Rooster suddenly being aggressive to hens?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Noble Rooster, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. Noble Rooster

    Noble Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 28, 2009
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    My eight-month-old rooster was a right jerk to the girls tonight, seemingly out of nowhere. When the hens were heading into the coop for the night, he started laying into them: pecking at their feet as they tried to hop down into the coop, grabbing their heads and biting hard and being a total bully. They were in a complete state and refused to be in the coop with him. I put them in and took him out and held him for about 15 minutes while they settled down, ate dinner and headed onto the roosts. When I returned him to the coop they started to freak out again until I made it clear to him that he needed to shut up and go to bed. His behavior was way more aggressive than the usual herding everyone onto the roosts for the evening. The hens have never tried to run away from him before. They were out in the tractor all afternoon and I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary happening. He is usually fine with them -- still needs to learn a little mating finesse but overall he's pretty gentlemanly, a good tidbitter and a vigilant guardian. Is this a touch of spring fever, or some sort of one-off domestic disturbance in their chicken society? Has anyone seen this sort of thing? Because if this turns out to be a pattern he's toast, much as I have loved him heretofore. [​IMG]
     
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Hopefully he will settle down, and not turn into a total jerk. Good luck! Mary
     
  3. cncottle

    cncottle Out Of The Brooder

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    Hopefully he has calmed down. If he is still agressive, try and make yourself the top rooster. Knock him down a peg. My rooster was being a jerk and everytime I caught him acting that way I would chase him down... tackle if I had too. I would carry him around with me for at least 10 minutes. He felt so humble afterwards that he would lay down and let the hens groom him. I worked for me. They all seem much happier.
     
  4. Noble Rooster

    Noble Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, folks, for the replies. I've been pretty consistent about being top rooster with him ever since we discovered he was a he (and not the she he was supposed to have been...): picking him up and carrying him around, picking up the hens in his presence, no mating anyone when I am there, etc. When he hit puberty he tried the wing dance with me a few times but being picked up soon put a stop to that and now he doesn't dare try any nonsense with me. When I pick him up he settles right in and knows what the deal is; he's even good about having his head rubbed and will close his eyes contentedly.

    I watched them while they were out today (hanging around inside the barn since it was snowing on the first day of spring! [​IMG]) and all seemed fine. However, bedtime was a different story. I walked in to put them back in the coop and he suddenly lit in to one hen, pulling a hunk of feathers out of her shoulder for no apparent reason -- he didn't try to mate her. So he got kicked off her and picked up and the ladies went into the coop to eat and settle themselves in. I held him for 10 minutes until it seemed like the girls had pretty much finished roosting and then put him in directly on a roost. He nestled down, was quiet for a second, then all hell broke loose. He reached across one hen to grab the one he had attacked earlier, picked her up by the comb (and she's a Faverolle so there's not much comb to grab!) and dangled her off the roost. If it had continued he probably would have seriously injured her comb. I shouted at him, reached in to break it up and all the hens were trying to escape like the coop was on fire. I grabbed him and tossed him out of the coop, managed to get the girls back in, herded him around the barn and held him again. He's spending the night in solitary in a cage and pen setup in the stall next to the coop, so he can hear everyone but not see them. While I was getting his arrangements ready he stood outside the coop calling to the hens ("STELLAAAAAAAA!") and being assiduously ignored, then waiting near me with a sheepish look. He's not happy in there but he settled down and went to sleep, and I guess we'll see what the morning brings.

    I'm not afraid of doing what I need to do if it turns out he has become a jerk, but it does make me sad -- I've had him since he was a day old and he has really been such a good boy until now. At the end of last week I was thinking about how well everyone had come through this horrible winter, and then this had to start happening. I wonder if it is a spring thing since I noticed someone else had posted with a similar problem: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/961339/roo-becoming-aggressive. It better blow over ASAP!
     
  5. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've have a few roosters and in my experience, they're either nice or they're not. I've tried all the tricks and suggestions to curb undesirable behaviors in the less than nice ones but none of it worked. Chickens behaviors are so much instinct, not a lot of intellect and I'm not so sure they understand cause and effect, action and reaction. So, in my experience, I'm not much for all the displays of "top rooster." I've had roosters that were aggressive towards people and nothing I did caused or curbed the behaviors. Then, I've had roosters that were not aggressive towards people and again, nothing I did caused him to be that way. It's instinct and breed and individual personality.

    I suspect your boy is hitting full adulthood at 8 months and his personality is coming out in full force. He's trying to dominate the hens, which is normal at that age and I assume your hens are about the same age. He's trying to show them he's in charge. But he's going about it too harshly and scaring the crap out of them. That's never good as stress in the hen house can lead to other problems, like illness and other behavioral issues.

    So... like you said, you can either give him more time to settle into the role with the hens or put him in the pot. My personal experience and opinion based on your description is (I hate to condemn the poor fella) that he's probably not a very good rooster for your hens. That's the thing about roosters is there are SO many of them and despite your attachment to him, there are a lot of good ones available. I learned this from experience. Peace and health in the hen house that is shared by all is more important to the flock than any one individual.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  6. Noble Rooster

    Noble Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Guppy,

    Thank you so much -- your thoughts really helped. I tried a reintroduction in the barn aisle this morning and the hens were just too terrified of him. He tried to go after the one he pulled off the roost and I got between them before anything could happen. I was better able to see what he did to her and she looks like someone tried to scalp her -- didn't break skin but a huge chunk of feathers are missing from her head. So right now they're separated until we sort out our options. He's calling and calling to them but they seem pretty chill without him -- it's been pretty peaceful in there this morning.

    Thanks again!
     

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