How to raise friendly Roosters.
Are roosters even friendly? Yes, they absolutely can be if raised properly. Now don't get confused that a friendly rooster is not going to protect its flock. Raising friendly roosters does not mean that we are removing all instincts to be protectors out of them. We absolutely do not want a useless rooster either.
What raising a friendly rooster means is to adapt the rooster to being used to an environment where people, and in some cases, other animals will be present and to not feel threatened by their presence. They instead will carry on with their rooster duties and day. This also means they will also be approachable, able to be picked up, and also come to their owner when called or treats are being offered. We have had some roosters that are so friendly they actually will follow us around, want us to pick them up to snuggle, and even talk to us to let us know they need or want something. By talk to us I mean they cluck or chirp standing at our feet to communicate. We instantly recognize how they are communicating to what they are wanting: Food, water or simply a treat.
Are all roosters capable of being raised to be friendly? I can't speak for any breed we have not personally raised. However, so far all our breeds have been successful in this. Roosters, like people, are individuals with their own personality. This means that some will be more friendly than others. Not much we can do about that. It's just who they are as an individual. However, as a breed.. these breeds are capable of being friendly.
How does one raise friendly roosters? It's pretty easy actually. First and foremost unlearn pretty much everything you learned or heard about roosters that suggests they are mean and are only jerks. Second unlearn all the inaccurate outdated advice that you should dominate a rooster to be in control. Third get a rooster at a very young age or from anyone who already raises friendly roosters in safe, healthy environments.
Now don't get me wrong, there are times you can take in older roosters and still have great results. It just gets much harder after maturity to undo any damage that was already done because they already have learned not to trust people.
We hand raise our roosters from chick age or starting under 3 months. We will handle them a lot through out their lives. Here are steps we take to raise friendly roosters.:
- Hold them and pet them gently so they enjoy being held.
- Visit them daily and always give them their space. I don't go all the way to them. I let them come to me.
- Bring out treats to them daily
- Squat down and let them eat treats out of hand.*They will usually be leary at first. So I start by tossing treats a bit away from me. Then gradually a little closer. Until they eat treats at my feet area. Then I squat down and toss treats near me. Finally, I hold out my hand while squatted and wait for them to approach me to eat the treats. It helps if they see another chicken eating from my hand.
- I never walk up behind them to get close to them. I always walk where they see me and non-aggressively.
- I don't run near them or walk too fast
- I don't chase them
- I keep my distance when entering their area or if I have to walk near them I walk through them making it clear I am just a passer by and I don't walk fast or aggressively or like I am scared. They see I am minding my own business and letting them mind their own business.
- I never use aggression. Ignore all persons and advice that suggests any form of aggression towards a rooster, even if rooster is being protective or aggressive.
- If a rooster challenges or (attempts to) attack we simply hold the rooster down by his back away from his lungs. We hold him until he is calm, then release. This will submissify him to let him know he's not in charge. We also will pick him up and hold him, even pet him to again make him submissive and even comfortable. After a few mins, we set the rooster down gently, pet him again and let him walk around. They usually take a few steps away strutting, then shake their feathers as if to shake our human germs off them and act tough for their flock lol.. and go about their business. These are gentle and non-aggressive ways to handle a rooster.
- I avoid turning my back to them without carefully watching them. If I see one starting to do a challenge me dance/strut I turn to look straight at them and say, "Uh uh, you know better" pointy a firm but non-aggressive finger at them. They chill out and go about their business as they see you're not a threat. This usually only happens if they think you're going to hurt or bother anyone in their flock.
- Don't tolerate aggressive behavior. They learn it's not ok. If it's encouraged or allowed they will become aggressive as they think it's acceptable and they like feeling large and in charge. Don't let their heads get full or testosterone in the first place. You're head rooster, you make the rules, you teach the rules, they follow. This is how to run the flock.
- Cull any aggressive roosters that can't be trained. It's an unfortunate fact that some roosters are just born aggressive and the only way to handle that is to remove him from breeding line and flock by cull him giving him a new purpose: feeding the family.
These steps pretty much summarize how we raise our roosters to achieve the results we do for family friendly roosters. Think of it this way if would we rather have a parent that showed dominance or respect? What I teach is mutual trust, comfort, and respect while still being the parent so to say.. I avoid using asserting dominance to be in charge especially with kids around. Roosters are the environment they live in and they are still survivalist instinct chickens. Don't make them feel threatened or ever at risk.
I hope these tips help you and everyone to raise family friendly roosters and put an end to the stigma that roosters are scary, mean jerks. They naturally aren't.. unless they're raised that way and like any species.. there will be a few born that way but they aren't the norm, and that shows at young age and even dominance won't fix that.