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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Roosters: 3 Reasons to Rethink Keeping a Cock in Your Flock

- By: Mackenzie Reiss

As we talked about last week, roosters can be super cool additions to your flock for a number of reasons including protection, food calls, the pecking order, and for hatching chicks. However, the constant crowing and the aggressive tendencies of certain breeds can be cause for consideration before introducing a cock to your flock. Here's some things to think about.

Crowing: In the movies, roosters only crow at first light, but reality tells a very different story. Most roosters crow throughout the day, and sometimes even into the night. The reasons for crowing are many: to announce the start of a day, to alert the flock to danger, and perhaps to simply assert his masculine presence. To help minimize crowing, Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens recommends that owners restrict the time chickens are let outside, close coop windows at night, and insulate coop walls to reduce sound.
 
While some owners enjoy the rooster's call, others or their neighbors find the constant noise to be an annoyance. For this reason, it is necessary to check your local zoning ordinance to find out whether or not roosters are allowed in your community. BackyardChickens.com user, melikamiki had this to say about crowing:
If you like crowing, you'll like a rooster. I don't mind crowing, per se. I mind the ceaseless crowing all day, especially when I'm sitting on my porch enjoying the weather trying to have a conversation. For someone new, I think it's a good idea to point out that they do crow all day long and mine does before dawn and after dusk, and sometimes at night when he hears something.
Rooster fights: Roosters fight with one another and with hens if not introduced to the flock properly or in the right conditions. It is best to raise roosters and hens together so that the pecking order will be established at an early age. If a rooster is introduced to a new flock of hens, he will assert his dominance by fighting the alpha hen and other birds he views as a threat, which could lead to disruption of the flock, injury, and even death. If you would like to add more than one rooster to your flock it is important to ensure that each bird has adequate space. Roosters in close quarters will fight each other to protect their territory and hens. You can minimize fighting by adding one feeding and water station per rooster spaced at least 10ft apart so that each rooster may claim his own territory.

Aggressive behavior: Certain breeds are predisposed to aggressive behavior such as the Modern Game, English Game, Belgian D'Anver (Bantam), Cubalaya, Japanese Chabo, Malay, Rhode Island, and Silkie, according to Henderson's Chicken Chart. Aggression can take on many forms, from harassing hens and other roosters to attacking you - the owner! While the latter seems to contradict all logic, from the rooster's perspective, you are viewed as a potential threat to his hens. A rooster may use his beak to attack, but his spurs are what you need to really watch out for. The spurs are the pointed talon-like protrusions on the backs of the rooster's legs. To avoid being attacked by an aggressive rooster, you can prove your dominance by training him. One method is to hold the offending rooster upside-down while firmly pressing his head down with one hand. When he feels relaxed, remove your hand. Repeat the motion until the rooster stays still with his head down even after you have removed your hand.

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