Sometimes a backyard rooster can become ornery, aggressive, or difficult to handle. When you find that you are dealing with the tricky personality of a headstrong rooster, there are several available options for you to help tame its temper.
Consider the following tips, tools, and techniques available for how you can help to tame the personality of a wild rooster in your flock.
Understanding Rooster Aggression
It’s important to understand that some roosters will simply be aggressive naturally, even when they are just chicks. Other roosters do not show aggression until they reach puberty, which tends to occur between around six and eight months of age.
Some breeds tend to be more aggressive than others, so you can avoid some aggression by choosing a gentler breed. However, this does not automatically mean you will avoid all aggression because any rooster can be feisty sometimes, even the gentlest breeds.
Typically, when a rooster does not become aggressive until puberty, then suddenly begins to attack its human, it’s doing so because the rooster is viewing the humans as a threat. The rooster is naturally hardwired to protect the hens in the flock, and so the rooster will do anything in its power to protect the flock when it feels a hen is in trouble.
Over time he may be conditioned to believe that humans are an enemy through no fault of your own. It doesn’t mean you can’t condition the feistiness out of the rooster.
You must consider that roosters typically warn before attacking. Should your rooster lower its head and hop or dance around while looking at you, or if he seems to run up on your heels as you move away, these actions signal aggression.
Aggressive roosters can attack and assert dominance in several ways, including flogging, spurring, chasing, and pecking. Flogging involves flying at you and attempting to beat you with its wings.
Spurring involves attempting to rake at you with the spurs on the back of his feet. He may chase you if you get too close to the flock or make him feel threatened. He may also peck at you aggressively, which may seem cute when he is tiny but can become quite painful when he grows up.
General Tips to Keep in Mind
You are not the same species as the rooster, and so the same rules are not going to apply to you. The aggressive rooster will try to put you on the same level as it, and it is going to be your job to rise above.
Whatever tactic you decide to employ in taming your aggressive rooster, your goal should be to show the rooster that you are in control. It’s not always about asserting overt dominance. Sometimes it is simply about showing that there is a difference between humans and roosters, and the humans are in charge.
Maintain Sufficient Food and Water
When roosters don’t get enough feed or fresh water regularly, they can become increasingly aggressive due to their unsatisfied basic needs. A lack of sufficient food could signal danger, making them more vigilant in guarding the flock against predators. This would lead chickens to become territorial, especially during mating seasons.
Don’t Run Away from Aggressive Roosters
It is important not to show fear. You should not be afraid of your rooster anyway; however, it makes sense to be nervous if you have experienced aggression in the past. Do not let your rooster know that you are feeling anxious or afraid.
You will want to demonstrate that you are in control of the situation, which means remaining calm, relaxed, and collected when approaching any one of these tactics for aggressive rooster taming.
Don’t Engage in a Fight As Much as Possible
Your goal should never be to fight the aggressive rooster. While there are techniques for asserting dominance, you are not trying to start or pick a fight with the rooster or engage in the same type of fight that the rooster is engaging in with you.
Roosters are not inherently dangerous creatures, although they may injure one another or a human, so you should not view this as a life-or-death struggle. What happens next is always entirely in your hands.
Avoid Challenging the Roosters
Finally, you should avoid walking directly toward your rooster or staring straight at him. These are actions that your rooster may perceive to be challenges or threats. On the other hand, if you walk on eggshells trying to avoid your rooster, he will most certainly know you’re afraid of him.
Treatment of Aggressive Roosters
Approach an aggressive rooster wearing the proper gear. Ensure you wear gloves, long pants, long sleeves, and boots to protect you completely.
With that said, here are things you can do with aggressive roosters:
1. Start Early
If you have a rooster who is behaving aggressively from an early age, you can start early by establishing that you are in charge. Although it is normal for male chicks to be standoffish, you should still be able to hold, cuddle, and hand-feed them. It’s a great time to lay the foundation of respect.
If your aggressive rooster is pecking at you and acting disrespectfully toward you, he is showing you he thinks he is the boss. You need to establish that it is actually the other way around.
You can pick him up and talk to him, especially in front of the hens, to show him that he does not have that level of control. You should try to feed him from your hand if he will eat before putting him back down.
Establishing this relationship early with your young, aggressive rooster may help to alleviate some of his aggression before puberty.
2. Building a Relationship with the Rooster
If your rooster is attacking you, then you may be able to disarm him by crouching down low and carefully feeding him treats out of your hand.
If you approach your rooster carefully in this manner, you can condition him to regard you as essentially a “treat fairy” rather than a potential threat. It will take time and patience for him to grow accustomed to your approach. Eventually, he will stop wanting to pick fights with you.
This is because roosters do not regard other roosters or chickens as food dispensers. They need to draw an important distinction between you and the flock. When they begin to regard you as the “person who feeds them,” they will gain a necessary level of respect likely to calm the aggression.
It is essential that you are not afraid of your aggressive rooster and that you do not demonstrate fear toward your rooster. You must also take care not to allow it to fly up at your face. This is why you should crouch down and keep the cockerel on the ground by being down at its level.
3. The Top Dog Approach
Roosters naturally like to fight with their legs and feet. You should always wear foot and leg protection when dealing with them, whether you go with kindness or dominance in dealing with them. The ‘Top Dog’ approach involves responding to a rooster’s attack by rolling him over onto his back with your protected foot.
If you repeat this process each time your aggressive rooster attacks, he will eventually hopefully decide that you are more dominant than he is. This does not work with every rooster, but it’s an option worth exploring. The goal here is to demonstrate to your aggressive rooster that you are higher in the pecking order than he is.
Another way that you can accomplish this is by scooping him up each time he attacks. Hold him against your body, clamped underneath your arm. He will likely squawk and flop; however, you need to hold him still.
In fact, if it is possible for you to do so, you should go about your business while holding onto your rooster and continue to carry him around until he calms himself down.
If, when you set him down, he begins to kick or squawk, then pick him back up and repeat the cycle again. Do this until you can set him down calmly and peacefully.
4. Isolate the Rooster
Isolation is a common strategy used to calm down aggressive roosters. When an aggressive rooster is isolated from other birds and humans, he loses his social status as the alpha bird in the flock. As a result, he has no one to compete with or protect the flock from, which can reduce his stress levels.
Also, isolation allows you time to work on training your rooster out of its aggression by spending more individualized attention on it rather than him being stimulated by lots of activity going around him that further contributes towards anger buildup leading up to attacks on anything perceived as threatening.
Further, if there’s another dominant bird in their environment causing tension amongst them all, then isolating either cockerel would separate any conflict they may have between each other, giving both spaces away without having constant access towards neighboring egos clashing together over territory disputes or intimacies.
5. Redirect Their Attention
Providing a scratching post can help reduce aggressive behavior in roosters by redirecting their attention and providing them with an outlet for natural behaviors.
These tools are designed to provide birds the chance and space required allowing stretching, jumping, and spreading wings without feeling cramped within living quarters. These activities keep their body language aligned toward stress relief and less feistiness.
6. Last Resort: Rehoming or Culling
If all of these fail, you can rehome or cull your rooster. Maybe your coop is not the right for it, so moving it to another one or even another farm can remove its aggressive tendencies.
Culling an aggressive rooster should be the last resort for farm owners because there are other possible solutions that can help reduce or eliminate their aggression before taking such a drastic step.
By first trying alternative approaches, farm owners would have exhausted every feasible chance possible. Cull only if evident excessive aggressive tendencies pose a danger to human beings, specifically if there are children on your farm.
If you want to find the friendliest breeds, you can check our list here.
Rather than considering this as trying to deal with an aggressive rooster, you should consider it as building a relationship with your rooster. If your rooster is acting aggressively toward you, then this means you need to work on your relationship with it. You can do this by asserting dominance and showing that you are the bearer of food and treats.
Many roosters will show aggression at some point in their lives because it is their job to protect the hens. When they act aggressively toward you on an occasional basis, they are simply doing their job. However, if it becomes a consistent and frustrating problem, you may need to consider other alternatives.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch The Foundry.