Rooster/Cockerel Behavior

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PunkinPeep, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have never raised males before, and i would like some insight.

    I took on some unwanted RIR cockerels from a friend a few months ago. I did this, knowing i would pick one to stay on as the big 'dog' of my flock of growing pullets - and i would thin out the the flock by sending the others to 'camp.'

    My main concerns are, of course, that my rooster doesn't attack me and is nice to the girls. I want him to protect, crow, and be polite. [​IMG] I assume that's what everyone's looking for.

    The three oldest are right at sixteen weeks, and i'm planning to send 2 of them to 'camp' after Christmas.

    The biggest and brightest has become the alpha already, and i've felt comfortable with allowing him to remain the alpha. He has responded well to behavior modification from me (picking up and holding his beak when he pecked at me, etc.), and i have not seen him be unkind to the pullets. The other two, i have seen, more than once, pulling pullet feathers and being generally rude. . . not to mention, they are also rude to me.

    Then last evening, i saw the alpha, grab hold of one of the other two cockerel's back of the wing (and i'm pretty sure he had more than just the feathers) with his beak - and was pretty much riding this guy around the coop - with lots of squawking and carrying on, of course - you can imagine! [​IMG]

    So i broke up the scuffle, and everything was back to normal.

    But this makes me a little concerned about the alpha. But i really don't know what's normal - or when i should intervene and when i shouldn't. I still haven't seen him be mean to the pullets - except for sometimes being a little possessive about his current scratching area in the run. Other than that, i have seen what i perceive to be good signs.

    I would love any rooster insight you could share with me .... the big day is coming. I plan to separate the 'campers' in about 10-ish days, and i want to be as sure as i can be about the right pick.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You have a pretty good idea how your current alpha will act, although be aware he can change later. You really don't have any idea how the two roosters lower down will act if the alpha is not there to discipline them. From what you describe I's stay with the current alpha. I think your odds of getting what you want are better with him since he seems to treat the ladies OK even as a teenager. They usually mellow out in their treatment of the ladies after they get out of their teens, but you never know.

    As far as the squabble between the roosters, I'd consider that pretty normal behavior. The top rooster will occasionally remind the others that he is the top rooster.
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    He was reminding the other cockerel that he IS the alpha. Not a bad thing in my book. I'd worry about his behavior with humans and the hens, not how he treats the other cockerels.
    I don't handle my roo, except for his health checks and tending to his medical needs. He steers clear of me because he knows I rank higher than he ever will in the pecking order. The minute he forgets that, he will be reminded; just like your alpha did with his underling.
     
  4. JestersEye

    JestersEye Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with what the other posters have stated. In fact, since you know the other cockerals have some bad habits, it's possible that one did something unkind to displease the alpha roo, which resulted in the attack. It's his job, afterall, to keep order in the flock, and that involves dolling out repurcussions for any transgressions.

    Your alpha roo sounds like a winner to me, but he may go through a period of aggressiveness toward you as he continues to mature. However, if you continue to work with him gently (picking him up, as you have been), I think he will mellow out again once he's over the "cocky" stage. That has been my experience with our biggest roo. As long as he's good to the gals, you can work through the rest with gentle reminders and patience! [​IMG]
     
  5. killer_diller_chick

    killer_diller_chick Out Of The Brooder

    How are we defining " Good with the girls"? What about style of mating. We were watching the Rooster the other day as we were introducing a new hen. He was so nice as first. I think he was being tricky. He acted like he had something to eat when she walked over to check it out he grabed her by the side of the face and jumped on her. After he finished his business she ran over to hide behind us. He is young(in his first year). I though it was a little rough or is it normal?
     
  6. JestersEye

    JestersEye Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That can be normal for some roosters, while others dance around and romance their ladies quite a bit. I have two roosters, one Orpington and one Andalusian. The big Orp is obviously in charge and can be a bit rough, particularly with a smaller Andalusian hen. The Orp hens seem fine with his style, though, even if I consider it a bit "self-centered" for my tastes. [​IMG]

    The Andy roo is a complete gentleman and is all about the wooing, however. I love to watch him in action! What he lacks in braun, he makes up for in technique. It really depends on the rooster... Perhaps different breeds have different priorities, with regard to appropriate mating behavior. I still respect our Orp roo, because he's a good protector and provider for his flock; often calling the girls over to enjoy a tasty morsel he finds for them. I think he's just doing his thing the only way he knows how.

    As with any teen boy, they tend to become more proficient and courteous with time. Experience will probably teach them how to attract the girls without dominating them, and the hens will become more accustomed to his charms over time, as well. That's been my experience, for the most part. It can become a male dominated "free-for-all" if you have too many rough roos living together, however; which I used to think was normal growing up. It was so bad, you couldn't tell mating from fighting! If you keep the number of roos down to only a few, they should learn to care for their hens more gently as they mature.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  7. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    'Good with the ladies' right now is what i'm hoping will translate to kind mating later on. My pullets are only about 13 weeks, so it's way too early to tell, and i don't want to keep this many teenage 'cocky' males around long enough to know for sure - though that was my original plan.

    I do have three more boys who are just 11 weeks - also unwanteds from someone else's hatch - so i guess if my current alpha turns out to be abusive, i can hope for better results with one of the younger roos. Though i am liking this one's personality pretty good and hoping he'll work out. I could keep one of the younger roos - i have 20 pullets - but i'm hoping to score someone's unwanted buff orp boy (or just order one) so i can have pure buff orp chicks.

    My pullets are buff orp, rir, and barred rock. That's more information than you asked for, i know. [​IMG]

    When we chicken lovers get to talking about our birds, we just can't seem to stop. Or maybe that's just me. [​IMG]

    Thanks all for the helpful advice. I think i will plan to hang on to him like you said.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'd still keep the alpha but you have to realize the rooster will probably be ready to mate before the pullets are. If you have sufficient room for the pullets to get away about all it will amount to is a chase and escape. If quarters are a bit tight where the rooster can corner them, he will try to force himself on a pullet and she will resist. Some people on this forum consider this to be bad, mean, cruel behavior on the rooster's part, but I don't. I consider it instinctive behavior. When the pullets mature enough to accept the rooster's advances, things will probably quiet back down again. In my opinion, a bad, mean, cruel rooster is one that injures a hen when she cooperates or is intentionally vicious when not mating.

    I have pretty young chickens, around 30 weeks old. I still need to further reduce the number of hens to get to my permanant laying/breeding flock. Although all mine are laying, I still have a couple that resist the advances of the rooster. These are the ones I will remove next as I want fertile eggs and I don't want uncooperative hens disturbing the peace of my flock. I expect both the rooster and the hens to perform their duties as they should and help maintain the peace, tranquility, and fertility of my flock. I believe a whole lot of roosters have gone to that great crock pot in the kitchen more because of the pullets behavior than because of the rooster's behavior.

    Just my opinion.
     
  9. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:[​IMG]
    A rooster's gonna do what a rooster's gonna do. I've yet to hear of a hen needing treatment of PTSD because of the advances of a rooster. When my flock was very young and the boys hormones hit, the pullets got real good at outsmarting/out running them. Now those same hens look to the roo for their every need.
     
  10. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow! Thanks for that information! I had assumed that the rooster wouldn't advance until the girls were mature. Yikes!

    Can you give me more info? At what age, roughly, should i expect the roo to start advancing on the pullets? I assume the girls will likely begin to be more cooperative when they get to be about egg-laying age; is that correct?

    What's PTSD?

    I can definitely set up a more extensive 'jungle gym' in the run to give them more places to hide.
     

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