Sometimes a backyard rooster can become ornery, aggressive, or otherwise difficult to deal with. 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 is 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 their puberty. Rooster puberty tends to occur between around six and eight months of age.
Some breeds also tend to be more aggressive than other breeds 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 is capable of being feisty sometimes, even the gentlest of breeds.
Typically, when a rooster does not become aggressive until puberty, then suddenly begins to attack its human, it is 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 his power to protect the flock when he 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. This does not mean that you can not condition the feistiness out of the rooster, however.
It is vital that you consider that roosters typically warn prior to attacking. Should your rooster lower his head and hop or dance around while looking at you, or if he seems to run up on your heels as you are moving away, then these actions signal aggression.
Aggressive roosters can attack and assert dominance in a number of ways including flogging, spurring, chasing, and pecking. Flogging involves flying at you and attempting to beat at you with his 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 little 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 is going to try to put you on the same level as him 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 is 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.
- 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 nervous or afraid. You will want to demonstrate that you are in control of the situation which means remaining calm, cool, and collected when approaching any one of these tactics for aggressive rooster taming.
- 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 to engage in the same type of fight with the rooster that he is engaging in with you. Roosters are not inherently dangerous creatures although they may injure one another or a human, and so you should not view this as a life or death struggle. What happens next is always entirely in your hands.
- Finally, you should avoid walking directly toward your rooster or staring directly 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.
If you have a rooster who is already behaving aggressively from an early age, then you can start early by establishing that you are in charge. Although it is normal for male chicks to be stand-offish, you should still be able to hold them, to cuddle them, and to hand feed them. This is a great time to lay the foundation of respect.
If your aggressive rooster is pecking at you and acting disrespectful 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 prior to puberty.
The Treat Fairy Approach
Approach an aggressive rooster wearing the proper gear. Make sure that you wear gloves, long pants, long-sleeves, and boots so that you are completely protected. 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 dispensers of food. This is an important distinction that they need to draw 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 that is likely to calm the aggression.
It is important 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 him to fly up at your face. This is why you should crouch down and keep him on the ground by being down at his level.
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 is an option worth exploring. The goal here is to demonstrate to your aggressive rooster that you are higher up 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 it is important for you 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.
Rather than looking upon this as trying to deal with an aggressive rooster, you should think of 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 him. You can do this by asserting dominance and then showing him, 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.
If you try several different methods of trying to tame your aggressive rooster and you are not seeing any improvement in his behavior, then you might consider whether keeping him or not would be ideal. If you have children who interact with your flock it may not be safe to keep an aggressive rooster. Re-homing your rooster or eating him and replacing him may be more ideal.
If you are genuinely afraid of your aggressive rooster’s behavior, then you should consider replacing him with a rooster you aren’t afraid of.