I’m having a little issue right now with my rooster….he’s attacking me! My little baby that I raised from a chick has turned on its’ owner. What is the solution to taming an aggressive rooster besides having a good ole’ fashioned barbecue?
Lots of articles I’ve read have said that you should hold your roosters (and chickens) when they are babies. Holding them early on can teach a rooster a little bit of humility, especially in front of the ladies. But then again, a rooster’s testosterone doesn’t kick in until around weeks 16-20. So roosters generally are docile while they are young.
Don’t get me wrong, roosters can be great. I have an awesome rooster named Fernando. He is the head honcho and I could sing his praises all day. Fernando watches over my hens (I should call them his wives) and he guards them jealously, but not aggressively. I have nothing to fear from Fernando and I think he is the best rooster ever.
And then I have two other roosters who just aren’t up to Fernando’s caliber. My husband and I call them “little gang buddies”. They hang out with each other and generally encourage each other to do pranks. As you can see from the photos below, Fernando doesn’t let them get away with much:
I have 19 hens and 3 roosters. The “gang buddies” don’t get to have much action with Fernando around (if you know what I mean). I’m thinking they are having a build-up of testosterone and are taking it out on me, the owner, the one who feeds them and keeps them alive. I’m kind of thinking my rooster is not thinking his aggression through.
Why are roosters aggressive:
My rooster has been attacking me when I get especially close to the chickens. He hasn’t grown his spurs yet, so for that I’m grateful. Generally, he will attack when my back is turned and I am tending to the chickens. He sneaks up behind me and jumps at my lower legs…my limbs are a little bruised at the moment.
So why are roosters aggressive? A rooster’s main job is to protect his flock. If you have predators around your home/coop, a rooster will do a great job protecting your hens. After all, chickens are the reason to even have a rooster around. See: Why you need a rooster. Roosters also help the chickens find food and will warn the chickens of any harm that may be coming.
Roosters also need chickens to mate with. The ideal ratio of roosters to hens is usually around 1:10. Yes, roosters get around. They need multiple hens to take care of. So too many roosters can spoil the whole batch if you don’t have enough hens to go around.
Signs of an Impending Rooster Attack:
Obviously, even I can’t see all the signs that a rooster is about to attack, as my shins can attest to that. Rule numero uno: don’t turn your back on a rooster, especially if you know he is aggressive.
Roosters will always try to take the high ground and know how to conduct a sneak attack. One minute a rooster can be happily chowing down on feed and the next attacking you.
Signs to be aware of: look for the flaring of the feathers around his neck. His head will typically be lowered and giving you the stare-down. Next is the rooster-dance, which is hopping around with his head lowered. Attack is imminent, beware. The rooster will then attack with his feet out and wings flapping wide. It’s intimidating, even for humans.
How to cure an aggressive rooster:
Roosters have a need to establish their dominance. That is why you, as their owner, need to establish your dominance over them. The goal is not to hurt your rooster. While I have put my foot out in order to stop the attack before (aka kicked back), that wasn’t the correct solution to stop the rooster from attacking. In reality, it just aggravated the rooster more. I have had to hide in the coop and wait for the rooster to get distracted so that I could run like a girl and get away (yes, I’m the brave rooster owner). I knew that if he kept attacking me, my boot would probably kill him.
So to combat my fear of my rooster, I have had to learn how to establish my dominance.
There are several keys to curing an aggressive rooster:
- Move slowly around the rooster. If he is ignoring you, good. You’re good to go.
- Although, remember that he could attack at any time and be prepared. Watch your back.
- If the rooster is in an aggressive pose, take one large step towards the rooster. Don’t run him over or force him to move out of your way, as this could cause him to attack. Taking a step towards him should cause him to start looking at the ground and begin loosing his concentration. If this happens, you won.
- If that doesn’t work, don’t back off or run. The rooster needs to be the first to move away, not you.
- If the rooster’s wings are spread, spread your wings too. Put your arms out to the side, as this makes you look bigger and scarier. Then take a step into his space, stare him down, and force him to back off.
- If you are able, once the rooster has backed off, pick him up and carry him around for a while. It’s time to humiliate him in front of the ladies. You need to get your rooster to respect you, not fear you. If he fears you, he will keep attacking you. Respect is key.
- *DO NOT hold your rooster upside down. This can cause the rooster to asphyxiate and die. That kind of goes against the whole point of trying to cure him.
- Until the rooster stops attacking, wear protective clothing, such as jeans and knee-high rubber boots to protect your legs.
What if the rooster doesn’t stop being aggressive?
If, after all the tricks above have not worked and the rooster is still aggressive, then it’s time to think about some other steps. Consider giving your rooster away to another farm that either doesn’t have a rooster already, or has enough hens for the rooster to take care of. If nobody wants another rooster and you cannot give him away, it may be time to make some rooster stew.
I work as a paralegal for a day job and I always think about the legal consequences if someone were to get hurt on my property. If friends come over to your home, or say a neighbor stops by, or your little niece or nephew wants to visit your chickens, and your rooster attacks them and causes serious injury, they can make a claim against your homeowner’s insurance. This can cause your insurance costs to rise and you may be facing legal action. Nobody wants that to happen. So be sure to consider all factors when dealing with an aggressive rooster.
Can I integrate a new rooster into the flock:
It is usually not the best idea to integrate a new rooster into your flock that already has a rooster who has established his dominance. You probably will experience a live cock-fight (which appeals to men for some reason) and you will have a dead rooster on your hands.
Roosters who have grown up together from chicks have already established their own pecking order. In my experience, my rooster Fernando came out on top and my other boys recognize this and do not challenge him. But from their teenage days, I watched them do their dominance dance to see who would become head rooster. So by the time they became adults, the pecking order had already been established. Introducing a brand new grown rooster would only upset the too-delicate hierarchy.
Are there breeds of roosters that do not become aggressive?
The short answer is no. Roosters in their very nature are born to be the protectors of the flock. They will give up their very lives in a fight to protect their hens. There is no amount of cuddling, petting, cooing, etc. from the time they are babies to keep a rooster from becoming aggressive as an adult. Again, let’s blame testosterone, which kicks in at around month 6.
I’m not saying that all roosters are aggressive. Again, my main example is Fernando, my favorite rooster, head honcho, and is not aggressive towards humans. He is a brahma rooster. My other two roosters are barred rock roosters and only one is aggressive. Other breeds that may be known to be gentle may turn out to be aggressive. It’s a gamble.
Try the above steps to cure an aggressive rooster. Remember to treat your rooster with respect, not violence. If all else fails, give the rooster away for free on Facebook or enjoy a nice stew. It’s better to be able to enjoy your chickens and not be scared of a rooster attack.
What about you? What are some of your methods of taming aggressive roosters? Let me know below.
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