I keep chickens, and my rooster is driving me crazy. He always wants to fight me! What’s the best way to deal with an aggressive bird?
People often tell me, “I went out to the chicken yard to collect eggs, and the rooster attacked me. I had to show him who’s boss, so we had a fight, and I won!”
Here’s what’s happening in this scenario: The rooster is treating you like a fellow rooster. He acts in a threatening manner, so you act threatening, too. Before you know it, the two of you are fighting. But don’t forget, a rooster that thinks you’re a fellow rooster is mistaken. And by fighting him, you’re not only participating in his delusion, you’re reinforcing it.
To desensitize an aggressive rooster, the first step is to desensitize yourself. Repeat after me: I am not a chicken. Rooster rules do not apply to me. If we fight, I may win, but there is no glory in defeating an 8-pound bird.
With that in mind, I recommend these three strategies to deal with aggressive roosters:
Never Fight Them. If a rooster attacks me, I withdraw slowly, without fighting back. This is not difficult, and remember — this isn’t a life-or-death struggle. A chicken can’t force you to do anything. The choices are all yours.
Don’t Scare Them. Don’t walk directly toward an aggressive rooster as though you’re going to run it down. If you watch roosters, you’ll notice their behavior changes before they attack. They do a little dance and give other signals that they’re feeling threatened. Don’t trigger this behavior. If you do, back off a little, and they’ll forget all about you.
Feed Them Handfuls of Grain. Roosters know that other roosters don’t offer them grain, so if they associate you with food, it will be difficult for them to think of you as a fellow rooster.
Above: This bird is not your enemy — don’t let him pick a fight. Photo by Tom Meyers.