Lessons at the Mini Farm : Aggressive Roosters

The Chicken Whisperer

There were many great things about my childhood I would not trade. I was born in Hawaii and though I don’t remember I am sure those years shaped how I view life. I visited many countries and lived in German for a few years of my childhood. Though I wouldn’t change those years learning to love other cultures, I always thought my roots belonged on a farm.  I dreamed of living on a farm with lots of animals, especially horses. Some of my best day dreams happened while driving across the European countrysides. I dreamed of racing my horse across the countryside, caring for baby animals and eventually becoming a small town vet.  I would spending hours a day dreaming of farm life.

My youngest daughter is living my childhood dream. My daughter now spends hours on warm sunny days exploring our 2 1/2 acres. The animals have become her friends (with the excepting of the mean rooster). She is not always gentle but she does love them.When she was three years old we called her the “Chicken Whisperer”. She would grab any one of  our chickens and hold them and sing to them. Like me, she is very curious. She will often do things just to see what will happen. My mother told me that when I was three I would sit with intense concentration as I dissected pollywogs with my fat toddler fingers. Apparently this type of curiosity is hereditary because my daughter’s curiosity lead to drowning one of our chickens in a water trough when she was three.

There are great things about living this semi farm life as an adult. God did not see it fit for me to have a childhood on a farm/ranch but he has blessed me with a taste of this life as an adult. I also get to witness my now six year old daughter do the things I imagined doing as a child. What a blessing that is ! It’s even better than if I lived the life myself.

A mini ranch lifestyle has been a great way to teach my daughter about life. Much of what she learns about life happens at home. She learns about death, growth and disease, caring for things, responsibility, gardening and much more about God’s creation. One of the biggest lessons she has been learning lately is how to handle an aggressive rooster. We have two roosters (we had three but one got eaten by a raccoon), one is good and one is bad. The bad rooster is only threaten by my daughters presences. Something about her makes him think she is predator. I don’t really blame him, she does have a tendency to get a little rough with the hens. The mean rooster has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise at times. He keeps my daughter from spending too much time with the chickens. Since she has over curiosity issues with chickens, limiting her time with them is a good thing. But I am worried that this rooster is going to shape her in a negative way.

My friend and neighbor told me that when she was a child they had a vicious rooster that would chase people down the street. Thankfully our rooster is not that bad but my friend did tell me it made her afraid of roosters. She is afraid of our roosters, well at least the mean one. So, I thought it best if I taught my daughter how to overcome her fear. Instead of letting the mean rooster shape how she views roosters in general, I have decided to help train my daughter as well as the rooster. I am not sure it’s going to work but here is how I am going about it.

Both the aggressive rooster that is living and the one that was killed did try to challenge me for the first time at around 6-8 months. Since I had experience with an aggressive rooster we had a few years ago , I decided to try and train these new cockerels up so they would recognize the proper pecking order between human and bird. I was successful in training them to not bother myself , my husband (my husband had his own battles with them) or my other kids but not at all successful with my youngest daughter. I am going to share some signs to watch for and how to catch them early with possible aggressive roosters. Then I am going to share about retraining the rooster and gaining confidence back for my daughter.

How to Recognize Rooster Aggression.

  • If a rooster crows at you or your children when you approach. One reason a rooster crows is a warning. If your rooster always crows at you when you are near it might be challenging you.
  • Roosters put there heads down like they are pecking the ground when they are challenging you. They look very non threating when they do this but it’s actually a great time for you to catch it early and establish dominance. They sometimes scratch the ground at the same time they are putting there head down. You will notice they are usually looking at you when they do this.
  • An aggressive rooster will jump at your feet or legs. Don’t miss this sign and think they are playing. He is full on challenging you at this point. Since young roosters don’t usually have develop their spurs right away the act of jumping on you may seem harmless but when those spurs do come in they can really hurt you or your child.

How to Establish Dominance.

It is very important you catch the signs early. I was not successfully in establishing dominance over my first aggressive rooster and I believe it’s because I didn’t catch the signs early enough. This rooster ended up being stew meat but not before I tried everything I could to get him to behave. Since I was not afraid of him, nothing he did detered me. When he would attack I would grab him and hold him while I went around doing the chores. I thought this type of complete dominace would change his ways. It did but only for a few weeks and then he would try it all over again. I tried a few other things but nothing worked. Then I called a friend that said she would butcher him for meat (this was before I started butchering my own chickens) to come get him because I was fed up. It’s no fun going out to feed the chickens and having a rooster attack you. No fun at all!

With the two new roosters I recognized the signs and caught it early. I really think this helped but am not entirely sure it would have worked on that other rooster anyway. Some roosters are just BAD!

How I Established  Dominance with My Young Roosters.

This is what worked for me anyway.

  1. As soon as you see the slightest sign of the rooster getting ready to attack you attack first.  It may only take you walking forcefully at the rooster and chasing it off but if that doesn’t work you will have to go to the next step.
  2. Grab the rooster and hold it upside down. I am pretty sure this is the worst way to demasculinenate (I don’t think this is a real word but it works)  a rooster. It’s best if you are in an enclosed area because then they can’t get away. Wearing long sleeves and long pants would be a good idea also. Hold the rooster upside down for a few minutes looking it in the eyes every so often.
  3. Gently turn the rooster right side up and when you are ready gently let him down again in an open area. If he turns to attack you repeat the precess.
  4. Walk towards the rooster a little bit but don’t corner him. Just walk toward him to see if he is still aggressive. If there seems to be no more aggression the get back to your chores like nothing happened.
  5. Remember to be brave. Like most animals roosters recognize fear.

What Not To Do

  1. Don’t stop and stare down or walk slowly around a rooster. This is a sign to the rooster there is something wrong. Just walk around the rooster like it is one of your hens.
  2. Don’t let a rooster get away with being aggressive. It is important to catch them before they think they have won.
  3. Don’t get hurt. I don’t want anyone to come back after trying these steps and tell me they got an eye poked out by an aggressive rooster. I am not an expert in rooster dominating so please use wise judgement.

How I Am Helping My Daughter Learn How to Dominate an Aggressive Rooster

Since I know the rooster will be aggressive toward my daughter even while I am near I have her really close to me while I do the following.

  1. Walking closely together I wait until the rooster attacks. Then I grab him by the legs and hold him upside down.
  2. I hand the rooster to my daughter while hold him upside down. She is now big enough to hold him but he is heavy for her.
  3. I have her lift the rooster up to eye level and stare at him in the eye.
  4. After holding him for a few minutes I get beside her again and turn the rooster right side up and let him go gently in an open area.
  5. Then I have her walk beside me towards the rooster to see what his reaction is. If it is still aggressive I chase him off myself or try and grab him again.
  6. If he is not acting aggressive then I have my daughter walk toward him by herself. If he acts aggressive I chase him off or try and grab him again.

Learning Lessons

The first time we did this you should have seen the look of satisfaction on my daughters face. Her confidence had improved. This rooster had tried to chase her and had jumped on her a time or two. So for her to be able to dominate him even for just a little while was great for her confidence. Is the rooster all fixed now and cuddling up with my daughter on the hay bales? No, but as she grows and learns I think she will be able to establish complete dominance over this rooster. If not, and he becomes more aggressive toward her, he becomes stew meat. Sorry if that sounds harsh to anyone but that’s farm life 😉

So that’s a just one of the lessons we have learned here on our homestead.

Do you have any rooster stories you would like to share? If you have tips on handling aggressive roosters, please share.

14 Responses to “Lessons at the Mini Farm : Aggressive Roosters”

  • We’re on our 4th roo in 3 years all after having met their demise as a result of overly aggressive behavior. Our current one, in addition to the signs you mentioned, will puff out his chest and flap his wings. It makes a great indicator for the children. We have a strict no tolerance policy for aggression, I have way too many little ones right at eye-pecking height. I think we may finally have a good one though. Great post, thanks for the tips.

  • Hello!
    Great post on roosters! We don’t keep roosters but we have a neighbor who does. He has three young girls and I think they would benefit from reading this.I’m participating in the homesteading blog hop today. Hope to see you at my homestead!

  • Great post, Mona! I don’t have roosters, but if I ever do, I’ll keep this in mind. My youngest is the child who loves the chickens the most, but she is also my most fearful one, so I know it would be an issue if I ever had an aggressive rooster.

  • We have one rooster. He’s still young, only 6 months old, so no big spurs yet. My son thinks it’s great fun to “make” him crow. My son came into the house the other day and told me that the rooster was trying to bow up on him. It’s my son’s own fault, so now we’ll have to try and work w/the rooster before he tries to peck my son’s eyes out!

    The rooster gives me and my husband a wide berth, so I”m not worried about him.

    Crazy kid, I told him it was a bad idea. Thanks for the tips.

  • Great post! We just got a little rooster, but He is starting to grow up . . . I will definitely keep this in mind esp. once we start having kids!
    Megan Jenelle

  • Collett:

    I’m so glad you are doing that for Maddy and I’m so happy that she was able to get that boost of confidence. I LOVE the picture of her holding that big ol’ bully! Go Maddy!

  • Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  • I have mixed feelings about aggressive roosters. We free range our chickens and appreciate a rooster that will protect the flock. On the other hand, I really don’t like having to keep my eye on a mean rooster while doing chicken chores. We solve our rooster problems with our farm dogs. I always have a dog with me when doing chores. They are very tuned into livestock behavior and generally sense a problem before I do. They are very good at dealing with challenging animals and teaching them their place.
    If I didn’t have dogs, I’d definitely give your method a try. It seems a sensible way to stop the misplaced aggression and keep children safe.

  • Mona:

    I am glad you all found this post useful. 🙂


    My dog has killed on of our roosters once but it was a good rooster. She does not really like the energy that the roosters bring to the flock. Our other rooster seems to be equally as protective but just doesn’t seem to have that aggression. He is still young so I am wondering if he will change too. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Valuable information about Roosters.

    We have our first rooster this year, a Polish rooster, and so far he’s been fine. We do, however, have two aggressive male Pekin ducks, they just get worse as mating season approaches…sigh.

    happy day!

  • Mona:

    marcia@Child in Harmony,

    I have not experience with ducks and I didn’t realize they became aggressive as well. I know geese can be nasty but didn’t know about ducks. I just purchased 4 ducks, I may have to come to you when I have questions about aggressive ducks. Thanks for stopping by Marcia

  • I have an agressive rooster as well and learned really quick to grab their legs. That seems to work with me, but he will still attack anyone else. However, my young dog has learned to become a protector against the rooster. When he goes after people, she grabs him from behind and throws him by his tail feathers. Fortunately, she understands it is just him and still is good with the hens. But I wouldn’t trust my other dog to do the same, so I do not allow him to “protect” against the rooster. You have to know your dogs. As much as I would like to “harvest” him, we keep the rooster to act as first defense against coyotes or bobcats. Since they will defend against an attack, the hens have a chance to run up to the house while the rooster defends them. Yes, for those of you who are curious, we have lost 2 roosters in 3 years, but no hens…so it is worth it.

  • Sharon:

    Have read from vets that holding a chicken upside down causes severe respiratory distress and can kill him. Just wanted to let you know that it’s not recommended. I love my rooster Rupert, but am having the same problems with this now-grown, beautiful Rhode Island Red I rescued from a fighter before he was started training and loved dearly. I handled him, petted him, picked him up during the first year I had him. I saw little signs of aggression and got bitten just once trying to put him in a small transport cage, but overall he was so sweet. I didn’t know then what to do about the rare jumping at my legs. Now, it’s worsening. He attacks me more frequently. He’ll start running to me for food and attention or greet me when I’m on the outside of him pen, but suddenly try to run at me or fly at my legs. I was painfully bitten and badly spurred by him several months ago after setting down a big dish of mash I made for him and our 5 hens (had 8 but predation took three) that were running free in our yard. His attack took place after I had walked several yards away from them. I yelled at him and chased him, but it didn’t deter another attack for long. Now I don’t trust him and avoid him even when he may be trying to be affectionate. I’m afraid to go out near him without a big bag or rake to protect my legs when he’s out loose on our property. I’ve yelled and thrown plastic cups in my hand at him and even chased him when he attacked me or once when he attacked our largest hen. He had turned on one of our chickens while they were free-ranging, after he had previously forced her to stay in the house away from the food and water in their pen for 2 days. I had to scream and chase him to avoid her being killed and later pen her away from him.. Yelling or chasing him is a very temporary fix. I just finally had it and by chance, he went into the hen’s new pen where I isolated him away from the hens yesterday after he showed aggression toward me twice. Am going to try the carrying him under my arms and holding down the head slightly when I get up the courage after I get the vet to trim his lethal spurs. I’m afraid he was bred to be very aggressive by the fighters and he might not change. I may have to keep him penned up alone his whole life to avoid injury or find him a home with a patient male farmer, since he seems to respect men. I am his only full-time caretaker and the only woman who is around him. My husband and visiting male cousin can walk by him or in his pen without any aggressive reaction from Ru at all. Don’t know why that is. I was/am always kind to him unless screaming or yelling in reaction to his attacks.

  • Becca:

    We accidentally got a rooster when we got laying hens. We all held and petted the babies frequently and the hens are so sweet and gentle. But now that he is almost 10 months old our rooster has turned into a monster and I”m afraid once his spurs come in full blast he will really hurt me. He is so good with the girls letting them eat first and when free roaming if he finds food he calls them over and lets them eat it. BUT he is so aggressive to me and others. I would hate to have to turn him into stew meat. Once he jumped at me I reflexively grabbed him and held him it surprised both of us. So I just held him while I did my chicken chores. It didn’t make and difference to our relationship. Lately I have just been grabbing him and locking him in the chicken coop do the chores and then let him out for the remainder of the chores he stays away from me. But next morning he’s at it again. I’m going to go try the upside down deal next and this time I’m going to do this every time he acts up. Thanks for the tips.

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