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Anatelostaxus's avatar

Is this how I should condition my rooster (not for fighting)?

Asked by Anatelostaxus (1423points) February 2nd, 2012

I have only two hens now and one rooster.
It is in plan to provide more than a dozen more hens to the flock-to-be.
The rooster lately has been leading the hens gradually and in small distances further and further from where we want them to free range.
I heard that a solution would be to tie him by one leg in to the place desired, and the hens would be passively trained to remain in that/those chosen areas.
I only want to limit their free ranging to certain territorial extents. I do not want to train my rooster to fight. Just to ‘teach’ him the boundaries.
How should I?
Is this method mentioned good?

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11 Answers

JaneraSolomon's avatar

Have you considered getting a border collie? That’s exactly what they’ve been bred to do, herd animals and keep them from straying. You can do its job of course, but that means spending several hour every day outrunning the birds and wildly waving your arms and making noise to nudge them back into the safe zone. I had chicken wire around the “grazing zone” on my farm which mostly kept the domestic critters inside. Once or twice a turkey hopped the fence and decided to explore the world beyond.

Anatelostaxus's avatar

@JaneraSolomon Hey! Actually, I’ve already got one dog. My magnificent 2 ½ year old mix breed, who for now is good only at obeying, socialising with the other animals and cheering us up. Don’t plan on purchasing any dogs. Quite against it, but, hey… one may never know..
So basically I’d like to bypass the border collie option, though I do quite appreciate it and will consider it.

No, I was looking for a more, let’s say, rudimental though rooster-friendly method.
And yes, I have already performed the giant chicken number chasing them back into the safe zone, making a complete fool of myself before the neighbours, hens, cats and myself. Especially when I slipped on an iced patch and landed on a rock with my knee.
In that moment I wished I’d had hollow and lighter bones like my feathered friends.

So… no leg-tying for the li’l cocky guy, ey? Anyone?

JaneraSolomon's avatar

I wouldn’t tie their legs. One thing about chicken behavior, and this is pretty ugly… if you restrain a chicken (even just hold it still with your hands for a while), other chickens will come over and peck it to death. Also if they panic, they won’t stop flapping and pulling until they are either free or they lose a leg.

Coloma's avatar

Tethering your rooster won’t make any difference to your hens, infact, many hens are tired of being constantly raped by the rooster and run from him when free ranging.
Free range means exactly that, let them range where they desire, the rooster will often pick a sentry point to keep watch over his hens. Chickens have a huge homing instinct and they won’t wander too far from their coop, barn, feed, nesting areas, especially late in the day.
If you are adamant about keeping them in a certain area then, instead of tethering you need to fence the area you wish them to remain in.

Tethering a bird outside of a fenced area leaves him vulnerable to predators and, if he is frightened he can break a leg in his panic to escape.
I kept chickens for many years and was a 4-H poultry leader for 5 years.
I suggest fencing or letting them do their own thing. Depending on the types of predators in your area and your fencing situation, free range birds will often be preyed upon and tethering is setting your rooster up to be a sitting duck. Pun intended.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Condition with food & fencing. I agree with @Coloma 100%.

Never tether. Never. You’ll need to have a certain amount of trust in your rooster. He’ll watch over the hens.

EDIT: I should add, I grew up with a family farm and still have a few farms in my family. We personally always have dogs to help protect the birds from becoming prey. Also, we keep guinea hens, and/or peacocks to alert when predators are near.

JaneraSolomon's avatar

Geese are also excellent “watchdogs.” Not only do they make a lot of noise when there’s danger, they will actually attack predators. My big dog was afraid of the geese. Having SOME animals penned up also seems to help keep others allowed outside from straying too far. I usually kept the chickens and turkeys penned but allowed the ducks and geese out to wander to the pond. They tended to stay within about 60 feet of the pen.

Coloma's avatar

@JaneraSolomon Yes, I have geese now, and they are good watch dogs but..I have also had my gander fight with roosters. Once he completely ripped all the tail feathers out of a big Rhode Island rooster. It took months for his plucked tail to grow back. lol
Also housing waterfowl with poultry in confined areas is not such a good idea. Geese will muddy all the waters and soil the feed with water. Chickens HATE getting wet and eating wet mushy feed is a turn off for them too.

Anatelostaxus's avatar

@JaneraSolomon Yes, I agree. There are better methods which I personally tend to apply automatically with animals in general.
Communicating with them, on many levels.
Although I am aware of this tendency certain breeds of chickens have, for now I haven’t encountered any serious pecking problems of that sort.
It did happen though that the little chicks, this past summer, pecked a couple time (only) at the eyes of the newly introduced ducks. And yes, the older ones pecked at the cat’s eyes while they were eating. They seem to like eyes. :-)
I am open to learning all the ‘old school’ techniques farmers have been using for centuries, therefore I presented the leg tying element in the question.

@Coloma Yes, I fully agree and am aware of what you are saying. We have hawk attacks every now and then and I have planned to build the fence in the spring. Not much I can do about the household’s territory limits now. Not in this climate (-20 soon).
As a matter of fact it was my intention, if I were to have done it, to tether him in safe places; i.e. under a big, full fir tree nearby they like to scratch and sit under.
I think my solution will be this.

@SpatzieLover Hey, yeah..I’ve thought of the peacock solution before. But after some research research I’ve come to the conclusion that, yes they’d be wonderful guards.. but it seems they just make a ruckus quite constantly. I have no experience with them, can you confirm this? Guinea hens… hmmm, I’ll check it out.

@JaneraSolomon here’s another one for you. Yes, geese seem like a very good solution as well as possible for our context. (Though I would like to include peacocks/guinea hens if an optimal option) :-)
Ah, yes.. and would a turkey do the same job as a goose?
At the moment 6 ducks, 2 hens and 1 rooster coexist. When more will come, which would be an optimal combination of birds (species, breeds, genders, etc…)?

Cheers all, really of help :-) have a good day

JaneraSolomon's avatar

Turkeys tend to wander off and get lost. They are truly dumb critters. I lost a couple that way then decided to always keep them penned up. After experimenting two seasons, I kept the chickens and turkeys in a fenced in area big enough to scavenge bugs and such and tossed in garden weeds and vegetable scraps and such. Ducks and geese were free to roam without fencing and I never lost one of them. Further, as dusk came, the ducks and geese would go into their house by themselves and all I’d have to do is close the door. Turkeys on the other hand had to be herded into their building EVERY time. Even if was raining out. If it weren’t for Thanksgiving, I wouldn’t have bothered with turkeys, they’re smelly and kind of unpleasant animals. Two geese are nice as watchdogs and they tend to “play nicely” with ducks but I wouldn’t bother with more. They’re good at feeding themselves especially if you have a pond. They’re edible but don’t have any more meat than a chicken, and their eggs are unpleasantly heavy/greasy and huge. Peacocks are pretty, but noisy and they tend to be expensive. I prefer geese. One place that sells peafowl chicks sells a minimum of 8 and charges $250—$300 depending on breed. A number of places will sell geese by mail for about $25/pair. I’ve gotten them for about $6 each at an Amish market.

Anatelostaxus's avatar

@JaneraSolomon @everyone else I see. So keeping turkey gives no benefit to the group, ey? I hear they’re also quite sensitive and delicate, therefore difficult to bring up in a climate such as mine. I’m in the Balkans, by the way.

My intention is to buy about 18 more hens (maybe less), just a few more ducks of different breeds (my nearest market offers Japanese, German and the common white ones.. don’t know any specific names) and now 2 geese if I can find them.

As of now the ducks, hens and rooster all sleep together in the coop I built them. It’s big enough for plenty more birds, though I am considering building another inhabitance for them. The ducks stay in their small fenced area, at all times, though during the spring and summer I’d really like to let them graze and build them a pond. The hens and rooster hop over and go free ranging on a regular basis. That’s fine. Until I build the fence around the whole of our lot, I’ll just have to tolerate them wandering to the neighbours drive way and the little church. Which is actually not a problem for other people. I just don’t want 20 of them following that silly rooster around where they’re used to now. That’d be a bit uncomfortable for me.

which of them should I keep penned up and which should I let free range? I’d like to consider rotating, giving groups turns for free ranging (within my plot) if that is possible/practical or even necessary.

Coloma's avatar


Turkeys are also very prone to many diseases, much more so than most chickens, and can transmit such to other poultry. It is always best to house/keep turkeys/chickens/waterfowl in separate areas. Chickens and Turkeys are especially prone to certain strains of coccidiosis which does not effect waterfowl. As well as various internal and external parasites, like mites, gape worms, round worms, etc.

Mericks & Newcastle disease are other common illnesses and chicks should be vaccinated at a few days old.
Geese rarely develop mites if given swimming water, and clean water is vital so they can, at the very least keep their faces and eyes clean.

Of course I am not at all familiar with your countries disease protocol for poultry, maybe certain illnesses that are problematic in the US are a non-issue in your area.

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