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.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this article and the comments. Nice to know we aren’t the only ones with a Wild Rooster. We ordered a run of pullets from a local hatchery…received 11 girls and 1 boy.
Of course, Calvin was beautiful but, he turned out to be a bully to the hens (tore the feathers out of their backs) and to us…he went to a new home after about a year of dealing with him.
While we had him tho’ is hilarious…
He would always try to attack me whenever I was in the pen…which is several times a day. At first, I kind of ignored him and just pushed him away with my boot when he got too close. That worked for a minute until he got even more aggressive and would just keep coming at me.
One day, he ran up and jumped at me to get me with his spurs. I got lucky that day because I was fast enough/able to catch both of his legs when he jumped at me….held him upside down until he stopped struggling then I held him on his back in my arms (like a baby) until he ‘submitted’ and closed his eyes then, I put him down and he just walked away.
I call that procedure “CALM CHICKEN”. : )
It had to be repeated often with Calvin but, he calmed right down after we did Calm Chicken and was good for a couple of days before he felt like challenging me again.
Hi Hope, Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. Chickens are just that, chicken. They give up easily when faced with death. The “Calm Chicken” approach you are speaking of is their response to what they consider a life-threatening situation. This is why many sustenance farmers, like us, choose to use killing cones because when you turn a chicken upside down, they relax and don’t struggle. I’m glad Calvin’s reaction was to be good for a few days. Happy Chicken Keeping!
Heather Maree Barkla says
I have two stories one is my grandmothers, my Grandfather breed show chickens, one day when Nan was alone at home she went into the yard to collect the eggs, the rooster attacked, She throw an egg at him and laid him out cold, the egg she had picked up and thrown was a china egg from the nest. Good news the Roster was fine and never attacked her again.
The 2md story is my own, I had a mix of Australope and Silkie chickens, my partner at the time decided he wanted to add a rooster. The one he got was aggressive to everyone, even him. One day while my partner was at work, i was hanging clothes on the line. The rooster attacked, I grabbed a broom and chased him all around the property, eventually he collapsed exhausted next to the wood pile. I picked up the nearby axe and burried it in the wood cutting block and told the rooster if he attacked me again, his head would be on the block the next time. He never attacked me again and was actually a great roster who looked after his girls.
Those are both great stories! Thank you for sharing them with us.
I have a white crested black polish rooster, he’s about 9 now but still tries to attack me about 1 time a year. We give a good show to the neighbors I’m sure. The first time he attacked me I kicked him square in the chest so hard I thought I’d killed him. Scared me but he was fine. It was an automatic reflex, if I’d tried to kick him I’d missed! lol. He didn’t try that again for several years until last year then again this year. I ran after him, my shoe went flying it was a sight but I guess I’m safe for a while anyways. Funny thing is, he comes to me for protection if something was after him… he knows I’ll protect him. Then tries my patience! Lol. Thanks for the info, it’s good to know I wasn’t completely wrong. 😊
Michelle, Roos are persistent. Sounds like you guys have found a balance in your relationship. Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed the article. Let us know if we can help in any way!
This didn’t really work for me. As I got bigger and didn’t back away, he continued to come at me. Didn’t seem like he was going to back down until my husband was able to grab him and put him down. I held him down and then also carried him around. He still attacks me. He may pretend everything is fine for a couple days, but just when I start to feel safe, he will sneak up on me. Can’t turn my back on this guy.
Hi Cindy, Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Your guy sounds like our Sambo. He was persistent. I had to spend long periods of time with the exercises with him and I too felt he was not going to give in but eventually he did. As I said in the article if you are consistent, the times between attacks will get longer and longer. I eventually only had to repeat the exercises once a year. I found carrying a stick with me gave me an assertive energy that he could feel and I didn’t have to use it. Some guys are just more determined than others. Good luck and please let us know if we can help.
Debbie Fleischer says
Thanks for the advice. I was just out in the yard and the rooster decided to attack me. I kicked at him because he was coming at me. I wasn’t near any chickens. Luckily I found a stick. He doesn’t like sticks. I usually carry one with me just to keep him away. Then I got to the hose and sprayed him. He hates that. I’m going to carry a spray bottle with me from now on. Next I’m going to trap him with a big net I have and then try to pet him and let him know in the boss. Hope it works, I don’t want to kill something for just doing his job.
Debbie, If you follow the steps in the post, you should have success. As we said, you will have to remind him from time to time but it will be easier and easier until he gets the message. A spray bottle is a good idea since he hates the water, but it won’t resolve the underlying issue like the steps in the article will. I hope you have success. Please let us know if we can help further. Thank you for being a part of TFL Community!
Liz huff says
My roost attack me . And did I number on my foot it is deep . And swollen really bad I don’t like 2 hurt any thing but he has got 2 go . Before I hurt him realllybad
Liz, I’m so sorry to hear about your battle with your roo. If you follow the steps in the article, you should have quick success. As we said, you may have to remind him from time to time, but it will be fewer and further between. Let us know if we can help further.
BASIL JACOBS says
I have three roosters. One is young and dominant and lately, he attacks an older one and causes him to isolate and to bleed.
We feel very sorry for the pain and suffering the older rooster is going through.
Is there any strategy that we can follow to prevent this mal-treatment of the old sweet rooster?
I appreciate any feed back.
Hello Basil, Unfortunately, the pecking order in a flock is serious business to them. I had a similar incident happen in our flock about 20 years ago so I feel your pain. Ours wasn’t about the age difference, we had separated the roosters for breeding purposes and we thought we could just turn them back in together because they had been raised together, nope. We learned the hard way the seriousness of the pecking order. Our favorite rooster lost an eye and we had to build him his own yard.
If you brought the young rooster into the flock and the older one was already established, he will continue to attack him. Like I said in the article unless they are raised together and live together all their lives, it will result in fighting and may even be a fight to the death. The best you can do in your circumstances is to provide the older rooster a yard and house to himself. If you want to keep a hen or two with him for company, you could do that.
I don’t know your setup so I’m not sure what the best way for you to achieve this would be. If you can free-range your flock this will give the older guy room to escape attacks but it will not prevent them. One rooster can manage up to 50 hens so depending on the size of your flock, the struggle for dominance can be greater.
If you want to supply more details so I can better help or if you have further questions, please feel free to contact me by replying here or via email on our “Contact TFL” page. I hope this helps you.
Hi, I have enjoyed reading everyone’s post. 🙂 I have a wonderful game rooster that is sweet to his hens and also very gentle when I need to trim his spurs. I recently acquired a young Seabright rooster to put with my young girls. He is reaching I assume his adolescents years as he is very aggressive to the hens and to me. I have to laugh because I did all the things mentioned in this post. Even though he backed off for a short time, he would still be just as mean the next time. I had enough! I caught the little booger and put him in with my game rooster. He went straight for my game rooster (which is about 3 times bigger and has long spurs). After about 10 minutes of getting his clocked cleaned, I took him out. I put him in a separate cage to calm down after all that running. I have to say, right now he is pretty calm. We will see how that all pans out come this spring. :0)
Dana, There are some roos who are more persistent than others. You may have to keep reminding him over and over again until he finally gives up for good. We remind the roos every now and then even when they’re being good, just to keep them in line. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We’re so glad to have you as a part of TFL Community.
Kimberly Carnevale says
Thank you for this post! I have a rooster named, “Kevin.” He has become a favorite of all who visit my blog and farm. He is a beautiful, “Easter-Egger,” but started challenging me early this year. As a trainer of dogs/horses, I knew how to deal with those types of challenges, but not the velociraptor that attempted to scar me each time I entered my coop! I worked off of my instincts, and achieved attack-free visits to my coop by doing what you recommended here. I’m glad I was on the right track! Btw, I am now following your FB group, and look forward to more informative posts from your blog! I’d love it if you followed mine as well, and would be honored if you might consider doing a guest blog post sometime!
Kimberly, I am so glad to know you were able to keep your beautiful rooster from the pot! I appreciate all your kind words. We’re so glad to have you as part of TFL Community and look forward to learning with you, from you, and getting to know you. Good job!
Yes, I carry a fairly heavy stick when I enter the coop, but NOT for striking the protective bird.
I only use the stick to thump it on the ground or, better, on a nearby hard surface. This has always been sufficient to remind him that the heft of the stick and the “thump” lets him know that I mean business. If my choice of my lightweight walking stick doesn’t seem very formidable, all I have to do is thump the stick with an obvious show of authority. Do rooster keepers agree that the male bird may be responding to the bird in estrus, or maybe
temporarily affected by his personal “time of the month”? Something to consider, in that the roo may be temporarily disposed to an aggressive nature, while mainly a docile, agreeable nature and temperament.
A Rooster will react to sounds of distress from his hens as he is the protector of his flock and will usually be the first one to sound the alarm when he notices danger. If a hen notices danger first you can be sure a good rooster will come running with his hackles up!
Y’all are right. Although there is no estrus in chickens as with say dogs or cats, etc., the rooster may be responding to any perceived threat to a setting hen. He is in general protective of his hens and may perceive you as an interloper so he becomes aggressive. In my opinion he only becomes aggressive over the flock and not as an attitude in general.
I will have to see how this works, I have a beautiful 18 week old rooster that I love but who just started to attack me this morning. I am hoping it is just a short phase. This was the first morning that his no-crow collar worked. Normally I have to run out at 6:30 in the morning to put him in a dog crate in the back of the garage before he drove me and my neighbours completely insane for an hour. So I am hoping the attack was that he thought I was coming to lock him up or take him away from his hens like I did when I took him to my parents farm until we got the crowing issue under control. I am not scared of him but 5lbs of feather and claws flying at your face is enough to un-nerve anyone.
Yes ma’am, Alisha, that can be un-nerving! I believe you’ll find these tips will work. Crowing is part of their dominance. I was curious about why he can’t crow? If you live in a neighborhood with close neighbors are you keeping him to breed to hatch more chickens? Please let me know if I can help in any way. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
Brian SHEA says
When ever my rooster tries to peck me in the yard, I reach down and grab him, and give him a big hug. I carry him around as I do the chores. He isn’t a big fan of hugs and pets. He is getting used to it, and doesn’t struggle now. It was better for my head than beating him, and it was just as scary for him. He is an excellent rooster, who looks out for everybody.
CARLA MCDANIEL says
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.
Love wilde animals in Africa !
Jennifer Cook says
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!
AnnMarie Lewellyn says
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!
I had carry a stick to ward off a rooster as a child. Finally learned I wasn’t backing down.
Earl S. Handy says
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
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 says
It works! Be sure to come back and share your experience with us.
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!.
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.
Debra D. says
I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT THE ROOSTER ATTACKING ME IT’S THE DARN TOM TURKEY THAT’S DOING IT IF HE KEEPS THAT UP HE’S GOING TO MAKE A GIANT POT OF NOODLE’S!! 🙂 WE HAVE A WONDERFUL RHODE ISLAND RED ROOSTER THAT WAS GIVEN TO US HE IS AS GENTLE AS THE COME NO PROBLEMS WITH HIM AT ALL!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.