Newb needs advice on rooster agression?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Ronyon, Sep 28, 2016.

  1. Ronyon

    Ronyon In the Brooder

    Aug 13, 2016
    Hi there.
    I just built a coop/run to rescue a couple of chickens.
    They like the new digs,but one of them turned out to be a rooster.
    In my defense,I am a newb and he was/is really torn up.
    So,to save her(him) from being every chickens pecking boy,we took him in.
    We also took in another low pecking order chicken as company for him.
    All good, and he doesn't really even crow. My daughter calls him Featherweight. The hen is Knuckles.
    Featherweight seems to be bullying Knuckles.
    I attributed him high jacking food or sleeping quarters as normal dominance. Our house rabbits do the same, and they're fixed.
    But lately Knuckles the hen has been hiding her head behind a vertical log sitting in the corner of the coop/pen.
    She can't be enticed out, but she has let my wife pick her up from there,and she has previously been supper skittish with all of us.
    I suspect he is pecking at her head and neck to initiate mating,or asert dominance.

    Should I get more hens? I wonder if it will still be a problem.
    We can only have 4 more chickens,so there is a hard limit.
    I would dump the rooster,but s/he is the reason we adopted chickens[​IMG]in first place.

  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Is your coop and run space sufficient? The rule of thumb is 4sqft coop space and 10sqft run space per bird (and roost space 1ft per bird). Do you have a couple of feed stations? I'm not so sure that what you are describing is over-mating, since not allowing the hen to roost is not something that I would expect. Having said that, its likely that your rooster is young, and their hormone changes can make them nasty little blighters, sometimes. It might be worth having them checked over by a vet to ensure that they are both healthy. Chickens can be remorseless bullies when they recognise sings of illness.

    You could try adding more hens, to take the "heat" off the bullied hen, but I'd make sure that everything is in order to facilitate the process (see coop / run / roost space issues above). Additionally, a rooster can cover at least twice as many hens as you are allowed to have - fewer could lead to over-mating, resulting in stress and possible physical harm.Then there's the issue of integration: here's a few links that may help you devise a strategy.

    It all sounds a bit of a messy situation to be honest. If adding more hens works, then great, but that may only be an interim solution and postpone the inevitable.

    Enough of my doom and gloom. I hope, for your sake, that you manage to make the situation a positive experience. I'm sure other members will add their experience and advice and who knows - I might turn out to be the only pessimist [​IMG]

    Best of luck
    1 person likes this.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Often times roosters do not work out in small set ups. A lot of time they do not work out in large set ups. In fact, a lot of roosters do not work out. Some become very aggressive.

    However, it could also be that the hen is sick and maybe close to the end. What does her comb look like, is it bright red? Or a pale pink? It does not sound like she is active, and allowing your wife to pick her up, when previously she has not, is not a good sign. Generally a healthy hen is hard to catch, active, bright eyed and curious. A sick hen is lethargic, uninterested in the surroundings and does not eat.

    Mrs K
  4. Ronyon

    Ronyon In the Brooder

    Aug 13, 2016
    Thanks for the replies.
    During the day they seem to get along fine,though he might gobble up the tastiest food and my daughter just found him in the nesting box again.
    It's at night when she hides her head. They both bed down on the ground rather than any of the roosts I have provided.
    The coop/run is 20+ feet long and 4+ feet deep.
    It was 8 or so inches of autumn leaves and green waste,but they seemed to prefer the soil in the yard,so I added a payer of that.
    It didn't drain as well, so when it rained sideways as the night, some of the bedding no got wet and stayed damp.
    This morning I drapped the coop in plastic for heat retention/rain protection,and added some spoiled hay and bunny bedding.

    Wide view of the coop/run:[​IMG]

    Chooks on leaf litter:

    Chooks lolling in soil:
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    It may be that what she is exhibiting is learned behaviour from her previous home. It seems like your coop space is perfectly adequate for 2 birds and there is space for her to avoid the cockerel. Have you tried physically putting them, or her, on the roost on at dusk? Maybe, with a little encouragement, she will learn to use the roost.
  6. lomine

    lomine Crowing

    Aug 7, 2015
    Peyton, CO
    Sorry no advise to give on the situation but... What do you mean by spoiled hay?
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    If by 'roost' you mean that branch in about the center of this's too small, put up a 2x4 side side up.
    ....and as CTKen mentions you may have to put them up there a time or two before they get the idea.

    Beware of spoiled hay, it can contain molds that are not good for birds.

  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    You may need to make a choice between keeping just the roo, and giving away the hen, or getting rid of the roo, and getting a few hens. I agree with PP that roos often don't work out in smaller flocks and set ups. I have a single roo with 17 females. Would not want to have him covering less than that. And they have 120 s.f. coop, 500 s.f. run. Wouldn't want a roo in much less space than that.

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