So how mean are roosters anyway?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickMandy, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. ChickMandy

    ChickMandy Out Of The Brooder

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    We ventured into rooster territory this year with a mixed delivery from the hatchery. We've ended up with two Silver Laced Wyandotte roosters, that are lovely to look at and listen to ... but they are extremely rough with the girls. This morning both of them ganged up on one of the SLW hens and another chicken (older ISA brown) "saved" her. As I watched, I saw that they continued to follow and harass this one hen, and other older chickens kept helping her get away.

    When I let them out to free range, it wasn't any better. One of them jumped on a Columbian hen and was biting hard at the back of her neck. She took it well but it was awful to watch.

    I've noticed that they are only interested in the hens they came with, not the ones we already had (Barred Rocks, Black Stars, ISA Browns). And the ones we already had are standing up to the roosters and protecting the others.

    So, I was expecting some physical behaviours, but how much is too much? I have friends who've rehomed or found other solutions to roosters that were too nasty. What should I be looking for with regards to personality? What makes a good rooster?
     
  2. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    how old are the roosters? and how many ladies are they with? Young roos, just getting their groove on, will look pretty pesky if you are new to having roosters. They'll chase, pull out feathers, etc. A good rooster will grow out of that and start dancing for the ladies, finding them treats etc. How old are the hens? Younger ladies are less likely to take to rooster antics than older ones.

    I give my roosters a 'growing up period' - if they attack ME, EVER, they are out. Others will try to tame them, etc, but I have roosters that have never given me the evil eye and those are the ones I keep. They were all teenagers once tho and chased the ladies around - that's just what they do.
     
  3. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    I've seen a mean rooster traumatize a hen. I have a friend who declares that the rooster killed a hen with roughness. So there definitely are limits of tolerance for rooster behavior. Strangely that rooster was kind to people but brutal to hens.

    Look for behaviors where the rooster is on guard to protect the hens, he finds food, calls them over and sees that they get the stuff he finds, he picks up and drops the treat instead of gobbling it himself. A good rooster dances, and I have seen the good rooster walk away when the hen isn't in the mood...not chase her down and brutalize her. I think it is very possible to find a rooster that is gentle on hens, and I have heard that it is genetic. I wonder if the hen oriented rooster isn't a little more protective of his flock and tends to keep an eye on the human that intrudes into his pen, and even stand between the person and the hens...I have seen this. A good rooster shouldn't attack people.

    If you want to keep a rooster, keep a good one.
     
  4. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

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    /agree with above. that's why I asked the age - if 13 weeks old, a *little* roughness/chasing is par for the course IMO, but a full grown or close rooster should be at the 'calling the ladies over for treats', dancing, etc stage.

    I always pick my 'late bloomers' out as my potential keepers. Anyone who is trying to mate and crowing at 8 weeks generally gets rehomed - they might grow up to be just fine, but I've had good luck with the 'gee, is that really a rooster??' birds that don't bother crowing until 4+ months old. :p
     
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  5. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    -experience with our two roos has been a good one. They are valuable to the flock because they have been sounding the alert/alarm to hawks since they were about 12/14 weeks old. (Both began crowing at about 9 weeks) They also began "dancing" for the gals at about 12/14 weeks (which was a bit humorous). Both always find food (bugs/good places to forage) for their ladies. If we give out treats, they've been excellent (especially the Belgian d'Anver) to give the treats to the gals and take theirs last. We have bantam roos and standard hens (except for a Japanese and OEGB), so there hasn't been any rough behavior or issues. The two bantam hens seem more independent and don't put up with nonsense from the roos. -think having bantam roos with standard hens is a good thing (at least it has been for us). I personally would have no part of a "mean" rooster that was aggressive towards my family or his flock. (Obviously a certain amount of aggression is a good thing when aimed at predators) -too many good ones out there to deal with a nuisance. -best of luck with your flock.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012
  6. ChickMandy

    ChickMandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Our roosters and the hens we got at the same time are coming up to five months old. The boys must be late bloomers because they only started to crow within the last 10 days or so. We had suspected that they might be roosters based on their appearance and strut, but the unsavoury behaviour started after they started crowing.

    We have 24 hens (aged 1yr+ to five months old) so these guys have a fair number running around them. Nine of those are the ones that came this spring.

    If the rough behaviours started after they began crowing, perhaps we just need to wait it out while they grow out of it.

    Another thing I wondered about was housing. Do your roosters live with the hens in one coop, or are they separated at night?
     
  7. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our roosters roost with the hens at night.

    -and if your roos just began crowing (and the questionable behavior began, simultaneously), then it might be a good idea to give them a reasonable bit of time. Also, a good rooster should alert the flock to danger and/or food. Begin looking for these things as well.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    If you are going to hold your roosters to a human morality, get rid of your roosters. You don’t need them.

    When chickens mate, there are a lot of variables that might happen. In an ideal situation with mature roosters and mature hens the rooster will dance for the hen to signal his intent. The hen then squats. This gets her body spread out on the ground so the rooster’s weight is spread out. You’ll notice that roosters normally weigh quite a bit more than a hen of the same breed. The hen squatting to spread the load takes care of that problem.

    The rooster then hops on and grabs the back of her neck. This not only helps him keep his balance and get in the right position, it is the hen’s clue to raise her tail out of the way. He’s not brutally attacking the back of her neck. He’s telling her to get her tail out of the way. He very quickly touches his vent to hers and hops off. The hen then normally fluffs up and shakes. This fluffy shake is not her way to tell him that she’s had better. She’s positioning the sperm in the right place.

    There are a lot of possible variations to this. When he starts to dance, she may run away. He may then ignore her. Or he may chase her.

    Sometimes the hen then squats. She was just seeing if he was serious and really cared.

    Sometimes she keeps running and he keeps chasing her. When he catches her he grabs hold. She might them squat or keep resisting. If she squats, life is still good in the chicken world. If she keeps resisting and he keeps insisting, well that is not good. Life is not always good in the chicken world.

    Some roosters are just brutal and don’t need to be kept around. Some hens just don’t cooperate and put themselves at risk, even with a decent rooster. Both have their parts to play in getting fertile eggs. Both have responsibilities. It’s not always the rooster at fault.

    I think some other things are working in your flock. A mature hen is more likely to expect a rooster to follow certain behaviors. He should dance for them, not just hop on. He should find them food and let them eat it first. He should watch out for predators. He should keep peace in his flock, breaking up fights and such. Some hens will squat for anything wearing spurs, but if you have mature hens with young roosters, they’ll normally teach him his manners.

    The young roosters and pullets are still adolescents. Their hormones are running wild. They have a lot of trouble controlling them. Their hormones are driving those young roosters to mate with anything they can. They don’t have self-control and they have not learned to behave like a responsible adult. Your pullets may not have matured to the point that they are willing to submit. They don’t know what is going on and are just trying to get away. Once the roosters and pullets mature, a lot of that behavior will change.

    There’s even more going on. The mating behavior signifies dominance. The one on the bottom signals acceptance of the dominance of the one on top. Dominance is not just physical. It is also personality and behavioral. It comes with maturity. I’ve had 4 month old roosters that adult hens would accept as dominant. I’ve had 9 month old roosters the hens would not accept as dominant. It’s not age as much as maturity.

    I’ve also had older dominant hens mount and touch vents with younger pullets to show their dominance. I’ve had older dominant hens knock a young rooster off a willing pullet to show her dominance over him.

    Chicken society is set up so that the rooster generally has to prove himself worthy before he can fertilize eggs. Once he is proven worthy, the hen also has to do her part. I’ve removed roosters and hens from my flock when their behavior does not allow the flock to get along peacefully as it should.

    Adolescence can be difficult for young roosters and pullets, but they usually grow out of it. But I can think of a few men and women in their 50’s that never outgrew adolescence. The same thing occasionally happens with chickens.
     
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  9. Smoochie

    Smoochie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do the same and chose the late bloomers if I am not breeding him for chicks. I often get less crowing, more respect for the ladies and more respect for me. Now this is NOT a proof method but usually I have good success rate for a nice rooster.

    Also, I want to point out that I think it is valuable for young cockerels to grow up with a rooster. Teenage cockerels do need discipline and need to keep their hormones in check.
     
  10. ChickMandy

    ChickMandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for all the info Ridgerunner! I am certainly not holding the roosters to a human moral standard, but I did want a better idea of what to expect from them so I wasn't overreacting to "normal" behaviours. It was very interesting to read about the mating rituals and it's funny to think of young chickens as teenagers with wild hormones :)

    We have really enjoyed learning about chickens (and goats as the case has been this year) and were happy to get two roosters to add to the flock. It sounds like the late bloomers make better flock-mates, and ours let my daughter (10y) handle them, which surprises a lot of people.

    Smoochie ~ I guess if we get any more roosters down the line they will have these boys for guidance and to teach discipline. For now, Chester and Rocky will have to deal with the older hens keeping them in line.
     

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