Rooster behavior- updated

taylynnp

Chirping
7 Years
Jan 22, 2013
82
2
68
Middle Tennessee
I have a cockerel (18 weeks) that has gotten protective of the flock. I had to dust everyone for mites a few weeks ago. And since then this behavior has gotten worse.

If I pick up a hen, he will peck the ground a few feet away, picking up random things like dry leaves that he's surely not interested in eating. He gives me the side eye the entire time and slowly circles closer. If I kick my foot out (not even trying to make contact) he'll run away. I afraid to turn my back on him when I have a hen. I try to keep him separated from me when I do.

Today when I let everyone out of the coop he gave me the eye as he went by and pecked my shoe softly. I chased him down but couldn't catch him.

He also tried to steer me clear of the flock when I was returning this afternoon from the garden.

I really don't want to cull him (he's the biggest and nice type) if I can work on his behavior before he outright attacks me. I understand his need to protect the flock but I don't want a people aggressive rooster.

Is this a dominance issue? What should I do to try to change his behavior?
 
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sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
May 3, 2009
134,079
451,790
2,097
New Jersey
It is a dominance issue. He's a testosterone laden teen ager starting to get too big for his britches. The side eye, the circling, the pecking at the ground are all things he would do to another cockerel/rooster. Kicking in his direction will only reinforce his desire to flog as he would the actions of another male. Try to catch him in a short handled fishing net and carry him around for a while. There is the possibility that he will settle down as he matures, but he may never be trustworthy. He is starting his aggressive behavior somewhat early. If there are young children in the equation, I would cull him in a heartbeat. As far as using him for breeding? Like begets like, and this goes for temperment. If you decide to keep him, somehow you must assure him that you are dominant and NOT to be messed with.
 

taylynnp

Chirping
7 Years
Jan 22, 2013
82
2
68
Middle Tennessee
I'm leaning towards culling now after thinking about it more in light of what you mentioned about the kids. I have a 2 and 5 year old that want to be involved with the chickens.

I carried him around and then held him down on the ground for a bit. I slowly took my hands off him and he stayed lying down for a few mins with me standing there. But a little bit later he did that sideways thing to me again.

I did want to breed this cockerel because his color and type are right on. But mean definitely isn't worth pretty.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,998
20,483
926
Holts Summit, Missouri
I have another system that may also work but requires you have a thick skin. It involves you flat out ignoring him. If he flogs, then do nothing. That means do not attack him and do not avoid. Pretend like he is not even there as he does his worst. Wear jeans and sweatshirt to absorb blows and pecks. Let him wear himself down. If he breaks off, then walk over into his space without looking at him and let him try again if he will. You want him to consider efforts against you are futile like attacking a wall or lawnmower parked in yard. Sometimes aggression when hens are concerned are not restricted to driving you off or subjugating you, rather they are intended to be a distraction as a method to protect hens.
 

taylynnp

Chirping
7 Years
Jan 22, 2013
82
2
68
Middle Tennessee
I just wanted to give an update.

We culled the two top cockerels that were exhibiting the aggressiveness towards me. They were doing it even when was not even close to the hens.

I think I mismanaged them, having too many cockerels around the hens. So we culled the flock down and will see if the two smaller cockerels that are not as mature have a chance to be a little more peaceful with less competition.

If I didn't have the young kids I might have tried working with the aggressive ones a little longer.

Thanks for your help.
 
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taylynnp

Chirping
7 Years
Jan 22, 2013
82
2
68
Middle Tennessee
I have another system that may also work but requires you have a thick skin. It involves you flat out ignoring him. If he flogs, then do nothing. That means do not attack him and do not avoid. Pretend like he is not even there as he does his worst. Wear jeans and sweatshirt to absorb blows and pecks. Let him wear himself down. If he breaks off, then walk over into his space without looking at him and let him try again if he will. You want him to consider efforts against you are futile like attacking a wall or lawnmower parked in yard. Sometimes aggression when hens are concerned are not restricted to driving you off or subjugating you, rather they are intended to be a distraction as a method to protect hens.

I will try that next time. Great tactic if I can pull it off. :)
 

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