Chicken Behaviour: How To Deal With Aggressive Cockerels

With avian flu still meaning we are all in a prevention zone in the UK, it is hard to discern whether Bertie's behaviour is normal or just coop bound. Our cockerel is getting bigger, getting louder but is also getting, well...more cocky. We've noticed this is in how he pecks at the wire of the run and yesterday he decided to have a peck at Carol. This may be normal poultry house rules for Bertie or it may be the start of more aggressive behaviour cockerel behaviour. This is why so many chicken keepers forgo the cockerel, it's not just the wake up call that's the problem, remember that these birds are descended from velociraptors and if they were six feet tall we'd be in real trouble. If you have an aggressive cockerel and you need some cockerel support, we have some do's and don'ts about having a cock on your patch. 

chickens, life on pig row

1) A cockerel is not like a chicken, this simply means that most chickens are more docile. You can pet them and many a chicken will happily sit on your lap but a cockerel, in the main, won't. Remember, they demand respect but they should respect you the most. Best to keep a cockerel at arms length.
2) Don't be afraid of a cockerel. Remember, ALL CHICKENS HAVE A PECKING ORDER. You too are in that pecking order, be the one at the top of it. If they see weakness, they will exploit it.
3) If you cockerel is young there is plenty of work to be done with them if you want a tame cock. If they are older, see 1, definitely keep them at arms length. Pick up young cockerels regularly, stroke them, including the wattles and let them know you are the boss. They may not understand words but they know tone. Yes, you too will become a chicken whisperer. If a cockerel goes to peck you, and you have raised that cockerel, pick them up, stroke them, show them who's boss. Humiliate that S.O.B.
4) What to do if your cockerel attacks. Cockerels will charge you, rising up in the air to scratch, as they charge spread out your arms and well...flap them. Be the bigger cock. Charge them and in most cases they will simply run away. Remember they're not as tall as you and you charging them is akin to an elephant ruining a moth's day.
5) Be psychological. Stare them out. A cockerel will stare at you, seeing who blinks first. If you blink then he'll win, and you'll be his hen. These are prison rules. Stand your ground. An obedient cockerel will quickly turn away and pretend to feed on the ground, as if looking for bugs to give to you. Awww! Don't trust it, the minute your back is turned it'll use it's spurs (or worse, steal your purse and car).
6) Sometimes a cockerel knows it has spurs. We know this sounds mad. Surely all cocks know they have spurs? Well, some cockerels are cleverer, meaner and more belligerent than that cockerel who caught those crooks in that children's book. Spurs are its primary form of attack and defense, see 4 (see also fox's who think twice), and in this case you may simply have to bat them away. It's not ideal but a cockerel is a dangerous animal, see dinosaur, see that moment in Jurassic Park, see your cockerel! Cockerels do damage and in that event, even use the chicken feeder to bat them away. We once saw a farmer take a snow shovel out to feed his chickens, it wasn't for the corn but for the crazy cockerel who charged him every time he went in their pen - cockerel defend their hens and also make a comedy noise when hit with a metal snow shovel. We're not out to abuse cockerels here, we are simply demonstrating that there is cause and effect. You have to make sure your cock understands you will bat it.
7) Wear the right clothes. It sounds daft but really protect your legs and hands. If you wear shorts around a cockerel then you'll end up scratched. We know one man who forewent wearing anything upstairs, sure he had a six pack but could he explain why his back was full of scratches to his wife? 'The cock did it'. He slept on the couch for a month. Frankly, we would have shown him the door. Simply for being an idiot. Cockerels run around in feces, you don't want that scratched into your skin. Likewise, your hands are so good to peck at. Especially children's little fingers. No one wants that.
8) Be dominant.

If all else fails, introduce him to the roasting dish and watch him either back down or become dinner. If nothing more this blog post allowed us the chance to write 'cock' several times and bring in some innuendo. 


  1. Excellent article. I got around our cock who was a bit of a bully by picking him up at every opportunity and stroking him. You should have seen him when I put him back on the ground, shuffling his feathers and you'd swear he was saying to himself "making a big girls blouse out of me".