Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Cooling off your cockerel

Overly feisty cockerels are a common complaint among the poultry-keeping fraternity. Here's a quick post with tips & tricks we've learned for dealing with these bad boys, including a Chicken Hypnosis video.

This handsome chap is Feathers. Like his father and grandfather before him, he's going slightly nuts as he approaches his first birthday.

Seemingly this is due to a surge in testosterone levels as he reaches full maturity. He probably can't understand why he's so enraged all the time either.

Anyone who has spent much time around a cockerel will know the danger signs. We call it 'hard pecking'. When he's standing somewhere nearby, looking at you while he savagely pecks some blade of grass or something, as if to say, "That's you, that is!". The next stage is often full-on attack.

The underarm carry
Ideally before he gets to attack stage, grab him, tuck him under your arm and carry him about like that for five or ten minutes. This seems to foster the belief in them that you belong to a different class of being, not to be trifled with. The effect is temporary, to begin with at least, but it's easily repeated and (allegedly) the idea does eventually sink in on a longer term basis.

Besides being highly entertaining, chicken hypnosis also calms them down. The procedure is simple (see video):

  • Get ahold of the chicken's legs and gently lay it down on its back.
  • Using one or two fingers, repeatedly stroke down the midline from the base of the neck to the pelvis.
  • As the beast relaxes, its legs will begin to stretch out and you'll be able to gradually release them.
  • When the chook is completely relaxed and focused, with legs fully extended, you can quietly step back and observe.
  • It can take several minutes for them to snap out of the trance, at which point they'll right themselves and carry on about their business, though now with a respectful eye on you!

They're all lovely at this stage.
In general, it seems the best chance of ending up with a 'friendly' cockerel is to hatch your own, or get them as day-old chicks, and then handle them frequently as they grow up, but there are no guarantees. 

Likewise, certain breeds are said to be more aggressive than others. Watch out for Rhode Island Reds! Again, however, no guarantees.

I've tried all sorts of responses to cock aggression:

  • Ignoring them. Doesn't work - they soon adopt the notion that they're the boss.
  • Fighting back. (With care, obviously, to avoid injuring them!) This is fun, but it doesn't work either - they never tire of fighting and any contest that ends with them still breathing is chalked up as a win.
  • Putting them in the 'sin bin'. No discernible effect.
The underarm carry and chicken hypnosis are the way to go.
Happy chicken keeping!

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys. .love the post! we were only brave enough to keep hens:)


Comments and questions are welcome.
If you've tried something after reading about it here, or have suggestions, please tell us about it!