WallyBirdie

Crowing
Aug 2, 2019
854
1,866
266
I have a young Wyandotte roo (almost 4 months old) who is surprisingly large (I've been told he's a meat bird, but I will not be eating him).
Not long ago, he was showing signs of being territorial and possessive of the flock, which was fine until he tried to bite me for refilling their water.

That's a problem.

I've been working with him, picking him up and holding him several times a day, and he's calmed down. His behavior has improved and he's become easy to manage.

Unfortunately, he's starting to bully the hens now. He left a bald patch on my Orloff and is starting to pull at the neck feathers of my Calico Princess.

I think he's too young to be mating. The girls aren't laying yet. Is this courtship or bullying?

I temporarily separated him from the flock to give the other birds a break. The result was instant calm for both the rooster and the other chickens.

I have (as far as I know) 4 roosters between three separate runs/coops, and 30+ birds. In the future I might re-home one of the accidental roos, but not just yet.

I'm looking for methods and routines to help establish a more calm environment for the flock without getting rid of my favorite Wyandotte.

Any advice that does not include eating my bird is appreciated.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,508
39,387
1,106
southern Michigan
You can keep him separated for now, or move him into a group of adult hens, for some behavior training from them. Big tough hens!
He's a rowdy adolescent, who may learn better social skills, or not. Agemates aren't ready to breed yet, and he's overwhelming them.
If all your birds are pullets and cockerels, could he move into a bachelor pen with other cockerels?
Favorites can become non-favorites if they don't grow into polite adults!!!
Mary
 

WallyBirdie

Crowing
Aug 2, 2019
854
1,866
266
You can keep him separated for now, or move him into a group of adult hens, for some behavior training from them. Big tough hens!
He's a rowdy adolescent, who may learn better social skills, or not. Agemates aren't ready to breed yet, and he's overwhelming them.
If all your birds are pullets and cockerels, could he move into a bachelor pen with other cockerels?
Favorites can become non-favorites if they don't grow into polite adults!!!
Mary
Goodness, I love the idea of putting him with big hens. I'll see about trying that. I have 8 big girls and 1 rather large Brahma hen, all of which are bossy but friendly. I've had them for years. Thing is, my little Polish birds and juvenile guineas are now sharing that pen with the big girls. I'd have to pull the little ones out to put my naughty roo in there.

I'll have to do some thinking to make this work.

I have a fully grown rooster turken in another pen, but his leading lady just hatched 5 babies. I won't be putting my bad boy in with those babies.

I'm hoping to keep my bully roo (his name is Adam) separate for a couple days, and that might help. If not, I'll try the hens. I won't be building any new coops or pens til next summer, and even then, I was only planning to expand the run.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,508
39,387
1,106
southern Michigan
I grow my youngsters in a flock with adult hens and roosters, and it makes for better behavior, as the cockerels get to eat some 'humble pie' daily.
I also have zero tolerance for human aggressive cockerels and roosters; polite behavior is most important!
Mary
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,842
21,959
907
Southeast Louisiana
You don't have a rooster, you have an immature cockerel. There an be a world of difference in their behaviors. While it's possible a rooster never becomes an adult as he ages, most do mature. A mature rooster treats his ladies nice, a snotty teenage brat often does not. He is hopped up on hormones and has no self-control.

At that age the mating act is not about sex or fertilizing the eggs, it's about dominance. The one on bottom is accepting the dominance of the one on top, either willingly or by force. At that age, it's almost always by force. His hormones are out of control and the pullets don't know what is going on but they usually know whey don't want to be dominated. He is bullying the pullets because that's how he establishes dominance over them.

I don't know where that bald patch is on your Orloff but the head grab is part of the mating act, even if it is for dominance and not sex. The head grab is the way the male tells the hen to raise her tail so he can hit the target. If you watch your adult rooster you'll see that he grabs the back of the head. He has good technique and the hen is willing so it's not violent. It's a different story with your cockerel and those immature pullets. Since it is violent it can be hard to watch and a pullet can get injured. His behavior toward the pullets is not indicative as how he will act when he and the pullets mature. If he is creating bald spots now it's probably a good idea to separate him from the pullets until they all mature.

I typically let my cockerels and pullets grow up with the flock which also has mature hens and a mature rooster. It's interesting observing the interaction between the cockerel and the pullets, the cockerel and the mature hens, and the cockerel and the mature rooster. Each year it is different, depending on the personalities of the individual chickens involved. Some years it is relatively peaceful, some years it is not. I have a lot of room, which I think helps.

More to your situation, I occasionally have a flock that does not have a mature rooster but has mature hens and immature pullets and a cockerel. I see different behaviors. Some years the cockerel fairly peacefully takes over dominance of the flock. There is just not a lot of drama. Most years he will start chasing the hens to mate and they run away. Usually he chases them down to mate them but it's not that violent. When he catches them they squat. Occasionally the dominant hen objects to losing her dominance so she will knock him off if he tries to mate one of the other hens. That's the only time I see it get really violent. He eventually matures enough to stand up to her which can result if a couple of days of fighting. I generally don't see the hens beating him up other than the dominant hen knocking him off. There can be a lot of chasing and running away, but i think that is the value of having a lot of room. The pullets, hens, and cockerel have room to run away and get away.

I don't know what the best approach is for you. If you can think of a way you can try him with the older hens or at least some of them, it might work. It might work. Just observe and see how it goes. Another approach would be to house him separately (by himself) until several of the pullets are laying, then put him back with them. When they start laying pullets tend to act more like adults and maybe he will have matured enough so the hormones are not totally in control. if it doesn't work wait another month.

I don't see him trying once to bite you as him being wildly human aggressive. You've taken steps to show him that's not acceptable. When they attack you with hackle feathers spread and come at you with claws and spurs, that's human aggressive. Often they try to sneak up on your from behind. To me that's a reason to remove him from your flock.

I personally would not give up on him yet if you really want him. But always solve for the benefit of the overall flock. If he is too disruptive get rid of him.
 

WallyBirdie

Crowing
Aug 2, 2019
854
1,866
266
You don't have a rooster, you have an immature cockerel. There an be a world of difference in their behaviors. While it's possible a rooster never becomes an adult as he ages, most do mature. A mature rooster treats his ladies nice, a snotty teenage brat often does not. He is hopped up on hormones and has no self-control.

At that age the mating act is not about sex or fertilizing the eggs, it's about dominance. The one on bottom is accepting the dominance of the one on top, either willingly or by force. At that age, it's almost always by force. His hormones are out of control and the pullets don't know what is going on but they usually know whey don't want to be dominated. He is bullying the pullets because that's how he establishes dominance over them.

I don't know where that bald patch is on your Orloff but the head grab is part of the mating act, even if it is for dominance and not sex. The head grab is the way the male tells the hen to raise her tail so he can hit the target. If you watch your adult rooster you'll see that he grabs the back of the head. He has good technique and the hen is willing so it's not violent. It's a different story with your cockerel and those immature pullets. Since it is violent it can be hard to watch and a pullet can get injured. His behavior toward the pullets is not indicative as how he will act when he and the pullets mature. If he is creating bald spots now it's probably a good idea to separate him from the pullets until they all mature.

I typically let my cockerels and pullets grow up with the flock which also has mature hens and a mature rooster. It's interesting observing the interaction between the cockerel and the pullets, the cockerel and the mature hens, and the cockerel and the mature rooster. Each year it is different, depending on the personalities of the individual chickens involved. Some years it is relatively peaceful, some years it is not. I have a lot of room, which I think helps.

More to your situation, I occasionally have a flock that does not have a mature rooster but has mature hens and immature pullets and a cockerel. I see different behaviors. Some years the cockerel fairly peacefully takes over dominance of the flock. There is just not a lot of drama. Most years he will start chasing the hens to mate and they run away. Usually he chases them down to mate them but it's not that violent. When he catches them they squat. Occasionally the dominant hen objects to losing her dominance so she will knock him off if he tries to mate one of the other hens. That's the only time I see it get really violent. He eventually matures enough to stand up to her which can result if a couple of days of fighting. I generally don't see the hens beating him up other than the dominant hen knocking him off. There can be a lot of chasing and running away, but i think that is the value of having a lot of room. The pullets, hens, and cockerel have room to run away and get away.

I don't know what the best approach is for you. If you can think of a way you can try him with the older hens or at least some of them, it might work. It might work. Just observe and see how it goes. Another approach would be to house him separately (by himself) until several of the pullets are laying, then put him back with them. When they start laying pullets tend to act more like adults and maybe he will have matured enough so the hormones are not totally in control. if it doesn't work wait another month.

I don't see him trying once to bite you as him being wildly human aggressive. You've taken steps to show him that's not acceptable. When they attack you with hackle feathers spread and come at you with claws and spurs, that's human aggressive. Often they try to sneak up on your from behind. To me that's a reason to remove him from your flock.

I personally would not give up on him yet if you really want him. But always solve for the benefit of the overall flock. If he is too disruptive get rid of him.
Thank you for this very helpful reply. It was very informative.

This is the first time a chicken has ever tried to bite me, so I wanted to nip the behavior before it became a problem.
I'll take into account all I have learned and act accordingly depending on behavioral outcome. I plan to keep him. He's only recently began to act out, and as you said, it's likely dominance and hormones.

I've been handling him regularly and separating him when he gets too rough. It seems to be helping. I have free time to keep watch, so I plan to keep at it.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,508
39,387
1,106
southern Michigan
I don't handle my cockerels or roosters unless it's necessary; I don't show them, so it's fine here.
Nipping once isn't bad, necessarily, I agree. He got over it, and hasn't acted out in any other way towards you. Perfect!
Nobody's been actually injured, also good. See if he benefits by some time away, and with mature birds. Either he will learn to behave well, or not.
Mary
 

WallyBirdie

Crowing
Aug 2, 2019
854
1,866
266
I don't handle my cockerels or roosters unless it's necessary; I don't show them, so it's fine here.
Nipping once isn't bad, necessarily, I agree. He got over it, and hasn't acted out in any other way towards you. Perfect!
Nobody's been actually injured, also good. See if he benefits by some time away, and with mature birds. Either he will learn to behave well, or not.
Mary
I've already put my boy back with his flock and he's behaved like a gentleman so far. I'll keep watch just in case but that little time away from them seems to have helped.
 

MANNA-PRO

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom