Update - Is This Just Submissive Beta Rooster Behavior?


12 Years

I have 3 LF Brahma chickens who are now almost 7 months old. Two are roosters which leaves just the one hen. They have been getting along famously and have all been living together in the same coop at night and free-ranging all day every day. The alpha roo is very protective of the hen, she follows him around everywhere and comes when he calls. The hen and beta rooster on the other hand are best buddies and love to sit together. The beta will sit in her nest box sometimes and at other times will sit right beside while she is in there laying her egg. Sounds like a very happy family, and it has been.....

However, during the last week I've seen the alpha fight with the beta twice. It's never been anything serious, but on the first occasion the alpha did remove two of the beta's hackle feathers. Both times it has been the alpha roo that has attacked the beta roo. And both times the beta roo has instantly sat down in submission. It's all been over pretty quickly (the first time I was worried for my beta roo as I'd never experienced this behavior before, and intervened to break them up).

Since these two occasions my beta roo (who by the way, is the loveliest, most gentle and loving rooster) has been acting a little weird. He's still eating and drinking as normal, however, he is sitting down a lot these days. When he walks he kinda wobbles and doesn't walk tall. He doesn't want to go into the coop at night and often sits in the doorway refusing to budge any further. Is this just submissive behavior? I've not had chickens before and so this is all very new to me.

I want my little happy chicken family back! What can I do? I know I probably need to get my beta roo some girls of his own, but I'm waiting for my hen to hopefully go broody so that I can breed my own for him. Can I afford to wait? Will it necessarily get worse before it gets better? Aside from the unsteadiness/crouching behavior he seems fine in himself. He is still spending time with the other two, but is obviously being cautious about where he is placing himself. I picked him to check him the other day and immediately both the hen and the alpha rooster ran over to me, squawked at me and pecked me! They have never done this before. What does that mean?

Sorry if this is all a bit long...just wanted to make sure I gave you all as many details as possible.

So looking forward to hearing about your own experiences with alpha/beta roo relationships and also your advice to me.

Many many thanks!
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It sounds to me like your alpha is trying to reinforce his position at the top. In my experience the fighting just gets worse. I had a similar situation where my beta was happy being a beta. He took to roosting on top of the run instead of in the coop. I used to have to beat him off the roof with a broom to get him inside. The fighting between the two escalated until I had two full-on cock fights in my back yard - torn combs and waddles, lots of blood. At that point I decided to sell my alpha since he was the nicer specimen and I wasn't planning to breed anyway.

I'm afraid that without separating them, more hens is not going to help your beta. The alpha will just claim them for himself. I do, however, think that more hens is a good idea for your hen. That poor thing is going to be very beat up with two roosters after her.

If I were you, I'd sell one of your roos and get 2+ more hens.
I agree. It sounds like the alpha roo has already done some fairly serious injury to the beta, if he's wobbling a bit and can't fully extend himself upright. There are probably more fights going on that you can't see. Personally, I would keep the beta boy, because if the alpha is willing to attack unprovoked, he could see you as the next "roo" that he needs to put in it's place. Especially if you are interfering in the fighting.

I also 100% agree that you need at least a couple more girls if you are keeping even one of the boys. Even if you got rid of one male, a 1 to 1 ratio of roos to hens will result in the hen being WAY overbred. You COULD try just adding more girls, the two boys MIGHT split them up and each have their own hens. But at the very least right NOW the two boys need to be separated, the beta needs some time to heal up from the attacks of the alpha. And once he is better you won't be able to just put them back together as things are now, the fighting will be much worse after a separation.
Thanks for your replies. Please don't think me rude or ungrateful - but is there any way that I can still keep both roosters? I do appreciate your advice (I am the novice here after all).

Could it be that the alpha will settle down? They've been such good friends up to this point. I really don't want to get rid of one unnecessarily. Has anyone ever had a good outcome with two roosters in this type of situation? The 'fighting', as I've said, is very low key and really is not much more than a squabble. No blood has been drawn. During the day when they are out free-ranging there is no problem at all. All three happily dust-bath together and then snuggle up for a sleep in the afternoons! They are all feeding out of the same plate at the same time too.

If I separate the beta roo - maybe put him in a large dog crate at night beside the chicken coop (which is an all-wire open coop) would this help?

I'm hoping there's gotta be another way

Thanks again

Oh - and I should just add - the beta roo is not even attempting to mate the hen. He seems to know his place in the pecking order and is content to simply be her best buddy! The alpha is mating the hen maybe 3 times a day. It doesn't appear to be stressing her. She is now lifting her tail for him.
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The only way I could see to keep both would be to get more hens, maybe a couple more for alpha, and a few younger ones you can house separately with beta, then if / when you mix them back together hopefully the younger girls will stay with beta, and he will have his own separate flock within a flock.

And no, once the alpha starts picking fights, it will continue unless you create an alternate situation for them.
Have you considered building another coop/run for the second roo?

I think the fighting will only get worse as they get older.

Also, if one of you roos tends to be more violent and you really want to keep him then you will have to house him separately or rehome him.

Good Luck.
Ok Cloverleaf. Thanks. Looks like I need to hunt out some new girls for my roos. Trouble is, I live in Thailand and these chickens were not easy to source. Finding western chickens here has been a long 2 year process for me until I finally discovered these ones as 3 week old chicks. However, I could probably get some more from the same source. But, the next problem is that western chickens are expensive here because of their rarity! I would only be able to afford 3 week old chicks again and so it would end up taking a while to solve the hen:roo ratio problem. Chicks mixing with 7 month olds would likely create a whole new problem for me wouldn't it?

If you get to pick your chicks, avoid getting any that have comb development at all. You might have better luck. Otherwise, I suggest just having a nice dinner... I know, sounds kinda messed up, but, he's a young roo, so he'd be good eating. You might need to do that if you can't find more hens, and soon...
Yes I'm afraid it would...maybe by the time beta roo is all healed up and ready to leave his "hospital" you'll be able to find something...

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