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Roosters and Children?

 
Andrew Seamans
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Location: The wilds of Fitchburg Mass
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Hey Folks,

I am thinking of getting chickens and I have five children. There are alot of woods around my house,I thought a Rooster would be advantageous in protecting the flock from predators. Should I have a Rooster around the kids?

Thanks
Andrew
 
Ken Peavey
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Not every rooster is the same. They have distinct personalities. Same are as gentle as teddy bears, some are just plain mean and will attack. Mean roosters go into the stock pot.

As far as protecting the hens, roosters are not much defense against a fox or hawk or dog. They can provide warning.

A rooster can cause injury to a child. If you have small children, it may be advisable to wait a few years before adding a rooster to the flock. When the kids are comfortable around the chickens and have an understanding of their needs and abilities, then by all means, add a rooster.
 
Renate Howard
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I've yet to see a mean silky rooster, and they will sometimes die defending hens or chicks.
 
Balint Bartuszek
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Location: Hungary
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Ha ha! Children and the rooster.

One of the memorable moments of my childhood is the times we were chased around by the rooster of our grany.
We were small children and the rooster was a big mean beast. Ther was times when it chased us up on the haystacks.

It can be a problem... If the children cant run fast enough.
A bit more seriously, if a rooster is too mean there is always the option of a nice rooster soup.
 
Amedean Messan
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I grew up with roosters and never got a scratch......peacocks are another story! Me and my little sister used to catch two roosters and make em face each other to cock fight for fun. It was nothing serious because they would puff each others neck feathers and very briefly scratch at each other and stop. Roosters have a machismo attitude problem with each other but usually they are all bark and strut themselves away to look in control. Just don't get the aggressive breeds and you will be fine. They even sell little mittens that cover the leg spurs if your worried. You can easily make your own.

 
Jordan Lowery
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It depends on the rooster we had One and I could never see him doing anything like attacking. Then he died and we got another, within hours we noticed his aggression to the children(ages 2 and 5) into the pot he went, the one we have now is so nice he let's the kids pick him up ( if they can catch him) no problem. He's a sweetheart, a loud one but sweet.
 
K Bennett
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I came to this site because I was searching how to harvest my very first chicken...or in this case rooster. I thought I would post my thought here since you were wondering about a rooster playing nice with children and defending the flock. I started out with 5 hens and a rooster but not by choice, the rooster (a black Australorp) was supposed to be a hen. I decided I did not want any roosters because my wife has a small scar under her eye from a run in with a rooster during her childhood. According to her, they always go after your eyes. I did not take the time to verify this because for me the chance of one of my young children losing an eye was not even worth the time researching it as I mainly wanted laying hens. But, alas my hen ended up being a rooster. My kids were fine with the rooster at first, but he has chased them and gotten all puffed up at them as if he was posturing. While he did not actually "attack" them, the fear they now have about going in our backyard to play supersedes any desire I have in keeping him. Hence why I am here to learn the best way to harvest him.

Oh and as far as protecting the flock; I am down to 2 hens. The other 3 were eaten by either a fox or a weasel. He is big, beautiful and loud...but thats about it, so as far as a real need for a rooster: It is my opinion that unless you want fertilized eggs, there is no real advantage to having a rooster around. I do enjoy their "attitude", size, and colors, so I may get another one someday for that purpose.

I should note; black australorp is the only rooster I have personally owned. He is fine around me and does not posture, but all the women in my home, he goes after. It almost makes me think of the alpha male pack leader characteristics in dog packs. I do not know enough about chickens to comment on that though, just my observations. I have been around a few silkies and they seemed calm to me. So if you are determined to get a rooster, I would research the breeds to see what might be best. I would think maybe a smaller rooster would also be less intimidating to young children, as this australorp I have is one of the biggest chickens I have ever seen.
 
Jay Green
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It most definitely is an alpha issue, as with most male animals. We've had roosters for the past 37 years and have never had an aggressive rooster...and I can't really imagine that it was sheer luck of the draw that every rooster we have had is just a gentle soul. A rooster is pretty much a rooster,with all the normal rooster instincts and actions. Some are more docile, some more sparky, but in the end they are all only 2 ft. tall and they are prey animals that are...well...chicken. They are small, we are big. They are food, we are predators. They don't have as much brain capacity as do humans, so outsmarting them is pretty easy.

It matters a lot about how they are handled when young~coddling is not how you get a gentle rooster. You don't have to kick them or abuse them but you most certainly need to think like a rooster instead of like a human. Any weakness is seen as...well...weakness. How you walk, how you move in the flock, any indecisive actions or screaming, fluttering of hands, running away when they approach is seen as a weakness and worthy of aggression. Roosters don't feel shame, so carrying him around in front of his hens or pushing him down on the ground in front of the flock evokes no remorse or shame...it really doesn't compute at all. That's human thinking and not chicken thinking.

I've had a few roosters that do the dance and even had one that was not reared by me that attacked my egg basket as I walked by...each of these episodes are like feelers. They put out their game and see how it is received...if you fail the test, you are then seen as one that can be dominated. If you remain calm, move towards them, even elevate beyond their attack (no crowing, flapping or any such nonsense is needed), they will reevaluate their interactions with you.

I responded in another thread on the use of a good, lightweight training rod for roosters who need schooling in interaction with humans~if you've raised them right, it's likely you won't need one....if you inherit a bird that was not raised properly, they come in real handy. When done properly, it is a lesson that may never need repeating. It works well with all ages and it really helps children gain confidence around the birds.

Children who are taught confidence around roosters instead of treating roosters like stuffed animals which have to be picked up and petted every time they are near are going to fair better. What's the first thing a child trained to pick up chickens as pets does? He squats or bends down, with his eyeballs right in striking range, and he is often excited and talking in a high pitched voice while doing so. Not a good thing. Bad training for the child and is setting the rooster up for failure. Same with women who flail around and run when the rooster advances or fluffs up towards them....just an invitation for disaster.

No running, calm strides, facing the rooster if he advances and continuing forward...the first to back down is the weakest. All of this is learned behavior and it's a parent's job to teach it...every problem isn't going to be solved by killing the animal or removing the potential problem. Understanding how to work livestock can be a real confidence builder for youngsters and can help them learn to cope in other areas of their life.

In the end, if you avoid all possible dangers for your children, instead of teaching them how to handle them appropriately, then life doesn't get any easier for them. They will never cross the road without you, never ride a bike, never drive a car, never learn to swim, never walk in the woods where snakes, bees, or wildlife reside. If living with livestock is a life choice, then learning to live around them safely is pretty important.
 
Nechda Chekanov
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We have had three... Two light Sussex which were great... Did not attack. White Wyandotte attacked my son, and wasnt afraid of any humans... got sent away. Or current Is light Sussex and is not agressivel he loves his hens, but he will die like his daddy if he comes up against a fox or raccoon.
 
Renate Howard
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Andrew, I just read your original post again. What you're wanting to know is if a rooster will help you have free range hens without them getting eaten by predators in your woods, right? I think some guineas may be the way to go. Our chickens always raised the alarm when they saw something questionable/dangerous, which would send the flock scooting to the nearest cover. (It takes them surviving awhile for them to get really good at this.) As far as critters that raise the alarm you can't beat guinea hens. They're alarmists!

We've got a mixed flock with one buff orpington rooster and lots of bantam roosters, a game X rock rooster and a game rooster. The banty roosters wouldn't even think of going after a human. The orpington rooster is a big wuss and will run away from anything, little kids can pick him up, pet him, he's fine. The game roosters are playthings to the kids and are so used to being handled they're like those cats that go limp when the toddlers catch them - but I'd worry about them if they hadn't been handled so much. I don't think any of my roosters would try to defend the hens, but they are as likely as the hens to notice something like a fox slinking around and raise the alarm. And they're as likely to get eaten by the fox as the hens, so I figure every time a rooster gets eaten instead of a hen that rooster saved my egg layers for me (LOL).

My dog is the best insurance against predators tho. Since the dog got big and quit hiding in the garage when the fox came around we've only had a few losses, those at night from an owl (some of the banties were sleeping in a tree). Even a little yappy dog can scare off a fox, raccoon, weasel, etc. Most dogs will happily chase away wildlife that comes into their territory.
 
Lisa Paulson
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I have a light sussex rooster who has never been aggressive to people nor even small children . After seeing him send his ladies to safety as he stood and faced down a bald eagle , I would never consider not having a rooster for my hens .
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I'm with Jay on this one. All the humans need to establish themselves as dominant over the rooster. There should be no issues if that's the course you take. Be the Boss.

When in doubt, SOUP IT.

Our rooster is loud and defensive of the hens and territory, but he is very clear on the fact that my two year old daughter is his boss. I've had only one time where I had to physically assert myself with him. Admittedly, it was sort of my fault in that I was moving the coop. He jumped up towards me and by luck I caught him (sort of). He lost a couple of those pretty tail feathers of his and bruised his ego a bit, but was OK otherwise. Since then, we've been on good terms. I kept the feathers to remind him with from time to time.
 
K Bennett
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Well said Jay Green, I do agree with you. As this was my first rooster, I certainly was ill prepared on exactly what is involved with their characteristics, perhaps if I would have known she was a he earlier I might have done a better job with the situation. I blame myself for not preparing my kids on how to act around a rooster as I do with the dogs. As I said before, its not worth it for me to undo the damage so I have decided to soup it. (its a good excuse to try my first known rooster soup anyway) I do enjoy the roosters and will certainly get another one and properly prepare my children. However, I did get my 2 yo to walk right up to him to throw some scratch down and help me get eggs tonight. She definitely is not at the level of Craig's 2yo, but were working on it.
Bottom line, we are working on that issue. However the opinion I was offering was that of this particular rooster, how my kids have reacted, and his ability to protect the flock.

I do think your post offers the best advice for someone who wants a rooster, and can appropriately plan for it with their children...
...with that said, I promised my wife I would post her comment; she emphatically declares her innocence about her rooster attacker. She claims to have been working in the garden and minding her own business when out of no where this rooster pecked at her eye leaving a scar visible to this day. Now if you have not had a cranky rooster in 37 years, I agree that it cant be luck. And probably more how you interact with them. I dont know how they interacted with the chickens at her age, so take it for what its worth.

Thanks for the insight Jay.
 
Jay Green
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It's those sneak attacks that make one so very angry at these birds...most of the people that suffer them are distracted by doing something else and usually squatted or bent down and busy with their hands. To us humans, that is like an assault! A thug attacking an innocent bystander and more the so when it's a woman or a child. I get that and had an uncle who kept a billy goat with those techniques and another uncle that had "that mean rooster" for whom we were to "watch out".

All it boils down to is us humans expecting animals to have a moral code and they do not~we treat them politely and we assume that it will be returned. Roosters, and most male animals, are purely instinctual creatures that act and react on instinct and learned behaviors within their social structure. If you will observe flocks where you have several roosters, you will see the same thing....the casual walk by, as if they have no intention ever of attacking the other rooster....you can almost hear the bird whistling as he goes~then WHAM! TAKE THAT, YOU INTERLOPER INTO WHAT I PERCEIVE AS MY FLOCK! It's all an education while you watch it and, until it also happens to you, you never really put it together.

You will find that those roosters who are the most vigorous breeders are also those who have more of that instinct to guard their hens...this is a good thing, not a bad thing. That level of rooster will also challenge a cat, hawk, dog, etc. when it approaches the flock. *****K. Bennett, it actually sounds as if you have a really good rooster..would hate for you to learn that the hard way and unknowingly eliminate one of the biggest helpers with your poultry experience. *****

When you go to catch a hen and have her pinned down, squawking and wings flapping, you will often see other hens run over and peck her or the rooster will run over to challenge you. It's all in their social structure and list of instinctual behaviors. Those who keep chickens, adults and children alike, can watch these chickens when they are solely interacting with one another (without our putting out food or trying to interact with them) and you can learn so much.

Once you learn it, you can put those behaviors into your own arsenal and interact with them in a language in which they understand. Roosters~remember, there are always exceptions to the rule~as a rule, will react the same way they would with other roosters or strange birds introduced into the flock until we show them we are superior to them~as an animal~and they will never be able to challenge us and win.

My current rooster has never needed to be reinforced with that idea because he observed the training of another~not raised by my hand~rooster that challenged the flock leader~ME. Roosters can learn and those that simply keep challenging the flock leader are those that deserve the soup pot. I've never had a rooster that ever challenged more than one time and, after the 5-10 min. schooling, learned the lesson from there on out. They don't forget it if it is done in their language~which is to say, in behaviors they understand.

Someone who reacts with a knee jerk kicking of the rooster when he flogs has not reacted in his sphere of understandable behaviors that would tell him to never repeat his attack. One has merely rebuffed an attack, which is something a rooster of equal status in the flock will do. It's a defensive maneuver and not an offensive move that one would get from a true top rooster....they do know the difference.


When you don't have those opportunities of learning from your elders with livestock, which is a dying prospect and has been replaced with the blind leading the blind kind of tutelage(forums and suburbanite fowlers), it is best just to learn hands on and the hard way...but I urge one to learn it from the animal's perspective and not our own. Roosters don't think it's "mean" to flog or surprise one another with an attack. Mean is not in their vocabulary. Once you understand that they are not humans and have their own set of behaviors that equal language, it gets much easier.

K. Bennett, I urge you to try an experiment with your existing rooster. Send him to school and see what he learns. Could be that you will learn something too and your family will learn it from you and theirs from them. Start a chain of learning instead of ditching this perfectly normal bird. He isn't mean, he is merely a rooster. The disconnect is not with him, it is with you. Until you fix you, you can't interact with him in a language he will understand. You will find that the next rooster you get will be the same one you have...a normal rooster. All your rooster needs is a human that understands rooster and that won't happen if you kill the one that can teach you the language and then go get another bird that speaks that same foreign tongue as the one you killed.
 
John Polk
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You will find that those roosters who are the most vigorous breeders are also those who have more of that instinct to guard their hens...this is a good thing, not a bad thing. That level of rooster will also challenge a cat, hawk, dog, etc. when it approaches the flock.


True enough.

The egg farm I worked on raised their own chicks for flock replacement. The roosters they chose for breeding were always from the top of the pecking order. They intentionally picked the most aggressive roosters, as those were genes they wanted in their flock. They had no use for docile roosters. I watched 3 roosters hop the fence into a layer's run to take down a hawk who thought he had found an easy supper. There was nothing left of the hawk, except a pile of feathers.

As Jay pointed out, observe the flock's behavior from afar. The lessons you will learn will greatly simplify your job of maintaining a flock in as close to a natural setting as possible. Natural instincts will maintain the flock in a healthy manor, with less human involvement. Makes your job easier once you understand their social order.

 
                      
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I would say get a roo and hens of a breed known for good personality. We keep Buff Orpingtons, and the Roo, while wary and know to face off with the dogs if they get too playful, has never bothered the kids. Having a rooster with the hens has multiple benefits IMO, and worth trying to make it fit into the homestead. Some breeds are known to be aggressive and are great in the right situations. If you plan to keep them with young kids , I would look for young, non aggressive breeds that can grow up around the kids. Have the young ones feed them right from the start. Let the kids know if the roo does give chase not to back down. If it doesn't work cull the Rooster and introduce another if possible.

Good luck, there is nothing like seeing Steve, our rooster, call the girls over to a tasty treat he proudly found or have him eying the sky if a bluejay so much a chatters.


~Joe Prepper~
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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