We constantly hear of roosters that are mean to the hens and their keepers. Today we are going to give you a few tips on how to make a rooster ‘Mr. Nice Guy’.
That means you’re going to learn how to tame your aggressive rooster!
It will take some time and patience, so have a good stockpile of both.
We have had a few roosters and the majority of them haven’t been any trouble at all. They have been respectful of people, good to the ladies and rarely requiring any ‘behavior training’. There was one rooster though, Fred, who resisted all efforts at been trained. He flew at my partner one time too many – you can’t win them all.
Please remember that these ideas may not work with your particular bird – use common sense with these ideas, the plan is not to get hurt.
Below I’m going to share with you why roosters can become aggressive, before I share with you my rooster training program!
From Chick to Aggressive Rooster
When the chicks are small, although the boys may be a little stand offish, they can be held, cuddled, handfed and cosseted.
This is a great time to lay the foundation of respect and dominance to your little roosters. You may think it’s cute if he pecks at you – it’s not. He is trying already to be the boss.
Pick him up, especially in front of the hens, talk to him, feed him from your hand if he will and then put him down.
Somewhere between 16-20 weeks, hormones can upend this idyllic period. Suddenly he is a rooster full of testosterone and needs to defend his territory and his flock, interlopers beware – and that can mean you!
It is not personal – it’s just the way roosters are wired and just like a human teenager, he is testing the limits. If you have raised the rooster from a chick, it is usually easier to manage them and teach the rules as they go along.
If you have been given or acquired a rooster, it can be that much more difficult. A lot will depend on how the bird was raised and of course, the breed.
Why Do Roosters Attack?
In the wild, he would defend his flock against threats from predators and other roosters that were looking for some hens to mate with.
His responsibility is to care for the flock and its’ needs and that includes mating with as many hens as he can manage to ensure the success of the flock.
You will need to bear in mind, that aggressive behavior will likely increase in the spring-time because it is the start of the mating season.
We are just going to mention some terms here that you may have heard but aren’t sure of:
- Flogging – the rooster will fly at you and try to beat you with his wings and rake you with the spurs.
- Spurring – as the name suggests, jumping at you and trying to rake you.
- Chasing – he may try this with children more. Chasing you away from the flock. He will stop when he thinks you are no longer a threat.
- Aggressive pecking – not cute, it hurts. Do not tolerate even at the chick stage.
Watch for the ‘Moves’
There are certain signs that a rooster is contemplating an attack. We are going to share them here but be aware that the rooster is the master of the sneak attack!
He will lower his head while looking at you, he may start a little rooster dance – attack is imminent, be ready. Your rooster might try to bring you presents – very sweet, but he only does this for subordinate hens, beware.
The silent stealthy running up behind you, stopping and staring at you. A challenge has been issued, stand your ground, stare back.
How to Train Your Rooster to Be ‘Nice’
Ideas on training roosters are many, some good and bad and plenty of dubious ideas abound on the internet.
I have read of roosters being booted around the yard, having their spurs cut off and other little horrors visited upon them – this is abuse, please do not do this to your roosters. If you feel the need to cull him, please do so in a humane way.
When moving around your flock, your movements should be deliberate and fairly slow paced. Moving quickly unsettles them, putting them on edge – more so the rooster.
Animals think rationally – they cannot afford to make the same mistake twice – it might get them killed.
Remember these key points:
- You are the boss – he needs to learn this. You are not going to take away his purpose in life (mating, protection), but you will not tolerate challenges to your position of alpha flock member.
- Be prepared – just like the Boy Scouts… be prepared for him to challenge you at any time. This way you won’t be taken by surprise.
- Respect him – he has a job to do.
- Space – don’t crowd him, give him space. The only time to move into his space is if he looks like he might be thinking about attacking you.
- Carry a deterrent – deterrents are a great tool. Once the rooster has seen the stick or bottle in action, he will not want to repeat the exercise.
Remember each person who tends to the flock and deals with the rooster will have to follow your lead, no variations in how you treat him. If you give confusing signals he will be unsettled and may read ‘attack’ into a situation where no attack is intended.
Running Them Down
Some folks recommend that you ‘run them down’ – that is walk right through them without stopping. The idea is to get the rooster to move – he may interpret this as an attack and possibly counterattack – not a good thing.
Take one large step into his space while staring him down. He should back up, start fidgeting and he will look towards the ground. You won – walk away slowly.
Do not be afraid – this is a hard one for many folks. After all, no-one likes to be flogged by a rooster! Fear is a weakness in the animal kingdom and will be exploited to the full.
Even if you are frightened, do not run or move away from him – he needs to move first.
Don’t back off- if he starts up with you, don’t move away. If he drops his wings and spreads them slightly ready for attack – do the same. Spread your arms, stare directly at him and take a step into his space. If he is smart he will back off.
At this point, some folks will pick him up and walk around for 10-15 minutes to re-affirm who is the boss.
Do not hurt him – I cannot overemphasize this. Yes, you can control an animal by fear, but it doesn’t make them respect you, in fact in can make them meaner. If you can get him to respect you and your position as alpha, attack is much less likely.
I have read of people turning the rooster upside down and walking around the garden with him like that. This is dangerous for the rooster – because of the anatomy of a chicken, it is possible to cause the air sacs to collapse and have him suffocate – especially if he has just eaten. Please don’t do this.
It is important that you remain calm, quiet and assertive during your interactions with your rooster. Consistency with your interactions is also important. Wear as much protective clothing as you think you may need, long boots are recommended and a long sleeve shirt too.
Be warned though – it doesn’t work on every rooster, but at least you will know you have tried to teach him some manners!
Much of your success (or failure) will depend on things out of your control such as genetics.
To put things in perspective just remember that roosters were not born to be ‘lap pets’ – it is against their natural behavior.
When you buy your chicks or adult fowl, ask if there are any aggressive tendencies in the flock. Breeds to be cautious of are Old English Game, American Game, Oriental Game, Aseel, Shamo, Sumatra and Malay.
Of course, just because the breed is considered non-aggressive, it doesn’t always follow that the particular birds you have will stay true to type. Chickens are individuals, so personality can vary greatly.
Children should always be kept away from roosters unless a responsible adult is there to supervise.
Lastly, please remember your dominance can be kind; there is no need to be mean or harsh with your 7lb. rooster. Things such as treats, hand feeding, quiet talking and picking him up can help to establish your relationship with him.
Even if he does not accept these things from you, you can re-inforce your ‘alpha’ dominance without resorting to cruel methods.
Working with your rooster will take time and effort on your behalf, if you cannot devote these two things, think about re-homing or culling the bird.
He will likely never be a cuddly fellow, but that is not the aim. He needs to be a defender of the flock but subordinate to you. He may need reinforcement of the idea periodically, but in general you should both be respectful of the others space.
We hope you are successful with your rooster’s training program!
Have you had to deal with an aggressive rooster? How did you do it, please let us know in the comments section below…