1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Rooster behaviour

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TazGal, Mar 28, 2017.

  1. TazGal

    TazGal Out Of The Brooder

    22
    0
    30
    Mar 19, 2016
    Got a young roo some months ago and he is quite easy to handle. He seems to treat his hens nicely and really looks after them. One of the hens is one that I had several months before he came along. She has always been a cuddler and would run up to me and squat looking to be pet. For some reason I notice the roo does not like me to pet her. If she squats for me and I pet her, he gives me the stink eye and then slaps my hand with his beak. One night I found her roosting in the nest box. Not wanting her to do that, I pulled her out and of course she squatted so I pet her and then placed her on the perch next to the roo. He sidled along until her pushed her off. So I put her up there again and he sidled along to push her off. When I put my hand up between them and told him 'no, leave her there' he slapped my hand with his beak. I had to move her to another perch for the night. Kind of funny in a way, but does this mean that now that I have a roo, I won't be able to cuddle my hens?
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    27,036
    10,170
    616
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I'm thinking that you are on a slippery slope to your rooster believing that he is dominant over you. Sure, a rooster is possessive of his flock, and will not enjoy anyone interfering with it, but he has to accept the fact that you are dominant over him, and can do whatever you like.

    I'd suggest taking some proactive steps to address this issue, as it could become worse and possibly to a stage where you get a daily flogging from him. I failed to notice the subtleties of rooster dominance and both I and the rooster paid for it (him, the ultimate price) - it was down to my ignorance [​IMG]

    Here's a link on a search I've just done for managing roosters. Maybe have a look through them to give you ideas on how to best manage the situation - https://www.backyardchickens.com/newsearch?search=managing+roosters
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,172
    2,118
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I agree with CT. Your rooster (or, I'm guessing cockerel) isn't "slapping" your hand. He's threatening to peck you. You are the human. That makes you the boss. You need to remind him that you are the boss. I truly believe that without some training real quick, his behaviors are only going to get more aggressive over time. Here is some more reading material for you. Read post #18.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1149551/aggressive-rooster/10
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,630
    5,386
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Agreees with both CT and bobbie.

    Here's the post, it's excellent.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1149551/aggressive-rooster/10#post_17976693

    How old(in months) is the cock/erel and how long have you had him?
    How old are the female birds?
    She's not asking 'to be petted' ....she's 'submitting' to you.

    She may not be submitting to the male so he doesn't want her on the roost and that's why she's roosting in the nest.

    There's a lot of chicken society hierarchy(pecking order) going on here.
    Knowing how many birds total in the flock and their ages and genders,
    as well as your goals for male, might offer other clues.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  5. TazGal

    TazGal Out Of The Brooder

    22
    0
    30
    Mar 19, 2016
    Thanks everyone for the replies. I'm new to this so I'm eager to learn. A year ago I got my first hen from friends. I was to get 5 because they were downsizing but I wasn't totally ready but this one was being picked on badly so she came to me a month before they other 4 arrived. They are R.I.s and were 2 yrs old at the time. Within a months lost two to predators...we have coyote,fox, eagle and hawk. After a couple more incidents in which I managed to chase off the predators it was suggested to get a roo. A woman I met breeds/sells cockerels? roosters? (what is the difference?) and only sells friendly well mannered ones. They are hand raised/handled from the start. When I went to see him he was so docile. He is a cross between Americana and Blue Maran. I can pick him up and carry him around and he's quite quiet. I got him in Sept. and I believe he hatched in Feb or Mar. if I recall so he is just reaching a year old. His spurs are just stumps about 1/2" She suggested when they grow out I keep them clipped and showed me how. So there I was was 3 hens and Belvedere and then lost another hen while I was trying to build a new enclosed run. I was worried about going into winter with only two hens and Belvedere thinking that isn't a lot of bodies in the coop to keep warm. Couldn't find any R.I. available and ended up with 3 little brown bantams. I think they are wyandottes in October and they were just a few months old. Belvedere took one as his favourite girl. He's good to her though...looks odd as he is so big and her so small she disappears under him. The first cold night we had he sat on the perch with his wings out and hanging down with the little brown hens under his wings. I asked around if this would be a problem with the size difference and people told me no. Then I got 4 young R.I. in December because I want the hens for eggs and the little bantams lay such tiny eggs. The four new RIs also just under a year old at this point. So far I'm not seeing any girls with bare patches or anything. He dances around them and if they aren't interested goes and dances around another. If someone can't get in through the crowd to get a bite of food out of the food dish, he'll lean in and pick up a piece and lay it in front of the hen and do his 'here's food' grunt. If a hen is picking on another, if it gets really heated he steps in between them and stops it. He'll bop the aggressor on the head. Jessie is one of my original ones...the first one. So her squatting is being submissive hahaha...colour me embarrassed.Guess that explains why he doesn't like me 'petting' her. I had a suspicion about that. I also had her in a dog crate in the house for a month in Jan. because she was eating eggs and I was trying to deal with it. That issue has now been resolved with homemade roll away nest boxes. When she went back out to the flock she was of course at the bottom of the pecking order. They have a coop which isn't large but they only sleep in it as they spend all day in the enclosed, attached run. So I'm wondering, is it likely that as he matures he'll change? I certainly don't want to deal with a nasty fellow but the predator situation here has me flustered. The last hen I lost was injured so horribly but still alive and I had to perform my first mercy killing. I was a mess for two days after that because killing does not come easily to me. So far Belvedere seems like a gentleman and I like him. So he and most of the hens are about a yr old and 2 hens are 3 yrs old
    .[​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,630
    5,386
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Semantics maybe, but can be important communication terms when discussing chicken behavior.
    Female chickens are called pullets until one year of age, then they are called hens.
    Male chickens are called cockerels until one year of age, then they are called cocks(or cockbirds or roosters).

    He sounds like a pretty good bird...... he's about a year old and you've had him for 6 months.
    How did he and Jessie get along before you had to bring her in the house?
    Were you able to pet her without him getting upset before the egg eating isolation?
    Does she let him mount her?
     
  7. peaceisgreen

    peaceisgreen Out Of The Brooder

    159
    20
    46
    Mar 23, 2017
    michigan
    I have a very protective and large Brahma rooster he will protect everyone in his flock even the rabbits! he used to like to come up behind me while I was handling the hens or rabbits and give me a good kick I've never been actually hurt by any chicken no matter how big or strong so to show him how displeased I am instead of kicking him back or "being dominant" over him I catch him(because hes so big and slow) pick him up and pet him for a while and he hates it so much he will not actually kick or peck me anymore he still likes to make a fuss when I come around though with the side stepping and kicking up of stuff
     
  8. TazGal

    TazGal Out Of The Brooder

    22
    0
    30
    Mar 19, 2016
    I'm trying to think back but I think he was okay with her before the egg eating isolation. Until recently he seemed only interested in mounting the little brown bantam that was his favourite. I did once or twice see him mount one of the new RI's but I haven't seen him mount either Joan or Jessie (the two originals that are 3 yo). However, the bantams are skittish little birds and I can't touch them unless I get them at night when they are on the roost and sleepy. Once reached in to collect eggs and didn't see the little brown girl in there and she came out shrieking like a banshee. He was in the coop so fast and giving me the stink eye but didn't do anything. However, same little hen is getting a bit broody the last week and I had to kick her out of the nest a couple of times. She muttered to herself a little but didn't make a huge deal. When I tried picking up one of the new RI's they start off shrieking and he's right there at my feet looking up and giving me the eye but then they settle and get quiet and then he seems to relax. So clearly he's protective of his girls. The two instances where he slapped my hand happened within the last two weeks and I got a little worried it might be a sign of something because I've read stories where nice roosters turned nasty when they matured. I want to nip this in the bud and do the right thing because I love this guy. He's very handsome and he is okay with me picking him up. When I saw him at the breeder I walked around with him in my arms while I talked to the breeder for almost an hour without him even squirming. But I will confess that with this cold wintry weather I haven't picked him up much or hang out in the run. I'm kind of in, get the food and water, clean coop and get out.Should I try to maybe spend more attention on him? Maybe he feels I'm ignoring him and paying too much attention to the girls so he's feeling jealous/neglected? Jessie is the only one I 'pet' because Joan has never liked being handled and the other girls are still new to me and skittish so it's hard to even catch them to pick one up. Jessie comes up to me all the time for attention. Maybe he doesn't like her doing that.

    Thanks for the lesson in semantics. I do want to learn all this stuff and I've been trying to read up on things online but have a lot on my plate these days so time to read is short. So any help or suggestions is definitely welcome. I'm still laughing at myself having got the whole 'petting' thing all wrong. :) Will have to tell my husband so he can have a good laugh too. Once the weather is good I'll be letting them out of the run to roam a bit and we'll see just how that goes. The run is nice and all, I even have a compost corner for kitchen scraps and an evergreen branch to pick at and hide under (still need to put together a nice dust bath). I even treat with dried mealworms occasionally (yes, they're spoiled and my eggs cost a fortune). But I'm sure they would be happier when they can get fresh vegetation and bugs. At the very least he'll keep them together vs having some wander off alone to the edge of the woods which happened in the past. I've been considering the possibility of a portable fence or building a chicken tractor if I have to. Fingers crossed.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    32,630
    5,386
    556
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I didn't read this whole post but the bolded part is a sign of a good cockbird.
    Not sure paying more attention to him would help....think's it's her coming back in to the flock after having been gone.
    I'd just continue as is, stay calm and cool and he should adjust.

    Watching as they go to roost might offer a clue, just make sure she has a separate roost to sleep on, don't force him to roost next to her.
     
  10. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

    230
    58
    86
    Nov 28, 2016
    Douglas County, Minnesota
    Others will surely chime in and correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm in my first year of this so not an expert either, but when one of my roosters behaves with any sign of aggression towards me (sideways dancing at me is the most I see anymore, though they have grabbed at my pant legs before), I do one or more of the following:

    1. Chase them a short distance (really, just walk at them, making them move away from me)

    2. Grab them, pick them up and hold them for a bit

    3. Grab them and gently press them down to the ground

    Two of those are ways chickens communicate to each other who's in charge (chasing, and holding down). I think all three get the message across.

    I think I should should be doing these things more often, to drive the point home for good, that I am the top of the pecking order, period.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by