My parent’s-in-law blessed us with some more chickens (thanks guys!). And they really are a blessing… all except for the one really mean rooster who came along with the group. I really dislike that rooster.
I was trying to fill his water container this morning, that’s all I was trying to do! But he decided he was not going to let me stick my hand in his cage.
I tried three times to reach in and grab the water jar, but every time I did he would come flying at me, wings flapping and claws forward, like some Kung Fu Roo!
Of course every time he’d try to grab a hold of my hand I’d “holler” (like my use of Southern terminology?) and quickly pull it out again.
The fourth time I was determined to give him his water whether he wanted it or not (after all, there was an innocent hen in the cage with him). I bravely reached my hand in there and just had the water jar within my grasp when he attacked once more.
Feeling his claws scratching me, I freaked out! I screamed, and jumped back withdrawing my hand. He saw this as an excellent opportunity to escape and flew out of the coop before I could stop him.
I shut the door fast so that his little hen wouldn’t escape as well. He strutted around proudly below the coop, obviously thinking he was the man.
I tried to catch him, but the booger charged after me and attacked my bare foot! Then he ran after Dirty Wilson (our white rooster) and had a little spat with him that I had to break up. What a bully! I had to put Dirty Wilson back in his coop so that they wouldn’t fight any more.
I tried catching him a few more times. I tried to throw a box over him, but he was too fast, and I wasn’t about to try to grab him with my hands again! So, now he’s running loose thinking he owns the place. I think I’ll name him El Diablo (“The Devil” for those non-Spanish speakers).
The kids aren’t too fond of him either. Yesterday he pecked poor little Titus on the nose right through the cage!
Jada had been beside me watching the whole ordeal and saw how mean he was. When I finally gave up and told her I wasn’t going to try to catch him anymore she nonchalantly suggested, “Just shoot him. I’m sure we can make something out of him!” I had to laugh. She is a very practical girl!
My luck he’ll be strutting his stuff around the coops again in the morning. If we can catch him he’s going back where he came from. If we can catch him!
In the future, though, I wanted a way to prevent my rooster from attacking. I turned to the Internet for help and learned some interesting information.
Why Do Roosters Attack?
Technically, a rooster attack is called a “flogging.” That terminology makes sense, right? This is when a rooster flies at you and beats his wings, attempting to get you with his spurs.
But rooster attacks aren’t all incidents of flogging. You might find that your rooster tries to attack you in other ways, too. He might peck you aggressively or even chase you.
And I’ll be honest – rooster attacks aren’t exactly fun to deal with, but there are lots of reasons why they are “programmed” to do this.
At one point in time, roosters didn’t have coops and people to protect them. All they had was instinct to protect them from starving predators. In order to protect themselves, roosters learned that they needed ways to defend themselves against rivals.
Almost all rooster will be inclined to attack, but there are some breeds that are simply more wild than others. Breeds that have been heavily bred for domestic traits, like Cornish Cross chickens, are not going to be as aggressive.
They have other things to do. Wilder birds, like Malay chickens, will naturally be more aggressive because they still have more of their natural instincts intact.
When you approach your rooster, he is likely showing aggressive behavior because he views you as an intruder. He wants to let you know he’s boss and he’s ready to stand his ground and protect his hens if necessary.
You might notice increases in aggressive behavior at certain times of the year. For example, roosters tend to get more aggressive first thing in the spring, when the hens start laying again. They might also become aggressive when new roosters are added to the flock.
How to Prevent a Rooster Attack
Avoid Introducing New Roosters to the Flock
One way to prevent a rooster attack is to mind your flock dynamics. For example, if you already have a flock with a dominant rooster, do not introduce another rooster.
They will often view this as an opportunity to fight to the death as they sort out their flock dynamics. Unfortunately, this also applies to roosters who may have been raised together but have been separated for a while.
This can also make your roosters more aggressive toward you. Adding another rooster will upset the flock dynamics and can confuse your rooster as to who’s actually boss around the place.
Get Him To Back Down
It can take some work, but the ultimate goal should be to get your rooster to surrender to you and recognize your authority.
When you approach your rooster, do not back down. Wait until he surrenders. He might stand still land stare you down for some time! However, it’s important that you keep eye contact and don’t move until he moves away.
There are some other signs that he recognizes your dominance, too. He might peck the ground, walk away, or just look around. If he keeps standing his ground, you may have to call his bluff and get even closer.
Keep Yourself Protected
It’s important that you protect yourself until your rooster has decided to back down. Wear knee-high rubber boots to protect your legs and always wear long pants instead of shorts.
You may want to carry something long into the coop with you for protection, too, like a large stick or a shovel. Ideally, you won’t have to use it in self-defense! But it’s good to know you have it just in case.
Watch for Warning Signs
Rooster attacks might seem like they come on without warning, but that’s usually not the case. Your rooster will likely warn you before he’s about to attack. Watch out for the signs.
For example, he might lower his head and dance around while he’s examining you. He might also run up on your heels as you walk away. These are early signs of aggression that should not be ignored.
When you approach your rooster, avoid walking straight up to him or staring at him. He might take this as a challenge and continue these preliminary behaviors.
Feed Him Treats
This won’t work for all roosters, but you may be able to tame your rooster by crouching down and feeding him some treats.
Be careful with this – you don’t want him to spur you in the neck. However, it’s a good way to reestablish both trust and dominance.
Picking up an ornery rooster and snuggling him might be the last thing on your mind when you’re trying to break his ornery behavior, but it can work.
To show your rooster who’s boss, pick him up and hold him against you, ideally beneath your arm. If he squawks or flops around, don’t let him go! You may have to hold him for fifteen minutes or even half an hour.
Once he’s done squawking, set him down. He should walk away peacefully and will now recognize that you are higher in the pecking order than he is.
Start Them Young
The best time to retrain an aggressive rooster is before the aggressive behavior even starts – when he’s young.
Baby chicks can be a bit flighty and standoffish, but this is the best time to train them to be chill. You can begin laying the foundation for your dominance when your chickens are young and delicate.
Do this by interacting with your chicks frequently. Pick them up, talk to them, feed them from your hand, then put them back down.
Around 16 weeks, hormones are going to wreak havoc on your flock and suddenly – your rooster will no longer be cute and cuddly but instead aggressive. Prevent any issues ahead of time by interacting with your chicks regularly!
Move Slowly and Deliberately
Be smart about how you move around the coop and run. Any time you interact with your rooster, you need to be mindful of your moves.
Walk slowly and try not to move in any jerky, unpredictable patterns. Slow and steady is key here.
Run Him Down?
Some people will recommend trying to “run down” your rooster. I’ve read mixed reviews on this. The idea of running down your rooster is that you essentially charge him.
I think it could work well only if you approach him slowly and get him to back down as I mentioned before – by pressuring him slowly out of the space. I wouldn’t run, as it could cause him to view this as an attack.
Quit Swinging Things
There may be cues in your behavior that are signaling a rooster to fight- even if you aren’t giving off these cues intentionally.
For example, if you’re swinging a bucket as you walk into the coop, this is going to indicate to your rooster that you’re ready for a fight. Avoid doing this – it’s a call to arms!
Be Careful How You Interact With the Hens
A rooster’s most natural instinct is to protect his hens. Are you chasing the hens, or otherwise antagonizing them? Your rooster will likely defend his girls until he dies, so make sure you’re mindful of how you deal with the ladies, too.
Try Not to Hurt Him
While it might be tempting to beat your rooster over the head with a good “whomping” stick each time he gives off this aggressive demeanor, it might end up being counterproductive.
Unless you need to hurt your rooster in order to protect yourself, try not to hurt him in order to break the aggressive behavior. Not only is it not the nicest thing in the world to do, but it can also cause your animal to become even meaner.
Walk Away When Necessary
Try not to back down from a confrontation – this will just solidify the idea that you are not at the top of the pecking order, in your rooster’s eyes. But if things get out of control, don’t be afraid to walk away. Avoid running, which will cause him to chase you, but instead move slowly.
Evaluate Whether You Really Need a Rooster
If you’re frustrated with having to deal with an aggressive rooster, consider whether the added stress is actually worth it. Often, having a rooster can be nothing more than a continuing disappointment.
Often, people get roosters to hatch baby chicks. You can do this instead by purchasing fertile hatching eggs.
If predator control is the problem, maybe evaluate other ways you can keep predators away (like better fencing), since roosters aren’t always the best line of defense, anyway.
Know That Some Roosters May Just Be Lost Causes
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, there are some roosters out there that are just ornery and mean. You can’t save them all! If you’ve tried all of these tips and still can’t get your rooster to back down, it might be time to consider alternatives – like re-homing to the soup pot.
Well, we took care of El Diablo. Jerry did, actually. We were tired of the kids (and me) getting attacked every time we turned around! The last straw was when he attacked little Titus.
Poor Ty man was minding his own business playing outside when I watched the rotten rooster creep out of the woods, sneak up behind Titus, and jump on him in full attack mode!
Poor Ty flailed his arms yelling, “No! No! No!” The dumb thing jumped on him three times before I could get over there to kick it off.
When Daddy got home and I told him what had happened, he immediately took care of the problem. Man, was he a mean one!
Have you dealt with an aggressive rooster before? How did you get yours to back down from the fight?
updated 05/09/2020 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.