Aggression In Roosters

by Manda H

Published January 9, 2024

A common story of youth is about being at a friend or family member’s home and a youngster finds himself being chased by a rooster. Customers often mention how important it is for them to make sure that they do not receive a rooster because of concerns about future aggression.  Many parents and Grandparents indicate some concern about their young family members so they would like recommendations for possible friendly breeds of roosters.

Selecting a Rooster

Before you think all roosters are mean, let’s take a look at some signs of potential aggression plus some tips and advice on how to curb it.  Let us go through the early warning signs to reduce the risk of your cockerel becoming aggressive. Things that when recognized, can be curbed to assist that rooster to turn out to be one that can be trusted around humans.

If you have not already selected a rooster, it is important to remember to take breed into consideration. Some breeds do have a greater propensity towards aggression.  Here is a link to our blog with suggestions for breeds with the Friendliest Roosters, but remember, each one is different and even those breeds known for being friendly can have some aggressive roosters and some of those breeds known for aggression can have friendly roosters.

Swedish Flower Hen Rooster Colorful Rooster Meyer Hatchery

Aggression Signs

As your chicken starts to head towards maturity, you will start to notice little signs of aggression occasionally. They are learning where their place is in the pecking order. This means there can be times when the cockerel will challenge you as they are deciding who is in charge, you or them. They are having a change in their hormone levels that they do not completely understand and in time many of them will regulate on their own. You can somewhat compare it to previously nonviolent pre-teen boys who have the desire to punch some other kid who looked at them funny on the way to school.

This behavior will be exhibited by a cockerel who starts pacing a little bit, back and forth, looking at you with his side eye, so as to not be obvious that he is watching.  As you approach the bird, he will start to puff up his feathers to make himself look larger and begin to look at you directly. At this point he is going to look for a part of your body to flog, that is, jump towards you with a flap of the wings to gain a little “lift” as they tuck their feet upwards to strike outwards to hit you with their spurs. Spurs are located on the back of the shank, that is, the leg of the chicken. On some breeds this spur can become quite sharp and even puncture skin. Sounds painful doesn’t it? It can certainly be painful!  Want to learn more about Spurs? Check out our blog- All About Spurs in Chickens.

What To Do With An Aggressive Rooster

When you see that cockerel puff up at you, your natural instinct is to flee from him. The cockerel sees you jump, scream and run away. Next thing you know, he is on your heels as he attempts to still flog you with his spurs. The average adult can only run approximately 6 MPH whereas a rooster can go approximately 9 MPH. You know what that means right?  If you get away, it is because he let you. Not only that, but you let that cockerel feel that he can control you. Even if you got away without injury, the scoreboard still lights up Cockerel- 1, You-0. Next time he will be a little more bold.

What then should you do? My preferred method? I prefer to lower down, scream loudly and flap my wings.  If I kick at him, it is about 50/50 effective. He might take some attempts at flogging my shoe, but add in that mad lady screaming and the scales will tip in my favor. Add it to charging the rooster and the scales tip faster.  My young children know to charge as needed and to swat with a stick on the side (never the back or head).  What you are doing is telling the cockerel that you are not afraid and if it wants to live in peace and harmony it is to learn to respect you.  You are the King/Queen of the backyard.

Be sure to avoid putting a rooster in the position of feeling backed into a corner.  This can provoke a fight/flight response, which can result in aggression. It is also important to understand that a rooster has a strong desire to protect his flock. This means if the hens are being grabbed and squawking, he is going to run up to make sure they are safe. This can be when a grandchild comes over and wants to pick up one of Grandma’s beautiful hens. The rooster wants to make sure that this strange child, whom he doesn’t necessarily recognize, is not harming one of his girls. While it is important to make sure roosters are not overly aggressive, it is important to teach children how to respect the nature of chickens. This behavior is the same behavior that will help to protect your hens from predators.

With all things, sometimes there are roosters who are aggressive by nature and despite attempts to prevent this, it cannot be curbed. These types of roosters are best rehomed to someone who is aware of aggression or, if you choose, to be turned into chicken soup.   

Have any tips on helping with a rooster who has a bit of attitude? Be sure to comment below.

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