The Master Rooster Tamer
There are bee charmers, snake charmers, dog whisperers, and horse whisperers -- and then there are those who can tame a rooster. From the very moment I met the rooster tamer, I was both jealous and in awe.
Admittedly, I tend to be a know-it-all, when it comes to some subjects -- and the subject of poultry was one of my areas of expertise. Highly competitive, I was being upstaged, out-witted, and humbled. It's true, the older you get, the more you realize how little you really know.
This was a chance encounter, the woman was lost and had come to me for directions. She was scheduled to speak before a group of young people in the 4-H program, who were training to show their chickens in competition. She was so fascinating to talk to, that we ended up inviting ourselves to her lecture.
Before the day was over, this seemingly less educated woman, taught me to question everything I thought I knew, about both raising poultry and taming roosters. Before her lecture was done, I had to admit to myself, she was undoubtedly one of the smartest people I've ever met. I had met ultimate master rooster tamer, and having been pecked and flopped by many an angry rooster -- I am eternally grateful.
A Long Line of Rooster Trainers
In some of my previous hubs, I've given readers a peak into the lives of my grandparents and great-grandparents. My maternal grandmother, raised chickens (and rabbits) for the commercial market.
She also raised her three grandchildren, exotic animals, designed clothing, wrote horticultural books, self-published magazines, and ran a host of other successful "work from home" enterprises -- many of them simultaneously.
My grandfather in contrast, a lawman, and fun loving Cajun -- raised game cocks for the sole purpose of winning bets, gambling being one of his vices. Both of them came from an era, where the raising of poultry was common place and a necessity. Growing up with these two influences, as a child, I spent a lot of time in chicken coops.
As a result, I've met a lot of mean roosters. Roosters that would peck you, chase small children, terrorize dogs, and fight to the death. On our ranch, most of them ended up in the cook pot when they became too aggressive, or a nuisance.
Hold Tight and Close To Your Body
Lessons in Taming The Rooster
The day we met the master rooster tamer was an enlightening day. After several hours of basic chicken anatomy, discussions on the care and feeding of chicken, and even intensive instruction in how to bathe a chicken -- she concluded the lecture with two demonstrations.
The first, I was already accomplished in -- that was the techniques to hypnotize a chicken (also works for rabbits and other animals). Most old timers are well versed in this trick, and it is a homemade "entertainment" for small children going back generations.
For those of you who are not familiar with it, you can put a chicken in a stupor by:
- Holding its head down against the ground
- Then, constantly draw an imaginary line downward in front of the chicken on the ground, with a finger (beginning at the beak and ending at a point outwards in front of the chicken)
- After awhile, most chickens will essentially play dead, or seem to be in a trance, unwilling to move as they stare at the line
- Once you stop some chickens will lay there for a short time, some will lay there for much longer
Or (my preferred method):
- Simply hold the chicken face up on its back
- Stroke the chicken from wattles to vent repeatedly
Then, concluding her lecture, the master rooster tamer shared her secrets in how to deal with a mean rooster, as she took from a cage -- a big feisty rooster, who immediately began to act aggressive, puffing himself up, charging her and some of the children participating in the demonstration.
This was her method to taming the rooster:
- She grabbed him by his legs, simultaneously with tucking him closely to her body, holding his wings securely down.
- With one finger to his beak, she gently but firmly bent his head downward
- After a short period of time, she released his head
- Each time he attempted to look up, she held his head down again
- Minutes later the rooster would not raise his head and would allow her to do pretty much anything she wanted to
- Then, when she sat him down, he would not challenge her
This technique of domination was a major revelation to me, as someone who has spent over fifty years around chickens and mean roosters. Since then, I've tried it and it works magically. The rooster who once flopped and pecked at my feet, soon gave me a wide berth whenever I was in "his territory."
Considerations Before Deciding to Raise Poultry
Poultry are relatively easy animals to raise and inexpensive to raise. However, in today's world, there are some important considerations to contemplate before you dive into raising poultry.
- Make sure that you are not violating the local laws for keeping poultry.
- This is not a learn-as-you-go task, take the time to study what is involved in raising poultry.
- Determine your end reason for raising poultry to determine the best breed for your needs.
- Be sure to take into consideration your nearest neighbors and how best to not annoy them with the sounds and sights of your flock.
Return of the Chickens
Today, it seems more and more people are contemplating raising chickens to both offset rising grocery prices, and to ensure that the chickens and eggs that they eat, are hormone free. This is no surprise when a whole (pathetic looking) chicken, now costs between $7.00 and $10.00 in our local grocery stores. The price of more popular chicken breasts has now skyrocketed to $3.99 a pound. The price of eggs has also become outrageous.
Moreover, it doesn't take a trip to the local chicken processing factory, to know the horrors of what is cut off the chicken, before it makes it's way to the meat department. Maybe, if we made it a prerequisite field trip for all, we wouldn't be eating chickens with tumors, etc. Just a thought!
Knowing that animal husbandry that was once commonly taught in the U.S. (even back in the 1950s) as part of the public school curriculum, and that subject and related subjects are now part of the past -- it occurs to me that the little that I know about raising poultry, might be a starting point for those wanting to raise chickens for the first time. This hub will concentrate on the rooster, but its companion hub will focus on raising chickens in general.
Training the Dog to Not Bother Poultry
A Word or So About Roosters and Other Pets
From the rooster's viewpoint, he is the guardian of the hens, and sometimes even the property. If you are introducing chickens and perhaps a rooster to your home for the first time, there may be concerns about how well your dog will do with this new addition to his territory. Many roosters will attack a dog and some can injure more timid or small pets.
Instinctively dogs, will sometimes kill chickens. Usually, it starts out as play, and in an unguarded instant you may have a chicken killer on your hands. A technique that has worked for me, is to force my pet to "understand" that bothering the chickens in any way, is a big "No." The first lesson is understanding the perspective of the new family addition from both the dog and poultry points of view.
Remember above all, your dog wants to please you, the leader of the pack. You need to let your "pack" know that chickens are not threats and that they are other (albeit strange) members of the pack. The first time your pet(s) meet the chickens they may be overly excited, much like a toddler when he/she first discovers a new toy. The chickens are going to feel the same way, they are going to get excited because instinctively they fear getting eaten by your dog (no matter how small). Eventually, if you handle the situation right, your dog will hopefully protect your poultry investment.
I've successfully accomplished that fusion of dog/chicken "family love" by bringing a chicken into a close quarters with my dog and placing the chicken on the dog, around the dog, etc. for a number of hours -- always maintaining command of the dog -- always firmly stating "no" if the dog showed any real interest in the chicken.
After that initial exposure training, it comes down to a matter of close supervision for a number of weeks, with remedial lessons (if necessary) and some gentle reminders, if the dog shows any excessive interest in the poultry. Never let a dog, especially a pup -- play with a chicken, chase poultry, or charge at poultry. Sooner or later, you'll end up with a chicken killer if you do.
Otherwise, some dogs and some chickens can bond very nicely, as strange as it may seem. I've had that happen, to the point of the dog only wanting to sleep with the chicken and vice versa.
Also, it's important to know that some breeds of dogs will be egg suckers, and that is harder to break a dog of than any other bad dog habit. Our Great Danes weren't interested in the poultry, and our Beagle was trainable in not chasing and killing them -- but to this day, she will sneak off and poach an egg from a nest if left unsupervised. A lot of that has to do with the dog's food aggression temperament. Food rules with Beagles, and our Beauty will even eat the chicken feed (which she clearly doesn't like by the grimaces) solely because she doesn't want the chickens to eat it.
Rooster and Chihuahua
Things to Know About Roosters Before You Buy One
- Only buy a rooster who looks very alert and isn't sleepy or lethargic
- Only buy a rooster whose feathers are shiny and mostly intact
- Only buy a rooster with a straight keel bone
- Only buy a rooster with clear and bright eyes
- Never buy a rooster or any poultry that have dull eyes or runny discharges
- Roosters with small combs are most likely a mixed breed if standard sized
- You don't need a cockerel if your goal is to raise chickens solely for eggs
- Roosters will crow way before dawn so if noise and neighbors being offended are likely to be an issue -- you may not want a rooster
- Raising chickens is a 365 days a year responsibility and you need to consider how or who will care for them should you need to be away
- Buy one rooster for every eight to twelve hens if meat is part of your reason for growing chickens or having more chicks is part of your reasoning
- Roosters who grow up together will usually not fight, and if they do -- they will most likely settle the dispute permanently with no human interference, with one being the dominate or alpha rooster
- Sometimes you will have to separate two roosters or pen one up while the other is out with the hens (usually it's just easier to get rid of one)
- Banty or Bantam roosters will peacefully cohabit with larger size roosters
Where to Buy Your Rooster
- Typically most people buy chickens and roosters from local feed stores, and co-ops. There are some hazards in doing this, as often they are not the healthiest chicks, and you are severely limited in breed selection. You are also at the mercy of chicks, who aren't sexed, meaning you might be buying more roosters than you want, or all hens.
- Some feed stores and co-ops will however, have older pullets and even roosters. Generally, you are paying far too much by purchasing them here.
- Another method to buy chickens is to have them shipped directly to you from a supplier in your state. I've done this with success, however, it's best to order them in the spring and summer, as you will have less issues with keeping them warm before they have fully developed feathers.
- Check around to see what local farms and poultry hatcheries have to offer in selections. As with anything, prices can greatly vary.
- Probably, the most overlooked place to buy chickens and other poultry is your local farm and livestock auction. Surprisingly, these auctions are held weekly even in quite urban areas, you just have to look closer to notice them. While they are primarily auctioning off cattle, sheep, etc. -- almost always they will either begin the auction or end the auction, with a secondary farm animal, farm product, and farm produce auction.
- This is my favorite way to buy poultry and in my opinion the least expensive way to either add to, or start raising poultry. Here, you will have an opportunity to actually talk to the original owner of the chickens or roosters and be able to know what it has been fed, if it has been free ranged, or cage raised, etc.
Anatomy of A Rooster
Knowing the basic anatomy of a rooster will help you care for your bird.
Body Parts of A Rooster (Cockerel)
Bird Comb Identification
The combs of roosters are breed specific, just like the eyes and beaks. There are six different types of rooster combs to understand for identification:
- Single Comb
- Rose Comb
- Pea Comb
- Strawberry Comb
- Cushion Comb
- Buttercup Comb
Parts of a Chicken Wing
There are eight parts to a chicken wing that are important to know, partly because sometimes it becomes necessary to clip the wings of a rooster. There are sometimes mixed reasons to clip the wings of a rooster, usually to keep them from flying off.
This involves using very sharp scissors to cut off the first ten flight feathers of one wing only. These are the primary coverts. There are ten of them and with the bird's wing spread out, they are easy to distinguish. Usually they are a different color than the other feathers. The rooster is going to grow the feathers back in a couple of months (younger roosters), or it may take about a year (for older roosters).
There are some precautions with doing this, as if you are free ranging your rooster and hens, you may make him more vulnerable to predators. Also, his feathers that were clipped -- may be less likely to fall out, during normal molt periods. This will necessitate you to giving a hand in this natural endeavor.
Large Breed Chickens and Roosters (Standard Chickens)
Standard roosters or large breed chickens (and roosters) are the best pick for those who was primarily interested in having both eggs and for meat. There are six types of Standard Roosters, also known as Large Breed:
- Plymouth Rock
- Rhode Islands
- Jersey Giant
- New Hampshires
- Sicilian Buttercups
- Polish (Bearded & Non-Bearded)
All Other Standard Breeds
- Old English
- Naked Neck
Small Breed Chickens and Roosters (Bantams)
A Bantam or small breed chicken is from one fourth to one half the size of a regular chicken. If your goal is primarily to have lots of eggs, bantams are better providers of more eggs. They also make better pets and do well around children. There are five types of small purebred chickens, or otherwise known as purebred bantams:
- Old English
Single Comb Clean Legged
- Jersey Giants
- Naked Neck
- New Hampshire
- Plymouth Rock
- Rhode Island
Rose Comb Clean Legged
- antwerp Belgians
- Red Caps
- Rhode Island
All Other Comb Clean Legged
- Sicilian Buttercups
- Booted Bantams (when bearded called D'Uccle)
Rooster Terrorizes Neighborhood
If You'd Like to Know More!
- A QUICK AND SIMPLE OUTDOOR BROODER
- Backyard Poultry magazine. Dedicated to more and better small-flock poultry.
- How to raise chickens
- Report: Illicit urban chicken movement growing in US | csmonitor.com
Jaymie from Ellijay, Ga on November 17, 2013:
Thanks for the great information. I have had a few unruly roosters over time too. Your article was very detailed and informative.
Sharidenise from Louisville, TN on April 29, 2013:
Taming a Rooster! Who knew?? I am amazed!!
red sonja from fife, Scotland on March 30, 2012:
thanks for sharing that information, after my pet cockeral attacked me this morning i found your hub and will attempt to use the advice later as although he is a minature he packs a mighty punch! after, i will let you know how i got on! i have just joined, after finding this great place.
Clare on February 11, 2012:
Thanks, Jerilee. I can't wait to see it. My pet roo pecked me tonight, and I'm getting a little bit worried.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on February 11, 2012:
Thanks Clare! No I don't but the next time someone does that in front of me I will remember to capture it in video.
Clare on February 10, 2012:
Does anyone have a video of the grabbing of a rooster by the legs and flipping him upside down and holding him close to one's body? I still can't visualize this and would like to be able to do it should the need arise. Anyone know of a YouTube video of such?
moonlake from America on October 17, 2011:
I've never heard of taming of a rooster. I sure could have used it, Peter our rooster was always attacking people, including me.
We have a black lab that always protected our chickens and ducks. He just took it up on his own.
We had a Great Dane, she waited for the chickens to stick their heads through the fence then she bite their heads off. We had to put up extra protection for the chickens.
Enjoyed your hub very interesting and lots of good information.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on October 17, 2011:
Raghav -- Yes, hens can be tamed.
Raghav on October 17, 2011:
I have a 2 new hens been 3days since I got them no other bird. But one keeps running away And impossible to catch.... Can she be tamed as well? I would like her to not run away from me...
Brianda on August 25, 2011:
We have a 'wild' cockerel that is attacking mine so cannot free range ours at the moment. I am going to try to capture him and do this as I dont want to kill him. Thanks for such a helpful page :)
Dana on December 05, 2010:
I´ve read that this method is dangerous for them. See http://www.mypetchicken.com/backyard-chickens/chic... please.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on June 21, 2010:
Thanks Jerry Draughon! Just a dab of vasoline should do it.
Jerry Draughon on June 21, 2010:
I am retired and have lived in Mexico for over 11 yrs. There is a large white rooster that lives about three families away from me but has taken to visiting with me every day and I pet him as we watch tv. He is old and his comb had started to lose it's bright red color. What can I do to brighten it back up? Any info will be appreciated and I thank you in advance. Mexicojerry
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on June 17, 2010:
Thanks Pamela Kinnaird! It takes time to know what to put in an article.
Pamela Dapples from Arizona. on June 16, 2010:
Good rooster art that you did! I loved this hub. It's so thorough and informative. Your grandfather and I would disagree on rooster-fighting, but I understand from your words what wonderful grandparents you have been blessed to have.
I'm sharing this to facebook -- especially for my adult daughter. She taught her dog, cat and bunny to respect her Pionus Parrot much like you have outlined here for teaching a dog that the chickens are part of the 'pack'. The Pionus cuddles up to any one of the animals in the house now and loves them all dearly. He doesn't like my husband. He attacked my husband's neck twice (years ago) just for making eye contact. I think he feels some kind of threat to his love for our daughter. I don't know. Our daughter has had him ten years and he's gentle with the children. I think one day I'll get a female Pionus for him. I'm against these poor exotic birds being caged, but once they are already in the pet stores, CAGED, I feel so sorry for them, I want all of them. We had an African Grey for years that we loved so much. We left him at the Oasis Sanctuary in southern Arizona when we moved here across the ocean so that we wouldn't put him through the trauma. We chose that place because there is a 40' x 40' protected flight area just for the African Greys. He can finally fly and be with his kind. (But we missed him terribly the first year.)
Your article was so exemplary in everything we should do to do an A-1 job here on our hubs. To be sure, I have a long ways to go.
hubmu from BN on May 26, 2010:
excellent well info hub about chicken.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on May 23, 2010:
Thanks Bantambugsy! Very impressive!
bantambugsy on May 23, 2010:
I used a technique on my rescued fighting bird in which I held him in my lap laying on his back. I held his legs loosely between my thumb and forefinger, and used the other hand to stroke him from neck to vent. After about 10 minutes, I sat him in my lap and he lay his head on my forearm and dozed for a while. He's normally a screaming ball of feathers and spurs! I was thrilled! He's much better now.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on May 22, 2010:
Thanks Chapter! Laughing chickens pretty funny.
Chapter from Indonesia on May 21, 2010:
very good. I had care some domesticated chicken too. Indonesia has so many domesticated chicken. You can see laughing chicken at this video. https://hubpages.com/hub/Indonesian-native-Chicken
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on December 26, 2009:
Thanks Silver Poet! I think people and animals would get along a whole lot better if more people just took the time to "listen."
Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on December 26, 2009:
I never had problems with roosters being mean, although other people did. Part of my success was that I was able to imitate their "challenge" call. One must listen to discern which sound it is. If they even thought about strutting their spurs towards my heavy boots, I would make that sound and take a few quick steps toward them, averting any further trouble.
Good hub, full of fresh ideas!
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on August 31, 2009:
Thanks Susie! She flipped him upside down as she brought him to her body. I probably should have made it clearer.
Susie on August 31, 2009:
What a wonderful, comprehensive post - so informative! I can't thank you enough. One question, Jerilee... this part:
"She grabbed him by his legs, simultaneously with tucking him closely to her body, holding his wings securely down."
I can't picture this to save my life.. do you mean she stooped down to his level and grabbed his legs, bringing him up against her, while holding his body? Or did she grab him so that he went upside down, and then flipped him up? That was the one part I had wished there was video for... I don't know why it seems so hard for me to grasp, but I am new to chickens and roosters, so I guess that is why. Thank you again!!!
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on June 10, 2009:
Thanks Healey! I bet you have more than one rooster.
Healey on June 10, 2009:
I'm tempted to run out to my coop right now and try your techniques. Fantastic Hub! My flock of 8 is still young, but I think at least one is a rooster. Maybe I should start taming now.
buildchickencop on June 03, 2009:
Thanks for this useful info!
Montana Farm Girl from Northwestern Montana on May 06, 2009:
Wow, wonderful information!!! Love the graphics....thanks for the insight!!!
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on April 03, 2009:
Thanks forian! I've had a few roosters laugh at me before I knew how to tame them.
forlan on April 03, 2009:
nice hubs . in my country we recognize "pelung" roster. It has nice sound and long. you must be confuse that in my country also has laughing roster.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on February 22, 2009:
Thanks Pest! I'm sure if roosters could talk human we'd find out that they have to be mean to survive.
Pest from A couch, Ionia, MI on February 22, 2009:
I loved this. I had a "pet rooster " that wouldn't let me into the barn when I was a kid. Not sure what happened to him. There was a hawk that hunted the birds outside the barn, but I think my rooster carried a knife. He was a mean one!
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on February 22, 2009:
Thanks john54! I've had a few of those kinds of roosters before I learned how to tame one.
Joanie Ruppel from Texas on February 21, 2009:
This is incredibly comprehensive. I wish we had it many years ago when my daughter got a baby chick around Easter, which turned out to be a rooster, who was a little aggressive, and eventually "retired" to a nearby farm.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on February 01, 2009:
Thanks earnestshub! I thought I knew a lot about roosters until the day I met the rooster tamer too. I was dumstruck and in total awe.
earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on February 01, 2009:
Live and learn. I have seen a lot of chickens as they were my dad's hobby for twenty five years and I had know idea about how to handle aggressive roosters until I read your hub, and thank you for all the other information too. This is a wonderfully complete hub with stacks of information, I am very impressed.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on November 20, 2008:
Thanks Rochelle Frank! Your rooster sounds like a very handsome guy.
Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on November 19, 2008:
Gosh-- i WILL read the rooster hub. We usually take a stick when we enter the coop area. My husband has whacked him a couple of times and he seems to respect the stick if not the person carrying it.
He's a black Austolorp with beautiful green irreidescent highlights-- single comb (bright red) and self designated ruler of his multi-species hens. We have a fat Rhode Island Red, a beautiful little Arucana and a black one with white speckles.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on October 29, 2008:
Thanks Rose L. Tipping his head down gently and repeatedly will work best for taming a foul tempered fowl.
Rose L. on October 29, 2008:
Having just isolated a rooster from "his "flock today, I instinctively held him upside down. Tomorrow Ill see if he's less aggressive.
Jerilee Wei (author) from United States on October 12, 2008:
Thanks! In writing it I was thinking how nice it would be if I could tame the rooster I'm married to. LOL
Benson Yeung from Hong Kong on October 12, 2008:
I'm absolutely tamed by all this information. thanks.