To hold or to not hold cockerels?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AuntJamie, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. AuntJamie

    AuntJamie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is the question. I have a couple nearly 2 wk old BSL cockerels I need to decide how to raise now. I've been doing some poking around here and some people say to get respect from a rooster you shouldn't coddle them when they're young. Some say this is how to tame a roo. I was thinking somewhere in the middle. Holding and head rubbing now while they're itty bitty but once they're out of the brooder back off. Maybe it's not logical to think I can have my cake and eat it, too. I've had good roosters before. A RIR and a Barred Rock, both wonderful. The BR I raised, the RIR I got fully grown but he was a good boy too. Good thing I never had cause to get a hold of either of them. The BR was not held much, just given treats a lot and treated kindly.
    If I need my roo to be fearful of me to be respected (not attacked) then so be it. I can handle him off the roost at nighttime if need be. It would just be nice if fear didn't HAVE to be part of the equation. What if I had to get a hold of him now, for whatever reason? I can see myself chasing him with a fishnet, winded as all get out. And still to no avail.
    I don't need to bond and cuddle. I just want to make things easier in the future. I'm rambling. :/
    Anybody with experience, please share. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    There's a difference between fear and respect. For the same reason that you should never allow a puppy to bite you, jump on you or sleep on the couch, you should never allow a rooster to engage in dominance behavior around humans. For that reason, you should not allow him to be in your immediate vicinity. You should, especially as he gets older, make him defer to the girls when giving treats. When I identify a cockrel in my chick brooder, he DOES get treated differently. He does not get handled. If he displays ANY human aggression, he gets schooled in appropriate roo/human interaction. There is no cruelty involved. But he does get treated much as a dominant roo would treat a young cockrel who forgets his p's and q's.
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    You can catch and hold him, but he should try to get away, that's a show of respect. The problem comes when roosters come towards people and than they handle him, or feed him That's a sign of dominance in the rooster and that the rooster is controlling the interactions.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Others have given terrific advice on handling an older cockerel, but I think you're more concerned about how you should deal with baby cockerels right now.

    It's been my experience that it's immaterial how much or how little you handle boy chicks. I say go ahead and enjoy them while they're little. But the minute you notice they're starting to come into their hormones, I recommend an immediate hands off rule except for when it's absolutely necessary for health reasons.

    Your cockerels will give you clues when they are reaching the hormonal stage. They will seem to go through a sudden personality change. They will be stand-offish where before they were the chicks most likely to want to jump in your lap for cuddles. It's at this point that a young cockerel can get mixed signals leading to misunderstandings and it can quickly go downhill from there.

    To avoid all the problems of aggression in your cockerels, when they get to that hormonal stage, around five months, ignore them. This means you allow your cockerels to find their own way into their roles in the flock with as little interference from you as possible, disciplining them only when absolutely necessary for overt acts of aggression.
     
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  5. AuntJamie

    AuntJamie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it.
    @lazy gardener Allow me to clarify what I meant when I said fear. When an animal isn't socialized, there is fear involved. Also I'd read that you should use a long supple switch to drive the rooster away, give him a thump on the head of hind end, keep him from mating around you, etc. It seems that constantly keeping an animal running would instigate a modicum of fear as well. I in no way meant to use cruelty. Using the switch to keep the too running makes sense, is exactly how an alpha roo would treat a lesser one.
    @oldhenlikesdogs I'm not sure what I'll do but leaning toward not handling them at the moment. I didn't handle my other rooster and he turned out fine, never gave me a problem. I'm just second guessing myself I think. I had a leghorn that was terrible but I've heard that's the breed so...
    @azygous the one BSL has quite a personality which is why I'm worrying. He's already bossing the other cockerel around and facing off other what I suspect is another cockerel. He definitely runs the show in the broodery. I thought it was a bit early for this behavior at 2 wks. Could it be early onset pecking order stuff? I read that starts at 3 wks.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    You only need to make that roo run when you are training him. Once he is trained, you no longer need to do so. It's fairly easy to tell when a roo is starting to forget his manners. He'll move in closer than normal, he'll perhaps give you the stink eye. Also, if he starts tidbitting in your general direction, that's a sign of aggressive feelings. My roo is currently very well behaved. My general opinion is that any roo in my care will be on probation for his entire life. Meaning, that I always keep a watchful eye on his behavior. We are on good terms now, and once in a very great while, I'll offer him a treat from a gloved hand. But, generally, he and I have an understanding that he doesn't come closer than arm's reach to me. If I see him getting food aggressive with any hen, or if I see him being a bit aggressive to a particular hen, I give him a bit of a reminder lesson. He knows his name, and if he comes in the coop when I don't want him there, I tell him to leave... and he does. If he's running down a hen for an aggressive breeding, I'll stamp my foot and say, "Jack, NO!" He'll immediately change direction, and find something more important to do. Much as the cat immediately starts to take a tongue bath when she falls off the couch. As if to say, "I meant to do that!"
     
  7. AuntJamie

    AuntJamie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What do you mean by tidbitting?
    Gosh, I can't wait for these chicks to grow up so I can get on with this training. There's a whole lot of waiting going on right now with this weather and the chicks and all.
     
  8. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    Tid bitting is when they pick up and drop pieces of food, all the while making noises to the girls to alert them that they've found food. It's something they do to stay in the good favors of the girls so they can have mating privileges (it can also get them close enough to jump on).

    I have read all of this stuff about the cockerels and how to treat them. I have yet to have an aggressive cockerel/rooster without treating them any different, but in general I am hands off with my birds except when checking for injuries and such. I do have one cockerel that was a late bloomer and he made himself a lap bird as a young chick all on his own. He is five months old now, and definitely hormonal as he tries to mate the girls, but he is also content to snuggle in my lap. My fingers are crossed that he retains his good manners, but we'll see. I never showed him extra attention (well, not at first) so I'm not sure why he is this way. I do sometimes pick him up against his will or push him away, just to keep him knowing that not all of our interactions are on his terms.

    ETA My little guy is an Old English Game bantam, so I doubt he will ever become more than I can handle. If he were a large fowl I would be much more weary (though ready to put him in the pot, anyway).
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  9. AuntJamie

    AuntJamie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The cockerel who inspired this thread, Alpha I call him, did the sweetest thing yesterday. I had already been leaning toward not handling them but his behavior got me and before I knew it I was holding him. We had started holding the chicks and they were responding well to the socialization. I left my hand in the broodery to see who would approach. A couple pullets came near but Alpha came up close so I pet him a few times. He hung out so I kept petting him. Then he laid on his side and stretched a wing and a leg out fully so I gave him a body stroke. It was the sweetest thing so I picked him up for a bit. I must be a sucker.
    Must. Keep. A. Distance. Jamie!
     
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    I'm gonna go ahead and advocate hands off. Only the cockerel who was "friendly" and hung out on my lap... attacks the back of my leg, charges me at the fence, tried to pull a hen out of my lap upon first reaching that age... before I was taught better.

    I know all birds are individuals and so not every experience will be the same. But this boy was my fave from early on and I truly believe things would have been different if I knew the truth sooner.

    This is the best post I've seen on teaching roosters/cockerels how to behave. It should give you a good idea of where to start. Pay particular attention to posts # 18 & 25!...
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1149551/aggressive-rooster/10

    Friendliness in your cockerel is really IMO a sign of his own self confidence and has nothing to do with friendliness. I have seen it in some dogs as well. Doesn't make it true 100% of the time of course. So you must decide what makes sense to you, as we all have different things that do and don't work for us. That's what makes BYC so great, all the willingness to share and true desire to be helpful! [​IMG]

    Good luck!
     

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