So you have a cranky rooster? First, lets be fair to the rooster. Your mature rooster is only doing his job! Sometimes, he may take this job very seriously and decide that you are infringing on his territory. He is truly an alpha chicken, and in many cases this farming stuff is not for the faint of heart. I would argue a case that this type of rooster may be just who you need looking after your hens. Should an ill intentioned raccoon, opossum, fox, mink or hawk drop by, your aggressive guy will be on the job enforcing his boundaries. First, he will gather the flock and point them to shelter. Then he will stand in front of the flock. This is preferred rooster behavior. Really, it is.
What do you do if your rooster has decided that you are not welcome in the chicken run or even you own backyard? How do you handle a cranky rooster? It may be time to take some corrective action and to learn how to prevent a problem in the first place. We have had our fair share of aggressive roosters while raising chickens. We had two barred rock roosters that split the hens into two “families.” Not only did they become very aggressive to each other, they became very aggressive to us, too. Since there were two of them, they would work together and it was hard to leave the coop without being attacked! This was too much for me and we were lucky to re-home them both to different local families who wanted a rooster for their flocks. Once they went to their new homes, the aggression stopped.
We all know that roosters are inevitable. Asking for only pullets will not be a one hundred percent guarantee that no roosters will be in the order from the hatchery. Hatching out your own chicks gives you no guarantee. And then the little sweet chick grows up to be a protective rooster. So how do you handle a rooster that sees you as a threat? What are some possible ways to handle a cranky rooster? Here are some tips that work for us. Maybe these tips will help you keep your hard working protector and keep the peace in the pen.
How to Handle a Cranky Rooster
1. When entering the chicken run or coop, don’t turn your back on the rooster. Use a rake, a stall pick or something that you can use to keep the rooster from coming too close. I call this situational awareness. I know where my aggressive roo is and I keep him in sight. This prevent those sneak attacks!
2. As I pointed out above, carry a rake or garden tool or stick. You don’t have to use it! But you may need to hold the rooster from attacking your legs while you leave the coop area. I am not condoning hurting the rooster. This is just for your protection. I carry my stick and the rooster knows to stay away. Believe me, he notices every time I forget to bring in the stick!
3. Put the rooster in time out! Usher him into a large dog crate while you are working in the coop area if he won’t leave you alone. You don’t have to be a victim to his behavior.
4. Give the rooster some treats away from where you need to be. It will distract him for a few moments.
5. And my personal motto. Don’t over react. Remember back at the beginning when I said this wasn’t for the faint of heart? It will hurt if the rooster spurs you. But its not the worst thing that can happen. And please don’t take it out on the rooster. He is just doing his job.
Important Caution– Please don’t keep an overly aggressive rooster around small children. Unlike adults, they can be hurt very badly by a rooster and it isn’t worth the risk. Of course all of this is my opinion and ways that we have been able to deal successfully with our roosters.
My very first published book, Chickens From Scratch is now available on Amazon for Kindle. Look for the print version to be available in Timber Creek Farm’s Shop in the near future.
This post appeared on Backyard Poultry Mag.com on January 28, 2014
Debra Campbell says
I had a rooster at one time that actually killed a marauding red-tail hawk by slamming it into a wood fence. That hawk didn’t get one single chicken from me.
Granny Miller says
I usually handle a cranky rooster with a pressure cooker 😉
Janet Garman says
Haha! Katherine, that is exactly what most of them deserve. Thanks for stopping by!
Kayla luke says
I have a mean rooster that won’t leave me alone he goes after me
Janet Garman says
You might want to follow some advice about becoming the alpha when he’s around. I hope something in the post helps you or maybe some further research. Otherwise you will need to steer clear of him or get rid of him
Jonquil Junction says
Loved reading this, I was just talking about ‘cranky roosters’ on my blog earlier this week, though I must admit I hadn’t thought of this term ! I put it like this:
Well odds are in any hatching 50% will be roosters.
That’s a real problem for me since I can’t eat them, and none have ever appreciated my good home.
They demonstrate this lack of appreciation by commencing warlike activities with their brothers, half brothers, cousins etc. In my area you can’t even give them away so what to do?
Janet Garman says
haha! you have a way with words. Yes, roosters are easy to find in our area too. They seem to surprise people which I can’t understand because you have the 50% chance of getting them. When I had a feed store we took them in and surprisingly people would be looking for roosters. So it ended up being a clearing house. I don’t have the store any longer
Great tips listed here! Our very first rooster was a barred rock rooster, he was gorgeous, but turned out to be VERY aggressive. I would always grab him and hold him upside down for awhile. That made a world of difference. I thought we were making progress, but I let them out one day and he attacked me from behind. I would have been more forgiving…my dog on the other hand thought he was completely out of line and took care of him! We have two roosters now who, so far, have been complete gentlemen…but they don’t like dogs or goats!
Janet Garman says
hi Monica! thanks for commenting! Even though its kinda sad, I like how your dog defended you. I think our dog would do the same thing. Happy to hear you have better behaved roos this time around – Janet
A few years ago, we had a VERY cranky rooster. Our chickens were completely free range, and that rooster would attack anyone who stepped out the door. It was bad, but we tolerated him for a long time before he went into the stew pot. (Which was actually not on purpose!) Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop this week!
Heidi @ PintSizeFarm says
These are some great tips. We have not had a cranky rooster yet (thank goodness). We did have a rather aggressive hen that was “rehab” from a zoo education program. She fell in line pretty quick with a little extra work though. Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre hop!
You forgot the “hug them into submission!” Tough love!!! LOL Thanks for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop. I can’t wait to see what you share next next time!
I have no idea if this is what helped me, but I changed to fermented feed and my roo stopped charging me at every turn…..(knocking on wood) 😉 I can tell he shouldn’t be tested and isn’t my new bff, but I’m okay with avoidance.
Janet Garman says
Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience with me – Janet
My family decided,(my mom and son) that we needed chickens.Ok I said,but WERE ALL HELPING,so we went down to the feed store and bought 5 baby chicks,it went well for awhile,but then all the “help” lasted about 4 months,then they were my chickens..’sigh’ …
So I raised them up and one turned out to be a rooster,who grew into a VERY cranky rooster. I have a coop for them but its inside a fenced in back yard,so I would let them out every morning and then in the evening I would bring out the food bowl and stand by the coop,everyone would walk inside and I would put down the food and close the door,this went very well for over a year,then the rooster would refuse to go inside and somehow ‘told’ all the hens to run all over while he came at me!
Well that was not going to work,so I tried a rake to shoo them in,worked a few times,but he was a smart little nerd and would dodge it and come after me again and again,then after all that I used the water hose,THAT worked wonders..:)
Then he started getting way to “frisky” with the hens and their backs and butts went bald..:(
I tried hard giving them treats,letting them out everyday but one day in the rooster had enough and started really attacking me,he snuck up behind me and pounced,leaving 2 gashes in my leg-6 stitches later hubby says we eat him,(I cant do that ) Or he shoots him and we bury him.
I went to my local feed store and tried giving him back,they said ok and the lady said he would be a great dinner..No no,I would like him to live awhile longer please..:)
So I left a sign at their store asking if anyone wanted a mean rooster for breeding,NO Eating it! 🙂
A few days later I was very lucky to have an older gentleman call me saying that wanted a mean rooster,that his current rooster wasn’t doing a good job,I told him he could come get him,and he happily came over later that day.
He opened the pen,bent down and snatched him up by his feet and then tucked him under his arm,the rooster is just sitting in his arms,not pecking,not squirming,nothing! So I walked him to his truck were he had a cage and he put him right in,thanked me,tried to pay me,(which I refused) I told him the rooster getting a good home and lots more hens to look after was payment enough for me,:) he shook my hand got into his truck,waved goodbye and away he went..:)
I forgot to add.. 🙂 I have 3 hens left,I lost one to a mystery..:( but my 3 are doing very well,:) except their still bald.. 🙁 but their happy,I let them out every morning to eat as many horrible bugs as they can and eat the weeds in the yard,then in the evening I bring out there food and most of the time they are already in their coop! 🙂
If not they follow me and then walk in,once in a great while the water hose is needed,but it’s rare.
I give them their food,fix their water and close the door for the night.. 🙂
Oh and I fill in all the little holes they dig around the yard..:)
Janet Garman says
Gina I really enjoyed your story. We have had some roosters that I had to re- home too. Not all roosters work out with the flock. I remember how badly the Barred Rock roosters tore up my girls. They were bald until the following year’s molt season.
Ruth Maison says
I needed a rooster and so I got one from a local farmer. He was a very scared rooster, at first. My hens would pick on him. I had to keep him seperated for a time. But finally he became agressive and took care of my hens. I named him Doodle Doo. After a while he attacked me every chance he got also. One day while I was in my coop, he flew at me and spurred my leg. I knocked him away and he came at me again. I grabbed a big stick that was in the corner and wacked him a good one, on the head..He went down and laid in the corner…I started crying because I thought I had killed my rooster…I turned around and fed my hens, still crying..Then I turned around and saw him walk past me…I was so happy to see that he seemed to be okay. And do you know, he never attacked me again..We get along fine..He takes very good care of my hens and is a very good rooster.
Janet Garman says
The pecking order is funny even between the chickens and us people! and we have been known to use the stick on the roo too. Sometimes he just won’t listen to reason!
Linda Hinchey says
…same story, same alpha rooster. We accidentally discovered that our big red Rhode Island Red (loving called Double R ;)) is petrified of the big red pool noodle (proudly referred to as “the noodle of death”)! No, we’ve never had to swat him with it, either. I just walk around waving it about and behind me like a tail when he circles around from the back. I plan on buying several more next spring, to keep in strategic places!
Janet Garman says
This story is hysterical . Thanks for sharing it with me Linda
I’m not sure if this helped with my roo problem, but I recently switched from dry feed to fermented feed and my little devil stopped attacking me. Either way, I’m happier!
Janet Garman says
thanks for sharing that tip! I will give it a try
Rachel Pratt says
what is fermented feed?
And, how do you restrain a rooster that you need to treat.
Next question – His feet are very red and uncomfortable for him. He keeps trying to kick off the problem but is in his feet. the red spreads up the flesh between the toes and may be going up the flesh along his ankle between
the scales. It does not look at all like bumblefoot.
Hope someone can help us out.
Janet Garman says
Hi Rachel Fermented feed is basically soaked grain that ferments in water and makes the nutrients more readily available. It is full of probiotic goodness. https://timbercreekfarmer.com/natural-probiotics-chickens/
I wonder if your rooster could have a fungal infection in his feet or on the skin? I don’t really have any good info on that but it just occurred to me that fungal infections act that way Let me know how this goes along. I wish I had better ideas for you. – Janet
I think I have a young roo, he hasn’t started being mean. What age does this happen? As a child my neighbor gave me a chick for Easter. Rhode Island red. He grew up to be the meanest rooster. He come after me all the time. M7 mom finally found a home for him as a watch dog. My young roo is a welsummer.
Our first rooster was a barred rock as well and he is a sweet heart but kind of an idiot too, when he was a young chick my wife carried him around in her arms while she was working the yard so he doesn’t see us as a threat unless we are trying to catch one of his hens, he does have a tendency to get himself stuck in odd places by jumping fences and not remembering how to get back. My dog loves to try to goad him into a game of chase by poking him with her nose and running and he tends to ignore her antics for the most part but will occasionally peck her on the head when he gets sick of her trying to play with him. Lucky for her (and us the few times he has swooped in to “rescue” one of his hens from us when we were trying to grab them for whatever reason, he never grew his Spurs for some reason so all he can manage is lots of flapping, ineffectual kicking, and a few pecks.
Janet Garman says
Thanks for the great comment. I wish my roosters had been born with out spurs! wouldn’t that be great!
I love my roosters. I have lots of acres and different breeds. I let them free range. When I first started I got a mean one or two, but they were eaten by predators. Honestly, the predator (raccoon- coyote) is looking for the meal and the roo goes over to it practically handing himself over. That’s what Roos do, they protect your hens. I had a huge owl eat my full grown jersey giant rooster at midday but roosters can chase off Hawks, skunks, small dogs. The hens really need protection. I had red sex link hens for their egg production, and one time a hawk swopped by us behind a building holding a rat or something, and 2 reds went chasing after it seeing it had something and wanting to steal it. They were very excited.
But, my birds I raised from eggs (except the sex link reds). I’ve been the first human a chick sees if a hen hatches my chicks , and some the first thing they saw when I incubated eggs. I got lucky and got sweet hearts. Some breeds are much more sociable than others. One roo, an EE, jumps on my shoulder and preens my hair and eats my dandruff. My favorite, an EE/silkie cross named Mummble would never crow when I held him, and he would lay his neck over my shoulder, close his eyes and go to sleep. When I gave him treats he would try to give them back to me, clucking like he had just found the treat and dropping it at my feet. He loved his hens and would help raise the chicks when the hens abandoned them. The silkie roosters are great with young chicks, and I think same with silkie crosses. Mummble died and I miss him as much as lost house pets. He was truly awesome.
I don’t know exactly what makes mine calm with me, but I am the only one who gives them feed and water. I never hit them or chase them with anything, which I often hear people do. I give them beak to tail inspections often for any ailments, where I pick them up and look at their feet for bumble foot, look for mites or lice under their feathers, look at their eyes and nose for fluid drainage, inspect their combs to be sure they aren’t pale and don’t have sores (frostbite or those black spots from stress), I check hens vents to see if they are laying. Perhaps just man handling them occasionally lets them know you are in charge. Also, when I treat injuries or illnesses, they will become greatful afterwards. That is they won’t squirm when you pick them up then on in and are silent and respectful to you. I also talk to them with their given names. They might think I am a necessary evil, they might think I am their mother (imprinting), but they know I am not a threat. Most are also very old, so they just might be senile and take me for another chicken. When I sell my Roos, its to keep my numbers in check only, never because they are unwanted. They make me laugh and brighten my day.
My teacher has chickens and one of them tried to hatch all the eggs in the coop so my teacher bought eggs to hatch and gave them to her hen and so now my teachers chicken has six adopted chicks.
Janet Garman says
That is so fun! I hope your teacher enjoys watching the momma hen and her adopted baby chicks. I love to watch momma hens taking care of the chicks and showing them how to find food. – Janet
I received (free promotion) a “straight run” from the feed store. Well I got 8 maybe 9 roos and 1 (sure pullet). These little goof balls are all trying to be “the man”. Running around and attacking everything in sight. Luckily i had purchased 2 golden sex links as well. I will be keeping the pullets +1. All these naughty boys are going to the freezer.
We had a very aggressive Isa Brown rooster, apparently this breed is renowned for being like that. Now we have a big fluffy Sussex who is so gentle and easy to handle, he’s great!
I know this is an old post, but we use a garbage picker upper. It is the kind that is a long pole, you squeeze the handle, and the little plastic claw at the other end pinches to pick stuff up. When he would run at me, I would run at him clacking the claw open and closed. He would freak out and run. One day, I pinched his tail a little while he was running. It wasn’t enough to hurt him at all, but it scared the crap out of him. For a couple of weeks after, I could just shake it in his direction, and he would run. Now, he has just calmed down. I can turn my back on him, or walk right next to him, and he doesn’t mess with me at all. I give him a treat when I am near him and he is calm now. When I walk by with no response from him, I will drop a handful of spinach leaves or something. My younger daughter still carries the picker upper with her just in case for now, but he seems to be leaving her alone too.
Janet Garman says
I can picture it! Thanks for adding to the conversation That is pretty much what I have found too. I walk unafraid and deliberately and take care of the aggressive behavior as you described
Will Skipper says
If my rooster attacks me that day at dusk i take the rooster from the roost
And hold him while i gather the eggs then i return the rooster to the roost, if he does not attack me then i only touch his back as i count the chickens.?
My barred rock rooster is a meeeeaaannn son of a gun. He attacks me literally every time I am outside. I have and use a large stick…he usually totally disregards it no matter how much I whack him a good one…or two…or 12. Very, very painful, and it is very difficult to get my chores done because I am constantly having to watch for him and engage in battle while doing ANYTHING. I come inside crying from the pain, blood, and bruises he incurs. he doesn’t care – stick, hose, walking away, battling, nothing. Meanwhile the guy who raised him from a chick can just pick him up no problem and pet him! So I don’t think he believes me when I talk about how dangerous this rooster IS. In any case, I am insistent with my fiance about re-homing him asap, or he will end up in my chicken pot pie! Someone here did mention, though, about feeding and watering in the evening after they have gone in to roost; I will try that and see if it works. But it doesn’t take away from the difficulty of my chores because he is out free-ranging all day. I seriously want him re-homed, and I have a cockerel that would be able to take over his job…and hopefully won’t be mean.