Why Is My Rooster Being a Jerk?
I love my rooster, I really do. I hatched him out last winter. He’s a beautiful marans who was named Dottie Speckles until these odd tail feathers started appearing. He was then renamed Agador Spartacus, due to his feminine nature. For those who don’t know who Agador Spartacus is, I highly recommend the movie The Birdcage. Anyways, I had two roosters this spring to choose from and Agador won out for his kind and gentle disposition. That is until this past week…
Roosters Will Protect Against Perceived Threats
He started with chasing my middle child. There were several things that brought this about, so the two chasing incidents were not an automatic strike against Agador. My middle child is… energetic. He loves to go out and play with the chickens and unfortunately, slow and respectful are not traits the boy has in the chicken yard. He spends his afternoon running around like a mad man, thunking things with sticks and swooping up the more docile hens. I can see why Agador may have seen this as a threat against his flock.
To eliminate Agador’s view of my son as a threat, my son and I would walk together, slowly in the yard. We would bring treats out with us (like the end-of-season cherry tomatoes) and my son would feed them to Agador and the hens. Improvement has been made, but the rooster still chases if my son is alone. A work in progress…
Roosters Want to Be Top of the Pecking Order
…until Agador no longer viewed me as the top of the pecking order. I’m not sure why my “boss” status is all of a sudden being questioned, but just the other day the rooster seemed to think he could usurp me. He was mistaken.
A few days back I was crouched down in the yard, examining from a distance the bum of a skittish hen. She had a bit of a rash and I was hoping to determine if it warranted me attempting to catch her for treatment (which would have been stressful for both of us). Agador brought me a pine cone while I was crouched down. Cute, but potentially a bad sign. He was trying to “woo” me. Roosters don’t make passes at the boss, only to the hens that are beneath them. His dance that followed sealed the deal that he viewed me as one of his hens.
My solution to “whose the boss” problems is to pick up the rooster gently and wander around with it for a bit. When he sits quietly in my arms for 10 minutes or so, he is released back to his girls. It’s a matter of choice, but I don’t feel comfortable displaying my dominance with rooster tactics such as being loud, intimidating or hurting him. First, I find these tactics cruel. Second, I believe that aggression breeds aggression. Third, I am not a rooster nor do I want to pretend to be one. He knows I’m not really a rooster. It’s not like I’d be fooling him.
Testosterone Surge Between 5-6 Months Old
The gentle holding and walking around with roosters is what got us through the testosterone surge at six months old. I had two roosters at the time and any time either one rushed me, I would walk around with them. Agador took the carrying practice much better than Chantecleer. Agador settled quickly, but Chantecleer took a bit longer to accept his lot. The testosterone surge doesn’t often bring out real aggression. It is sort of like the teen years of testing the waters. Most roosters will only rush people (run at them and stop a few feet shy with a look of “What are you going to do about it?”). When a rooster rushes you do not step back. It goes against human nature, but it is so important. That one tiny shift of the weight leads them to believe they have won.
Sometimes He’s Just Being a Jerk
Sometimes your rooster just feels like being a jerk. It can be temporary or permanent. My hope is that Agador’s current attitude is a result of him having a feather across his vent due to the wet weather or the fact that he was stuck inside while I treated the chickens for a respiratory infection. Hopefully he will go back to being the sweet rooster I know he is. He may not. Then it becomes a question of what to do about it. Do I want to deal with a rooster with an attitude problem? Would he reset in a new environment and do well-being re-homed? Should I start checking my cookbooks for a nice jerk chicken recipe? Only time will tell. No one said it was easy keeping roosters.