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Ornery hand-biting roo tamed with back massages

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by azygous, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    [​IMG]My eight-month old Buff Brahma cockerel Penrod, weighing close to ten pounds, has been turning into an awful tyrant. On three occasions he liberated chunks of flesh from my hand and leg, though biting has been the only aggressiveness he's displayed so far. I got so fed up with this behavior right around Christmas that I took out a contract on him. I offered him as Christmas dinner to anyone who was willing to butcher and pluck him. Lucky for him, I had no takers.

    So today I decided if he is to stick around, I needed to commence with some kind of training program to civilize his behavior. Since he's rarely done the side-step-head-down challenge, and he's never flogged me, boxing with him isn't really called for. Penrod's big problem is he's a biter. However, I noticed that if I slowly approach him from the side, putting my hand gently on his back, he calmly accepts it, and it's easy to pick him up.

    Today I decided to try something. After I slowly walked my hand down his back, I began to gently massage him and he seemed to like it. I then took both hands and massaged his shoulders. He dropped his head way down, almost touching the ground, and it appeared he was in ecstasy. When I stopped, he raised his head and just calmly walked off, shaking out his feathers.

    I repeated this several times all afternoon, and a few times he came up to me and it seemed he was inviting me to give him another massage, which I obliged. The only time he came close to biting me was if I approached him from the front with my hand. It seems that's just an automatic challenge to him. This just might be the secret to his ornery little heart.

    I have a hunch that what the back massage means to Penrod is similar to what a hen experiences when mounted by a rooster. I wouldn't be surprised if he does feel some pleasure and comfort getting his back and shoulders massaged, and then the big payoff is that he then accepts my dominance over him.

    This certainly seems like a rather novel approach to rooster-taming, and I'll be anxious to see if this might be a way to short-circuit his nasty behavior.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011

  2. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    WOW! Salt & pepper work also. Oh yeah, you'll need a crock pot. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  3. Chickie'sMoma

    Chickie'sMoma Songster

    Mar 21, 2009
    Rochester, NH
    i always seem to think that when a roo enjoys a good neck massage along with a little cooing to him at the same time, he thinks it is one of his hens grooming him! give him some smoochie sounding kisses and he way just relax and fall asleep while your 'hypnotizing' him with massaging his back!
  4. Kaceyx73

    Kaceyx73 Chirping

    Dec 14, 2010

    If it works then go for it. If it doesn't, then be prepared to go further. My RIR cockerel started the same thing. He's about 6 months old now, but about 5 when he started biting my hand. Initially, I noticed it seemed to be when I tried to pet him and he didn't seem to like being touched. Of course it escalated to biting anytime I tried to pet one of the hens. First thing, don't let him see that it hurts much. If you are wearing a coat, use your arm and push him back forcefully but not like a hit. If he does continue, offer your hand and when tries to bite grab his neck and hold his head down. There is a bit of the dominance issue at play here, so pay close attention to how you react. You can even mock the wing down stutter step towards him as a display of your dominance. Be prepared for some amusing looks from your flock if you do that...[​IMG]

    My cockerel hasn't tried it much lately, but he does have me and an adult roo to contend with. He will attempt to mate, but the adult roo will tolerate none of that. As for those dominance issues, remember that dominance isn't the same thing as narcissism. Don't treat him like so many parents treat their kids... you know the ones you see at wally world screaming at their little hellions? Dominance, in most animals, is a quiet confidence that doesn't back down when you are in the right. Its your job to show him who the boss is. If I have to call him out for harassing the girls, its with a deep, firm voice... ROOOOOOOO.... It usually results in him stopping, looking up at me, cocking his head sideways, and clucking lightly, as if to say "who me? What did I do?" Of course the adult Mr. Vic usually comes running over to check things out and gives a few deep, low clucks of his own in agreement.

    They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. True even for proud roosters. Roo routinely comes up to me and stays close while I'm around. Still doesn't care to be touched, but he's not so defiant about it. If I'm paying attention to the hens he will TRY to find something on the ground and call them over. He even imitates Vic in that regard, even loves to roost as close to Vic as he can. If I sit on the outside roosts he will come sit beside be, or walk behind me to see if I'm paying attention. I usually do. Another big thing is never be timid, and always look him in the eye. Don't get so close that you could lose an eye, but always look him in the eye, every chance you get.

    It sounds to this newbie that you have a pretty good roo, and probably doesn't need major work on his "people" skills. Just keep up that attitude of dominance and let him be a rooster. Sounds like he'll be just fine.
  5. BantamoftheOpera

    BantamoftheOpera Songster

    May 24, 2010
    Southern Maine
    I love the title of this post!
  6. Baymule

    Baymule Songster

    Jul 1, 2010
    Northeast Texas
    I don't have a roo, but when my DH and I finally build our house on our 16 acres and leave the city limits behind, a ROO is definately on the list. I read with interest all the mean roo posts and what to do about them. Your massage therapist treatment will stay in that space between my ears. I think that shows ingenuity and being tuned into his behavior in such a way that you are able to work within his realm to modify his biting and keep him as a hen hunk instead of a crock pot chunk. good Job!!!!!
  7. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Thanks, Kaceyx73! Great observations and advice! I shall be ready to employ them!

    Yes, Penrod, so far, shows none of the combativeness that his predecessor did. That roo finally was tamed, but not after more than a year of almost daily boxing sessions and flogging each other. Too bad he died not long after he was tamed.

    If it weren't for his biting, Penrod would be a pretty nice roo.

  8. Pg_noobs

    Pg_noobs In the Brooder

    Jan 14, 2011
    My first gamefowl ive raised since a chick started biting when he saw my viens on my feet. I just thought it was because I spoiled him too much. As he got older it got worst he would kick me and he would not let me pick him up anymore. But the trick was to pick him up by his stomach if you touch his back he turn his head around and bite. My dad told me he was going to cull it but i loved it too much so I woudnt let. after he started crowin I had to put him at my grandpas farm with the other birds they started picking on him and then he just kind of stopped biting. I took him home agian and then he got worst so I sold him

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