Why did my RIR rooster go from nice to very mean and aggressive?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chickencrazyinHT, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. chickencrazyinHT

    chickencrazyinHT In the Brooder

    Sep 19, 2010
    I have a rhode island red rooster and 3 hens in the same pen. We have had them since they were about 3 weeks old and they are now 6 months old. My rooster has always been nice and friendly. My 10 year old son can pick him up and he even comes right up to me when I come to feed them. Two of the hens have layed eggs for the first time today and when my son tried to get them from the nesting box he went in for an attack. My husband ran to get him off and he attacked him also. After things calmed down, I calmly went near the pen and he ran straight for me trying to attack. I know he is doing his job in protecting but he is also aggressively over fertilizing my hens. It seems like he is doing this every five minutes and even grabs their combs and shakes them with his beak. Their back feathers are ruffled. He has become a big bully! What made him turn so mean? It's like he flipped out. Do all roosters go through this? I'm wondering if this can be just a phase or will he probably always be mean now? I have read some things on here about Rhode Island Red Roosters being the most aggressive. Just wondering because I want a rooster to fertilize their eggs for the incubator but will not put up with being attacked or my hens being bullied. We put him by himself in another pen for now and if most roosters in this breed have tendencies to be mean then I don't want to try to get another. Just wondering some of your opinions....Thanks!
  2. bigspringshatchery

    bigspringshatchery Songster

    Jun 26, 2010
    Roanoke Alabama
    My rir was just like this. You better not turn you back on him or he would run at you and try ti spur you. He would even jump and fence and spur the fence. But I broke him and he hasn't bothered me in about 4-5 months. This is what I did. I got an old rake handle or a broom handle and took it with me while I was in the pen with my rirs. And every little bit I would run at him like he did me and make him run from you. You should never run from him and I would give him a tap with the stick, not to hard. I did this for about 5 min a day for about a week or 2. And he finally learned that I'm boss. I still do this every once and a while to remind him. Also ive read not to let him mate the hens in front of you and don't let him eat and drink first, the hens should be the first too. As far as the back feathers that just a roo being rough and over mating. You could get more hens, separate him from them(eggs are fertile for about 3-4 weeks after mating), or get a saddle. I have 8 rir hens and my roo still mates one hen more than the others.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  3. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Songster

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    Hormones...same reason teenagers go from sweet young children to surly, mouthy, drama queens! My RIR roo didn't ever go after me because I took steps to make him know that I was head chicken in this family! But he was terrorizing one of my hens! 1 out of 11! He ripped her back up so bad I had to keep a chicken saddle on her for 2 weeks for the rips in her skin to heal. I did cull this roo because he was so mean to the hens. I have since ordered some SLW's which I will pick up this Saturday. The guy i bought them from, same guy I bought my original 12 from, told me that SLW roo's are more docile than RIR's. There is a farm here that had some of his chickens and they told him their roo was so sweet that they would put him in a pen by himself in October because people liked to take pictures of him with their kids (they grew pumpkins and had a corn maze etc). Sadly, a bobcat tore through his hardware cloth pen recently and killed him. Anyway, you can change his behavior somewhat, but I don't know that he ever be safe around everyone. I don't know that for a fact though, maybe someone who has had RIR's for years could let us know if it is teenage behavior or will he always be mean.
  4. Sparklee

    Sparklee Songster

    Jul 28, 2008
    Oh, chickencrazyinHT, that's scary!

    An old timer told me that you shouldn't ever make friends with the baby roosters because those are the ones that grow up to be the meanest. Of course, that's got to be an over simplification.

    However, my friendliest roosters as youngsters seem to be the meanest in the end. I think it's because they register me as another chicken. And then they think they have to fight me for dominance. I don't fight, though. They do seem to calm down if living without hens around. I can go into that coop and the roosters don't bother me at all.

    For two roosters that get to free range with our hens, I never paid attention to them in any way when they were young. I ignore them. Don't look at them. Don't pick them up. They do just fine. Once adults, I also don't pick up their girls in front of them. I do nothing that would make them believe that I am another rooster. Of course, I don't have Rhode Island Reds nor Barred Rocks.

    Don't get me wrong, I love those roosters. They do fine work protecting, finding juicy bugs, and guiding the hens. But I can't let the roosters know I like them. I just ignore them and I don't make any sudden moves.
  5. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    It's the testosterone. [​IMG]
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    It is the hormones, as others have said. Not all do that anywhere near to that extreme, but any rooster from any breed can. Some breeds are more prone to it, but sometimes even those sweet docile Silkies will do that. Or a rooster from any breed may never go through that phase. I don't know that handling or not handling, ignoring or intimidating, or anything else works. I treat mine the same and had one that started attacking but many that have never even looked like attacking. They are not consistent.

    I was able to teach the one that started attacing to not attack me, but he still went after my wife or any visitors. Please consider young kids at risk around him. Their eyes are at a good level for his beak, claws, or spurs and they know that eyes are vulnerable.

    Will he grow out of it? Maybe, maybe not. They are all individual. A lot if the time, as a rooster matures, he stops overbreeding and being so rough with the hens. Many breeders keep a mature rooster in a breeding pen with one or two hens and seldom have a bareback problem. For different reasons, all going back to hormones and maturity, a young rooster is more prone to being a problem. Young pullets not ready for a rooster can also make the problem worse. If they actively resist, the hormonal rooster is more likely to resort to brute force.

    Once a rooster starts attacking people, I never trust him again. I raise them to eat, so it is not that big a problem for me, but others have different circumstances and goals.

    I can't tell you what to do in your circumstances. You can get rid of him and try another rooster, maybe waiting until the pullets mature a bit and you want fertile eggs. You can usually find one on Craigslist or someone at the feed store may know where you can get one. He may or may not be any better. Or you can keep them separated until you are ready for the fertile eggs, then put them together.

    Good luck! This type of thing is not always real easy.
  7. kelidei

    kelidei ~*Dances with chickens*~

    Mar 18, 2009
    Northern Illinois
    I think you have to deal with all roos on a one to one basis. What I mean is that it is true that some breeds tend to be more aggressive than others. I do not have a RIR roo but I do have a Blue Andalusian that came as the freebie that McMurray throws in when you order from them. They are also a pretty aggressive rooster. After two years we have a "working" relationship but it took a lot of effort and I can never turn my back on him. Inadvertently I discovered a way to "break" him. In cold weather I wear lots of layers and gloves... so I am pretty well padded. He couldn't hurt me... which made me less intimidated and more forceful with him. Because he couldn't harm me I would chase him in the coop ---even shoving him in the pop door if he was bothering me in the yard, I would grab his legs and hang him upside down and walk around with him like that for awhile and if he charged me I charged him until he gave up. It took quite a while... but now I can go in there and he may give me the stink eye but he usually just ignores me. I also noticed that he was very upset when I feed the hens treats by hand... so what I do now is call him and give him the treats first ... sometimes he just gobbles them up occasionally he will call the hens... but it is almost like I'm the Alpha roo calling him over for a treat. He hasn't tried to flog me in many months.

    I also have in my second coop a Buff Orpington Roo and a Black Australorp roo.... they are incredibly sweet... I can pet them (although I am not overly affectionate to them) and pick them up if need be... neither has shown ANY aggression ever and they are very good with their girls. I can actually sit in the run and they will come sit by me... crazy!!! Yet I bet there are people out there who have horror stories about roos of those breeds. I guess I have come to the conclusion with roos that if it is a purebred that I need I do my best to rehab them but if I feel it is too much... they go to freezer camp... My Andalusian would have been in the freezer long ago but he is dh's favorite [​IMG] If you are breeding RIR's then you need a RIR roo but if you just want a roo for protection then I would get a different breed... if you breed you never know you might get a "son" that is much nicer than his dad!
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  8. chickencrazyinHT

    chickencrazyinHT In the Brooder

    Sep 19, 2010
    Thank you all so much for your advice. We have had chickens for over a year now and have learned alot, but still have so much more to learn. I love this Backyard Chicken Forum as you learn so much from other experienced chicken owners. Our Buff Orpington Rooster is about the same age and is a nice Roo but since the incident with my RIR going crazy I will keep a close eye on him when we let him and his girls free range ( just in case his horomones kick in and he decides to come after us too) Thank you all and have a great day!
  9. MaransRock452

    MaransRock452 Hatching

    Mar 11, 2017
  10. MaransRock452

    MaransRock452 Hatching

    Mar 11, 2017
    I also have a RIR rooster. I have raised him since he was a baby. We have ten hens with him he has not gotten aggressive yet. he is about a year old he does that to the hens also but I know he is just trying to mate. My aunt had a rhoad island red that charged her. Her gut told her to hit him. U would either get on to him or don't buy another RIR rooster get rid of him usually RIR roosters turn mean idk why but I would be especially carful

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