Roosters get a bad reputation, but one bad egg in the bunch shouldn’t condemn an entire lot of roosters to the soup pot.
Roos are often misunderstood because they can be aggressive. Certain individual birds (and some breeds) may be more prone to chasing humans, attacking other critters, and of course, crowing…a lot.
But the truth is, they’re not all bad. In fact, much of their “aggressive” behavior is actually beneficial for the flock. Moreover, you’ll find that most roosters aren’t actually mean at all.
So, to set the record straight, let’s take a look at commonly frowned-upon rooster behavior and how it’s actually good for the flock.
Mean Rooster Behavior and What it Means
It’s easy to just write off the following as bad behavior from a bad rooster. But let’s think it through a bit first.
Because, in most cases, there’s a reason for the behavior.
Crowing (Not Just in The Morning)
All the time.
But there’s a reason for crowing, and usually, it’s to either communicate with the flock, warn off predators, or ask something of you.
Roosters can assert themselves to both predators and other roosters and the point is to show whoever he’s talking to that he’s the boss around here…and these are his hens.
Crowing can be a good thing if you don’t mind the sound of it because it may keep predators at bay, warn you of impending doom, and help the flock find food or safety (because that’s what roosters often talk about most).
Roos are keen on finding the best treats for their ladies, and when they find a tasty morsel, he will be the last to eat. Instead, he clucks, crows, or calls to his ladies to let them know there are some good eats nearby!
Lastly, roosters crow if they need something. If your flock is confined and they are out of food or water, you better believe your rooster will let you know about it!
Roosters Chasing Humans
Roosters who chase humans or other animals usually do so to protect their hens.
Unfortunately, they may chase us even though we aren’t a threat. For some reason, some roosters are on higher alert than others and misdirect their aggression toward the wrong person.
In the wild, roosters who chase off possible threats are a blessing to the flock. Just think about it, if we’re intimidated by a puffed-up rooster booking it toward us then their scare tactics might work on other, less well-meaning, beings as well.
This behavior becomes a problem, however, when roosters act on their aggression by using their beak and spurs to injure humans or other domestic animals.
Fighting with Other Roosters
Speaking of harming other animals. Keeping more than one rooster in a flock is not always a good idea.
It can be done, with the right roosters (who were also raised together). And if there are enough hens to go around for both of the boys in the flock, it might be feasible.
But even then, one day, you may find your two favorite gentlemen in a bloody battle for the flock.
And that’s how things work in the natural world. One rooster is typically dominant over all the hens in the flock, and if the other boys nearby disagree it will most likely end in death.
Considering natural selection, when referring to this aggressive bird-on-bird behavior, you could think of the winning rooster as the strongest to lead your flock. In that case, choose which roo you’d like to keep on for the job and which you will relocate or process.
Favorite Hens Looking Shabby?
Sometimes a certain hen becomes the apple of your rooster’s eye, and she gets, ahem, most of his attention (wink, wink…elbow jab, if you know what I mean).
And you might think it’s a good thing, but that poor hen needs a break and if your rooster doesn’t lay off of the hen in question, you may need to relocate her.
Another reason your hens may look a little rough around the feathers is that there aren’t enough hens for your overly zealous rooster in your flock.
Adding a few more (like you need a reason to add more chickens, right?) will help distribute your rooster’s, um, affections amongst the flock more evenly and help his favorites heal.
As a side note: if your hens’ feathers have been ripped out from a well-meaning rooster, they will grow back after their next molt.
Should you need to protect your hen’s backs, consider a hen saddle.
Should You Keep a Rooster?
So, while there are some clear drawbacks to keeping a rooster in your flock, as you can see, some of these behaviors serve a purpose. And in some cases, it’s for the good of the flock. Like protection from predators, foraging skills, and of course reproduction.
The truth is, most roosters, if they have what they need to be happy and healthy, aren’t all that bad.
In fact, your years of rooster owning, you may only come across one or two bad eggs.
And to be honest, the crowing may become an enjoyable part of my homestead.
All this to say, sometimes we can’t accommodate our rooster’s needs or they really are just a bad egg.
If that’s the case, it may be time to either process your rooster or pass him on to a farm that is willing to take on his behavior. And who knows, a change of scenery might be all he needs to turn his life around.
Books of Interest
Backyard Chickens Beyond the Basics: Lessons for Expanding Your Flock, Understanding Chicken Behavior, Keeping a Rooster, Adjusting for the Seasons, Staying Healthy, and More!
Pokey Jr: Even Roosters Get Second Chances
How to Speak Chicken: Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say