An attacking rooster is something you will experience if you keep chickens, unless you don’t have roosters. I don’t know about you, but even though I’m bigger than him, there is something so intimidating about a rooster who comes out of nowhere and spurs me or even tries to. My oldest son explains it this way, “They are like little velociraptors. If they were big enough, they would eat me!” If you have had chickens for any length of time, you have probably had this experience.
How to Break an Attacking Rooster
My first experience with this was with a rooster named Cogburn (that’s him in the title photo). Yes, I named him after John Wayne’s character in Rooster Cogburn. He was beautiful and a very good watcher for his girls, and would fake you out like he wasn’t paying any attention to you, then bam! He would run up behind you and spur you.
One day, I was about half-way between the barn and the house, with an egg basket and milk pail in my hands, I heard, “Thump, thump, thump,” then he got me. This time he actually broke the skin. I was scared, in pain, and just plain mad! So, needless to say, I took a very large chicken pot pie to the church lunch on Sunday!
A funny note to this story
We were in the living room one day, shortly after I had butchered Cogburn, when out on the porch we heard a rooster crow. I jumped, we heard it again and went to the porch to see where this strange rooster had come from. To our surprise, Bertha, the biggest Light Brahma hen I had ever had, was crowing. She wasn’t a young Bertha after all, it was a young Burt. He had never demonstrated rooster behavior and did not appear to be one. He was the most gentle chicken I had ever seen. Cogburn had been so dominant in the flock, we never knew about Burt.
How Not to Break a Rooster
Now, killing and eating him is not how you break a rooster. A few days later, I told my grandmother about the experience. After laughing a while, she reminded me of how to break a one. *Sigh…wish I had remembered that, Cogburn was a great rooster.
Why roosters attack
When roosters are establishing who will be dominant, they will challenge each other in varying degrees. You are seen as in interloper in their flock and he will feel the need to challenge you, even if you hand raise them like me. If they have been raised together, the rooster who runs away, walks away, or hides is the looser, he surrenders.
As a note of warning, never try to introduce a new rooster into a flock that already has a head rooster, this will usually result in a fight to the death. This also applies to reintroducing roosters who were raised together but were separated for a time. Cockfighting is illegal in most states and that is not what we want on the farm.
Getting your rooster to surrender
So, getting your rooster to surrender to you is the key. When he runs at you, raise your arms to look even larger, run or take steps towards him. It may take several minutes, but do not walk away from him until he surrenders. He may stand still and stare you down, don’t walk away, stand there and stare at him until he surrenders. When a rooster surrenders to you or another rooster, he may start pecking the ground; looking around; or walk away. If he continues to stand his ground, you will have to repeat the challenge until you get your bluff over on him. You may have a tough one like my Sambo, we had to chase him around the yard several times challenging us. It may be hard to accept, but you may even have to strike him with your foot or a stick if he is super aggressive. We have only had one we had to do this within all these years.
Until you break your rooster, wearing knee-high rubber boots whenever you are around him will help protect your legs. I keep the handle off of an old post hole digger inside the gate so that if I need it for roosters, snakes, anything like that, it is handy. I must say that I haven’t used it for roosters in years. Once you establish dominance, he will respect you. You may have to remind him every now and then because he is the one taking care of them all day, but it won’t be that often. He will learn that you’re not after his job and will quit bothering about you.
If you are getting ready to add new hens to your flock, see our article for some helpful insights.
If you have a rooster who is challenging you, let me know how this works for you. I’m sure your story is unique and maybe even humorous, once you get past it any way. 🙂 Share your experiences and tricks in the comments.