So, you know how it is with chickens. Things have been quiet and good for a few weeks. That means something is going to go poop soon. And it did. Don’t worry, it’s not a chicken health issue this time, but it’s just as bad. Elrond, my beautiful black Australorp rooster, turned. I don’t mean turned around or turned a corner. He turned aggressive. He turned on me.

Here’s what happened. I was going about my usual morning chicken chores after The Little Fulla had gone down for his nap. I checked the food and water vessels, then I headed back to the garage to get the cleaning things to clean out the poop from the coop. As I came around the corner of the woodshed, Elrond was standing in the path. “Excuse me, buddy,” I said as I went to move past him. I’m so polite to my chickens. He just stood there, which was odd, then ‘POOF!’ He was up in the air, wings flapping and feet flaring towards me. I yelled and flailed my arms and legs to avoid his grasp. Thank goodness I had clipped his wings or he would have gotten higher and it could have been worse. There was a flurry of human and feather as I scrambled to grab the rake from the woodshed to defend myself. After I warded him off with it he went off into the pen with the others, crowing, chattering and making a big fuss that made the other chickens all nervous. I escaped out the gate, scared and bewildered. Now I know why some people are scared silly of roosters.

What just happened? I know enough about roosters to know that they can turn aggressive at any time and it is through no fault of those who raised them. No matter how much they are handled or well-taken-care-of they can turn.  I didn’t do anything wrong. The friends I got him off when he was six months old didn’t do anything wrong. It is not anything to do with his breed. It is just a personality thing that no-one could predict. Roosters do not always go aggressive. There are some lovely roosters out there. I thought that Elrond was one of them. But you just never know. It was in the back of my mind as something to be aware of and fortunately my logical side kicks in in frightful situations, so I was able to get the rake quickly. But I wish it hadn’t happened and I could forget about it.

Unfortunately, I also know that once a rooster turns aggressive the behaviour will not go away. It will get worse. Apparently some can be taught to respect their keeper with extensive training, but even so that doesn’t apply to anyone else he comes into contact with. And, especially with a small child around, I cannot have an aggressive chicken in the backyard. Fullstop. No matter how much I like him and want to keep him, human safety must always come before the feelings I have towards any animal. If any of the other chickens displayed behaviour like this it would be the same. He has to go.

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Why, Elrond, why?

This is stink. I am feeling a mixture of sad, angry, disappointed and scared. Why, Elrond, why? He was doing such a great job looking after the flock. He just took it too far. I knew full well I couldn’t give him to someone else and risk their safety too. I suddenly had to face the fact that my beautiful black rooster would have to get the chop. This is a horrible realisation. I felt terrible for myself but I also felt terrible for the friends I got him off, who had raised him from a fertilised egg. I was supposed to give him a forever home, where he could happily live out his days with some ladies, and I fully intended to do just that. I messaged my friend, telling her what had happened. I wouldn’t dare give him the chop without informing her, as Elrond was special to them and they had him for longer than I have. I just counted and I’ve actually only had him for three months! It feels like way longer than that. He has such a presence. Anyway, she has given me a glimmer of hope. She is currently hastily arranging a trip up north to take Elrond to her Mum’s place, where he can free range over a wide area and mind his own business. This would be so much better than having to send him to the other side of the rainbow.

The only good thing about this situation is that I have a bunch of wee roosters coming along: Frodo and Elrond’s babies. This is great news for Scrappy, who is at the top of the list and who I was determined to keep anyway, in a separate pen if need be. Thankfully, I haven’t culled any of the roosters yet. And thankfully I got a batch of babies out of Elrond. I was very keen to get babies out of Frodo and Elrond as soon as possible, which is why I let Frodo raise them in winter. I had a feeling I needed to. Not for a second did I think Elrond was going to turn aggressive, I just thought one of the neighbours might complain and I might have to find a new home for him. As horrible as this situation is, it’s just another facet of the chicken keeping life and at least I have the little Australorps coming along. Something went right.

There is no knowing whether Scrappy or any of the other little roos might turn aggressive. Having a father who turned aggressive in no way implies that any of them will. It’s the same situation of nobody knows. I will be keeping a close eye on their behaviour as they grow. And I will be prepared for the fact that this situation could happen again, so I have to make the most of the chickens that I have. At some point in the not-too-distant-future I’m going to have to introduce new genetics too, as having a mother and son breeding pair can only go so far. But I think I’ve got enough to think about for now. Oh, Elrond.

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Elrond has been great at looking after his flock.
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10 thoughts on “And Then The Poop Hits The Fan

    1. Yeah, he is beautiful and it was so unexpected. I am learning how important personality is when it comes to roosters. He does have a new home organised to go to in a few days so hopefully he will chill out a bit with more freedom or learn to be ‘managed’. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
      -Twiglet

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh no!!! That’s horrible news! I wonder because it was just one time, could something you didn’t see spook him and provoke a response? Or has he continues to be aggressive after that?

    Dots attacked me once, last summer after we butchered the last of his brothers. He was acting upset possibly because he couldn’t find his brothers and I went to pick him up and he came at me. Bit my hand. He didn’t have spurs then, so I was lucky. He hasn’t done it since, so I have to assume he was afraid I would take him and he would suffer the same fate as his brothers. But I know, it can happen at any time.

    Roosters are what they are.

    I don’t know if this will help any at all, but here is a video a FB friend of mine shared in a group we’re both on. She has lots of roosters and this is how she shows the feisty ones she is the dominant “chicken” in the flock.

    She also says if it doesn’t work, she crock pots them, but she’s had good luck with this method.

    Poor Elrond. 😦 He will be missed.

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    1. Yeah, unfortunately this was not an isolated incident of Elrond being scared. Part of what made it scary was how sudden it was considering I was just doing the normal chores, but the way he stood there in my way for a moment before attacking showed he meant business. I haven’t given him the chance to attack me again as I’ve been armed with something when I go in and he hates things with poles coz he hates the net and being caught. But he was fixated on me, patrolling the perimeter and not even interested in treats every time I came near the enclosure. I did a version of ‘squashing’ (thanks for the video, that’s really useful) and he’s been keeping his distance more since then but I haven’t had the time to do it over and over again. He’s been ultra protective of the flock too, keeping them away from me. 😦 I just want to be able to spend time with my chickens again, especially the young ones.

      You’re lucky to have Dots. What was his personality like when he was younger?
      -Twiglet

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      1. I’m glad the video helped somewhat. Keep it for the future, given so many of Elrond’s offspring are sons.

        Dots was one of 17 roosters in our first brood of babies. He wasn’t a dominant type at all, to be honest. With so many roos, they all shared duties and I had little mini flocks of 5-7 chickens milling about everywhere. Dots hung out with my favorite rooster, My Guy, and one other who looked like Guy (I called him Not My Guy) and they took turns looking after 4 hens. It was like that for all of them.

        Then I had Gold Boy, who was pure evil in chicken form. He was the runt in the flock, and instead of being docile, once hormones hit, he turned into a hell-spawn. He would come at anyone who entered the barnyard, and bite, scratch, hiss… he pecked hard enough to put a hole in my brother-in-law’s pants. Luckily, he wasn’t old enough to have spurs. He could have done so much damage had he known what he was doing.

        But he was a LEADER, and had a posse of roosters who hung with him and chased down anyone – chicken or person – at Gold Boy’s discretion. When we integrated the RiRs with them (3 weeks age difference), Gold Boy and his crew attacked and almost killed a little RiR by pinning into the corner of the run and pecking without mercy.

        They were the first of last years roosters to go to Freezer Camp and I had no misgivings about it. He was awful.

        And it made no sense other than ‘rooster behavior’ because I’d treated all the same. I am not mean to my animals. Gold Boy was just that way.

        I’ve read that the more virile they are, they are more likely to be aggressive. It’s how they protect their flock.

        Dots was chosen out of 17 of his flock brothers and 12 of the RiR roosters because Little Dude could pick him up. Pure and simple. He was gentle, docile enough to pick up and carry around.

        He spent a miserable summer missing his brothers and counting and recounting heads when his sisters started wandering further and crossing the road. They all bonded over this winter and he is the head of the flock now. A good brother, boyfriend, and papa.

        I don’t forget he could turn on us, too. Age, hormones, whatever. He just could. It will be a very sad day when that happens.

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        1. Thanks for all in the information, Deb. It’s very interesting to know! I guess roosters are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. And sometimes you get a lump of coal instead of a chocolate. 😛 Gold Boy sounds absolutely horrible! Of course it’s not anything you did. I hope I don’t get any that bad. Thank goodness you got Dots to counter your horrible rooster experiences.
          Elrond was obviously quite virile so I guess that makes sense. I’m just going to be a very aware of how all my youngies are behaving and try to spend lots of time with them. I also want to do some more research about signs to look out for in an aggressive rooster. I am accepting the fact that a really good rooster isn’t a given and might not be easy to come by, so I have to make personality just as much of a consideration as good breed standards. Australorps are one of the more docile breeds so hopefully I can end up with a good roo. Or two… Eventually…
          -Twiglet

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  2. Oh Elrond! Why’d you have to go and do that? I feel for you. We just had a similar situation with Pam the rooster. Unprovoked attack on the toddler 😦 with me standing right alongside. Thankfully I got in between them and the toddler only got a scratch. We’d handraised ours from day old with constant handling, and no roughness but still the aggression. We took no chances and dispatched all the roosters that evening (apart from Minty who has only just started crowing and is still quiet). It’s really distressing and quite a shock. As sad as it is, I agree with you; you can’t afford to have an aggressive rooster with a child around. Hopefully you’ve got a good rooster in amongst your chicks to carry on the line. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Scrappy 🙂

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    1. Oh goodness! Not you too! That would have been scary with your poor little one involved. Glad he wasn’t hurt too much. I really hope Minty stays nice and calm for you. There’s just no knowing is there? But I still want to have a rooster. At least Pam wasn’t too big when he went agro. Elrond is a very big boy and a scary sight to see on the other side of the coin. I think often if they turn it happens when they’re younger but I guess you always have to be aware of the possibility. I really hope Scrappy turns out to be nice! How old were Pam and co?
      -Twiglet

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      1. Yes, us too 😦 Pam would have been about 20 weeks when he flipped out. Crowing for probably a month. He’d acted aggressive towards the other chickens but never towards us. It’s strange; after the roosters have been crowing for a few weeks they seem to really change, it’s almost like your chicks disappear and suddenly you have these big roosters you don’t recognise any more. Something about reaching maturity, perhaps? That sense of separation helped when it came time to say goodbye to the boys. Our one hen (Sophie) still seems the same as she ever has. Will be interesting to see if you get the same sort of sense of separation once your chicks grow up? (Though I have to admit I still feel attached to Minty – he had ill health and was separated from the flock too. Funny how our flocks have had similar experiences)

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        1. Ok, that’s good to know. I need to watch my youngies more closely to see how they treat each other. I haven’t seen that much squabbling lately but I need more time with them. They’re just on 8 weeks old now so hopefully I’ve got a wee while before things get to their heads. That is funny about our shared experiences! Was Minty a dining room chicken? 😉
          -Twiglet

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