Rooster Psychology

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Kyah, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. Kyah

    Kyah Out Of The Brooder

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    Good morning, [​IMG]

    I just bought a small flock of black australorps, 5 hens and one rooster. They are all young - 4 1/2-5 months old and seem very docile and laid back, roo included. And I'd like very much to keep it that way.

    My experiences with roosters is limited, as I've only had a few over the years. The last one I had, Rusty, was a red leghorn and he was not a nice fellow. Although he never actually attacked, he was constantly sizing me up. Looking at me cockeyed, one day he hopped sideways right at me, like I better get outta his way sort of thing. But when he got to my feet, I surprised him. I grabbed him up, took him outside, held him firmly, stared right in his eyes, and yelled very loudly right in his face like a drill sargent might do. I did this until I was hoarse, and he didn't seem to like all that yelling. I took him back to the coop, and as soon as his feet hit the ground, I made one big loud "lunge" (stomped my foot heavily) in his direction. He ran in the opposite direction and avoided me from that point onwards.

    I have read of many things to do if your roo begins to act aggressively. Hold him, hold him upside down and do chores, dunk his head in a bucket of water, even hot pepper spray. But is there a way to prevent attacks in the first place, or is in his genetics, like some roos are just gonna be nasty no matter what you do?

    I do know one thing - animals are like 98% body language, right? So what body language do you use with a roo? When I go out to feed these guys, I purposefully make every move, even every step with meaning and confidence, but I walk quite slowly, because they are still settling in. I talk to them in a gentle voice, and have noticed that the rooster does avoid me by walking off in the other direction.

    I don't need to make friends with this guy, I only want a good working relationship with him. One where he is happy and content and so am I.

    So here are my concerns: Am I going about this the right way? Are austalorp roos an easy sort to get along with? I'm thinking that the way I handle this bird will make a difference in how he reacts to me, right?

    Any advice you all can offer would be much appreciated,
    Thanks,
    Kyah
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds to me like you have a good handle on rooster psychology.

    I have Australorps, too. I have one huge roo who is protective of his girls and ignores people. Have had some aggressive roos as well. I basically manage them by putting them in the freezer; even did this with one mean hen.

    It is often said on BYC that a mean roo should not be bred as the characteristic tends to be genetic. Since some breeds seem to be more aggressive than others, I tend to believe this is the case. Some people have had success in retraining one individual bird, as you did, but it would be hard for me to trust them, especially as there are grandkids around here.
     
  3. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think you're handling things just right. I've never tried to be buddies with my roosters either, and I've only had one who even thought about being nasty... I did a lot of what you're doing, except I also did get him used to being picked up. Never tried to make him 'like' it but wasn't nasty to him either, just let him know I -could- do it and that I was in charge. I carried him around a bit, and made him stay calm. I wanted to be able to handle him if I needed to is the only reason I did it really. This was a long time ago and I'd never read rooster-red's page, heh, no internet at the time! I did it all by accident and from the example set by an aunt and other elders who kept chickens.

    Mostly we just made sure neither of us had a confrontation... he stayed back from me, I left him to his own devices. I've had others more friendly which is fine, but I never wanted them to be pets, they were there to watch out for the hens, and to fertilize eggs.

    I kept him and hatched his get with good results I agree that temperment can be inherited, but I free range my hens and I want them to be a little bold and tough enough to manage while they're out and about.

    I actually think making pets out of them, esp too young, makes them lose respect and all fear of us so that they think they can and should dominate and/or attack us at will. I like to keep a little distance and, well, not fear cause I'm never mean to them, but healthy respect between us.
     
  4. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

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    I ignore my roosters. I pretend they don't exist. If I want to walk somewhere, they either get out of the way or they get stepped on or kicked out of the way. As a sidenote, they always get out of the way. If you watch the head rooster, the lower roosters always get out of his way. IF they don't, they get pecked at or chased out of the way by the head rooster.

    I do the same thing. If they look at me funny or posture at all, I will go towards them. If they don't move fast enough (or at all), I will stomp a step or two towards them or kick at them. I grab the girls (who usually squawk) just because I can, right in front of the roosters. If the boys harass the girls when I am out there, I harass the boys.

    I find that if I have to pick the boys up for whatever reason, they are definitely less afraid of me afterwards. I think if I never actually "make contact" with them, it is easier to convince them that if I touch them they will die [​IMG] . Once I pick them up and nothing happens, they don't have that same fear.
     
  5. Kyah

    Kyah Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 29, 2009
    Thanks so much for the advice, I really appreciate the help. [​IMG]

    It's so helpful hearing what works for different people.
    I just don't want to mess up and do anything that might turn this fella mean, if I can help it. I'm already very fond of him, he just doesn't know it, lol.

    I actually think making pets out of them, esp too young, makes them lose respect and all fear of us so that they think they can and should dominate and/or attack us at will.

    Yes, I've read through pages and pages of posts here, and I agree. Not in all cases of course, but the vast majority, yes. There are some other things too that seem to be a common denominator, too (again not all roos, but some) like a first-time stranger to the rooster goes into the chicken yard, or someone wears different clothes or boots, and one especially that stood out - "I just turned my back for a minute".

    I've never turned my back on any rooster that I had, and that was just because I didn't trust him, lol. If you turn your back on a rooster, what body language does that mean to him? Does anyone know?​
     
  6. Kyah

    Kyah Out Of The Brooder

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    I ignore my roosters. I pretend they don't exist. If I want to walk somewhere, they either get out of the way or they get stepped on or kicked out of the way. As a sidenote, they always get out of the way. If you watch the head rooster, the lower roosters always get out of his way. IF they don't, they get pecked at or chased out of the way by the head rooster.

    I do the same thing. If they look at me funny or posture at all, I will go towards them. If they don't move fast enough (or at all), I will stomp a step or two towards them or kick at them. I grab the girls (who usually squawk) just because I can, right in front of the roosters. If the boys harass the girls when I am out there, I harass the boys.

    I find that if I have to pick the boys up for whatever reason, they are definitely less afraid of me afterwards. I think if I never actually "make contact" with them, it is easier to convince them that if I touch them they will die smack . Once I pick them up and nothing happens, they don't have that same fear.

    That makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe I'll try this approach. This might sound like a really stupid question, but do you make any eye contact at all while ignoring them? (Even out of the corner of your eye) I ask this because my roo is new, handsome, and I'd have a hard time not looking at him, lol.​
     
  7. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

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    My Coop
    Yes, I make eye contact. I will stare them down, ha ha ha. Ever seen a chicken or rooster give another one stink eye? Top rooster or hens dont back down.....neither do I. If I am looking at a rooster and he is looking right back at me, I will take a step towards him. Nothing too aggressive....if he is looking at me and not backing down, I will go towards him (while looking right back at him). 90 percent of the time he will either look away or run away.

    I find that by just reinforcing that I am the boss by the little things, I don't have to do the big things (kicking, chasing, etc).

    I did find that when I was really sick and hardly ever outside, except to run out and feed/water or unlock/lock the coop, the roosters lost respect. I even had the big guy try to flog me. Once I went back to my usual behavior of acting like the boss and making them get out of my way, I have not had another problem since.

    My roosters are all very cautious about walking past me. If I am in the coop doorway, they either stay inside or outside. OR they may take a running dash to get past me. Which is EXACTLY how they would treat a higher up member of their pecking order. I'm not mean to them...I just make sure they know they are lower on the pecking order than me.
     
  8. chickenrunnin

    chickenrunnin Out Of The Brooder

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    I used to paint mine's nails. He was the laughing flock of the yard. (I think it was the handling though). The girls avoided his shiny nails and then he only had me to be friends with. He then took his aggresion out on the girls by over sexing them. I then found him a home where he could be happier. Good Luck!
     
  9. MaggieRae

    MaggieRae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2009
    North Texas
    It's so hard not to be fond of those australorp roos, they're just so sweet and cuddly!!! [​IMG]
     
  10. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

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    Every roo is unique. Just don't hold them upside down. They can die. Mine have been sweethearts that I lavish with TLC and so they don't fit the 'textbook' AT ALL in terms of being smart a**es if handled gently and spoiled rotten. I have always been able to hug and kiss my roos - we make direct eye contact etc. Never once have they rebeled. Good as gold. To the ladies too. Maybe they somehow read me as friend, not competition or maybe I have just been lucky.
    JJ
     

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