If you keep a rooster in your flock, you will experience an aggressive rooster. Even though I’m bigger than him, there is something so intimidating about an aggressive rooster who comes out of nowhere and spurs me or even tries to. Scary, yes, but it is possible to break an aggressive rooster and an attacking rooster.
When my eldest son was a young boy, he explained it this way, “They’re 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.
An Aggressive Rooster Story
My first experience with this was with an aggressive rooster named Cogburn. Yes, I named him after John Wayne’s character in Rooster Cogburn. He was beautiful and an exceptionally good watcher for his girls.
He seemed to enjoy faking me out like he wasn’t paying any attention to me, then bam! He would run up behind and spur me.
One day, I was about halfway between the barn and the house, with a full egg basket and milk pail in my hands. I heard, “Thump, thump, thump,” and then he got me! That rooster attacked my leg!
This time he broke the skin. I was scared, in pain, and just plain mad! It was the last straw. I took a large chicken pot pie to the church lunch on Sunday!
Killing and eating him is not how I recommend you break an aggressive rooster. A few days later, I told my grandmother about the experience. After laughing for a while, she reminded me of how she had taught me “how to stop a rooster from attacking you”. Sigh…wish I had remembered that because even though he was an aggressive rooster, Cogburn was a great rooster.
After this disappointing experience, the boys learned how to keep an aggressive rooster from attacking you. Knowing this did not change their opinions of chickens though.
Why a Rooster May Become Aggressive
I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked, “Why is my rooster attacking me?” or “My rooster attacked my leg, what can I do?”
When roosters are establishing dominance, they will challenge each other to varying degrees. You are seen by your roo as an interloper in his flock, and he will feel the need to challenge you. Even if hand raised, as I do, it will usually always happen that there will be a rooster challenging me.
Even if roosters have been raised together, they will have a pecking order just like the hens. In these challenges, the rooster who runs away, walks away, or hides is the loser, he surrenders. Pecking order is taken seriously by the flock.
You should NEVER try to introduce a new rooster into a flock that already has a dominant rooster. It’s not about surrender in this situation. They will almost always fight to the death or until one is so maimed he can no longer fight.
Roosters who are raised together but are separated for breeding, illness, or for any reason, will also probably fight to the death if you reintroduce the separated roo to the flock. Introducing or reintroducing birds to the flock must be done with care.
How many roosters can live together?
One rooster can service up to 50 hens. Most backyard chicken keepers will only need one. We have two because we like to maintain pure lines in our two favorite breeds.
Our Australorp serves as the main rooster and our Speckled Sussex lives in his breeding pen. He has a large ranging area and in the spring is joined by our favorite Sussex hen to produce young.
If they are raised together and never separated several roos can co-habitat in the same flock. However, there will be skirmishes and maybe even an all-out war with more than one in your flock, especially in a small flock.
Do all roosters become aggressive?
The short answer is no. Even within breeds known for aggressive roosters, some will be more laid back than others. Likewise, breeds known for their laid-back attitudes may have an aggressive rooster. Every chicken keeper has their own experience and favorite breeds.
While there’s no guarantee, choosing a breed known for having a non-aggressive rooster will reduce the risk. In my 40+ years of experience, I have found the Brahma, Speckled Sussex, Cuckoo Maran, and Faverolle breeds to be the least aggressive.
Choosing a more docile breed may make it easier to be successful in implementing the things you learn about how to make a rooster stop attacking you.
How to Break an Aggressive Rooster
Getting your rooster to surrender to you is the answer. Knowing what to do when a rooster attacks will allow you to protect yourself and break him even faster.
When an aggressive rooster runs at you, raise your arms to look even larger, and run, or take steps towards him.
It may take several minutes, but do not turn your back on him or walk away from him. He may stand still and stare you down, do not walk away. Stand there looking large and in charge, staring back at him until he surrenders.
When a rooster surrenders, he will display certain posturing. He will start pecking the ground and chuttering softly as if he were just looking for something to eat. He may just start looking around as if to say, “I don’t care about you.” When he has yielded, he will walk away.
If he continues to stand his ground, you will have to continue the challenge by moving slowly toward him and repeating the standoff until you get your bluff over on him.
You may have a tough one like my Sambo. Several days in a row, he challenged me. Each time this rooster attacked my leg. Each time I stood my ground and chased him around the yard until he surrendered.
The last day he did it, he attacked me several times and I was forced to defend myself by firmly striking him with the top of my foot.
You don’t want to hit so hard you injure him, but it may be necessary to break him and protect yourself. In 40+ years of chicken keeping, he was the only aggressive rooster we had to do this with.
Protect Yourself from an Aggressive Rooster
Until you break your aggressive rooster, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. Wear high rubber boots whenever you are around him to help protect your legs.
I keep the handle from an old post hole digger inside the gate so that if I need it for roosters, snakes, or anything like that, it is handy. The stick gives you the feeling of empowerment which changes your energy. This is often enough to stop any aggressive behavior. It’s about your energy, not about using the stick on him.
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 his hens 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 have an aggressive 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 anyway.
As always, I’m here to help.