Are you the one who nurtures hens and chickens in your backyard? If so, you might have come across A situation when a rooster attacked you or, for that matter, even a chicken.
Chances are it had taken you by surprise and left you wondering.
Do roosters attack humans?
Generally, roosters do not attack humans, but they suddenly turn ornery and showcase their fiery temper by attacking humans.
It is not uncommon to hear incidents when the backyard roster is suddenly attacking humans who try to approach its territory.
Why do roosters attack humans?
Foremost, let us first understand rooster aggression. Within a flock, a rooster has two jobs to his credit. The first duty that he does is to protect the hens of the flock.
The second duty is to Service or preserve his genes by mating. A rooster takes both his job seriously.
A rooster can demonstrate aggressive behavior due to several reasons. A few of them are:
Because of its role in the flock, roosters are genetically programmed to fight any perceived threat to their flock. Its protective instinct is so high that it can even die for it. Because of it, they cannot be treated as cuddly pets.
You can only touch and interact with your rooster once you have established your dominance while proving that you are harmless to its flock.
Like human teenagers, a rooster shows an aggressive nature when it reaches puberty, at around four to six months of age. They have an extra testosterone surge at that time and can exhibit signs like chest-bumping and tough-guy behaviors.
Being aggressive is an innate trait, and they cannot be raised as a non-aggressive adult, though the degree of aggression can vary.
Like humans, every rooster has a unique personality. Some are born aggressive, and some are pretty cute.
Hens and chickens are prey animals. Hence, they are naturally suspicious of unfamiliar things and view them as a potential threat to their existence. A rooster is naturally in alert mode at all times and keeps listening for possible incursions into its territory.
On perceiving a threat, they would try to defend their flock and can sacrifice their lives fighting a predator. They cannot think like predators, be it humans, dogs, raccoons, etc. Their entire focus is survival.
Human code of conduct
The primary reason why any rooster will attack a human being is when it perceives you as a threat. Hence, any violent and aggressive behavior will not be acceptable to them.
Intimidating them, humiliating them, grabbing, pushing, kicking, etc., and even holding them upside down will reinforce its perception of you as a threat. They will happily die fighting the threat to protect their flock.
How to stop a rooster from attacking you?
By now, we understand that it’s not possible to train a rooster to be non-aggressive. But we can stop it from attacking you by establishing an understanding, which is in sync with their social structure and rules.
The process is time-consuming and requires plenty of patience but must be completed by every individual human that comes in contact with the rooster.
Pecking order and who rules the roost
Before attempting to form a pact with the rooster, it is crucial to understand the pecking order, a complex hierarchy system of the flock. It is the pecking order that influences feeding, drinking, roosting, egg-laying, dust bathing, crowing, and even mating.
Chickens are social animals and love living in flocks. But deciding the pecking order is anything but gentle. The strongest and the healthiest occupy the top position of the pecking order, and subsequent positions go to the next strongest.
The position is worked out by two members of the flock challenging each other and the weaker one finally backing down. Each chicken knows its pecking place and abides by it.
The pecking position remains the same till a member is added or deleted from the flock. The order gets reestablished with the strongest at the top and the meekest at the bottom. Now, the rooster will always occupy the top position if present in a flock.
Preventing a rooster from attacking you
Now you can utilize several tactics to distract the rooster, but ultimately, you will need to make him realize that you are the boss and not a threat to him. A few tactics you can use are:
- Feeding the rooster with a handful of grains will easily distract an aggressive rooster. A rooster will only attack you if it perceives you as another rooster trying to take his pecking position or as a threat to his flock. By feeding him regularly, you will make the rooster perceive you merely as a giant creature that is non-threatening. His aggression towards you will subside.
- If you need to go to your backyard merely to collect the eggs, you can also armor yourself with a rooster shield like a shovel or even a large lid. It would remain between you and the rooster and protect you from his pecking. You must remember never to hit back or strike at the rooster at any point in time.
- Dressing appropriately with leather gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and even boots will help you take their attack without hurting yourself. Remember not to wear floppy boots as it often agitates the rooster.
- If you are brave enough, you can even try pinning the rooster down. The idea is just to scare him a bit and make him realize you are the boss. For it, you need to grab him and put him on the ground and hold him down. He would panic and try fighting, but finally, he would calm down and surrender. You can then let him go. He will not attack you then.
- Another trick is to raise your arms and move them around or even flap them when a rooster is charging towards you. It will make you look large and fierce in the eyes of the rooster. Now move towards him. You can even rub but never walk away. Be prepared to stand and stare at him or even run after him. It will take a little time, but he will soon recognize your dominance and give you signs like pecking the ground, avoiding eye contact, or even running away from you. It means he has recognized your supremacy and would thereafter respect you.
Now that we know all about rooster attacks on humans let’s address a few common questions surrounding it.
Do chickens attack you?
Yes, like roosters, even chickens can sometimes attack you even though they are timid and submissive in nature. But most likely, those chickens would be baby roosters as they have an aggressive nature.
The reason for it can be varied like natural aggression, fighting for the pecking position, viewing you as another rooster and trying to impose their dominance, etc.
Can a rooster kill a human?
Even though roosters and chicks can sometimes attack humans, it is rarely life-threatening. However, they can give you nasty scratches and sometimes a possible chance of eye damage.
But there have been rare incidents reported when a chicken attack has killed a human. For example, one fatal chicken attack was reported in 2019 when an Australian woman was killed by her pet rooster when she was collecting the eggs.
What is a rooster attack on humans called?
The rooster attack on humans is called flogging.
Do roosters give any sign that they are about to attack you?
Yes, the behavior and signals of a rooster change when he is about to attack you. Generally, the rooster lowers its head while looking at you.
A rooster dance can also be initiated. He would often run stealthily behind you, stop and give you a hard stare. It implies that he is ready to attack you.
Why is my rooster attacking my hens?
A rooster’s job is to protect his flock and mate with as many hens as he can. To indicate his willingness to mate, he generally pecks on their backs or heads.
During mating, a rooster stands on the hen’s back and holds her neck feathers with his beak. He steadies himself with his feet. This activity is called treading.
If a rooster takes an extra liking of a hen, he will mate more often with her. It can sometimes cause loss of feathers and damage to the skin. Moreover, the regrowth of feathers is also difficult.
Now, chickens have an instinct to peck at the injured area, leading to further injury. For this reason, an injured hen needs to be segregated from the group for complete healing.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you must have at least ten hens for every single rooster. This will decrease the chances of over-mating and keep the hens healthy. Roosters are known to kill a hen by over-mating.
Roosters are not meant to be lap pets and can naturally attack humans.
The best way out is to buy a non-aggressive variant and, finally, use all stated tactics to establish your dominance.
It is indeed possible to establish a happy medium with your rooster and enjoy breeding a flock in your backyard.