How to Break an Attacking Rooster

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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.

Protect yourself

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. 
How to Break an Attacking Rooster



 This post is shared on Simple Life Sunday, From The Farm Blog Hop, and Homestead Blog Hop



  1. Amanda on January 18, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Thanks for the tip! Our rooster Frank has attacked me a few times in the past few days, a new thing for him. I will definitely be trying this! They can’t smell fear like dogs, can they?

    • Rhonda on January 18, 2015 at 6:44 am

      Amanda, Thanks so much for the comment. I can tell you from experience, this works. My Black Australorp, “Sambo” is young so he still tries to boss me about once a week. You have to be consistent until they get the idea, but the attacking will stop completely by the second or third “battle”. Sambo just tries to do the “I’m the rooster” dance around me like he does his girls and all I do is raise my arms and step towards him then he runs off. You’re right, they don’t smell fear. It’s about them being dominate in their yard, which is a good thing in itself, it’s just not good to attack humans or you become Sunday dinner! 🙂 I have to apologize to you because I had not posted the updated version of this post. I thought I had, but when I went to it this morning it wasn’t so I switched them out. The info is the same just some “cleaning” up and such. Thanks again and Good Luck. Let me know how it goes.

  2. Kate on March 6, 2015 at 10:45 am

    My friend hatched out a couple dozen eggs for me,out of the fifteen that hatched, nine were roosters which became obvious as they matured. I loved them anyway because they were my babies, however, the girls were outnumbered and my husband dispatched all but one which we named ‘LUCKY’ for obvious reasons. He had charged me a few times but nothing serious until one dayI was working in a corner with no escape and he didn’t just charge at me — he attacked repeatedly. I am handicapped and cannot move very fast , however, As I happened to be holding my gardening shovel and he didn’t back off, I swung the shovel and sent him to that great rooster heaven in the sky. I was very distressed and trembling from the experience so I went to tll my husband what had happened…He quickly retorted that I had changed his name to “UN-LUCKY” which got me to laughing and calmed my jitters. Poor “UN” has become infamous as his story has been retold many times since!

    • Rhonda on March 6, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Kate, Oh my! What a story! It sounds like your husband knew just what to say to ease your nerves. If someone has never had a rooster truly attack them, they don’t understand how terrifying it can be. I’m sorry you had that experience, but I’m glad you had your shovel. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing with me.

  3. Brittany on May 10, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I have only had one rooster that tried to get aggressive with me, and it was only once, I was taking eggs away from one of his hens that was broody and she growled at me and next thing I know my roo came at me, I reached up out of instinct and grabbed the first thing I could which happened to be his neck and I flung that bird over my shoulder and out the people door into the barn hallway. He was positively freaked out by being thrown like that. He never again tried to jump anyone and became the sweetest bird ever after that.

    • Rhonda on May 10, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Brittany, Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. You instinctively dominated him, Good for you. I’m glad he became sweet for you. What a great story.

  4. Debra D. on May 30, 2015 at 6:24 pm


    • Rhonda on June 1, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Debra, We’re just adding turkeys to the farm this summer so I’m not sure about how to handle them. I’ll try these same tactics and see if they work. My RIR rooster, “Red”, is the same way. He like you to pick him up and rub his comb. Thanks for stopping by to share with me.

  5. Lisa on October 21, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Hi, I found your post a little late but it’s nice to know this happens to others! 🙂 I’m a new chick momma, we rescued a Roo & hen from the animal shelter. Both have been absolutely wonderful, which was surprising considering they were rescues. My little boy who’s 4 loves to get the eggs in the morning, however one day I didn’t notice that he was wearing shiny red basketball shorts (big mistake). Our Roo raced across the coop & went after my little guy! Needless to say he learned very quickly that my son was part of MY flock! LoL! He hasn’t attacked since then but just a word of warning to everyone – avoid wearing red in the coop!.

    • Rhonda on October 21, 2015 at 6:20 am

      Lisa, I Lol at your story. Thanks so much for sharing it with me. That Roo didn’t take Mama instincts into account did he? I’m glad to know you handled it like a pro. Be sure to teach your son so he won’t be afraid and so the Roo will know your son’s the boss too. Thanks again for the great story.

  6. SHIRLEY on December 5, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I’m going to try this. We have a great protective rooster (captain jack). He loves everyone except me. So I will try this. He’s very sneaky.

    • Rhonda Crank on December 6, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      It works! Be sure to come back and share your experience with us.

  7. Earl S. Handy on March 27, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I have had a number of rooster and no were mean or attacked people; It is like with dogs; how you raise them, you must be the flock leader

  8. Candy on March 31, 2019 at 9:07 am

    I had carry a stick to ward off a rooster as a child. Finally learned I wasn’t backing down.

  9. AnnMarie Lewellyn on March 31, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for the tip! I have a rooster who recently seems to think he owns and runs not only the roost but the homestead! You couldn’t have shared this post at a better time! Thanks!

  10. Jennifer Cook on March 31, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Thank you for this information. I hope to have chickens in the near future and learning things about care and keeping now will help me be a better chicken mama when the time comes. Thank you!

  11. Baccarat on November 20, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Love wilde animals in Africa !

  12. CARLA MCDANIEL on September 1, 2020 at 11:08 am

    I have 3 roosters that I now have no issues with attacking me. I discovered the best way to break roosters is with a dip net. if one runs at me I quickly swoop him up in the net & leave him there for a bit. If he insist on attacking again. I leave him longer in the net and actually hold him to show him who is boss. Works great for past 2 years.

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