I’ve never met a rooster I trusted. It could be because one of my childhood memories is of my younger brother being attacked by our free-range rooster. That’s not to say I haven’t given other roosters a chance. I have raised several roosters from chickhood, like a mother hen, only to have them turn on my once they get their spurs.
One of my daughters would defend the character of her favorite rooster. He did seem to have a relatively gentle nature, but he may not have reached maturity before he left home. He was adopted by another family to become head rooster of their flock of hens.
We have observed over the years that once a certain rooster has matured first, and thus established dominance, other roosters in the brood sometimes hide in the background, as it were. They may look like roosters while trying to blend in with the hens. Or they may even manage to put off physical maturity until they are safe from confrontation.
We had one rooster masquerade as a hen for 12 years! Then, one fateful year, he ended up being the only rooster in the pen and his genetics got the better of him. In this case, I will have to admit that he did not get aggressive. He even tried to continue to fit in with the girls. It was like he was telling us, “No, really, I just laid one of those eggs. I just don’t like to do it when someone is looking.”
But for most roosters, along with gallant feathers and thorn-like spurs, comes incessant crowing and a propensity to attack. Roosters crow all the time. If a person turns on the bathroom light in the middle of the night, a rooster will crow. If a car drives by with headlights on before the sun is up, a rooster will crow. If another rooster crows, anywhere within half a mile, a rooster will crow. If he is feeling rather roosterly, a rooster will crow.
This is why there are often zoning regulations against roosters in the closer living arrangements of cities and towns. A rooster solo serenade is the opposite of soothing. A concert of roosters in competition during the wee hours of the morning tends to bring out the worst in people.
The best way to find out the most up-to-date zoning laws in your town is to simply call your local city office. You will not be the first phone call they have had asking the question, “Can I have chickens?”
Some people say that a rooster will not crow as much if it has enough hens to look after. That is apparently more hens than we’ve ever had, which is usually 15-20.
The only time a grown rooster is endearing to me is when he is calling the hens to some food he has found. At such times, he clucks like a mother hen. I’ve never seen any of the hens call each other that way.
A rooster can be rough on his hens, though. I’ve seen one rooster run 15 hens ragged with his husbandly attentions. There are frequently one or two favorite hens that try to live in hiding. They get so pathetic. The loss of feathers from it all has to be humiliating. I’ve seen one such hen try to wait until the last possible moment to run into the coop at night, but the rooster is always watching for her. The Looney Tunes cartoons are true.
It is possible the sheer presence of a rooster deters predators. I just don’t understand why the roosters can’t differentiate between me and a fox or hawk. I feed them everyday, and how could they know I have eaten other roosters?! It’s not like I do it in front of them, whereas a fox will indiscriminately slaughter as many chickens as it can catch on the spot.
It is a sad fact of life that for every hatching of chicks we’ve had, the ratio has been at least three roosters to every one hen. Even in the orders wherein I have specified 25 female chicks (pullets), I end up with four or five roosters in the bunch. Something has to be done with them, preferably sooner rather than later, for both quality of meat and my peace of mind.
I want to appreciate my roosters. I like letting hens brood chicks. But once a rooster becomes aggressive, every visit to the chicken pen is like an excursion into enemy territory. Specifically, enemies who are actively trying to take me down. I can see the rooster watching me, looking for my guard to slip.
There is nothing quite like the rush of adrenaline when I am squatting to get eggs from a nest and a rooster launches itself at me, spurs toward my face. Too many days of that and trust is pretty much impossible.
I may still try to raise the occasional rooster, since I live outside of city limits and have that option. I guess I hold out some hope for finding a rooster who can balance between instincts and deference to me, a most benevolent caretaker. I may never completely trust a rooster, but maybe I can get one to trust me.