Realistic expectations for roo attitude

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Amina, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So unfortunately, my young rooster has threatened me a few times (turned sideways, lowered his head and one wing at me). The first time he did this, it was the morning after I had picked him up to check out a possible sore on his foot. That was the first time I'd handled him in at least a month, and he was quite upset that I picked him up. So maybe he was still feeling threatened from that.

    Another time it was when I touched a hen (which she does not really mind).

    This morning as soon as he saw me walking toward the coop, he started trying to mate with a hen. She ran from him and he let her go. I mention this because I've heard that if they make a point to mate right in front of you, they may be challenging you. I opened the door to let them out into the yard, and he lowered his head and one wing at me again.

    Each time he has done this, I've walked toward him briskly and he has run away. So there have been no attacks (yet).

    I'd like to have a roo that I can handle if necessary without worrying about his attitude the following day. I also like to hand feed my hens regularly, and I don't really want to give that up. Ideally, I'd like to even be able to handle the hens on occasion, without aggression from my roo.

    What are realistic expectations here? What should I be able to expect from a roo? Are these traits that can be selected for, or do I have totally unreasonable expectations? Those of you with good non human-aggressive roos, would you be able to do any of the things I mentioned and not have him try to threaten you?

    I am trying to decide if it's worth it to keep him, or get a different roo for my flock. There are a lot of things I like about him. He seems good with the hens. He does his little mating dance and doesn't chase them much if they don't want to mate. He hasn't damaged any back feathers. He also loves to find food for them. He's good with chicks as well, and finds treats for them just like for a hen. I am in the process of introducing new babies to my flock. They are separated by a fence, but can see each other and interact through the bars. I actually saw him let them reach their little heads through the bars and peck food off of his beak. I was so impressed!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Mine act as if I am not there and will mate in front of you. Awareness of people seems more to avoid being stepped on. Avoidance and aggression behaviors are not what I like to see. I have lots of roosters, more than most have chickens in total, so any behaviors that make my day more problematic are quickly managed against.
     
  3. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What about if you interact with the hens? Like hand feed them or touch them? Do the roos ignore it? Or do you avoid doing those things at least in front of the roos?
     
  4. nvdirtfreak

    nvdirtfreak Out Of The Brooder

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    As soon as I decided that one of my chickens was a rooster, I began handling him more than any of the other chickens because I didn't want to end up with an agressive rooster. I had always said that I would never keep a rooster, but he was so pretty and it just seemed to be a good way to keep the natural order of things - I decided I would keep him unless it started getting out of hand.

    About 2 weeks ago he "rushed" me - a half-hearted attempt, but I wanted to nip it in the bud. So I picked his butt up and carried him around with me for a good 30 mins or so. Also, any time I put any of my chickens back down, I don't let them scramble away from me. Rather, I still hold on to them until they are calm and then release my hands. I can almost hear them saying, "oh, we're done now? Ok."

    I haven't had any further problems with my roo. I have always read to handle you rooster more often if he starts to show agression, and I would suggest this to you. Handle him often, and don't leave on bad terms (ie don't get frustrated because you can't catch him and quit).I feel this is true for any animal whose behavior needs correcting (dog, horse, etc).
     
  5. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the advice, nvdirtfreak. But I do think that aggression is largely genetic, so if he's going to turn aggressive on me, then I don't want to breed from him.

    This rooster's brother was a nightmare while he was around. Left a nasty bruise on my hand when he was only about 11ish weeks old. He would just run up and bite you for no reason. :/ So although my current roo has a lot of good qualities in terms of his interactions with the other chickens, if he turns aggressive toward me then I really do think it's genetic.

    I raised those two marans cockerels the exact same way I raised 3 barred rock cockerels. The 3 barred rocks are about 11 weeks old and are super friendly. The barred rocks are always underfoot, and if I have scratch grains, they try to jump up on my arm or my lap to get to it. It's gotta be a genetic difference, because I treated them all the same. I don't mind standoffish chickens, but I don't want aggressive ones. Just trying to make sure my expectations are reasonable though. Specifically, I'm not sure if it's possible to have a roo who doesn't react to you handling his ladies.
     
  6. nvdirtfreak

    nvdirtfreak Out Of The Brooder

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    Mine doesn't at all, but then again I'm not breeding him. I definitely understand your genetic concerns - my least favorite chickens are my Australorps because they are super mean and lay no good eggs, but everyone else swears by them . I must've gotten bad genes :(
     
  7. Ravennest

    Ravennest Out Of The Brooder

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    My boys had gotten 'bucky' and was quickly corrected immediately, do not let it go. We will put him on our lap...and hug him til he calms down... we can examine him to make sure nothing is physically going on...we lean over him and hug him...listening to his breathing etc...in front of his girls...they watch or sometimes walk away...when he sits calmly...we pick him up and set him back down...he will fix his feathers and walk off.

    Its not so much being seen as a roo or a hen in his eyes...I just insist on being dominant....for their safety and health as well as ours. We still do through hands-on checks to everyone at least once a month unless something looks 'wrong' or if a correction is needed. Maybe I have been lucky with my roos but I haven't had more than a handful of issues of aggressors in the past- extremes end up in the pot- those are dangerous.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I hand feed several pairs (hen / rooster) as they are used as educational tools periodically. See following thread https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/407880/ambassadors-for-the-farm. The realized expectation is to have those birds interact with humans that do not know and that do not know chickens without discord and where humans can see behaviors from extremely close range. Hand feeding is part of regimen I use for training and public uses to get birds to come in close. I even have the birds mate under such conditions without aggression directed at humans. This has been done for quite a while so technique well vetted.


    Aggression has a genetic component although considerable plasticity exists as a function of the environment (your behavior is key). I routinely handle hens around roosters although take care not to rile them. My roosters will act in the defense of hens, especially if hens caring for a rooster's offspring. Most of my roosters will also engage a threat to their offspring. Avoid stressing hens and chicks. Part of that is realized by your learning how to move about birds. I do not grab hens for purpose of petting. With humans and primates in general that is an act indicating dominance and chickens seem to recognize that intent. Contacting birds usually done with back of hands and directed at birds sides. Also avoid looking directly at birds as handling them as that is very clear threat in chicken language. Move slowly and deliberately.

    This I will stress over and over, do not insert yourself in their pecking order. Yes, you can whip them in a scrap and it hurts when they flog but be outside the conflicts. Do not give them a feeling they can manipulate your behavior in anyway by engaging your with aggression. Virtually all my birds when young will challenge me briefly but they get no response. Same birds when multiple years of age are extremely trust worthy and that pattern sets in by time birds about 8 months old. At least some birds are surprisingly capable of learning so use that to your advantage, not disadvantage.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
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  9. LanceTN

    LanceTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your rooster thinks you're a rooster and he needs to compete with you.

    When he acts like this offer him food. Get him to eat out of your hand. Show him you are not competition, but a source of food and he will back down.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Lance, if your rooster engages in aggression immediately before you feed him and sees a relationship between being aggressive and getting eats, you are engaging in a process that promotes aggression. The aggression in the early stages is like a human kicking a candy machine but can develop further into more overt aggression of the type people are scared of.
     
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