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aggressive rooster

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
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I've had quite a few roosters over the years, always only one at a time. I've had great experiences in the past with gentle safe roos. For the first time, my relatively new roo is acting aggressive, especially with my children. He hasn't done anything to hurt them but he seems to be threatened by them and stands up to them. He chased my teenage daughter. I've heard people say in the past that one little bit of aggression should put a rooster into the stew pot. Is there any saving him through behavioral training or is he nothing but stew?

He has been handled by children and adults at a nature preserve/education center/bird sanctuary all his life and was very friendly before he came to us. He was the third rooster in the living order and was badly pecked and mauled. His poor comb is healed now. He is a heritage breed mix. They have been keeping heritage breeds for generations at the bird sanctuary and he is the result of some breeding success.
 
Bill Erickson
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Like Dale said in one of the other recent threads, the best use of an untrainably aggressive rooster is to make him a roaster. So with that I'll say, if you can't make him behave himself and recognize the family as part of the flock, then you may need convert him. When I was a kid, we had a pretty aggressive rooster, my pop thought it was funny until he went after my mom - that was a tasty bird. I've also had plenty of protective roosters that got along fine with all of us, if they don't fit that mould then they do need to go. I've got one now, that as pretty a bird as he is, if he doesn't behave himself better, he's going in the pot.
 
Hans Quistorff
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This is my impression based on experience. Roosters become aggressive when they perceive a threat to their dominance.
I Was given a large Plymouth Rock rooster because he had become very aggressive to its owner. I put it in a chicken tractor with 4 speckled English hens that I got from another source. After showing them that he was their rooster he was content and stopped being aggressive toward me. After They became habituated that the tractor was their roost and nest boxes I started letting them have walk about in the afternoon. All went well for a while. He would bend down stalks of wheat for the hens to pluck grain off and use his powerful legs to dig up grubs and worms. Then one day 2 of the hens decided to fallow me as I was pulling weeds. That was the end of our peaceful relationship; I was now a competitive threat. I could not reach into the pen or come near the hens if they were out without bashing him in the head first to prove my superiority. My superiority was always temporary, he would be on the attack as soon as my back was turned.
CONCLUSION: If you have friendly hens you will not have a friendly roster.
What worked for a while was to make an opening small enough that he could not get out but the hens being half his size could come out Then I would move the pen and he would scratch like crazy to try to get them to come back.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I agree that an untrainably aggressive rooster is not welcome here, but I haven't tried any training at all, this is my first experience. Also, it seems like the beginning of aggression and I am hoping to nip it in the bud.

I didn't find it before I started this thread but this thread has some good info.
 
Renate Howard
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We've had a couple of problem roosters that we successfully turned around. One was very friendly as a chick and when he was older we thought he was following us around. It turned out in his head because we were in front and he was behind us, he thought he was chasing us, thus setting him up for unrealistic goals on who could dominate whom. He started pecking at our feet and ankles. Since he as a tiny bantam it was only a funny nuisance but for the sake of visitors we had to put a stop to it. We started chasing him whenever he followed us and haven't had a problem in a long time with him.

The other time was our game rooster. When I feed the pigs about 20 chickens run to the pig pen to steal what they can out of the pig food. I think the same thing happened - the rooster thought I was running from him (walking, really) because I was in front and he was behind. One day he came up behind me and spurred my leg! It really hurt! From then on I chased him away whenever he came too close and now he doesn't approach me and hasn't attacked anyone else.

You don't have to abuse a rooster to show him who is boss - a broom makes a good arm extension if he decided to "defend himself" when you try to chase him. Waving a broom above his head is pretty intimidating to him. If that doesn't work, I think you've got a roaster.

Most of our roosters only fight during adolescence and then they mellow. I think it's the age where they go from low in the pecking order to trying to make their way in the world. After 6 months or so, they accept the established pecking order.

Of course we have a dog who breaks up all rooster fights, so that helps.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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A few weeks ago my roosters started to get aggressive. My wife was going for a run and they began pecking at her feet and then jumping up at her and batting her with their wings. When I went out later, they did the same thing to me. Only thing is... I don't take no shit from a bird.

As soon as they start that crap I just put them in their place. I give it right back to them. I'll usually chase them off and if they stand their ground, I grab them and ruffle their feathers pretty good. They usually get the point and go off to fix their feather alignment. Sometimes if you hold them down against the ground and wait til they stop fighting you, that will fix the issue too. Hens will sometimes come over and peck them while you hold them down. It really seems to take the fight out of the rooster to be embarrassed like that by his hens. In one instance I grabbed the rooster and held him upside down by his feet while I did all the chicken chores (feeding and watering). When I was done I took him to the other end of the yard and put him down and made him watch from a distance as the hens ate and drank without him. He's gotten the point now.
They don't run from me, nor do they come at me with aggression. We have an understanding now. It just took a little time to get to know each other.


 
monty ali
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I picked up one of my hens a few days ago and my two roosters came running and squared up to me so i squared up back at them and gave a bit of a roar they haven't done it since. My last rooster tried the same so i gave him a little push and a roar and that put an end to that. It's funny because that same rooster would always harass my mum and it actually pecked her a couple of times until she did same as me. He soon leaned his place! It might be worth a try. I'm glad he was a bit of a rowdy boy because he did his job when a fox came by, but thinking about it if i ever thought any of them were a threat to my kids they'd very quickly be served up as dinner!
 
Bev Huth
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Location: AR, USA
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I HAD one like that form last years chicks that got so aggressive he was jumping at me (and making contact.) I cured him, at least he hasn't tried again since he knocked himself ringy. I wen in there with a metal trash can lid as a shield against him, intending to catch him for the stew pot. He jumped at me, hit that lid hard enough to knock himself dizzy.

Well, me being a softie, I felt sorry for the now possibly injured rooster so, I picked him up and put him in a nest box, deciding to see how he was in a couple of hours.

He hasn't been aggressive since at all. He isn't afraid of me, but he keeps a respectful distance and moves when I shoo him. He's fine now and can stay here.
 
Jay Angler
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It is my understanding that the chicken behavior that sorts out the pecking order is basically a staring contest. The chickens stare straight at each other and whichever bird looks away first is lower in the order. If I feel that either a rooster or a hen is being aggressive towards me, I stare at it while leaning over it to suggest I'm bigger, stronger, and more determined to be "top chicken" than it is. Nine times out of ten, this has worked for me for reasonable periods of time. Some of the naturally more aggressive roosters have needed the odd reminder stare, but that's usually been after some sort of upset. That being said, making a point of distracting the hens when you need to enter their space, doesn't hurt either. That can be as simple as broadcasting feed on the ground.
Despite my best efforts, I too have had to cull the occasional recalcitrant rooster.
 
John Polk
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pecking order is basically a staring contest. The chickens stare straight at each other and whichever bird looks away first is lower in the order.

It also helps if you take a deep breath, puff up your chest and extend your elbows outwards (and try not to blink your eyes). The bird will see that you are much bigger than he is, and not going to be intimidated. Pecking order is determined more by intimidation than it is by force. The last thing you want to do is to lower yourself to his standards by kicking, hitting, aggression, or otherwise playing his game. If you win by playing his game, you will need to do this over and over, because he will keep challenging you. You are his boss, but if you play by his rules, you will lose that status, and the game will continue at his level until...Sunday dinner.

If you don't stoop to his level, he will quietly walk away after he has determined that you are the king, and will not likely challenge you again. We are the humans, so why should we lower ourselves to their level to play this game?

 
Eric Thompson
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When my son was 10 he came in crying because the rooster attacked him. I told him that when he came up to me like that I had kicked him the chest, then once again when he didn't back down, then he turned around and I chased him through the yard to show him who is boss. At that point my son's eyes got big and he ran back out to the chicken yard - it hasn't been a problem since and the rooster had a long reign...
 
mick mclaughlin
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Location: Augusta,Ks
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Ok, i may be missing something

Is there a rooster shortage out there?

A mean rooster is a inherited defect. Their young will be mean, and i honestly do not believe you can ever trust them. Life is too short, and i am to busy, for a flogging when my attention is somewhere else.

I guess i am a jerk, but if roosters show aggressive behavior on a consistent basis, i eat 'em.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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John Polk wrote:
If you don't stoop to his level, he will quietly walk away after he has determined that you are the king, and will not likely challenge you again. We are the humans, so why should we lower ourselves to their level to play this game?




You make a really great point here. People should not be abusing animals (or each other) in order to get it to submit to them. It's usually only a temporary fix, like you said.
However, I believe that when you puff your chest, put out your elbows and act big, you're already playing their game. Put more appropriately, you're speaking their language. That's your job isn't it? You need to get the message across in a language they understand. Sometimes talking isn't enough and a rooster will put you to a physical challenge. He's still using his "chicken language" and he's expecting you to continue to do so as well.

When I see two roosters "get into it" the scene begins with intimidation techniques like staring, puffing up, standing tall and being loud. If one doesn't back down, they will jump up at each other and bat one another with their wings. Usually that is enough, but sometimes it comes down to kicking and biting. At that point one of them has figured out he's better off as second in command than kicked to death. If that bird has no place to run, he's screwed. The dominant bird will usually keep up the fight as long as the other one is in it's vicinity and moving. That's the language of roosters as best as I can see it. Not really much different than lions I guess.

For some people with some roosters, soup is the first place they go with an aggressive rooster. They don't have the time or skill to deal with the roosters natural intuition to dominate them. For other people with other roosters, it can be quite different. For me, I need a rooster that will be loud and aggressive towards anything EXCEPT the people who live here. So I'm looking for a balance of ballsy and brainy. I don't want to keep raising roosters until I get a perfect critter so I'll take some time and give a rooster a little space to learn his place. They will push their limits and I'll be happy to help them learn when they've crossed the line.

So it seems to me that we all have varying degrees of aggressiveness that we're experiencing from roosters. We also have varying degrees of ability to speak "chicken". It's a tough line to walk I guess.

As a little side thought: Imagine what you would say to a 6 foot tall rooster that could speak english and was intent on kicking the shit out of you. I'd run. :)
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I am loving the descriptions of y'all stepping to the roosters. If only there was video.

I think the following thing is relevant to my case. I didn't realize letting him follow us was an issue but it has happened and upon reflection I can see that it increased his aggression.

I am very interested in observing the animals and learning their language. I don't think they are interested in learning mine! I speak cat and dog but am still learning chicken.
 
Jay Angler
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I guess i am a jerk, but if roosters show aggressive behavior on a consistent basis, i eat 'em.

Mick, you are *not* a jerk. Everyone here is balancing the need for ballsy roosters to protect the hens - and I've seen them do so - and a safe homestead. The difficulty is deciding where you draw the line. My partner tends to use more aggression when "correcting" a recalcitrant animal than I do, and it seems to take longer for the same effect of "mutually beneficial co-operation" to set in. The rule I state is that it's the job of the individual being hassled to deal with the culling and since I speak better chicken and I'm the usual culler, the roosters get plenty of chances to smarten up.

We also have varying degrees of ability to speak "chicken".
John Polk
I speak cat and dog but am still learning chicken.
Matu Collins
It may seem hard in our busy lives to spend time quietly observing how adult and young animals behave and learn, and some people (like Temple Grandin) are naturally better at it than others, but I believe it is truly worth the time invested. A basic Permaculture Principle involves "respecting" nature, not "dominating" it, but I mean that domination in the aggressive way rather than the "I'm the top chicken" way. Matu, if you've learned cat and dog, I have great faith that if you keep observing your chickens, particularly how they interact with each other, you will learn the language. I agree with John that "learning the language" is totally different from "stooping to his level", and it fits with the general principle of managing nature with "brains" over "brawn", which may not be a stated principle of Permaculture, but when I read between the lines, that seems to be an important goal.


 
Rosco Heber
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I had one that would attack me if i turned my back. Finally fed up i got a stick and knocked him on the head killing him. He came back to life about 15 minutes later not wanting anything to do with me. A few days later he started up again and I killed him a 2nd time. He came back to life again. I started to get worried but the 3rd time I shot him and he's still dead.
 
mick mclaughlin
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I will rephrase;

Aggressiveness is an inherited trait. That's the good and the bad of it.

There are good roosters out there, that you do not have to worry about this with, and will reproduce good roosters.

A mean rooster, reproduces mean roosters, and you may get it were it is scared or respects you, but will it respect the toddler that visits?

Good thing about mean roosters, is they taste the same as good roosters.

 
mick mclaughlin
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A rooster defending themselves or the hens, has nothing to do with being aggressive.

Most any rooster can be mean enough to get killed by a dog , or raccoon or whatever.
 
Tony Hill
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Although I am new to chickens, my grandparents were farmers. When our big white rooster became aggressive, I remembered a phrase from the distant past... "Get a switch."

If I remembered correctly, you can hit a rooster with a 2x4 and knock him out cold, and he will wake up, get back up and come right back at you. But if you take a switch to his backside.... well, THAT he won't forget.


At this point, my wife had several punctures in her shins, as well as scratches on her arms from protecting her face. This was getting serious. Me, I'd just glare at that same rooster and he would dodge away. Every once in a while, I'd grab one of them and dare them to do anything about it, and they all respect me. But she had allowed herself to get beneath him on the pecking order. It was time to fix that.


I selected a nice limber switch, and leaned it near where she fed the birds. She called the birds in for their food, and right on time, the rooster puffed up and charged her. She wanted to run, but instead grabbed the switch and sliced it across the chicken's lower half.

That first swish stopped him in his tracks. He looked SHOCKED that someone that HE dominated over had the NERVE to fight back! "Don't stop!" I yelled, "GET HIM!!" She sliced across his backside again, and this time he shrieked and jumped back. "Don't stop, you've GOT to teach him a lesson he won't forget... LIGHT- HIM- UP!!!"

Well she did. She swished him again, and this time that rooster took off running, with her in hot pursuit. I had given her a nice long switch, maybe 5-6 foot, and it gave her a beautiful reach. SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! Now the rooster was in full retreat, hollering with every swipe across his rump.

I let her go after him for awhile, and round and round the yard they went. After a while she started grinning and laughing- a nice change! But when she cornered him in the shed, I had to stop her. He'd had enough. But to solidify in his mind WHO she was, I had her get right in his face and TELL him that he had better NEVER, EVER mess with her again! She did, and at that point, she was TOP of the pecking order forever. Something about an angry human voice seems to affect animals. They may not know what you are saying, but they understand the intent.

Well, the rooster got the point. Never again did he come after her. And the other chickens, who had watched all of this going on, got the point too. None of them has ever attacked a human again. We feed them, the hens make eggs and the roosters strut around like kings. Everything is peaceful and happy, as it should be.

My Mom tells me that Grandaddy used a switch to train ALL the animals, and occasionally, a hard-headed boy, too. EVERYONE responds to a switch! "Do it right, and you won't have to do it a second time."

Good advice, Mom.

-TH

 
Jay Angler
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I do want to back Mick up - if you are raising your own chickens from your own eggs with either an incubator or a broody mom, you have an increased responsibility to consider where those "gene-splicing experiments" may lead. If a top rooster is "nasty" or "bad-tempered" as opposed to just "good at his job", those are not genes you want to be encouraging. One of the things high on my to-do list is to build a series of 4x12 portable pens specifically to temporarily house a male with specific females so that I know which genes are being shared. This can be important from the other direction also, as I've got two roosters that can't seem to deal with the more forward hens and this is equally a bad thing to be propagating in a small flock.
 
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