Normal rooster behavior?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Endangered Slug, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Endangered Slug

    Endangered Slug New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Hello! This is my first real post here (other than my introduction a few weeks ago). I've done a search of the forum but there's so much information to sift through that I was a bit overwhelmed and I couldn't find my problem being addressed so here I am.

    We're raising chickens for the first time. We have three hens: one RIR and 2 black Austrolorps. We used to have a Silver-laced Wyandotte but one of my dogs killed her when she was four weeks old. I was so disappointed because it was our Great Pyrenees who did it. I would have expected one of our other dogs to go after the chickens but not her. Anyway, the new rule is when the dog is out, the chickens are in and vice versa. My other two dogs aren't interested in eating the chickens. In fact our Rottie is the one who alerts me when the GP goes after them and runs to fend her off. Good dog! Of course, he's really interested in getting their treats. [​IMG]

    Because of that and because of the amount of predators we have around here we decided to get a rooster. The only one I could find on such short notice was a four month-old Black Copper Marans, who is gorgeous, BTW. My chickens will be nine weeks old tomorrow* but the lady who sold him to me said their age difference shouldn't matter. I was worried he might try to mate with them too soon**. I'm not interested in breeding but I figure chickens will be chickens eventually. The integration went well and they accepted him just fine. The first week my girls seemed happy to have him around. This week is different. My RIR, Lucy, had been the dominant chicken, but the past few days she's been... depressed. The other two are also pretty subdued but it seems like Lucy has it the worst. She used to be the first to come for treats and now it's like she's barely interested in them. All three walk around as if they were hunching their shoulders looking like footballs with legs and feathers instead of walking upright and chickeny.

    I don't see any pecking behavior nor is she missing any feathers. Rocky (our very originally named rooster) keeps close to them all day long as far as can tell. They free range during the day but sleep in the same coop at night. They spend most of their time under the large hedge or our porch, which provides great cover from eagles and has tons of tasty bugs for them to snack on. All. Day. Long. When they come out, he's not far behind as if he's herding them. When I go out with treats, he's the first in line and is completely greedy. The girls tend to stay away when before they'd take from my hand and sometimes sit on my arm.

    Is this a case of a rooster establishing his dominance over a flock and things will get back to normal? Or is he just a big jerk? I have no problem making chicken fajitas out of him if he's terrorizing my girls. I figure unhappy chickens wont lay as well and then what the heck is the point?

    * My family thinks I'm silly for knowing their hatch date. It's true but I'm counting the days until they start laying.
    ** Chicken pedophilia! Now I really sound silly.
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    [​IMG]

    In your situation I would just leave them be, cockerel and pullets. If he's not physically injuring the pullets that is. They are probably a little stressed from him asserting his dominance. At 4 months old he also needs time to mature and become a gentleman - learning to feed the girls first, etc.
     
  3. CrazyChickensEverwhere

    CrazyChickensEverwhere Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Did you quarentee(Sp??) them. The rooster possibly could have brought in a sickness. Check him for mites lice etc, check with poop for worms
     
  4. Endangered Slug

    Endangered Slug New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Thank you! I was hoping this was the case as I'd really rather not have to explain to my kids that we're eating Rocky. They were already pretty traumatized about Willow's sudden demise. [​IMG]
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:Good sugggestion that ^^^^^^
     
  6. Endangered Slug

    Endangered Slug New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Quote:There aren't worms in their poop (we track enough in the house to be sure of that *blech*). I'll check for parasites. They haven't been scratching though it doesn't hurt to be absolutely sure.
     
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    My first batch of chicks was just 8 pullets. Ooops, one of them was an accidental cockerel. Well, as they grew, and before I realized he was a boy, he was not the dominant one in the brooder or in the yard. But when he manifested himself as a Gonna Be Rooster, the dynamics started to change. The head pullet kept trying to make him behave but nature began to establish itself.

    I was bummed that Hillary was no longer dominant (and so was she!) but other more knowledgeable folks here on BYC assured me it is The Chicken Way for the boys to rule the roost and flock. No feminist hopes for Hillary to stay on top of the pecking order; although she DID stay Top Hen until she was killed by my own dog. (Different story, but that problem has been solved by extensive dog training.)

    Anyway, Carly became Carl and the ladies did not get to be The Boss Of Him. I stuffed my feminist leanings and just accepted nature's way. For a while, the flock dynamics were a little odd, but as Carl matured, he begame the best darned rooster in the entire world. Now that I have many more chickens and lots of roosters, Carl is still dominant. And everybody grew into their respective roles.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm sorry but that does not sound right. I'd be really concerned about a disease, not some chickens needing to see Dr. Phil.

    What I would be concerned about first is Coccidiosis. There are many different strains, some stronger than others. You might Google coccidiosis and see what the symptoms are. Walking around like a football sounds like it might be real close. It could be something else, but that would be my concern. I'd suggest a round of treatment for Coccidiosis to see how they respond.

    Chickens can get immunity to Cocci, especially if they are exposed at a very young age. They never show symptoms but can infect other chickens.

    Some of the behavioral stuff can be due to a change in flock dominance, but walking around hunched worries me.

    Hope I'm wrong. Good luck!
     
  9. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Trust RidgeRunner. Really. Sorry I went off on my own tangent, missing the "hunched over" symptom.
     
  10. Endangered Slug

    Endangered Slug New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Quote:That sounds horrible. They don't *seem* to have the symptoms listed, but you're right, it's better to be safe than sorry. Thank you for the information.
     

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