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"Raising hackles"

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by marilyngurl22, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. marilyngurl22

    marilyngurl22 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 7 week old chicks (6 BO of 3 Easter Eggers) and I have one that has started raising the feathers on the back of its neck when nervous or threatened. It saw a hawk a couple days ago that was way up in the air and raised those feathers. Today, when I went to take them from their brooder for some outside time, it jumped on the edge of the brooder, raised its "hackles" and started acting aggressive. My question, is this indicative of cockerel behavior and if so, does this indicate this cockerel will be a particularly aggressive one? It was ready to get me. If so, is there anything I should be doing to lessen the aggression towards us (21 month old son involved)? Or is there nothing that can be done to help it become more friendly? It's not my biggest chick, but one of the larger ones, and definitely has a lot more red to the comb and wattles so I'm suspicios of it being a roo. I'm ok with having a rooster as long as it's friendly to the people in our home! Thanks!!!
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Sounds like a good possibility of this chick being a cockerel, all right. Yes, there is remedial action you need to be doing to temper the aggression.

    Whenever this chick demonstrates this behavior, firmly take hold of his body, hands clasped around wings, and tuck him into the fold of your arm, holding firmly beyond the point where he calms down and settles quietly. You are establishing your dominance over him.

    Try to do this dominance training often, at least once or twice each day.

    There will be a renewed "testing" when he comes into his hormones around five or six months of age, and you will be kept on your toes. This is the most crucial period with a cockerel, and you will need to be consistent in his training. But this testing period shouldn't last but a couple weeks if you've been dominance training him all along.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    With small child around, I'd not have a rooster at all.
    You might be able to dominate the rooster, but a small child probably won't.
     
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    Welcome! I would really watch this chick; if it's a cockrel, and threatens you IN ANY WAY, he won't be safe to have around with your toddler. I have had birds as young as eight weeks of age start to challenge me, and they were never good boys. Behavior within the flock is a different story; as long as no blood is spilled, normal pecking order issues work themselves out. Mary
     
  5. marilyngurl22

    marilyngurl22 Out Of The Brooder

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    My son is what I'm most worried about, though I'm willing to do any training needed. Azygous, Thank you for the tip on training. That will only send the message to that chick that I am dominate though right? It won't do anything for my son? Or will it help teach that humans are dominant? I'm grasping, I'm sure :)

    aart, I have a friend with a super social roo so I was hoping for the same :/ They were all supposed to be pullets but I've gathered it doesn't always work out that way.

    Folly's place, have you ever had a roo you'd trust around a toddler or are they all a bit dangerous?

    Thanks for all the help and advice!! I was excited that I possibly had a roo, but when he challenge me that way my heart sank. I instinctively knew but wanted to verify that he was likely more aggressive than I need/want him to be. Anything I can have my son do to establish dominance?
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    It takes more brain power than a child usually has to maintain the proper attitude (very calm and suppression of fear) to be dominant to a cockerel/rooster.
    The quick, erratic movements of little kids can set off a chickens fight/flight preservation mode in a snap.
    Any chicken/chick can take out an eye in the blink of one, no kissing of chickens-keep kids faces away form birds, and males are often more aggressive.

    A special rooster is one in many, they're out there, but the odds are against it.
    You might just have to wait, for that special one and for your child to grow up.

    I might be a little paranoid about this, I had cockatiels when my kids were young and my son got pecked in the eye.
    Luckily it only cut the inside of the lower lid, but it bled like h3ll and scared us all to death for a few minutes.
    He needed optical antibiotics drops because of the risk of filth in his eye.
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Toddlers being the animal they are will always be in danger from a cockerel. Their unpredictable behavior is what makes the situation with a cockerel dangerous. It won't be much of a problem until the young cock comes into his hormones and makes him very nervous about intruders and possible dangers to his flock, but after that, you have a time bomb.

    I really don't see any way you can be assured this cockerel won't be a danger to your small son. Since he's going to still be small in stature when this cockerel's hormones "blossom", he is very likely to present a threat. The only way you will be able to safely keep this cockerel is to keep him away from your baby son until your son grows to a height where he will be tall enough that a rooster will accept him as a dominant presence. But even so, your son would need to do the same dominance training you are doing now if the rooster decides to challenge him.

    Keeping a rooster can be a tricky proposition, and if small children are present, a nearly untenable one.
     
  8. marilyngurl22

    marilyngurl22 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you both for the clarity. Especially the part about kissing since that's exactly what I let him do [​IMG]. I'll stop that routine asap! Ok, so I'm convinced. I have these chicks for my son so he grows up around animals and knows where his food comes from (large garden, chickens, and milk goats next year) so it makes no sense to keep a danger around. Thank you both so much!!!
     

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