Young rooster becoming too aggressive, abusive

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Prairie Orca, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Prairie Orca

    Prairie Orca Out Of The Brooder

    Yesterday my mom came back into the house after feeding the chickens, yelling, "I [censored] hate Itchy!"

    While she was scooping feed out of the bin, Itchy had attacked her. Pecked and kicked his feet at her leg.

    So I told her to come with me to the coop (we're keeping them in the coop for the winter since there's no point in letting them out when there's no vegetation available outside, and it's below freezing point). I wanted to see Itchy's aggressiveness myself. He refused to do so while I was there, but did his usual pre-emptive strike behaviours - rolling his head back, flapping his wings, charging and backing off. So I grabbed him and held him gently but firmly, as the other four chickens ran to the other side of the coop, clucking away. He struggled again and again, tossing up his legs to try and claw me. I just held him in place, gently telling him, "No. Calm down."

    I let him go and he ran around me to rejoin his flock. Then I noticed the feathers. Lots of feathers, scattered around the floor of the coop. I checked all the chickens. Quiet Hen and Yappy (the two adult hens) were missing feathers on their backs, near the tail end.

    I know that it is Itchy causing this damage - I caught him mounting the hens in the past, aggressively holding them in place (clenching the feathers on their neck in his beak, gripping their back tightly with his feet). I figured that back then he was younger, he needed practise, and would be more gentle when he got older. But it's gotten worse, the hens are losing their feathers. They can't afford to lose their feathers during the winter, when the windchill can get to -40. Scratchy, Itchy's brother, is calm and submissive, and therefore is incapable of causing such damage. The most he does to the hens is clean their feathers affectionately.

    I suppose part of the problem is that my mom has a fear of chickens. The first time she tried touching one of these chickens, Itchy was behind her, and scared the crap out of her when he crowed for the very first time. She uses a stick to tap Itchy on the chest/neck whenever he becomes aggressive toward her, but from what I've gathered it doesn't have any effect.

    I don't want to get rid of Itchy in any way, as he is Scatchy's only companion (the other three ignore Scratchy).

    My parents think it's a good idea to set up some chicken wire in the coop and put Itchy in isolation there, where he can't abuse the hens any longer but still be with them.

    I don't know what to do, to be honest.
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    He more than likely will only get worse.......I'm sure he'd make tasty chicken and dumplings. There are too many good roosters out there to put up with a nasty one.
  3. LarryPQ

    LarryPQ Easter Hatch!!

    Jul 17, 2009
    It may not be what you want to hear, but Katy is right. Once the roos get aggressive, they rarely go back to being lap chickens. Their hormones may calm down a little, but usually not enough to prevent an occasional flogging.

    You are better off finding (or raising) another roo who will be a good fit.
  4. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2009
    It's your responsibility as an owner to provide a quality life for your chickens -- all of them. Isolation is no way for a chicken to live indefinitely, they are flock animals, and given the circumstances he's highly unlikely to get better which means your hens cannot live a quality life with him there. Sometimes doing the right thing is doing the hard thing. It's time to rehome Itchy, to someone else's flock or the freezer. The choice is yours, if you choose to place him with another flock however, make sure you're completely honest as to why.
    jay873 likes this.
  5. Dave Z

    Dave Z Out Of The Brooder

    May 29, 2009
    Here's a guide to rooster reform. Worked with my aggressive roo. He keeps his distance now.

    Regarding the feather loss on the hens, you may have too few hens for your roosters. One roo will be dominant and if he has only a few hens, he can be pretty tough on them. Some folks say a good ration is a dozen or more hens per rooster. In addition, from what I've seen, that subordinate rooster will mount the hens everytime the boss turns his back.

    Even when it's cold, my chickens like to get out. There may not be any vegetation, but you could throw out some scratch or kitchen scraps and they'll enjoy pecking around for it, even through snow. (We don't get a lot of snow here, maybe a few inches here and there, but it doesn't seem to bother my EEs, BRs and RIRs.)
  6. chkn

    chkn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 27, 2010
    I suppose you could put some saddles on the hens. I personally wouldn't send my mother out to feed the chickens or anyone else who was a afraid of them. BTW, Dave Z. has some good advice although I don't think I'd be quick enough to stop the 'breeding act' before it's over! One of my RIR roosters was getting a little smart, I gave him a good firm 'head shake'. Nothing hurtful, just firm. He's been a good boy since. I've had such good luck with my RIR's now I've been spoiled.
  7. RainbowBirds_of_a_Feather

    RainbowBirds_of_a_Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2010
    Aloha, I have some suggestions and a method that works for me after all these options that I have done. I hope it assists you but you seem to have a young flock, I hope I didn't miss anything in your post. [​IMG]


    1)Rehouse Him
    2)Cull Him
    3)Separate the Boys till the Girls re-feather out
    4)Have MOM dominate him like she is head roo Because if He is a young roo he will try to assert his dominance if there is no "mature" Roo in that flock.
    5)Give the Girls Saddles to protect them from his roughness
    6)Isolate the Boys from Gals till they are Habituated to you and MOM and then put them back with the flock.

    I have done these to all my roos throughout the years, that either were overly aggressive or issued birds, if you catch it early. Often times the nature of the type of breed will have a chunk of males aggressive and some docile, it just depends. I have used a Senior Male to keep the other roosters in check and they tend to be docile and have learned a few tips from the Senior Roo when it comes to mounting hens. I have a prime example of how sometimes a senior male can soften younger males.

    Short Story:
    My now Senior roo B.J. was second in command to Beating Blood and was the kindest roo and then took the "Head Roo" Position where Black Beard was tolerated but not allowed to touch a hen by Beating Blood. Black Beard is now Second in command and will not allow any of the other roos to touch a female. But B.J. Mini (cross back) is tolerated by B.J. and chased away by Black Beard, along with the other low ranking males in my flock. These two (B.J. & Black Beard) will tolerate each other breeding when the hens submit to either of them, often allowing one to mount then the other to mount after the other. ( I have witnessed this a lot while in the coop/ out in the run)
  8. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    What Katy said unfortunately. A mean roo isn't a very fun roo, and he's just going to be darn frustrated with not enough hens.

    My story - I started out with a dozen straight run chicks - ended up with 7 hens and 5 roos. Ended up getting 5 more hens.

    One roo charged my daughter with me standing about 5 feet away. She likes feeding the chickens. There are no second chances when it comes to toddlers, so the next day he was invited for dinner.

    Two more roos got older and started being really abusive to the hens. A couple hens were really picked on, and became almost depressed acting. Those two roos started eyeballing my daughter too and not giving way to her. They came to dinner.

    The two I have left now have a dozen hens, and one roo is dominant, one is submissive. The dominant one was actually the most submissive to the three I culled, very quiet, never bred, never did anything. The second in command is kind of.....handicapped. He's curled toed, hunchbacked, and just overall goofy looking. However, they breed gently, take care of their girls, find treats, do all the nice things that good roos do. The dominant roo ignores the submissive, but between them all, I have a pretty happy and content flock.

    Most importantly, no humans are in danger. If one of them actually attacked my child, I would hate myself for a long, long time. I keep close to her, but I'm not going to deny her the joy she has with them. Your mom should enjoy the chickens, not hate them - I've even got my husband liking my chickens, and willing to care for them when I'm not able to.

    I think if Itchy were rehomed, Scratchy may turn out to be a pretty decent roo.

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