Save the Rooster or Save the Chicken?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Kenbutsu, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. Kenbutsu

    Kenbutsu Hatching

    Apr 2, 2014

    I have a rooster (Mr. Buff) and a chicken (Wen) that currently disagree. The flock is entirely free range. For several months, there was no issue. I also raised meat birds this year, which Wen acted very motherly towards. Then I took them to get processed. I mention this because it's the only change to normal routine that I can think of before and after the aggression started. After taking the meat birds away, I noticed Mr. Buff acting aggressively towards Wen, chasing her down and pecking her head (not trying to initiate sex though).

    I attempted to isolate him from all the hens for a month, hoping his behavior would change, and letting Wen's head heal. After she was healthy, I let him out, and soon after he began the same aggressive actions towards her. He does not do this to any other chicken. My question is, which do I keep? Is it better to raise a young rooster around the adult hens or send her to another farm and get a replacement in spring? To be clear, she would have another willing home, and he would end up in the freezer.

    The only additional complication is that the neighbor (there is only one) that is willing to watch our chickens when we leave town to see family is enamored with Mr. Buff, and would be sad if he had to go.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you may have,

  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    It would help to know the ages of Mr. Buff and this hen that he's aggressive towards. How badly is he injuring her? Has he just broken the skin, or has he ripped her comb off?

    How many other chickens in your flock?How old are they? Are there any other roosters, or just Mr. Buff?
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Are these young birds just growing up, or mature birds from 2013 or older? If they are young, behaviors may develop that weren't present in months gone by. If he's great in every other way, maybe rehome her. If he's young, things may continue to change, for better or worse. Mary
  4. Kenbutsu

    Kenbutsu Hatching

    Apr 2, 2014
    Thanks Mary. They were born April 2014.
  5. Kenbutsu

    Kenbutsu Hatching

    Apr 2, 2014
    Sorry Azygous, didn't see your reply. There are 5 other hens, they are all the same age (born April 2014). He has broken the comb and caused repeated bleeding.
  6. Egg Thief

    Egg Thief In the Brooder

    Mar 3, 2014
    Roosters r proud so from someone's thread NOT mine I am giving full credit to the person who wrote this, was excellent advice hold the rooster down and give him a taste of his own medicine only till he knows who's dominated like finger pecking
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    He doesn't pick on any other hen?
    Do the other hens pick on her?

    That's a tough situation.
    I'd be inclined to get rid of the rooster unless you really need him to hatch more chicks..BUT then behaviors can be hereditary and you might not want to propagate such.
    Mean roosters are the neighbors pics of the abused hens mangled bloody head, might shed some light on the eating of the abuser.

    If you re-home the hen, 'getting a replacement' can be dicey business as integration of new birds(especially a single bird) takes much consideration and can also cause bloodshed.

    Lots to think about long term with what your goals and management of the flock are to be.
  8. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    Isolate the hen for a couple weeks. If the rooster starts picking on someone else, hes the problem. If everything is fine until she comes back, and then it starts right back up, shes the problem.

    Sometimes roosters figure things out before we do, and will try to drive a bird from the flock (it can either be because shes unhealthy, past laying age, is a troublemaker, etc). If it is one of those things, this is part or a rooster's job.
  9. Kenbutsu

    Kenbutsu Hatching

    Apr 2, 2014
    Thanks for the replies. He does not pick on other hens, and the other hens do not pick on her. I will be getting several new hens in spring anyway, so integration will need to be figured out regardless.
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Where does that pullet rank in the pecking order? Is she the top-ranked chicken when the rooster is not there?

    Cockerels mature at different rates but at some point they need to dominate the entire flock to fulfill the duties of flock master. What it sound like to me is that you have a cockerel that was fairly slow to develop and a hen that is pretty dominant herself. She doesn’t want to surrender her flock dominance position and submit to the cockerel. He is bigger than she is and is trying to get her to submit to him by brute force instead of being able to WOW! her with his confidence, magnificence and self-assurance. She is resisting.

    I’ve seen that behavior before when I raised a cockerel with the flock then removed the dominant rooster to turn the flock over to Junior. That cockerel was maybe seven months old when I gave him the flock. He quickly dominated all the hens, including the older hens, except the top-ranked hen. For two or three days he’d chase her down and peck, usually on the head. He did not draw blood and after a few days that behavior stopped. She finally accepted his dominance. They’ve gotten along great since.

    I think both chickens are at fault, the cockerel for not having enough self-confidence to be able to take over the flock on personality and the pullet for resisting so strongly. Neither one is fully mature. It’s possible they will work it out if you leave them alone, but since he is drawing blood, it is also possible the other pullets could turn cannibal and kill her if he doesn’t.

    The only reason you need a rooster is for fertile eggs. Any other reason is just personal preference. Many people would not dream of having a flock without a rooster but many others have free ranging flocks of nothing but hens. How badly do you want a rooster?

    I see three options. 1) Let them have at it and take the chance of serious injury or death but hope they work it out. 2) Remove the cockerel. If you really want a rooster try to get another one but get a fully mature rooster than can dominate on personality. There is still a chance the pullet will resist him too but a good dominant rooster should be able to convince her without injuring her. 3) Remove the pullet. That might solve the problem but if he is truly a brute he may go after another pullet. It will probably solve the problem. I don’t know your personal preferences so I can’t tell you what to do.

    Good luck! It’s not always an easy decision.
    1 person likes this.

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