If you are a farmer, chances are you have a rooster in your flock. You know how important a rooster is in the continuity of your flock. Everything may have been relaxed and calm all along until your rooster recently spurred you or someone else on your farm. So now you are considering what options you have regarding him; to get rid of him or to tame him.
By the time you’re done reading this article, you will have enough knowledge on the way forward with your aggressive rooster. Aggressive roosters are a common problem among farmers, and just like with every other problem, there is a solution for this. Some breeds are more prone to aggressive behaviour than others.
Why do roosters get aggressive
Differences in the breed and the individual temperaments of each breed make each rooster exhibit aggressive behaviour at a different age and will often play a part in attempting to stop rooster aggression either difficult or easy. An aggressive rooster is both scary and dangerous, especially if you have kids on your farm. Roosters are mainly kept for two purposes: protection and reproduction.
If a rooster feels challenged by another rooster in the same flock, he will become aggressive to establish dominance. Just like his human counterpart, a rooster can be defensive because of his hens. Roosters are naturally protective and may become aggressive to defend their hens.
When they reach puberty, they tend to view even their keepers as their enemies. If you lift its hen, the rooster will attack you to her defence and will, over time, view you as its enemy.
You may also experience your rooster attacking another rooster who tries mating with her hens. They will challenge each other until one of them surrenders or until death if you do not intervene. Raising roosters together as hatchlings will not stop them from fighting when they come of age.
Your rooster may attack you by:
- Spurring- jumping on you as he tries to rake you with the spurs at the back of his feet
- Chasing adults and kids alike
- Flogging- flying at you as he tries to rake you with his spurs or beat you with his wings
- Pecking-he may begin this as a chicken. It would be best if you did not tolerate this behaviour.
It is also not uncommon to have your rooster aggressive towards hens. This especially happens during the mating season.
Generally, some chicken breeds are aggressive, even as little chicks, while others become aggressive when they reach puberty at around six to eight months old.
How to deal with aggressive roosters
It’s important to remember that until you have tamed your rooster, your farm is not safe. Even if he is yet to hurt anyone, it is essential to protect yourself. When outside, wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, gloves and knee-high rubber boots for protection.
If he has learnt to use his spurs, you may need to discipline a rooster by striking him with your foot, branch or a bucket. Once you establish dominance, your rooster will respect you, but you will need to remind him of your place now and then by a simple stare or a stomp.
How to tame an aggressive rooster
Taming your aggressive rooster is the beginning of teaching him that you are boss over him, not that you want his job and will stop a rooster from attacking you. It requires a lot of time and patience, and it’s essential to ensure you have stock for both of them as rooster attacks deny your farm of peace and joy because your family cannot walk around freely because of fear.
When the rooster attacks, you can raise your arms and move them around. This makes you look bigger and more fierce to him. Having established fear, you can then take a few steps or run toward him. However, it is important not to walk away from him or turn your back until he surrenders. Though this may take a little while, it is essential to be patient.
If you are not confident enough to run towards him, you can stand and stare at him. But whatever you do, do not walk away. When he submits, you will notice that he avoids eye contact with you by looking away. He may start pecking the ground or even walk away. When you notice this, you have already won and have established dominance, and you may now confidently walk away.
Normally roosters warn before they attack. If he lowers his head and looks like he’s in a dancing motion as he looks at you, or you notice him running up on your heels as you walk away, consider this as signs of aggression. When you notice these signs, it’s important not to walk straight toward your rooster or stare at him as he will feel like you are challenging him. Also, creeping around trying to avoid him tells him you’re scared.
If you are confident enough whenever he attacks you, you can crouch down and feed him straight out of your hand. With time, he will start considering you a good person and not the enemy and will stop attacking you. But this will require crazy confidence levels.
Also, with your boot, you may roll him over when he attacks you. Once he gets up and attacks again, roll him over again and keep repeating until he gives up and walks away.
Another drastic way to tame your rooster and to show him that your pecking order is higher than his; when he attacks, grab him and push him against your side, clamped under your arm and regardless of how much he squawks, walk around doing your chores for about 20 minutes or until he calms down. You can then put him down, but if he turns to attack you, you can repeat this cycle until once you put him down, he calmly walks away.
However, depending on the breed, age and level of aggression of your rooster, you may have to repeat this severally before he stops challenging you. For effective training, you require consistency and patience, and it will also depend on your comfort level and how badly you need to protect your family. Also, if you have raised him from a chick, it is easier to train him than training a rooster acquired when fully grown.
How to get rid of a mean rooster
When taming proves impossible, you may consider the options available to get rid of a mean rooster. If you are tired of your rooster’s antics, you can opt out by selling him to someone who feels confident enough to tame him. Alternatively, you can cull him. Culling is a fancy term for removing a rooster from your flock by killing him for meat purposes.
How do you train a rooster not to attack
There are many training ideas, but not all will work. You may cut off your rooster’s spurs or roll him over with your doot when he attacks, although many animal lovers may term these actions abusive.
Moving quickly around your yard unsettles your rooster and puts him on edge and ready to attack. You might consider a relatively slow-paced movement that is deliberate when you move around your flock. The slow movement will keep your rooster calm and will train him that you mean him no harm. Ensure that any other person tending the flock deals with your rooster as you do because any variations in behaviour will unsettle your rooster making him ready to attack.
Also, striking your rooster with a deterrent, like a bucket or a branch, whenever he tries to attack will deter him from further attacks if you do it consistently.
It is also important to give your rooster enough space as they are naturally territorial. When he runs his territory, he does not feel threatened.
However, your success or failure training or taming your rooster will be affected significantly by factors beyond your control, like genetics. Other factors such as hand feeding, quiet talking, treats and picking him up will help establish a relationship with your rooster. By all means, it is possible to reinforce your dominance without resorting to harsh methods.
Why is my rooster attacking my hens
Rooster attacks on your hens mostly occur during the mating period. The other purpose of a rooster in your farm other than protection is reproduction. During the mating period, you will see your roosters grabbing your hens’ necks, pecking and climbing on them as well as pulling off their feathers. On top of this, the roosters may claw the hens with their feet to stabilise themselves on the hens’ back. Regardless of how hurtful you may think this is, you need not stand up for your hens if you want the continuity or success of your flock. This is normal behaviour and communication between your rooster and your hens.
A rooster establishes dominance through the pecking order. He will initiate mating by first pecking on the hens’ heads or necks. In submission, your hen will hunch and let the rooster climb on top of her, only if she wants to mate. Because your rooster will steady himself with his feet on your hens’ back, you will notice a loss of feathers on your hens’ backs.
However, rooster aggression can become too much for your hens if you do not have enough hens for every rooster on your farm. If you notice any open wounds or bleeding on the back of your hens, it is a sign that they are being mated too frequently. To curb this, you will need to add more hens on your farm or eliminate some roosters. Ensure the ratio of hens to roosters is between 8-12 to 1.
Also, if you have different breeds of chickens on your farm, you may realise that some hens appear more wounded than others. This will happen if some breeds are more docile and mellow than others.
It could also be that some hens refuse frequent mating while others freely submit. This causes breeding preferences and more harm to the hens that freely submit. In addition to raising the number of hens in your flock, you can try rotating the mellow hens in groups of 2 or 3 away from your rooster to allow them time to recover.
Also, mixing smaller breeds of chicken with regular-sized roosters in your flock is a disadvantage to the hens. They will have a hard time defending themselves against roosters and will, with time, sustain severe injuries.
Why is my rooster attacking other roosters
As previously stated, roosters are naturally territorial and seek to establish their dominance by attacking other roosters in the flock. They will also attack other roosters to defend their hens from them.
How do you stop a rooster from attacking chickens
Most roosters will be protective of chicks, while others may portray aggression towards them. This often occurs to the chicks the rooster didn’t father.
If you notice any signs of rooster attacks on your chicken, it is advisable to separate or isolate the chicks from the flock. After they grow bigger, you can reintegrate them back into the flock.
You can also increase water and feeding stations to ensure minimal interaction between your rooster and the chickens. Ideally, every water or feeding station should accommodate up to five birds. If you already have enough water and feeding stations, consider spreading them out to ensure every bird has space, as this also minimises interactions between the birds.
Also, you may offer hiding areas for your chicken like perches, bales of hay or items to hide behind, ensuring that the areas do not become traps for the chickens.
Also, you may consider providing entertainment for your birds as roosters may start attacking out of boredom. You can do this by introducing new food items, perches, and items to climb on, dig through or roost on.
Overcrowding is also another source of why roosters may be attacking your chicken. Consider expanding your coop as every bird requires its space. If possible, let them free-range during the day to alleviate stress from overcrowding.
How to assert dominance over a rooster that attacks you
- You can assert dominance by not walking away when your rooster tries to attack. You can do this by walking towards him with your arms raised.
- You can also try carrying him under your arms when he attacks and only put him down when he calms down. It shows him that you are not afraid of him, and he will surrender.
- Striking him with a deterrent will also help assert dominance over him.
- You can also try making a loud noise or stomping when he tries to attack.
Top 7 Most Aggressive Rooster Breeds
American game chickens/ Roundheads
American game chickens are specifically bred for cockfighting. They are aggressive and territorial and should be kept from other breeds of chickens. They are also a noisy chicken breed and will not tolerate any roosters in their flock and will fight until death.
Because the American Game rooster is more of a wild bird, it flies easily and likes to roost on trees. It does well free-range compared to being confined in the coop. Regardless of their aggression, the roosters tend to be good fathers and are not aggressive towards their young ones.
The American Game chickens are mostly ornamental birds because of their various colour combinations. They have beautiful feathers and are the breed that graces chicken shows mostly. History says that this is the breed of chicken that Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington raised.
Other nicknames of the American Game include Roundheads, Marsh butchers, Bumblefoot Grey, Whitehackles, and Sweaters. These nicknames come from a specific colouring on the chickens.
Cornish Chickens or Indian Game
Cornish chickens are mostly bred for meat and are a crossbreed between the Cornish chicken and the Plymouth White Rock. They were formerly called the Indian game chicken and were imported hundreds of years ago to England. The breed has been more developed recently and is called Cornish chickens when keeping them as meat chicken but remains Indian Game chicken when used in cockfighting.
They are muscular and aggressive and require plenty of space. It’s advisable not to combine them with other flocks of roosters. Even as chicks, this breed tends to be more aggressive than other chicks from other breeds, and you will notice this through their feather-pulling behaviour when they are just a couple of days old.
Malay chickens were brought to England from India and Asia. They are bred mostly as cockfighting birds and so they are generally aggressive. They are the most aggressive breed of chickens and are also the biggest in the world. In addition to their muscles, they are large and can easily stand 3” tall. With a strong beak and thick legs, they are tough enough to fight. Their physique makes them outrightly dangerous to their keepers. Their genetic composition makes them generally bold and fearless and can harm or kill smaller chickens in the worst cases. They are known to be aggressive toward other hens and smaller chickens, animals, and people.
In some cases, they may attack your dog or cat. They do not fear predators, generally. Keeping your Malay roosters together means fighting each other to the death as they do not tolerate other Malay roosters in their territory.
Old English Game
Old English Game roosters are also specifically bred for cockfights. They are beautiful and colourful and have beautiful feathers. However, as a keeper, it’s important not to let the beauty of these birds fool you as these roosters are aggressive and do not play well with other breeds of chickens. Therefore, they should be kept separately as they will not tolerate any other roosters in their areas and will fight until the other rooster dies or leaves.
They are known to be aggressive toward other chickens, animals and people, adults and children alike. Because English Game roosters are territorial, it is important as a keeper to allow them plenty of space. The roosters grow up to 4 pounds, and because they were born to fight, they are not afraid of anything.
Asil chickens have been called the most fighting chicken breed in the world. They are aggressive and territorial, and just like the other breeds above, they should not be combined with other breeds of roosters. Their chickens begin fighting when they are about a week old. For sanity on your farm, it is important to separate roosters from this breed by the time they are three months old to prevent to-the-death fights.
They are stubborn, have high stamina and will mostly outlive any threat that presents itself, including you. They are originally from India and were brought to England primarily for cockfighting. It is important to provide Asil chicken with plenty of space.
Oriental Game Chickens
Oriental Game Chickens are also known as Oriental Fowl or Jungle Fowl. They are long-feathered chickens and are bred for cockfights. They come in varieties, namely Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, among other Asian varieties. They are the oldest of all breeds, and they are the closest to the original wild chicken domesticated thousands of years ago.
Because of their origin, Oriental Fowls have a natural fight-to-live instinct and are very wild. They begin fighting immediately upon hatching and are not afraid to fight to the death. Oriental Game chickens are rare and could become extinct in a matter of years.
Varieties of Oriental fowl include Shamo, Thai Game Fowl, Saipan and Red Jungle fowl, and Sumatra.
Modern Game Chickens
Modern Game chickens are originally from the Old English Game breed. They are not ideal for new chicken owners because of their aggressive nature, but they can be trained to be more mellow. To avoid to-death fights, Modern Game roosters should not be kept with other roosters. Regardless of whether they were raised together as hatchlings, once they come of age, they begin fighting. They are active and require enough space and do better when free-range than when confined in a coop.
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They are a combination of the Old English Game and Malay Chicken. They are colourful and bright in their general appearance but are not as aggressive as Malay or English Game chickens. Modern game roosters will grow up to about 6 pounds.
Regardless of its aggressive behaviour, it is important to have a rooster in your flock. It is also important to understand rooster behaviours to react accordingly and raise a healthy flock.