Rooster increasingly aggressive w/hens. Hard decision made:(

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Aimless Farmer, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. Aimless Farmer

    Aimless Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So tonight is the night...My 3 y.o. Ameraucana roo has grown increasingly aggressive over the last year or so. It started after his first moult, when he started becoming more aggressive toward me. I think it ticked him off that the girls would flock to me for treats and not listen to him when he tried to herd them away. I tolerated his aggression toward me because he took such good care of the girls. See, they have a huge electro-fenced lawn on which they graze. I don't worry so much about four-legged preditors, but he has always watched the skies for hawk, and warns then when he sees or hears of one. (He's got some sort of pact with the crows. They usually mob any hawks in the area, and the chickens don't shoo them out of the yard.) He's always taken very good care of his girls. However, increasingly this past year, I've had hens with bald backs, and finally invested in saddles. Once they all started to moult at the beginning of this fall, I've had to isolate two hens who were just looking worn out. They both bounced back after a week, but then he went back after one of them. All the sisters welcomed her back to the flock just fine, but he kept going after her and wouldn't let her with the flock. Last week he grabbed hold of her head/neck feathers as she was running away from him, and he tore the back of her neck open! She's been in isolation for about a week now, and if she doesn't get an infection, it will take weeks for her to heal. During this time, I found another moulting hen dead in the coop in the morning. She was his "soul mate". They were almost always together. She had no wounds on her. She was just laying on the floor. It looked like he had tried to mount her and she just couldn't take it. She just collapsed. I think he's just wearing them out. Running them ragged. He's increasingly aggressive when he mounts them, too. Bald scabby heads...screaming hens. I just can't lose any more hens this way. I won't have any more come spring! I'm very worried about the hawk situation, because he has always been so vigilent, but I'm sure he'll kill this isolated hen even once she's healed up, or maybe one of the others...
    His first year, he was so calm and tame. I could handle him easier than any of my hens. I could hold him and let kids pet him. The older he gets the more agitated and aggressive he becomes. I'm so sad, and I'll miss the good things about him, but my hens need some peace, and so do I. Ironically, I had an "oops" roo that I got with my day old chicks in April. Not able to find a home for him, we debated trying the new roo out, and "processing" the 3 y.o., but I just couldn't yet. So, we "processed" the new one and my in-laws had him for dinner. (Now I wonder how he would have turned out...)
    Has anyone else had this experience with a rooster, where he started out sweet and nice, and slowly grew increasingly bad as he got older? I swear every moult he got worse. It's like hormone surges or something.
    So, we nab him and do the deed tonight when everyone is sleeping. I hope the hens adjust quickly. I hope I do, too... I feel like I failed him somehow.
     
  2. aqhaktberry3

    aqhaktberry3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry to hear about this whole situation, but you have to do whats best for everyone. If he is hurting then hens then its best to get rid of him. I have never been in your situation, but I think I might be soon. I have a RIR rooster that is very very nice. When we went to buy some RIR chicks we ended up get over half roo's so when they grew up we had to get ride of them. Well we missed one and so we now have 2 Roosters. They 2 don't seem to fight with each other but the younger one is starting to attack some of the hens. We might have to say bye bye to him, so I kinda see where your coming from. You have made the right decision... and you can always get another rooster if you want later down the road. Good luck!
     
  3. RevaVirginia

    RevaVirginia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm bummed. I can only imagine how you feel. I haven't checked but was wondering if.....er....um...uh...Caponization...there I said it, would calm him down and would it diminish his "cock of the walk" fortitude?
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Aimless Farmer

    Aimless Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    N. Central MA
    The deed has been done. Rest in peace, Elvis. I miss him. I didn't think it would hurt this much. I think this is the only place I can admit this openly.

    My mom, who has NO chicken experience, thinks I'm horrible. ("Would you ever do that to one of your cats?" "Um, if he was injuring and killing my other cats? And attacking people, too? Yeah, that cat would get the blue juice (lethal injection), unfortunately.") She thinks I should have tried harder to make it work or find him a home or keep him separate. She also asked if my hens would stop laying without a rooster, so you know from where she speaks...

    Many other chicken people I know have done this more routinely, and are more...detached (not attached) to their birds, so they think I'm a little too soft...

    I knew it needed to be done. My hens need to heal. As I left this morning, they were peacefully going about their morning business in the yard, drinking, grazing, scratching, not running and skitting about to avoid getting nailed. However, I also heard the crows making a ruckus at the end of the property, and I knew the hawk was back. I just pray one of the girls steps in to take a guardian role, and keeps an eye to the sky.

    Okay, so I admit I was in love with my roo. Hugging him one last time before putting him into the hole, I realized it's been well over a year and a half since I had been able to get that close to him. He was so handsome and vigilant. I was proud of him, and loved to brag about him to friends, family and my students (I'm a teacher). His abuse of the hens was like a dirty family secret (domestic abuse is like that, isn't it?). Knowing how necessary this was, I didn't think it would hurt this much. Having to keep it to myself makes it hurt even more, I think. So, thanks for being here and understanding.
     
  5. RevaVirginia

    RevaVirginia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You were absolutely correct in all that was done.....imo
    [​IMG]
     
  6. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    You have done the girls a BIG favor! Their health and well being is paramount and it is senseless to keep a beautiful roo to "abuse" his hens.

    Now what you can look forward is getting another roo that would be much gentler.
     
  7. SallyF

    SallyF Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2009
    Middle Tennessee
    So sorry, but it sounded like it had to be done. I had one who went after me and was rough with the hens. When he was injured in a coon attack and I had to try to take care of him, I felt so sorry for him. We ended up having to euthanize him also, and I cried most of the morning. After a few weeks with no rooster, we found two buff rock roos and bought them. They're great guys, herd the hens beautifully, call them into the nest boxes to lay, and protect the flock beautifully. And the hens are much happier. Your mom just doesn't understand. Sounds like you did everything you could to give him a chance. Hope you find a new and gentle rooster for your flock in the future.
     
  8. Soccer Mom

    Soccer Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2009
    West of Crazy
    You did the right thing. It's such a hard decision to make, but you are protecting yourself and your other birds. There are gentleman roosters out there and life is too short to let a bad one terrorize everyone.

    But it still hurts to do.
     
  9. Aimless Farmer

    Aimless Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    N. Central MA
    Thanks for your kind words, guys. They really hit the spot, and they're helping me get through my day. I just got home about 40 minutes ago, and found all hens doing fine, even my all white one (Can you say "Hawk Bait"? Makes me wish for snow!). I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO relieved!

    We definitely want to find a new "Gentleman" for our ladies...with a capital "G". Since we're down in numbers, we'll get more day-olds next spring. The smart, forward-thinking thing to do would be to wait and see if one turns out to be a boy (though that's only happened when we DIDN'T want a boy, so with my luck, if I don't wait, I'll get a day-old roo, or two, and if I do wait, I won't get a baby roo.)

    However, I've been reading about problems in rooster behavior in breeds that have been heavily bred for certain traits (egg production or fast, heavy growth). As with all breeding, when you breed specifically for certain "desireable" traits, you inadvertantly end up with other, less desireable traits. Rooster Rage and Rooster Rape in meat and egg breeds are some behavior examples I've read about. Ameraucanas have been bred for egg color, from what I gather. My point being not much attention has probably been paid to breeding for traits that make good survivability skills (like NOT killing your own hens). I'm wondering if roosters from breeds more close to "primitive" (for whatever that's worth) may be more desireable. The theory being that since no one is breeding them for eggs or meat, they may not have had these natural "survival" traits (NOT killing your hens) bred out of them. Though I'm sure the game-type birds are being bred for color and conformation, and that also may effect other traits. Any one have experience with game-type roosters with outdoor, free-roaming flocks? I don't necessarily care if my roo is the same breed as my hens, since I don't hatch my own eggs.
     
  10. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    My Coop
    I have nothing to say but I'm sorry.
     

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