Rooster body language?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BWchicken, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. BWchicken

    BWchicken Songster

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    Jun 4, 2009
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    My 2 bantam cockerels are 12 wks old and we "hang out" with them a lot, they seem pretty comfortable having us around. But we can't catch them without a chase, so we don't hold them much. The few times (very few) I have had to catch them, once I have them, they are very docile and will let us hold them no problem. I wonder if the scary "chase" part of it will make them aggressive towards us though. Will they get easier to pick up as they get older?

    Also, like I said they aren't physically aggressive to us at all, but I'm unsure about some of their body language when they "greet" me when I first enter the pen. So, by watching their body language, how do you tell if roosters are greeting you in a friendly or unfriendly way?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing

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    It's not about friendliness but dominance, to them. If they drop a wing and start circling you, they are courting and trying to get you to submit. You have to be dominant, which means they can't stand on your head and they can't mate a hen in front of you (shove them off.)

    Rather than chase them, bribe them. Treats at your feet, on your shoes, in your hand.

    Sometimes roosters get aggressive whatever you do; it's in the hormones and genetics.
     
  3. I'm also adding, another way to tell is to watch them as you approach. If they are scratching around angrily, making no noise, watching you out of the corner of their eyes, this isn't a 'friendly' sign. Also, more addition to this behavior would be with picking up little objects, still with no noise, which makes them have a 'busy' look, as if they aren't watching you. Not good behavior. In short, this all means that the boys are trying to make themselves look better to the hens than you are. They are really saying, "Don't mess with me."
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2009
  4. BWchicken

    BWchicken Songster

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    Okay, thanks! Mine aren't doing those things, so I think all is well. When I approach, the dominant one comes to the gate, openly watches me, and makes little cheeps. As I open the gate, he comes toward me (walking a little sideways, but more like back and forth) then when I walk in, he keeps his distance. He stays away until I sit down, then comes up close to my chair every so often to look at me for a bit (looks me right in the eye), then goes back to his business.

    I think I mistakenly confused the back and forth walking as the "sideways dance", he never lowers a wing or circles me. And he doesn't do the silent scratching thing either, he's fairly chatty when I'm around, but he's not loud or aggressive sounding. So I'm feeling better about his body language now. I wish I had more knowledge about it, but I haven't had much info on the subject.

    Occasionally when I'm around he looks slightly puffed up as he walks around, but not sure if it has anything to do with me or not. And he often kind of stands up tall, puffs up and flaps his wings then shakes a little, it kind of reminds me of how a dog shakes off. He doesn't seem to be paying any attention to me when he does that though. Does this mean anything or is he just cooling himself off? (It's HOT here). He often crows right after he does it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2009
  5. Just remember, it's all in the walking. A rooster's walk is worth a thousand words. [​IMG] The constant looking seems to sound like he is just keeping an eye on you. All roosters do this. That would be instinct at it's most general.

    The puffing up probably means he's just showing off. It's hard to tell if I'm not there. For your own safety, don't ever turn your back to him and walk away unless you're watching out of the corner of your eye. I did this with one of my juvinile males last year and he came up from behind and spurred my leg. I'm not saying this has a great chance of happening, just watch out for yourself.

    Wing flapping is a general 'show-off' move. To the hens, and somewhat to you. But it's not really a direct threat. All roosters think they're the best. [​IMG] And crowing can mean alot, but in the case right after wing flapping, that means, "I'm better than any other male here! Notice me!" I wouldn't suggest to challenge this behavior unless you want to start a problem. That's basically asking for trouble. Just make sure he DOES know that you are higher than him in the pecking order. Like ddawn said, push him off females when he goes to mate.
     

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