Let’s Talk Rooster


This is my rooster Storm, a Silver Deathlayer. At the time of writing, he is about 8 months old.

I won't go into the story of getting him (I'll save that for another day). I wanted a Deathlayer roo, and was happy to hatch him and his 2 DL hens. He joined my Wyandotte hens (3) and we recently added  Amercauna hens (2) to his flock.

Storm was as sweet as anything until his girls started laying and about the time his hormones kicked in. Now, he has his moments and I am working hard to understand his behavior and build trust.

I am in a lot of chicken groups on Facebook and I see so many posts about roosters and the recommended solutions to their natural behaviors. When you really look at the psychology, many of the recommendations, just don't make sense.

First, we need to look at the primary purpose of a rooster, it's to protect the flock. Chickens are prey animals, and their instinct to survive is strong. A rooster's instinct protect the flock is STRONG.

People's first go-to, when it comes to roosters, is dominance. Many methods of dominance are actually creating fear.  Fear is not trust, and it's not the relationship that I am looking to create with my rooster.

Sophia holding Storm

A little digression but I have worked with horses for many years, another prey animal. Dominance doesn't work. I could not nor would not try to out muscle and dominate a 1200 lb animal. Granted, roosters are only 7lbs or so (depending on the breed) and easy to out muscle ... but the psychology, regardless of size, is the same.

A relationship of fear is not the goal. It may provide a temporary solution but disaster is ahead. Fear may create submission, but that isn't trust and could have unwanted consequences when you aren't looking.

Fear and dominance can be interconnected in various ways, especially in social animals like roosters. Understanding this relationship involves recognizing that fear can influence dominance behaviors, and dominant behaviors can elicit fear responses. Here are some ways in which fear and dominance may relate in roosters:

  1. Submission due to Fear:
    • A rooster may display submissive behaviors as a response to fear. If it perceives a dominant rooster or another threat, it may exhibit behaviors such as crouching, avoiding eye contact, or stepping aside to avoid confrontation.
  2. Dominance as a Response to Fear:
    • On the flip side, a rooster may adopt dominant behaviors as a way to cope with fear or insecurity. By asserting dominance over other flock members, including hens or subordinate roosters, the dominant rooster may feel more secure in its position within the social hierarchy.
  3. Fear-Induced Aggression:
    • Fear can sometimes manifest as aggression, especially if a rooster feels cornered or threatened. In such cases, a rooster may respond aggressively to establish control over its environment and alleviate fear.
  4. Fearful Response to Dominance Displays:
    • Lesser-ranked roosters or subordinate flock members may exhibit fear in response to dominant displays by a more assertive rooster. The dominant rooster's confident body language, vocalizations, or resource control may induce fear in others.
  5. Hierarchy Establishment:
    • Dominance is often a crucial component of establishing and maintaining a social hierarchy within a flock. However, this process may involve moments of fear and uncertainty, especially among subordinate members as they navigate their roles within the group.
  6. Fear Reduction through Dominance:
    • In some cases, a dominant rooster may contribute to reducing fear in the flock by providing a sense of order and protection. The confidence and assertiveness of a dominant rooster can create a more secure environment for other flock members.

Understanding the complex interplay between fear and dominance in roosters requires careful observation of their behavior in different situations. Creating an environment that minimizes stressors and provides adequate space and resources can contribute to a healthier balance between fear and dominance within the flock.

pita pinta

Roosters aren't for everyone. For some flocks, they aren't necessary. And sadly roosters are a dime a dozen ... think about it ... 1 rooster to 8-10 hens with a 50% hen/rooster hatch rate ... to most roosters are disposable. Solution to a problem, make soup and get another and try again.

So again think of the psychology, create fear in your rooster and it will increase their innate drive to protect. Cultivate trust, a different story. It takes time and work, but if you have a rooster you want, especially rare breeds, putting the time in is well worth it.

Dealing with a rooster that exhibits aggressive behavior can be challenging, but it's important to address the issue to ensure the safety of yourself and others. Here are some steps to take if a rooster attacks:

  1. Stay Calm:
    • Reacting with fear or aggression can escalate the situation. Stay calm and try to remain assertive without becoming confrontational.
  2. Protect Yourself:
    • If a rooster is charging or attacking, use a barrier such as a shovel, broom, or a piece of cardboard to shield yourself. This can help prevent injury.
  3. Use Protective Gear:
    • Consider wearing gloves, long sleeves, and pants for added protection against scratches and pecks.
  4. Establish Dominance:
    • Roosters can become aggressive when they perceive themselves as the dominant figure. To establish yourself as the dominant one, use a firm but not aggressive tone and body language.
  5. Avoid Turning Your Back:
    • Keep the rooster in your line of sight. Turning your back may trigger an attack.
  6. Use Distractions:
    • Toss a handful of treats or feed away from you to redirect the rooster's attention. This can provide an opportunity for you to move away safely.
  7. Provide Adequate Space:
    • Ensure that the rooster has sufficient space in its living area. Overcrowding can contribute to aggression.
  8. Separate Aggressive Roosters:
    • If you have multiple roosters, consider separating the aggressive one from the flock to prevent injuries to other birds.
  9. Evaluate the Rooster's Health:
    • Aggressive behavior can sometimes be linked to health issues or discomfort. Check for signs of injury or illness and consult with a veterinarian if needed.
  10. Consider Rehoming:
    • If the rooster's aggression persists despite efforts to manage it, you may need to consider rehoming the bird to a more suitable environment.

Remember that aggression in roosters can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, age, and previous experiences. Regular handling and positive interactions from a young age can help prevent aggressive behavior in the first place. If you're uncertain about how to handle an aggressive rooster, seek advice from experienced poultry keepers or consult with a veterinarian who specializes in poultry care.


More about Storm ... he has come at me ... but never has "yet" made contact. I never turn my back on him, I always bring him treats (he loves popcorn), he hates new voices ... if I am on my phone collecting eggs or near the run and on speaker phone, he gets upset and aggressive. He does not like me handling "his" hens. He always backs off if I step towards him. I have to use a net to catch him. I wish this wasn't the case and am working to change it, but it is what it is right now. When I catch him, I hold and pet him and he relaxes.

I am always contentious of his behavior.  I can see when he is agitated. I NEVER wear shorts in the run. I have gloves that I wear when needed, like when opening or shutting my coop door (it gets stuck) because it doesn't work smoothly, it will be fixed but until then, I wear gloves because Storm will come at the door if it gets stuck and he feels threatened and peck my fingers.. Sounds silly, but I now sing to them when I go in the coop to close the door at night (Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah).

The bottom line is Storm doesn't trust me. Will he learn to? I hope so. I will do all that I can to earn his trust ... soup isn't the answer.

Want to learn more about building a relationship with your rooster, then check out Roovolution.