Rooster in the city

Q. We’ve discovered in the last 2 weeks that Mrs. Whatsit, the Rhode Island Red hen we got from you, is actually not a hen. She’s a rooster. Her comb kept growing and growing and she got bigger and bigger but we were in denial until she started crowing in the last few weeks and trying to attack us. Luckily our neighbors have said they don’t mind the noise. But this morning she/he attacked Connor and pecked his leg. What advice do you have for dealing with roosters aggressive behavior? Also, poor Meggy, the Barred Plymouth Rock, seems a bit overwhelmed by his attentions. Do you think maybe we should get one more hen so she’s not so dominated by him?

Any tricks for getting roosters to wake up a little later in the morning?

We haven’t gotten any eggs yet. It’s been 10 weeks since we got them from you, and you said they were about 4 months old then. I switched to half layer mash/half scratch last week in their feed, supplemented with lots of grubs and greens from the garden. Think we’ll get some from poor Meg soon? – Jennifer

A. Wow, what a shock – Mrs. Whatsit is a MR. Whatsit. Yipes. I’ll have to ask the lady at the school if she really did get them “sexed” – I asked her several times and she insisted that they were and the store she got them from had them as hens. Whatever. Since they are standard breeds, the store should have really known. Still, there is always a margin of error.

I’m not experienced enough to have checked for myself and I didn’t have the opportunity of time to study their behaviors or characteristics to determine their sex on my own.

As for Meggy being overwhelmed by his attentions, yes, a solution could be that you get another hen so he can divide his time between the two. A hen will get very stressed and agitated if harassed by a rooster too much.

Dealing with a rooster’s aggressive behavior is very tricky. Sometimes the effort will work, sometimes it won’t. Keep a water hose handy or a spray bottle and blast him with a shot of water whenever he misbehaves. Some people have had success that way. Ours wasn’t aggressive, he just wouldn’t shut up and the water blast never worked. We didn’t want to get in trouble with the neighbors so we gave him to a friend.

Getting a rooster to wake up late is pretty impossible. We tried to get ours to crow later, but he crowed all day. The only thing you can do is keep him (and her as he will hear her in the yard) locked up in a dark area until later in the day and then let him out and let him crow his head off – if your neighbors don’t mind.

However, I’d have to say that I would advise you to find a home for the rooster, especially since you have a small yard (which he will just completely dominate) and a young child. He already seems like a problem rooster and it could get worse. The decision is totally up to you and I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I’ve heard some pretty bad stories about roosters and children. They seem to dislike children more as they are smaller than adults. As Mrs. (MR.) Whatsit is a Rhode Island Red, he will grow spurs which can be sharp.

Tim Dundon has told us once a while back that he doesn’t mind people dropping off roosters at his place. You could call him and ask. He has flocks of chickens roaming his place so your rooster would have plenty of company. It’s a chicken paradise there – though there is always a risk of raccoons and hawks, etc.

Let me look up something about chickens not laying yet and I’ll get back to you on that. It could be that she’s so flustered by the rooster and she’s stressed. But I’ll see if I can figure out something.

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