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Rooster temperament theory

 
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So, I have a theory and am curious what you all think of it:

A rooster hatched and raised by hens is more likely to be “nice” than a commercial hatchery rooster.

Reasons being that hatchery chickens are essentially orphans with nobody to teach them how to appropriately be a chickens in chicken society. Where a chick hatched and raised by hens will have no choice but to conform to what is acceptable by the flock.

We only have experience with 2 roosters. Our first was a buff orpington ordered from a commercial hatchery at the same time as buff orpington hens. He was an asshole to us and them by the time he was 4 months old. By 6 months I started contemplating butchering him and aptly named him Bardo. By 10 months he was (fantastic) soup. Our current rooster is a jubilee orpington, bought locally as a day-old and was raised in the coop by our flock. Hes a year younger than them but he’s much more gentle on them and not aggressive towards us at all. And hes about 13 months old now.

I also have a coworker who is new to chickens. He has 6 Rhode Island Red hens and one rooster, all the same age ordered from a commercial hatchery. His rooster is just starting to get aggressive and is about 4 months old. I told him to soup the rooster and adopt one of the young flock-raised roosters that are being given away nearby but he’s going to wait and see for now.

Coincidence, or am I on to something with the more naturally raised chickens being more friendly and less violent/rapey?
 
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loosely, you’re right. i think a hatchery roo put in with older, take no nonsense hens while he’s still quite small, will have some manners beat into him before he’s big enough to be a menace. ..at least some of the time. i agree that hatchery roosters raised with only their-age pullets are likely to be jerks.
 
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I only have experience with two roosters as well. I have two hatchery roosters, Burt and Fern, both Easter Eggers. I've heard Easter Egger roos referred to as "rainbows of anger". They were supposed to be hens, but hatcheries make mistakes. Any who, they were raised with six hens their own age from day one. Fern was always jumping on me as a chick, so he got the aggressive cuddles every time he did that. He is now a ridiculously cuddly rooster. He's mostly really good with the girls. He tidbits, he dances and he even builds them nests and protects broodies! He almost always respects "no" from the girls. I think there's just not enough hens and if we had more, he'd do better with that. Even so, it's pretty rare. Burt has all the same positive behaviors with the girls. However, he can be quite aggressive towards us and sometimes the hens if they challenge him. Fern runs away from them if they get grumpy at him. This has meant Fern gets to be with the girls and Burt is separated for now. I think he could be an excellent rooster if he had hens of his own who were a larger, more assertive breed. Ours are kind of dainty hens and he's quite large in comparison. He wasn't such a jerk when he had access to the girls, but they couldn't handle two roosters obviously.

I suppose it's possible I lucked out and got two hatchery roosters who demonstrate mostly good behavior by nature. I wonder if the fact that I did my best to act like a mother hen had anything to do with their being better behaved though. I spent a lot of time observing them as chicks and checking any bad behavior. I also handled them a lot. Burt probably got handled the least cause he didn't much like it. Sometimes I wonder if I'd given him the aggressive snuggles more if he'd be more even tempered. He can be snuggly with us, but also bites feet at times. Once I learned they were roosters, I definitely made a point of not letting them jump on the girls unless it was clear that was what the girls wanted. I also separated them in an adjacent pen so they could see, but not get to the girls if I wasn't around. That may have helped too. The girls were constantly trying to break into the boys pen and those were the times I'd let the roosters be around them. Ignoring the hen's "no" landed them right back in their separate pen. It's so hard to know what's nature and what's nurture. My experience does make me wonder if humans can help guide roosters to be good ones, in the event a proper mother hen isn't available.

I also wonder if human aggression is a result of inadvertently doing things that make the rooster feel you're trying to take his job and/or threaten his hens. I always tried to be really conscious of this and think it helped. For example, when I'd bring food out, I wouldn't call them over, because that's the rooster's job. I would make sure he saw the food and allow him to call the girls to it. I also was very careful not to do anything that upset the hens in front of him so he wouldn't perceive me as a danger to them. I also just make a point of talking to him and telling him what I'm doing. And praising him when he does good things. In fairness to Burt, the times he has bitten me were near dark when he really wanted to escort the girls to the coop and couldn't.
There is some excellent and helpful information on the following site about rooster behavior and how to interact with them: Understanding Rooster Behavior and Socialization
It really helped me to better understand my boys. Fern is just the sweetest. He treats me as part of the flock and even comforts me when I'm upset. So I don't think all hatchery roosters are bad. Even those that are, it's hardly their fault, given what they experience. Domesticated chickens as a species probably have some serious intergenerational trauma from most of them not having mothers and proper flock dynamics.
 
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Hi Brody,
I think your theory is good, but not universal. Chickens (like people and animals) have personalities. Yes, breeds have tendencies, but they are still individual chickens. Some will be lazy, some will be hard working, some are bullies and some are nice. Being raised without parents will make it harder for the rooster to socialize, but just like a human orphan, some rise above it and are fine. If the rooster was raised by chickens, it is less likely to be mean and cruel, but some roosters are just jerks, despite their upbringing (much like humans, again). Having a lot of interaction with people at a young age will help the chickens be less afraid of you and more accepting of you being around and doing things, but as Heather points out, some chickens take to human interaction more than others.

I think in general if you get a gentle, nice rooster, great! If not, make him into soup and try again.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Heather Sharpe wrote:I only have experience with two roosters as well. I have two hatchery roosters, Burt and Fern, both Easter Eggers. I've heard Easter Egger roos referred to as "rainbows of anger". They were supposed to be hens, but hatcheries make mistakes. Any who, they were raised with six hens their own age from day one. Fern was always jumping on me as a chick, so he got the aggressive cuddles every time he did that. He is now a ridiculously cuddly rooster. He's mostly really good with the girls. He tidbits, he dances and he even builds them nests and protects broodies! He almost always respects "no" from the girls. I think there's just not enough hens and if we had more, he'd do better with that. Even so, it's pretty rare. Burt has all the same positive behaviors with the girls. However, he can be quite aggressive towards us and sometimes the hens if they challenge him. Fern runs away from them if they get grumpy at him. This has meant Fern gets to be with the girls and Burt is separated for now. I think he could be an excellent rooster if he had hens of his own who were a larger, more assertive breed. Ours are kind of dainty hens and he's quite large in comparison. He wasn't such a jerk when he had access to the girls, but they couldn't handle two roosters obviously.

I suppose it's possible I lucked out and got two hatchery roosters who demonstrate mostly good behavior by nature. I wonder if the fact that I did my best to act like a mother hen had anything to do with their being better behaved though. I spent a lot of time observing them as chicks and checking any bad behavior. I also handled them a lot. Burt probably got handled the least cause he didn't much like it. Sometimes I wonder if I'd given him the aggressive snuggles more if he'd be more even tempered. He can be snuggly with us, but also bites feet at times. Once I learned they were roosters, I definitely made a point of not letting them jump on the girls unless it was clear that was what the girls wanted. I also separated them in an adjacent pen so they could see, but not get to the girls if I wasn't around. That may have helped too. The girls were constantly trying to break into the boys pen and those were the times I'd let the roosters be around them. Ignoring the hen's "no" landed them right back in their separate pen. It's so hard to know what's nature and what's nurture. My experience does make me wonder if humans can help guide roosters to be good ones, in the event a proper mother hen isn't available.

I also wonder if human aggression is a result of inadvertently doing things that make the rooster feel you're trying to take his job and/or threaten his hens. I always tried to be really conscious of this and think it helped. For example, when I'd bring food out, I wouldn't call them over, because that's the rooster's job. I would make sure he saw the food and allow him to call the girls to it. I also was very careful not to do anything that upset the hens in front of him so he wouldn't perceive me as a danger to them. I also just make a point of talking to him and telling him what I'm doing. And praising him when he does good things. In fairness to Burt, the times he has bitten me were near dark when he really wanted to escort the girls to the coop and couldn't.
There is some excellent and helpful information on the following site about rooster behavior and how to interact with them: Understanding Rooster Behavior and Socialization
It really helped me to better understand my boys. Fern is just the sweetest. He treats me as part of the flock and even comforts me when I'm upset. So I don't think all hatchery roosters are bad. Even those that are, it's hardly their fault, given what they experience. Domesticated chickens as a species probably have some serious intergenerational trauma from most of them not having mothers and proper flock dynamics.



I think you’re probably on to something with the observation that taking the rooster’s duties upsets him. When I bring our flock treats I usually give them to the rooster and let him give them to the hens. I enjoy watching him do this. Our first rooster would just eat it all himself. Our current rooster doesn’t eat much for treats, hes happy to share. I bring him those big long horned beetles and he pops the guts out and then gives the whole carcass to a hen every time. I also think you’re probably correct about domesticated chickens having tons of intergenerational trauma. I dont see how they wouldn't.

I find it interesting that you see such positive results with the snuggling approach. I haven’t tried that. With our first rooster, the first time he came at me I simply reacted and kicked him. No thoughts involved, just quick reaction. I think that set the stage for rivalry. Ive committed (at least for now) with not being violent towards our current rooster although he hasn’t tempted me at all yet. I do make it a point to pick him up, talk to him, carry him around and pet him maybe once a week or so. He doesn’t particularly like it but he also doesn’t fight it much. I just want him to know that I’m not a threat but also that I’m in control.
 
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Each of our first two years here, we bought a run of 10 female chicks - first, Buff Orpingtons, the second, Black Austrolorps. The first year, we lost half of them to a dog attack, or we wouldn't likely have bought a 2nd run, until I'd be able to convince John that buying more every year or two would be expensive, and letting me get a straight run one would eliminate that. That came the 3rd year, when we bought a straight run of Barred Rock, and tucked them under a broody hen to raise. She did a GREAT job, and we ended up with two well-behaved roos out of that endeavor. That whole run have always been people-shy, but polite, and those boys are exceptionally good with the girls.

Last year, we bought a straight run of Buff Orps, to tuck under another broody, in hopes of taking eggs to the farmers market, but by the time they arrived, our broody got scared off the nest by a snake, and we got stuck raising them. Every time I tried to integrate them, the older hens would try to kill them, and one of the two roos from that bunch was a real jerk. He'd go after our legs, was *really* rough on the girls, and the bigger he got, the more he terrorized all our birds, including the muskovies and turkeys - and even the goats weren't safe. When he started sneaking up on and attacking my little cavalier, he met his end. One of the Barred Rock roos came and beat him up, before we could pick him up. This guy had been far worse than we'd realized, because the next day, it was so quiet when we went out, it was kinda eerie, until we figured it out. Since everyone was so much calmer, we were able to check on all of them, and discovered a lot of injuries from fighting with him, and I honestly think that jerk is the reason none of our girls went broody, this year - they were too stressed out. Everyone (including my poor girls) is now healed, and getting along incredibly well. The other younger Buff seemed to have learned to mind his manners ok, but he's still not quite as gentle as the boys that were raised with the flock. I hope to be able to just let nature take its course, now, and not buy more unless some catastrophe takes a big percentage of my flock, again.
 
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This is interesting, and I think accurate. I have never intentionally gotten a rooster. We have had 5 in the many years we've had chickens.  The first 2 were hatched in my daughter's kindergarten class.  They were our first, we got a handful more and raised them together. In hindsight I think we could have kept whity, but Polly was so aggressive attacking my 4 year old every chance he got. I got rid of both.
The next 2 were supposed to be pullets, raised with same age total agressive jerks!  I have (?) A rooster now that's about 6 months old. This time there are mostly older hens, and he is definitely not at the top of the pecking order.  He just tries to stay away from me.  My line is if he's nice he can stay, mean he has to go.
But the rooster was relentless picking on my old sweet hens. I let her out. She was happy for about a week, then seemed to want back into the coop I let her in and he instantly attacked her. I tried to let her out and he chased her out. I wacked him with a shovel (not to hard, just enough to get him away from her). Then I took the hose and drenched her every time he went near the hen.  I put her back in the chicken yard, and the hens attacked her, so back out she goes.  It was a few days ago, and I haven't seen the rooster since. I thought he was gone, but yesterday I saw him hiding in the walnut. So the jury is still out. I may have taught him to be mean. I will be sad, but I just don't want to always have to defend myself in the coop.
I'm out town we have a ton of wild chickens. You can't go into the grocery store, or fast food without seeing chickens.  I have never been charged or had a bad experience with any of the roosters.  It actually frustrates me that roosters I hand raised feed was kind to try to kick my butt every chance they get, and roosters that have to fight for every scrap  just ignores me.
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Heather Sharpe
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I think you’re probably on to something with the observation that taking the rooster’s duties upsets him. When I bring our flock treats I usually give them to the rooster and let him give them to the hens. I enjoy watching him do this. Our first rooster would just eat it all himself. Our current rooster doesn’t eat much for treats, hes happy to share. I bring him those big long horned beetles and he pops the guts out and then gives the whole carcass to a hen every time. I also think you’re probably correct about domesticated chickens having tons of intergenerational trauma. I dont see how they wouldn't.

I find it interesting that you see such positive results with the snuggling approach. I haven’t tried that. With our first rooster, the first time he came at me I simply reacted and kicked him. No thoughts involved, just quick reaction. I think that set the stage for rivalry. Ive committed (at least for now) with not being violent towards our current rooster although he hasn’t tempted me at all yet. I do make it a point to pick him up, talk to him, carry him around and pet him maybe once a week or so. He doesn’t particularly like it but he also doesn’t fight it much. I just want him to know that I’m not a threat but also that I’m in control.



The tidbitting is quite entertaining to watch. Quite variable as well. Fern tidbits with anything tasty he finds. So much so, that it's hard to get him to eat any treats himself. Even if he's alone, he still tidbits. He never tries to jump on them after tidbitting. Bert on the other hand will tidbit mostly as a way to get the girls to come over so he can jump on them and if they're not interested in that, he eats all the treats. Another reason he doesn't get to be with them now.

I imagine starting that practice with Fern as a chick probably helped it be more effective. I did it because I felt he was trying to dominate me by jumping up on me uninvited in a way the others didn't. I still don't know if that was his motivation or if he wanted attention. Either way, he actively seeks out snuggles and likes to nuzzle his face against mine. I'm grateful for that, having witnessed the fury he unleashes on scary objects he perceives as threatening the girls. The snuggling has mellowed out Bert even doing it later on, though he isn't as cuddly as Fern. I highly recommend the snuggling approach. I read about it in the guide to rooster behavior I linked earlier, towards the bottom of that page. They recommend that if a rooster goes after you, you act like a tree, staying still and calm. Then pick him up and hold him till he settles down. Granted, that can be hard to do as they're formidable animals and it might not be safe in every situation to pick them up. I certainly failed at it when Bert first went after me and I think you're right that reacting that way sets the stage for rivalry. Ever since that, he's been way more aggressive to me than to my partner. It's best if you can avoid confrontation by learning the signs they're building up towards being aggressive and back away, distract them or otherwise deescalate. Also, by being aware of situations that might lead to them feeling more threatened, such as being in small spaces or at times they might be more on edge, like close to dark. It might sound silly, but I've also made it a point to not let Fern see me taking eggs. I don't know if he cares, but I've noticed he seems more on defense about anything going on in the coop, so I try to be careful about that and explain anything I'm doing in there to him. If he's really upset about something I'm doing, I pause to hold him and talk to him till he calms down.
 
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My theory with roosters, is if they do not become comfortable around you, then they are skittish and will not attack. My first fighting cock, was awful comfortable around me, I was sleeping outside in a barn, at the time, and most days I awoke with him in my face. Another theory is it's all about body language, he maybe twice spurred me, just got to close for his comfort zone. He would attack everyone on my property that was tense, I would get in between fights, getting low to the ground, acting like I was going to hug him, getting wide, to stop the attacks, was also never tense around him. He got real bad at this, after he got into a fight with the cops, was way more aggressive afterwards. He would follow me around as I mowed the lawn, eating insects, or while I dug, eating worms. Since then, known of my cocks have been comfortable around humans, so the problem no longer exists. I personally didn't mind the attack chicken, though I'm sure some people did.
 
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I wonder along the same lines. I haven’t had an aggressive one since I went with hen raised. I wonder if it is an imprinting issue? Humans become chickens in their eyes, so are competition that needs to be challengedA.
 
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I've noticed similar things in my roosters, and I've had chickens for quite a few years. It's not completely consistent though, there are still hatchery chicks who are nice, and hen raised chicks who are mean.
It also has to do with your interactions with said rooster as they grow, and it can go as far as being person specific. I did a post "here" that goes into some of my learnings about handling roosters so they don't become aggressive, so you could check that out (it was a pretty insightful discussion, and has lots of great input from multiple people). When you were raising him, did you spend a lot of time holding and hand-feeding him specifically? Buff Orpingtons are generally super gentle (I've had them), so it kind of surprises me that your boy was so aggressive. Male animals can be a bit tricky to raise to be friendly, and a lot of it has to do with the imprinting phase. The imprinting phase is the first three days after they are born (or hatched), where the animal "imprints" on it's own species. That phase is super important for the males specifically since it impacts who they want to mate with, who they think are their own species, who they consider predators, etc. Hatchery chicks, like it's been mentioned previously, only know other chicks, basically making them orphans. After sitting in a box for a day or so, being surrounded by other traumatized chicks, they arrive, get thrown into a brooder, and see lots of large and scary faces peering at them. At that point, one of three things will happen. You over handle them, making them associate you with their species (a threat to their mating rights, and that you're part of the hierarchy of the flock, it makes it seem like it's OK to fight with you like they would their own species). Th second option is that you handle them so little that they think of you as a predator, and the finale option is that you hit the balance between the two. The first two options will likely leave you with an aggressive rooster prone to fighting you off and beating up the hens. Yet again, it still has a lot to do with each rooster specifically, but this tends to be the norm. If you hit the third option, your rooster is more likely (likely, not assuredly) to be the gentle rooster you're looking for. Another thing to pay attention to is the breed. Like I said, I was a bit surprised that your Orpington was agressive, but I've had similar things happen. Each breed tends to have different temperament tendencies, so your likelihood of having a gentle rooster is higher if you get a breed more prone to being gentle. Orpingtons, Brahmas, Easter Eggers, Bresse, Australorp, and Cochins are some of the more well known breeds. I've had really awesome roosters of all of those breeds.
Back to your initial hypothesis, I've found that roosters raised by a hen (particularly if there's an adult rooster in the flock already) tend to be more human friendly and better flock roosters. That being said, I've had my fair share of mean boys raised by hens, but the average tends towards gentler roosters. I would agree with the previous comments about it being very rooster specific though. I have two mature standard Old English roosters, and one is aggressive and the other is one of my younger brothers favorite roosters. Which is saying a lot, since they pester my poultry so much that none of my boys (ganders, drakes, or roosters) are particularly fond of them. Both of those roosters are from a hatchery. Two of my other current flock roosters were raised with my eight year old Easter Egger rooster who has earned the "stay till the day you die" badge because of how gentle he is. After they hatched, I moved the hen and her chicks into my grow out pen, which had my old rooster and a couple of recovering (one from a broken leg, one from a previous illness, etc) hens, and let them grow out with that flock. They grew out to be very nice to the hens and very respectful of me. So well there's a lot of other factors included in how the rooster treats you and the hens, I do think that there's truth to that hypothesis.
 
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Carla Burke wrote:That whole run have always been people-shy, but polite, and those boys are exceptionally good with the girls.

The other younger Buff seemed to have learned to mind his manners ok, but he's still not quite as gentle as the boys that were raised with the flock. I hope to be able to just let nature take its course, now, and not buy more unless some catastrophe takes a big percentage of my flock, again.



It seems to me that chickens hatched and raised by hens are a little less trusting of people and a little more independent. Makes sense to me though, since you’re less involved. When raising chicks under a heat lamp in a brooder, you are involved several times a day every day and you basically are mom to them. They dont even know what a chicken is. When their actual mom takes care of them, you’re just that guy who brings food and water but you’re definitely not mama chicken! Seems like every successive batch of chicks here are a little more wild and rebellious. Our current pullets dont want to roost in the coop at night so i end up chasing them down with a net and tossing them in most evenings 😆

 
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Adam Hackenberg wrote:My theory with roosters, is if they do not become comfortable around you, then they are skittish and will not attack. My first fighting cock, was awful comfortable around me, I was sleeping outside in a barn, at the time, and most days I awoke with him in my face. Another theory is it's all about body language, he maybe twice spurred me, just got to close for his comfort zone. He would attack everyone on my property that was tense, I would get in between fights, getting low to the ground, acting like I was going to hug him, getting wide, to stop the attacks, was also never tense around him. He got real bad at this, after he got into a fight with the cops, was way more aggressive afterwards. He would follow me around as I mowed the lawn, eating insects, or while I dug, eating worms. Since then, known of my cocks have been comfortable around humans, so the problem no longer exists. I personally didn't mind the attack chicken, though I'm sure some people did.



So you think if a roosters is comfortable around you he may attack? I lean the other way because our two mature roosters are quite comfortable around me and we have zero issues. Our first one and a few of our current cockerels are less comfortable and when I walk by they take a defensive stance and will peck at me if I try to grab them. I could see them being more aggressive in the future, if they were to live that long. And if a rooster is comfortable with you, why would he attack? If he knows you arent a threat and he attacks anyway, he must be “bird brained” 😆
 
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J W Richardson wrote:I wonder along the same lines. I haven’t had an aggressive one since I went with hen raised. I wonder if it is an imprinting issue? Humans become chickens in their eyes, so are competition that needs to be challengedA.



Right! When a broody hen raises chicks, the human becomes simply a source of food and water. When humans raise chicks in a brooder with a heat lamp, they become mama hen to an extent. And not a good comfortable loving one either, since you’re mostly not present at all and their just in a box by themselves figuring life out as much as they can.
 
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Elena Sparks wrote:I've noticed similar things in my roosters, and I've had chickens for quite a few years. It's not completely consistent though, there are still hatchery chicks who are nice, and hen raised chicks who are mean.
It also has to do with your interactions with said rooster as they grow, and it can go as far as being person specific. I did a post "here" that goes into some of my learnings about handling roosters so they don't become aggressive, so you could check that out (it was a pretty insightful discussion, and has lots of great input from multiple people). When you were raising him, did you spend a lot of time holding and hand-feeding him specifically? Buff Orpingtons are generally super gentle (I've had them), so it kind of surprises me that your boy was so aggressive. Male animals can be a bit tricky to raise to be friendly, and a lot of it has to do with the imprinting phase. The imprinting phase is the first three days after they are born (or hatched), where the animal "imprints" on it's own species. That phase is super important for the males specifically since it impacts who they want to mate with, who they think are their own species, who they consider predators, etc. Hatchery chicks, like it's been mentioned previously, only know other chicks, basically making them orphans. After sitting in a box for a day or so, being surrounded by other traumatized chicks, they arrive, get thrown into a brooder, and see lots of large and scary faces peering at them. At that point, one of three things will happen. You over handle them, making them associate you with their species (a threat to their mating rights, and that you're part of the hierarchy of the flock, it makes it seem like it's OK to fight with you like they would their own species). Th second option is that you handle them so little that they think of you as a predator, and the finale option is that you hit the balance between the two. The first two options will likely leave you with an aggressive rooster prone to fighting you off and beating up the hens. Yet again, it still has a lot to do with each rooster specifically, but this tends to be the norm. If you hit the third option, your rooster is more likely (likely, not assuredly) to be the gentle rooster you're looking for. Another thing to pay attention to is the breed. Like I said, I was a bit surprised that your Orpington was agressive, but I've had similar things happen. Each breed tends to have different temperament tendencies, so your likelihood of having a gentle rooster is higher if you get a breed more prone to being gentle. Orpingtons, Brahmas, Easter Eggers, Bresse, Australorp, and Cochins are some of the more well known breeds. I've had really awesome roosters of all of those breeds.
Back to your initial hypothesis, I've found that roosters raised by a hen (particularly if there's an adult rooster in the flock already) tend to be more human friendly and better flock roosters. That being said, I've had my fair share of mean boys raised by hens, but the average tends towards gentler roosters. I would agree with the previous comments about it being very rooster specific though. I have two mature standard Old English roosters, and one is aggressive and the other is one of my younger brothers favorite roosters. Which is saying a lot, since they pester my poultry so much that none of my boys (ganders, drakes, or roosters) are particularly fond of them. Both of those roosters are from a hatchery. Two of my other current flock roosters were raised with my eight year old Easter Egger rooster who has earned the "stay till the day you die" badge because of how gentle he is. After they hatched, I moved the hen and her chicks into my grow out pen, which had my old rooster and a couple of recovering (one from a broken leg, one from a previous illness, etc) hens, and let them grow out with that flock. They grew out to be very nice to the hens and very respectful of me. So well there's a lot of other factors included in how the rooster treats you and the hens, I do think that there's truth to that hypothesis.



That is quite insightful!

It was 3 years ago when we started with the hatchery Buff Orpingtons so I don’t remember all the details. What I do remember is one chick pasted up and had a split beak, and we handled her daily for the first week or two and have handled her more often than the others ever since. She is by far the most calm, friendly hen we have (to humans, not necessarily other hens). The healthy hens that we haven’t really had to handle have never really gotten comfortable with me, even though I’m around twice a day every day. That orpington rooster was sketchy from the get to. As soon as his hormones started kicking in around 4 months, I knew we would have a rocky road. But I cant blame him, he was an orphan full of hormones with a harem of females around him and no guidance from a father figure. I’d probably be a trouble maker too!
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:Our current pullets dont want to roost in the coop at night so i end up chasing them down with a net and tossing them in most evenings 😆



There's a solution I have, for this issue, when it arises. So long as my chickens are able to free range, I encourage them to do so, by not leaving food available, in the run/coop. Then, in the evening, when it's time to lock them in, I put a few small piles of food or scratch in the back, as far away from the door as possible. Once they're all pouncing and pecking at the piles, I simply shut the door. No chasing, no nets, no fuss. I do the same with the ducks, in the tractor, though I can't easily get all the way to the back. So, I use a feed pan and a stick with a hook to pull and push it: pull it to the front, fill it, push it to the back, step away, so the ducks can bum-rush the pan, then close the door behind them. Easy-peasy.
 
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Over my years of experience with chickens, I would divide the issues into two groups:

Things that increase the likelihood of a rooster being a good rooster:
1. breed of chicken that's generally considered gentle
2. raised by a mother hen
3. more than 1 roo in the batch of chicks
4. generally low-stress, healthy chicken environment

Things that increase the likelihood of getting an aggressive, PITA* rooster:
1. incubator hatched, brooder raised with a large group of chicks
2. higher stress environment - not enough entertainment, not enough space to run around, not enough access points for food (chickens are groupies, so when 1 eats, they suddenly all want to eat.)
3. no access to good role models

Things that result in a clueless rooster:
1. strong human imprinting - they want to hump the humans instead of the hens!

I support both doing what you can to decrease the risk of getting a "bad" rooster, but also to consider any aggressive rooster to be dinner. "Temperament" exists in non-human animals. We see it all the time. And just like the huge argument about "nature vs nurture", it's just not that simple or straight cause/effect. I might be guilty of giving animals too many second chances, but I do have a line and if a bird crosses it too many times, all of a sudden I know that I'm done with trying, and the bird's done with living on my farm with my infrastructure. I did have one problem hen which I gave to a neighbor - his set up is very different from mine, and sure enough she fit in there much better.

*pain in the ass
 
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Carla Burke wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:Our current pullets dont want to roost in the coop at night so i end up chasing them down with a net and tossing them in most evenings 😆



There's a solution I have, for this issue, when it arises. So long as my chickens are able to free range, I encourage them to do so, by not leaving food available, in the run/coop. Then, in the evening, when it's time to lock them in, I put a few small piles of food or scratch in the back, as far away from the door as possible. Once they're all pouncing and pecking at the piles, I simply shut the door. No chasing, no nets, no fuss. I do the same with the ducks, in the tractor, though I can't easily get all the way to the back. So, I use a feed pan and a stick with a hook to pull and push it: pull it to the front, fill it, push it to the back, step away, so the ducks can bum-rush the pan, then close the door behind them. Easy-peasy.



That would definitely be easier. I also keep all the food and water outside the coop to encourage foraging (except in the worst winter weather). We have an solar powered automatic coop door that closes before dark and opens just before sunrise. We got it for when we leave for weekend or whatever so that the chickens are less of a burden on whoever helps us out. The door works perfectly, but me having to go out afterwards and chase chickens defeats the purpose! But, the last 2 nights they all roosted themselves to thats promising.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:Over my years of experience with chickens, I would divide the issues into two groups:

Things that increase the likelihood of a rooster being a good rooster:
1. breed of chicken that's generally considered gentle
2. raised by a mother hen
3. more than 1 roo in the batch of chicks
4. generally low-stress, healthy chicken environment

Things that increase the likelihood of getting an aggressive, PITA* rooster:
1. incubator hatched, brooder raised with a large group of chicks
2. higher stress environment - not enough entertainment, not enough space to run around, not enough access points for food (chickens are groupies, so when 1 eats, they suddenly all want to eat.)
3. no access to good role models

Things that result in a clueless rooster:
1. strong human imprinting - they want to hump the humans instead of the hens!

I support both doing what you can to decrease the risk of getting a "bad" rooster, but also to consider any aggressive rooster to be dinner. "Temperament" exists in non-human animals. We see it all the time. And just like the huge argument about "nature vs nurture", it's just not that simple or straight cause/effect. I might be guilty of giving animals too many second chances, but I do have a line and if a bird crosses it too many times, all of a sudden I know that I'm done with trying, and the bird's done with living on my farm with my infrastructure. I did have one problem hen which I gave to a neighbor - his set up is very different from mine, and sure enough she fit in there much better.

*pain in the ass



That all makes sense to me and so far has been in line with my experiences as well.

I also don’t tolerate aggressive roosters. They taste too good to deal with problematic behavior 😆. The hard part is when you have too many roosters but they’re all nice! Occasionally we can give one away though so that makes me feel a bit better than having to eat a good one.
 
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I had a Bielefelder roo, hatchery. He was great with the hens but we had a running feud.

His replacements were two brothers, incubated, raised in a brothers-only bachelor pad. They were Biel x Dominique. Horrible with the hens, no problems with me.

Then two young cockerels, half brothers, each raised by a different broody. The older is Biel x Jersey Giant. The younger was Biel x Black Australorp. Their father was the first Biel. I tried setting eggs from the Biel x Dom set, but both were shooting blanks.

The younger of the two brothers was the only surviving chick and his mother doted on him. Wouldn't allow the other hens to discipline him, wouldn't do it herself. He was harrassing the hens, trying to mate with my foot, wouldn't make any effort to court the girls and wouldn't take no for an snswer. He died, probably of liver failure, at 16 weeks.

The older of the two brothers is still around and learning manners. He's currently in the bachelor pad to give him some time to mellow out and grow up. He nearly scalped one of the hens. He was also raised by a (different) broody.

They both spent time being chased by the hens, and the Biel x JG at least was disciplined by them. Didn't seem to make any difference.

On the other hand, my sister's JG was hand raised and became a perfect roo after a teenage jerk period. His son, incubator, got hus father's intelligence and ramped up the good behavior. I have his sons, also incubated, in the coop for evaluation.
 
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I bought and raised over 25 male heritage chicks to maturity last year and they certainly had a wide spectrum of personalities regardless of breeds (mostly buff orpingtons). Roughly, those who liked to hang out near people turned out to be more aggressive. It was sad for me because one of them was my favorite chick. He got a name and loved to follow me around waiting for me to dig some bugs. He grew up with little respect for people and once chased and attacked me for hundreds of feet. The cockerels that backed off rather than pecking my fingers became calm roosters. I wouldn't say friendly, they were just indifferent to people and doing their rooster things.
 
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May Lotito wrote:I bought and raised over 25 male heritage chicks to maturity last year and they certainly had a wide spectrum of personalities regardless of breeds (mostly buff orpingtons). Roughly, those who liked to hang out near people turned out to be more aggressive. It was sad for me because one of them was my favorite chick. He got a name and loved to follow me around waiting for me to dig some bugs. He grew up with little respect for people and once chased and attacked me for hundreds of feet. The cockerels that backed off rather than pecking my fingers became calm roosters. I wouldn't say friendly, they were just indifferent to people and doing their rooster things.



Interesting! So maybe the ones that seemed more interested in people were actually feeling defensive or protecting the hens vs the ones who seemed more distant were maybe just ambivalent.
 
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