“Hi Wendy and Duncan! I have a huge rooster who insists on attacking me when I am out in the yard doing lawn care. I have never mistreated him, but raised him as a pet last summer with several hens. Over the winter he has become meaner and will go into the ninja attack mode without provocation. His spurs are quite large and can do some damage. I don’t want to have to kill him – we got him by accident in with pullet chicks. But… I would like to feel like I can go out into my yard without being threatened by him. Any suggestions? Thanks.” ~ Ina Eaton (South Carolina)
I’m sorry you’re having such problems with your rooster.
It’s actually not uncommon to have a really mean bird.
Sometimes their aggression is directed only toward other roosters, other times they turn their aggression toward people.
If you’ve ever been scratched up by a mean rooster, you’re likely to be cautious around him from that point forward.
However, most of us keep chickens because we enjoy it, no one is forcing us.
So when keeping chickens isn’t enjoyable because of a mean rooster, it’s time to take action.
A rooster may or may not be at the top of the pecking order to display such aggressive behavior. I know of a few instances where there are numerous roosters and the mean one is not at the top. I guess if I was a chicken psychologist I’d liken him to that mean person we all know who feels cheated by life and thinks the world owes them something.
You know the person I mean; the one with the chip on their shoulder who is ready to fight with anyone and blames everyone else for their problems.
Okay, maybe I’m taking this a little too far.
The truth is that we don’t know what makes a rooster mean in a situation like Ina’s. One thing is clear though, that rooster thinks he deserves to be higher in the pecking order than he is.
So Ina, here’s a few things to try to put him back in his place.
Chickens seem to find it humiliating to be carried by their legs upside down. Sure, they’ll fuss for a minute or so but eventually they give up and just hang there. If you can catch that rooster and carry him around upside down for a few minutes every day for a week, he may just realize that you are in charge and resign himself to his position of inferiority.
This technique is most effective if you can catch him during the day, he’ll find you a more worthy opponent.
If you are unable to catch him while he’s wide awake, you could try waiting until he’s settling in for the evening and grab him off his roost. The goal of this exercise is to show him that you are in charge so try to be swift and firm, don’t give him the idea that you are afraid of him.
Another option I’ve heard to be successful is to get a very powerful water gun, you know, the kind that you pump up. Get the one that you could shoot your neighbor in the ear from across the street.
Head out to do your lawn work like you normally would, acting as if you don’t even notice the rooster. Watch him closely out of the corner of your eye and when he goes into attack mode, give him the surprise of his life. Do your best to give him a face full of water because that seems to be most effective but anywhere will do if you have enough pressure built up in the water gun.
After a few times of this, he may decide it’s best to stay away from you and wonder how he had, up until this point, escaped this secret ability of yours to shoot water with such force.
The goal of this exercise is to show your rooster that you are more powerful than him and it’s in his best interest not to mess with you.
Another option would be to remove his spurs.
Basically, you are removing the large outer sheath of the spur and a small inner spur will be left behind. This is done with a pair of pliers and a twist.
I’m not going to go into much detail here because I’d rather you watch someone do it first or have someone with experience do it for you as you’re dealing with a mean rooster to begin with. The goal of this is to lessen the damage he can do if he attacks you.
The first two ideas are intended to change the roosters attitude.
Some roosters can be trained or re-trained to behave themselves and they are worth trying before you have to take a more drastic measure.
The third idea would not change his behavior but might make you a little safer in your own yard.
This final suggestion has a 100% success rate; chicken soup always cures a mean rooster!
Best of Luck, Ina.