Rooster fight ... I'm so sad

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by asheshp, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. asheshp

    asheshp In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2016
    Okay guys...I knew there was a chance this would happen. When I ordered chicks I tried to get one EE rooster, I ended up with him and a leghorn rooster. Like a lot of people I couldn't decide to just ditch one. I have 8 hens, four of each breed about 6 months old. It has been rough getting a pecking order but finally everyone seemed to get along. My leghorn rooster was in charge at first but my EE rooster quickly outgrew him and the past two weeks seemed to be the boss. I thought they had settled and got along everytime I was around.

    Tonight I went to lock the coop up and they were fighting....not a normal little squabble. My leghorn was covered in blood and I even dumped water on them but they wouldn't stop. My EE has no visible injuries. My brother in law came out and grabbed my EE for me, we safely separated them for the night.

    I cried. I know I probably have no option but to get rid of one but this is hard. I'm a city girl, we had cats that my parents took to the vet to be put down. My husband grew up on a farm and will cull whichever one I choose. [​IMG]

    Advice on how I decide? Will they certainly kill each other? This is Of course my SO doesn't understand why I am upset over "just a chicken" ...I knew animals were hard work but I didn't think through the emotional toll.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016

  2. BlueBaby

    BlueBaby Crowing

    Both roosters are going to continue to fight. The current dominate male claims all of the hens as his. The smaller one still has the urge to breed hens also. Unless you separate them (as into 2 separate flocks) one is going to have to go and that is your choice. One rooster can handle 10 or more hens by himself.
    1 person likes this.
  3. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Blue Baby is absolutely right !
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I understand how hard it is - I was also a city girl, growing up thinking "Animals are our friends" (I was also an only child, so my pets really were my friends). When we started raising chickens I wouldn't let DH kill the "pretty ones". Just the "ugly white ones" (Cornish cross meat birds). It took me a LONG time to realize that good flock management sometimes requires eliminating a bird or birds from the flock. I now hope for extra cockerels just so we have something for the freezer, and process and can my older laying hens. I've also been raising chickens off and on for over 30 years. I still hate butchering day, but it's part of my flock management.

    As to which rooster to keep, what are your flock goals? Why do you even want a rooster? Are you planning to hatch and raise chicks? If so, what is your plan for the possible 50% cockerels you'll get with each hatch? Do you want to raise them for meat? If so, I'd keep the EE boy. He's a bigger bird, has potential for producing chicks that might get a bit meatier. Do you want to produce for eggs? Keep the leghorn, but have a plan for the cockerels. (I know - I already said that, but I feel it's one of those things that can't be stressed enough) Don't want to hatch out any chicks? Why keep a rooster at all? The hens really don't need a rooster to find them treats, put them in at night, or alert for predators - a dominant hen will do all of that. Sure, they might "protect" the flock, but for the most part, they are just an alarm system while they're leading the way back to the coop. Again - a dominant hen can do the same. Sometimes a rooster will give his life protecting a hen (had that happen here just this week) but unless you have an unlimited supply of roosters, what good is that? You have a dead rooster who may have been just a speed bump in the path of a determined predator.

    I do believe you need to get rid of at least one of them or they will continue to fight. I don't think it will get better.
    4 people like this.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I will give a dissenting opinion, although you will have to develop a thicker skin to follow my suggestions. First, you can maintain a pen where one is penned at all times and they can be switched back and forth as desired. Secondly, you can split flock up which may require some intervention in terms of roosting arrangements and the encouragement of flocks to occupy different parts of your property for most of the day which requires multiple acres. Thirdly, you can split your coop into two as well as the flock allow only one group out at a time which requires a larger coop. The last option which is least pleasant, but what I do currently with some of my American Dominiques and all of my free-range Missouri Dominiques (multi-generational hybrid between American Dominiques and American Games) is risk pretty messy fights. They do get dinged up periodically and I intervene. If a bird looks like he is being handed his butt I catch and pen him up for a short while for soreness to kick in, then I release him to see how he interacts with his rival. In most instances the subsequent fight is brief and the previously penned bird submits and aggressor looses interest so long as submissive bird stays away for a while.

    Take what what is written above with a grain of salt or possibly a handful. I have the resources to do all of the above simultaneously and do much of the year with five mature cocks running about even now. I also have a lot of experience on the rooster side of things and had to loose more than a few as part of the learning curve. Fpr me it is fun working with their natural behaviors to get harmony. It is also that you realize that harmony is often punctuated by difficult times where you sometimes have to make tough decisions. Sometimes two combatants will be to persistent forcing me to choose only one if the free-range option is to be maintained which puts you into realms suggested above. Generally, in my experience that is not the case most of the time. If you want to work with roosters that are consistently problematic like suggested above, then try gamechickens. Loads of fun there where even the pen systems can be a bear and birds need not be mature to have serious social problems.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  6. You asked which one to keep?....I would keep the EE Cockerel......Being I have never seen how your Cockerels act, my choice is purely cosmetic....Take a few days to decide.....I am not a city girl and I still feel bad when I have to cull a Rooster....Just something we have to do in order to keep peace in our flocks....

    Best of luck to you.....

  7. asheshp

    asheshp In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2016
    Thank you all for the responses. I know this wasn't going to be an easy answer and I appreciate the different ideas. I am definitely working on sucking it up and dealing since my husband works all day he is only around in the evenings. This morning I let everyone but my leghorn roo out. My EE was not happy that he couldn't get to him and got a bit puffed up and flapped his wings at me because I was in between them. I am a little worried once the other roo is gone he might get aggressive with me. He was always very calm with humans, my leghorn is the one who attacked my husband once. All things I need to factor in my decision.

    Once I let them both out, my leghorn tried to fight but ended up giving up and settled himself into the coop. To my surprise my EE let him and continued on with his day. I really thought he wouldn't care if the leghorn backed down and would attack him anyway so that was good news. Gives them some time and me some time to think. My leghorn only has onr cut on his comb that is dried now, i just have to clean him up. Apparently combs bleed A LOT but my brother in law assured me that he looks really good.

    I appreciate the advice on who to keep, since this is my first flock ever and I am still learning so much. I do want chicks in the spring and I think my EE would be better for what I plan on doing. Now I have to prepare myself for the cockerels that I will get out of the chicks.

    Thanks again for the input and helping me realize what sort of things I need to plan for. Hubby doesn't think to explain this all because to him it never mattered, he just assumes let then be and whatever happens, happens. Which I suppose is another option. Lots of thinking to do, but I am feeling better so thank you all!

  8. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Another option is to rehome the roo you decide not to keep.

    Understand that at six months old, cockerels are awash with hormones that are sudden and fierce, overwhelming their ability to cope. In six more months these hormone can settle out significantly, altering the temperaments of these two. You might wish to follow centrachid's advice and separate the boys and let them have alternate access to the girls during the next few months.

    Let me offer the warning, though, that these two may never feel like compromising and getting along. I had two such cockerels. And merely separating them with a fence doesn't always stop the bloody altercations. My two warriors tore up and shredded a plastic deer fence barrier I erected in the coop they shared and one ended up losing every single tail feather he had in addition to being thoroughly bloodied up.

    Over the next few months, while thinking about which boy to keep, watch how they approach the girls for mating and how rough or smooth they are. Also watch for any signs of human aggression. You want to avoid keeping a cockerel that snaps at you if you make a sudden movement in his vicinity or sneaks up behind you and pecks you or worse, flogs you.

    No need to jump into a decision immediately. Separate the boys and take a few months to get to know them better, then decide what to do.
  9. asheshp

    asheshp In the Brooder

    Jun 15, 2016
    Thank you for the advice. Watching them more is only making it a more difficult decision. They will not work it out it seems, my EE let my Leghorn around if he stayed on the outskirts and didn't interact with the hens. That wasn't good enough for my Leghorn as he decided he was going after a hen anyway. My EE chased him across the yard, it was easily over 150 ft before he hid and I could seperate them.

    So now I keep my EE in the run with my hens and the leghorn outside free roaming. My hens aren't having it. They are pacing the fence to get to the leghorn. He is much much better with the hens than my EE. They will not squat for my EE and run away from him. I don't know if this might get better... my leghorn has no problems mating and is much better at helping the hens. He picked out their nesting box, gives treats and is very graceful with them. My EE is more pushy than graceful when he tries to get close to them.

    My EE has never attacked a human, although he has been on edge lately but that could be because he knows the Leghorn is still around...or maybe he will end up aggresive with me? So hard to tell....

    My leghorn attacked my mother in law a couple times. He doesn't attack me even when I pick up the hens right next to him...

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016

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