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Aggressive Roosters

Aggressive Rooster

For chickens, aggression is a means of communication. Under natural conditions, roosters don't typically show aggressive behavior towards hens, since their dominance over the hens is rarely challenged. However, during the spring season roosters may often show temporary periods of increased aggression due to the increase in testosterone levels and whether there is potential competition for mating opportunities. The aggressive behavior usually involves some aspect of threaten or attack which gets directed to another bird of the same species.

While mating, sometimes certain roosters can get a bit rough with the hens. Sometimes it may just be one of the hens, or it could be all of the hens. Induced injuries may initially appear superficial, with hens missing several feathers from her head or back areas. However, once the feathers are missing, it is only a mater of time until the rooster pulls off skin layers. Once the hen's skin is missing, her inner body organs and tissue are exposed, which will attract other flock members to start pecking the hen in this vulnerable and exposed area. Without quick intervention and isolation of the hen from the flock, she will be at risk of not only being pecked to death, but also of secondary bacterial infections.

Clinical Signs

Bald spots on head, back or vent
Feather loss
Bleeding
Skin and possibly muscle damage
A cockerel excessively mating a hen

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam

Treatment

NameSummary
Assess damageAlthough it might be a bit horrific to look at, take a moment to thoroughly look over the wound.
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Chicken saddlePurchase a chicken saddle (or apron) to help provide the hen some protection
ManagementSeparate the rooster from the hen
NeuteringA procedure performed by your veterinarian.

Prevention

Prognosis

Depends on the severity of the wound and the extent of bacterial contamination

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Blogs

Age Range

Adult hens are most at risk.

Risk Factors

  • Aggressive roosters
  • Low hens to rooster ratio

Seasonality

WinterSpringSummerAutumn