Roosters and young children

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BlueShadow, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. BlueShadow

    BlueShadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Does anyone have success getting roosters to behave around their young children? Last year's roosters were aggressive to my then-1-year-old. My new roosters were Buckeyes, deliberately chosen for their mild manner and lack of aggression (the breeder has young grandchildren, his daughter is a friend of mine, his hens are exceptionally tame, I have no reason to think he was lying).

    I have 2 Buckeye roosters and 7 Buckeye pullets (all about 9 months old) and 6 older Barnevelder hens. Toward me, the roosters have been hard to figure out. They tend to not get out of my way, and stand sideways to me, but they have never done anything overtly aggressive. I haven't been able to figure out if they are trying to show dominance or they just aren't smart enough to get out of the way. I am ALWAYS tripping over the Buckeye pullets, so just being too dumb to move is a possibility for the roosters. I keep an eye on them and have never had trouble.

    The coop is large - approx 15x20 feet, so plenty of space for 15 birds.

    The weather has warmed up, so I started bringing my now 2-year-old daughter along for chores. She loves collecting eggs and feeding the chickens. Sunday there was a minor incident where the rooster was near her and flapping his wings, but I didn't see what happened so could not judge if he was trying to be aggressive or she just wandered too close to him and he was trying to get out of the way. Yesterday there was no incident at all. Today I saw it, she was standing just inside the door while I was standing beside her, closing the door, and he was flying at her, trying to attack her (fortunately his spurs haven't developed yet).

    I am at a loss what to do. I certainly can make rooster soup, but I do like the idea of having roosters. The chickens have a coop and fenced in yard, and my kids only go in with the chickens when I am with them. However, I would like them to be able to help with chores without me standing guard against the rooster the whole time. Surely other people have roosters and small children. How do you make it work? This is the second rooster we have had trouble with, completely unrelated to last year's rooster. Is it something in my setup with the birds that makes the roosters aggressive?
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I"m going to be pretty plain spoken here, cause there's a little one involved.

    I don't think it's your set up. I think it's your behavior and tolerance of the rooster's behavior.

    You state he doesn't get out of your way when you move through the coop. that's the cardinal rule here---the lesser always give way to the dominant. I'm the dominant, I'm the human. Every animal on this place moves a step or two out of the way when i walk toward them.

    Watch your birds. You'll see the dominant animal move through the flock, the others move out of her way. No fuss or drama, they're not terrified of her, she's not pecking or beating on them. It's a simple fact of life, you yield to the uppers.

    I'd have a few training sessions with the rooster and see how it goes. Use a tool, like a handle/stick/etc. Something to make your arm longer and give you more reach. Feet work also, but trying to boot a rooster can put one off balance and that can end poorly [​IMG]. Start walking toward him, but focus past him. You're going to walk through him, not to him. If he does not yield by the time you can reach him with your tool, swat/push him out of the way. He's not too dumb, trust me. Get him out of your way, but he has to move some himself, not just you pushing him. And continue your walk to where you were going. Wait a few minutes, repeat.

    Hopefully, he starts giving way as you approach. that's the idea.

    If he refuses to yield to you, you've got to get more forceful. I don't know if you've ever seen one of your birds go after another bird, but there's a lot of posturing and noise involved. I go that route, along with some physical interaction. If my young cockerels won't move for me, or act the tiniest bit aggressive, I make them think they're going to die. I become a crazy psycho woman. I yell, I stomp at them, I wave my arms, I might boot them or swat them if I have a tool handy, I chase them away-----for about 10 seconds [​IMG]. Usually he hops into the air in alarm and takes off. I don't chase them down at that point. No reason, he did what I wanted. Lesson learned. I'll let him think on that for a while, but I'll be sure to re-approach him within say half an hour, to see how he reacts. Yes, some need more training than others, but pretty much all can learn.

    It's not enough for him simply not to attack me. He's got to show submissive behavior, that of moving out of my way. No dropping a wing at me, no courting behavior--he has plenty of hens for that.

    I've been doing this so long and it's so instinctive, it's kind of hard to type out instructions [​IMG]. So, let me know if something isn't clear. I'm only on my first Diet Coke, ya know, the brain might not be fully functional yet.


    And all that said.......littles and roosters often just don't mix. Littles are noisy, unpredictable, they move fast and oddly, and they seem to make roosters nervous. Nervous birds tend to attack. Even once you're comfortable with your bird's behavior toward you, you'll still basically have to have eyes on her the entire time she's around him, and I would be within arm's reach of her at all times. We like to think of our birds as pets, but the truth is a rooster is intact male livestock, same as a buck goat, boar hog, bull, etc. Just a smaller package, but every bit as hormone-fueled.

    I wish you the best with your birds. Let us know how things go.
     
    KikisGirls likes this.
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Children move in an erratic manner, often squealing and yelling which will often trigger a rooster to see them as a threat. I don't think you can trust any rooster while she's still young.

    I use a fishing net to catch my birds. I also use it on unruly young roosters if they are doing something I don't like. My roosters all respect the net and scatter when they see it. If you were to use one or something similar when your daughter is present your rooster will begin to associate her presence with something unpleasant and will move off. I would initially use it to scoop him up and pen him while your daughter is around. Eventually he should move off cackling when he sees you coming.

    He will mature and will see your daughter as less of a threat. Always keep an eye on him. Using the net will allow you to dominate him without hurting him. I haven't had it fail me yet. A fishing net with a long handle is a pretty cheap, and easy way to be top chickens when roosters are involved.
     
  4. BlueShadow

    BlueShadow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sigh, yeah, that's what I was afraid of. I've been keeping an eye on the roosters precisely BECAUSE I thought it was odd they weren't making way, but the pullets don't move either. They really do not seem very smart to me. I just wasn't sure if it was aggression or lack of smarts.

    Now that I think about it, the rooster does (sort of) make way for me most of the time, but it is the absolute minimum necessary to let me pass. Its not uncommon for him to misjudge where I am going and find that he didn't move far enough, then he ends up squawking and scampering away without any dignity left. I don't consider that adequate "making way." Plus lots and LOTS of posturing from him.

    I do know that little kids move in a way that is unpredictable to our birds, so that doesn't help. Fortunately I can easily keep kids & chickens separate, its just that the kids like visiting the chickens. I will try some of the training, and keeping a closer eye on the roosters, but I expect the rooster will end up in the soup pot. Until then, I will make sure he is out of the coop when kids are in the coop, I don't think I ever will trust him to behave with kids like he behaves with me.

    Thanks for your input, I think it is helpful. My background is horses & cattle. Much of that experience has served me well because there are many similarities to chicken behavior. Chickens have differences too, though, and its helpful to learn those.
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    My hens don't move either, but they don't use aggression towards humans. I have had pushy pullets who had to be reminded not to be too forward, but hens I don't worry so much.

    Since you know cows and horses you are familiar with how young male animals act. I have observed a distance of 5-10 feet to be the minimum distance required by the dominant rooster from the subordinates. So look to move yours back more. I have tossed my plastic feed scoop at young roosters to startle them off. If you get it right during puberty than often you end up with a nice respectful rooster.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Having a large animal background is great. Just look at your rooster as you would a bull calf. Would the rooster's behavior be acceptable if he weighed 300 lbs? Nope, you'd be working with him to get him to show respect. Same thing here.

    You might see about just working around the rooster, penning him when the kiddo is around, things like that. Personally, I adore roosters and have several. But, my kids are all teens now......you have to find the balance between your daughter enjoying the birds and what you need for your flock.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Could you post a video showing how the rooster behaves? My experience does not mean crap here but but might make so you can break down how the behavior of you and your kids impacts the behavior of the rooster in question.
     
  8. Lizardlicks

    Lizardlicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My roo pecked my 2 year old exactly once. My response: picked him up and cuddled him (the rooster) then handed him to my two year old who proceeded to giggle and tote him around for a good 10 or 15 minutes, during which the rooster was perfectly placid and he has remained respectful and docile ever since. He'd rather not suffer the indignity again lol.
     
  9. dogkahuna

    dogkahuna Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You got lucky...don't expect the same non-response again. Carrying a rooster around won't ensure respectful, docile behavior. I wouldn't let a 2 year-old handle a rooster--eventually you will be sorry!
     
  10. TeeMom

    TeeMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm by no means an expert as I've only had chickens for 2 years and maybe I've just gotten lucky. Over those 2 years I've had 2 full grown roosters (gifted from the neighbors) and multiple cockerels, most of which have been culled for meat. Currently we have one 10 month old cockerel and 19 hens/pullets. My flock is free range and so are my 5 kids...the youngest is now 2 1/2 and the oldest is 9. We have had exactly 0 incidences. The kids regularly scoop up the hens and pullets and carry them around, collect eggs, feed treats and scratch and are always playing as the flock ranges in the same area. Our roosters and cockerals are generally unhandled, but are docile and have friendly demeanors when close. The kids know not to full on chase the roosters, but they are often running near them or through the rest of the flock, yet the roosters never seem to be phased by these actions. I can only assume that by being confident and not handling them, that they respect myself and my kids and don't perceive any of us as a threat. Again, maybe we've just been lucky, but I've not once seen concerning behavior around my kids, so I feel like coexistence is definitely possible.
     

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