is triggering mistrust.

    I discovered with my roosters, it was my abrupt moves when doing chores near them that upset them and caused aggressive behavior in retaliation. When I slowed down, the roosters calmed down.

    Since then, I now go out of my way to ignore my rooster and give him all the space he needs to fulfill his role in the flock. By showing him I trust him, he returns the favor my respecting me. That's not to say it's not necessary to discipline him from time to time when he behaves like a little jerk.

    To sum up, to have a gentleman roo, requires a trusting relationship with him that is a two-way street. Roosters respond better to firm discipline than they do to arbitrary punishment. Reserve "the boot" for football, not your roosters.
     
  7. Fire Ant Farm

    Fire Ant Farm Get off my lawn Premium Member

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    VERY well put. I have multiple roosters (keep several "family" flocks). A few are quite protective of their flocks/families. I have learned to move slow, to be mindful of the angle of my body, and to avoid getting into their space around bed time (when I've learned that they're more likely to overreact to something - at least mine are like that).

    I will not tolerate a "man hater", and when choosing which cockerels to cull, one who has the tendency to bite or peck first is top on the list, but with chosen flock leaders I am very aware that I own part of the issue as well.

    Finally - get a Super Soaker and keep it loaded. It does a great job of redirecting a rooster you want to keep who is posturing/acting like a jerk without harming him or putting you at risk. I have a rooster who was attacked by dogs while protecting the rest of the chickens (he led the dogs out of the yard), and in the process of his long recovery, he became a bit overly familiar with me (because of his daily wound care) and when he moved back outside, he was also jumpy, and would rush the side of fence when I walked by. I didn't like it, and felt that if I permitted it, it could escalate. So, Super Soaker.

    There is nothing like the look in their faces when they get hit square in the face with a big blast of water - shock and something that looks a lot like embarrassment. Immediate redirection. He quickly learned to recognize the super soaker and would turn around and suddenly find something VERY interesting to peck at on the ground when I even picked it up, and then it just wouldn't happen at all - can't remember the last time I even had to start bending down for it. I was committed to keeping him, and this helped a lot.

    FWIW...

    - Ant Farm
     
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  8. MilesFluffybutt

    MilesFluffybutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both for sharing your experience and knowledge. Against my better judgement aka feline and canine behavioral training, I was foolishly hoping he was simply lovesick and lonely. I have enough behaviorally-challenged critters in my care so what's one more, right?

    Like a newbie chicken owner (or jerk, whichever), I never gave any thought to how sensitive chickens could be. If he were a dog or a cat exhibiting these behaviors I would have immediately determined it was the environment and sorted out the triggers.

    And given the asshat invasion, the chick introduction and the two additional stray cats making themselves to home in my garage (to be re-homed soon), yeah, his world is completely off its axis. I can't blame him; it's been a long two weeks. We're both over it.

    Miles has been an absolute gem to myself and anyone he sees regularly, which includes the neighbor's kids and the UPS driver. He's treat motivated so I hope a Super Soaker isn't necessary.

    I do wonder, though, how this assertive behavior will translate to the flock. He's been a lone rooster since October when he 'magically' appeared on my lawn. Who knows until it plays out, right? In the meantime, I'll keep the bachelor coop warm.

    TL;DR
    Newbie chicken owner ignored animal behavioral cues in favor of emotional hope that roo is lonely, not jerk.

    Thanks again!
    Jen
     
  9. Fire Ant Farm

    Fire Ant Farm Get off my lawn Premium Member

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    You know, I have an issue with neighborhood cats (not strays, just neighbors who let their cats roam - argh) in my yard. The chickens are secure from them, but it riles them. I can tell when they've been around, the roosters are jumpy. We have hawks as well. I give them some leeway to be jumpy and move gently because they spend all day making sure the hens are safe. :thumbsup
     
  10. MilesFluffybutt

    MilesFluffybutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live on a mountaintop in northern Vermont, and I must say I am a little bothered by the lack of wildlife. I haven't seen a hawk, fox, fisher cat, coyote or bear in years. Literally, years.

    My problem is with loose dogs and stray/feral/abandoned cats. Miles has been very good about putting the runs to the stray cats, but it is definitely a stress factor. I did catch him and one of the stray cats digging up my newly planted garden together. Odd sight. Wish I had a camera.
     

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