Help! My rooster is attacking everyone.

This is probably the number one complaint that we receive about raising chickens, aggressive roosters.

If you are going to keep a rooster within your flock then it is best that you get it when it is but a chick and work with it as it grows to maintain your dominance over it. Once you lose that dominance over a rooster it is sometimes very difficult to gain it back.

A hierarchy pecking order is what causes it, now what can be done to correct it? The easiest would be to just get rid of the rooster. But I know, he is your most prized breeding bird. You could butcher him, but again, he is your most prized bird. So that leaves correcting the problem. But how do you correct a flurry of feet and feathers coming at you? Boot him! The rooster is expressing his dominance over the human and will continue to do so until the human replaces him at the top of the pecking order. Many people, when faced with the thought of a rooster coming at them with malice intent, will pick up the nearest long object and swing at the rooster. This only reinforces the dominance aspect over the human because the rooster can sense and see fear from the human. The rooster may learn to respect the stick but not the person holding it.

Roosters fight with their feet and therefore so must the human. A rooster sees us as just an oversize strange looking bird. For the person who the rooster is attacking I say this “Stand Your Ground”. That’s right. Even if you have to put rolls of Charmin in your pants, you need to stand your ground. One day when you are feeling confident, get up the nerve to show this bird that he is not the boss of you. Be mentally prepared before you enter the pen. Be as calm as possible knowing that this bird is going to come at you but you are no longer going to put up with it. Walk into the pen and face the rooster. Let him do his dancing and such. Just don’t turn your back on him. The rooster will generally come at you much slower if you are facing him verses having your back to him. Let him come to you. Do not provoke the attack. As he gets close to you give him a good boot. You are not trying to do damage so try to catch him with the top of your foot to the side of his chest. Make sure he is close enough and that you connect with him. He will get up and shake himself off and wonder what just hit him. He may come at you again and do the same thing, give him a boot. It will take him longer and longer to come towards you as it starts to set in that you are establishing your dominance over him.

Once he decides to back down, then leave him be. Back your way out of the pen, always looking directly at him. The next day do the same thing until he backs down. Some roosters learn much quicker than others. Once you have established the head of the pecking order then you should be able to enter the pen without him attacking you. He may look at you crosswise but that is ok as long as there is no aggression.

It is much easier to establish dominance when they are still young cockerels but not impossible when they are older. In some of the more typically aggressive breeds, this establishment of pecking order may have to be repeated every few months. If it seems that the rooster is just not getting it, then you may have to resort to one of the other plans. Out of all the roosters that we have had here on the farm, we have only ever had to get rid of one rooster. We have roosters that don’t like to be handled, which is fine, but we also have big heavy breed roosters that love to be held and cuddled. I don’t ever want to have to worry about someone going into any of the pens because of a rooster.

More on aggressive roosters.

A Flock Master has a rooster within their flock for one reason, to watch over the hens. This is what roosters do best, that is if they are a good rooster. A roosters second role is that of a breeding bird.

If your rooster tries to attack you when you are in the pen chasing the hens around then realize that he is doing exactly what you have him there for, to protect his girls. There is a lot of difference between an aggressive rooster and one who is simply trying to protect his flock. If you go in his pen and grab one of his girls and she starts squawking and flapping, he has no idea what malicious intent you might have and so he is going to try to protect the hen. You cannot fault him for doing this and it would be so wrong to do so.

Always, always, always, if you have to go into the pen to catch the girls for some reason, which you shouldn’t be doing during the day anyways, always remove the rooster from the situation first. Put him in a small cage close by so he can monitor what is happening and talk to him in a calming way.

My roosters all know that I am in charge and the hens he has are merely on loan to him, this is the way they are taught from the beginning, but I am not stupid and even I will not take the girls from him without him being in a separate cage first. This is not to say that I can’t go in and worm them, give them a shot, or whatever with him present but if I were to chase them then I would expect to be attacked by him. So learn the difference between aggressive and defensive.