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Taming attack roosters

If you're having trouble putting up with an aggressive rooster around your farm, you don't have to play the avoid game. Sometimes you just need to show him who runs the farm. Here's how.

King of the roost

First, understand that the rooster is only doing what comes most naturally to him; he is protecting his status as top dog around the roost. As such, he's full of hormones, and is perpetually looking for a fight. Problems typically arise when your rooster perceives simple, non-aggressive actions on your part, or the part of whoever is the unfortunate victim of a rooster attack, as being an attempt at ousting him from command. Wearing loose, floppy boots or swinging a bucket around in the barnyard may not seem like much to us, but to a rooster on guard, they mean business.

"What happens then is they take that as a challenge and they want to take it on. And it becomes a game. And then it gets out of hand," says Phil Clauer, a poultry specialist at Penn State University.

The easiest way to avoid unwarranted aggression from your rooster is to keep those things in mind before heading out to chicken territory.

Who's the boss?

If you have a fairly young rooster, breaking it of aggressive tendencies will come much easier than if you've got one who has become set in his ways. You should start by catching and holding the crossed cock of feathered fury whenever he starts acting up. "Typically the best way to hold it is take one hand and hold both shanks sort of together so it can't kick you and try getting away," says Clauer. "Then hold your arm around the wing and the body of the bird, and just hold it still until it calms down and realizes that it's not going anywhere, you're in charge, and you're not going to give in."

If he starts in again when you put him down, do it again. Be persistent, as it is a slow learning process. Eventually your rooster will come to grips with the reality of the situation, submitting to your rule of the chicken coop. Be aware, however, that even after your rooster acknowledges you as the head honcho of the hen house, others will not be treated equally.

There's a good chance that kids and dogs that enjoy chasing chickens stand a good chance of getting the sharp end of a beak when they approach the barnyard.

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