Rooster encounter, how to interpret?

Harmony Fowl

Crowing
Jul 17, 2017
630
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Virginia
I would appreciate some interpretation of an encounter I had yesterday with two cockerels. I have never kept a rooster past the age of five months or so. These birds are 18 weeks old. Right now I have 18 pullets and hens, three months to a year in age, and eight cockerels, three to four months old. Obviously too many boys, some have already been sold, two are staying, three are being sold and three more are being kept separately as pets for the family who complains we don't have any chickens to eat yet.

So, getting ready for listing them on Craigslist Friday, my boyfriend and I were taking some pictures yesterday. We have a table/shelter made of pallets in the run, so we were catching the young cockerels we intend to sell and placing them on the table, about 3.5 feet high, to get pictures of them without all the other birds in the way. My flock isn't handled a lot. The hens will allow petting, most of the younger birds won't, they're fine until you try to catch them. They run, but the vast majority will calm down once caught and held. Cockerel #1 is pretty easy going and nobody paid any attention once we caught him. Cockerel #2 was a little more feisty, but again, nobody paid attention.

Cockerel #3 is a loud mouth. He came out of the egg screaming and seems to draw attention to himself everywhere he goes. When we grabbed him, he screamed bloody murder. I commented to my boyfriend that now we know what it will sound like when someday we lose a bird to a predator within earshot. Evidently the other chickens agreed. We got the young cockerel on the table and here come two of the four-month-old boys. One is a dark brahma cross, Klinger, we plan to keep for breeding; the other is a buff guy named Jerk who is to become one of the pets. Klinger and Jerk hop up on the table, agitated, and start to come forward, all the while the young cockerel is screaming. Because of where the table is situated, I wasn't able to move around it quickly to grab them bodily and remove them: my boyfriend, the young cockerel, the bantam coop and a pole were in the way. I didn't like their forwardness in regards to us, so I poked them. Maybe I didn't do the right thing, maybe they thought I was sparring? I poked them both, alternately, repeatedly, until the poking pushed Klinger off the table. Jerk took more force to remove and he spurred my boyfriend in the hand before giving up and turning tail. Fortunately, they are so young and his spurs are practically nonexistent and he didn't break the skin. Neither bird made any attempt to get back on the table again. We released the young cockerel and all went back to normal.

Obviously the whole thing got our hearts racing. Jerk has been a jerk in the past, a little nasty to the other chickens, but not to people. Klinger is exceptionally even tempered and this is actually the very first time I've seen him be even remotely interested in the welfare of the other birds. Is that what this was? The young bird was acting as though it was being attacked, so the leaders of the group (of which Jerk is currently, temporarily #1), came to his aid? It seemed like aggression toward people, but should I take it as that or consider the context? None of the other cockerels we photographed acted this way and none elicited such a dramatic response, so should I consider this unlikely to happen again, that is, in response to people? That young cockerel will be sold or soup within a couple weeks. I wouldn't even keep a hen that was such a nuisance as that little guy is. Should I be glad they responded this way, hoping they will approach a genuine predator equally in defense of the flock? Or should I reconsider keeping one or both at all? Normally all the chickens give way to us all the time. We had some older pullets when our chicks were growing up and they taught them all good manners.

I'm tempted to think of this as a positive if somewhat scary encounter, indicating good protective instincts in these two cockerels. That's exactly how I'd want them to act against a real threat. I'm blaming myself for placing all the birds in that awkward situation and next time, I will remove the bird from the run for pictures. Do I have an accurate read on this?
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
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Jul 16, 2015
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You have hormonal teenager boys. The one did a loud alarm call which should bring all rooster running towards the danger and hens running the other way.

I personally would have swatted the ones coming forward away and chased them off. I don't know if it means bad behaviors in the future out of them or not, but I wouldn't necessarily think bad of them at this point, but I would watch them.

As a side not keeping 2 roosters can often end up bad as they can end up focusing on each other. It's always best to keep 1 or more than 2 to avoid problems from my experiences.
 

Chickassan

Wattle Fondler
May 23, 2017
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Greenville S.C, formerly Noneya U.S.A
Roosters come to the aid of other flock members, at least good roosters do. Rooster number 3 sounded the alarm, unfortunately it was on you and your guy lol! The poking sealed the deal, you went from maybe threatening to definitely. These situations are why I handle my flock and eveybody in it alot even the doodle. :)
 

Harmony Fowl

Crowing
Jul 17, 2017
630
1,235
256
Virginia
You have hormonal teenager boys. The one did a loud alarm call which should bring all rooster running towards the danger and hens running the other way.

I personally would have swatted the ones coming forward away and chased them off. I don't know if it means bad behaviors in the future out of them or not, but I wouldn't necessarily think bad of them at this point, but I would watch them.

As a side not keeping 2 roosters can often end up bad as they can end up focusing on each other. It's always best to keep 1 or more than 2 to avoid problems from my experiences.
Interesting. I wonder if I should. We do have the extra guys and one in particular would make nice babies for us. I suppose we could always raise another, too. I’ll keep that in mind.
 

Harmony Fowl

Crowing
Jul 17, 2017
630
1,235
256
Virginia
Roosters come to the aid of other flock members, at least good roosters do. Rooster number 3 sounded the alarm, unfortunately it was on you and your guy lol! The poking sealed the deal, you went from maybe threatening to definitely. These situations are why I handle my flock and eveybody in it alot even the doodle. :)
What’s so ironic is that if I had needed to handle either of the two charging boys, there would not have been a problem. They handle all right, not hugs and sitting in laps, but I can pick them up and hold them without a struggle. If it only weren’t for the loudmouth. I swear that boy is trouble. He’a the dark blue chick in this shot. He was already screaming then. I’ve found that the loud ones are always characters, not always characters you want to associate with.
5123499E-23E9-4BA5-B20D-EEEC4296BFDA.jpeg
 

Chickassan

Wattle Fondler
May 23, 2017
15,006
74,959
1,327
Greenville S.C, formerly Noneya U.S.A
Yeah no matter how calm the flock is it only takes one "help me!" from a flockmate to make even a docile rooster not care who you are even if the distress call came from a nimrod. :)
What’s so ironic is that if I had needed to handle either of the two charging boys, there would not have been a problem. They handle all right, not hugs and sitting in laps, but I can pick them up and hold them without a struggle. If it only weren’t for the loudmouth. I swear that boy is trouble. He’a the dark blue chick in this shot. He was already screaming then. I’ve found that the loud ones are always characters, not always characters you want to associate with.
View attachment 1288489
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
I'm not of fan of the 'screamers' either! It was a major event for your cockerels, but I also don't think that they behaved well. Jerk sound like dinner on the hoof, so to speak, and Klinger is iffy. My cockbirds may come over and look, if I'm holding/ catching another bird, but that's it. No attacks! Maybe consider one of the cockerels who ignored the whole episode?
Mary
 

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