So, you know how it is with chickens. Things have been quiet and good for a few weeks. That means something is going to go poop soon. And it did. Don’t worry, it’s not a chicken health issue this time, but it’s just as bad. Elrond, my beautiful black Australorp rooster, turned. I don’t mean turned around or turned a corner. He turned aggressive. He turned on me.
Here’s what happened. I was going about my usual morning chicken chores after The Little Fulla had gone down for his nap. I checked the food and water vessels, then I headed back to the garage to get the cleaning things to clean out the poop from the coop. As I came around the corner of the woodshed, Elrond was standing in the path. “Excuse me, buddy,” I said as I went to move past him. I’m so polite to my chickens. He just stood there, which was odd, then ‘POOF!’ He was up in the air, wings flapping and feet flaring towards me. I yelled and flailed my arms and legs to avoid his grasp. Thank goodness I had clipped his wings or he would have gotten higher and it could have been worse. There was a flurry of human and feather as I scrambled to grab the rake from the woodshed to defend myself. After I warded him off with it he went off into the pen with the others, crowing, chattering and making a big fuss that made the other chickens all nervous. I escaped out the gate, scared and bewildered. Now I know why some people are scared silly of roosters.
What just happened? I know enough about roosters to know that they can turn aggressive at any time and it is through no fault of those who raised them. No matter how much they are handled or well-taken-care-of they can turn. I didn’t do anything wrong. The friends I got him off when he was six months old didn’t do anything wrong. It is not anything to do with his breed. It is just a personality thing that no-one could predict. Roosters do not always go aggressive. There are some lovely roosters out there. I thought that Elrond was one of them. But you just never know. It was in the back of my mind as something to be aware of and fortunately my logical side kicks in in frightful situations, so I was able to get the rake quickly. But I wish it hadn’t happened and I could forget about it.
Unfortunately, I also know that once a rooster turns aggressive the behaviour will not go away. It will get worse. Apparently some can be taught to respect their keeper with extensive training, but even so that doesn’t apply to anyone else he comes into contact with. And, especially with a small child around, I cannot have an aggressive chicken in the backyard. Fullstop. No matter how much I like him and want to keep him, human safety must always come before the feelings I have towards any animal. If any of the other chickens displayed behaviour like this it would be the same. He has to go.
This is stink. I am feeling a mixture of sad, angry, disappointed and scared. Why, Elrond, why? He was doing such a great job looking after the flock. He just took it too far. I knew full well I couldn’t give him to someone else and risk their safety too. I suddenly had to face the fact that my beautiful black rooster would have to get the chop. This is a horrible realisation. I felt terrible for myself but I also felt terrible for the friends I got him off, who had raised him from a fertilised egg. I was supposed to give him a forever home, where he could happily live out his days with some ladies, and I fully intended to do just that. I messaged my friend, telling her what had happened. I wouldn’t dare give him the chop without informing her, as Elrond was special to them and they had him for longer than I have. I just counted and I’ve actually only had him for three months! It feels like way longer than that. He has such a presence. Anyway, she has given me a glimmer of hope. She is currently hastily arranging a trip up north to take Elrond to her Mum’s place, where he can free range over a wide area and mind his own business. This would be so much better than having to send him to the other side of the rainbow.
The only good thing about this situation is that I have a bunch of wee roosters coming along: Frodo and Elrond’s babies. This is great news for Scrappy, who is at the top of the list and who I was determined to keep anyway, in a separate pen if need be. Thankfully, I haven’t culled any of the roosters yet. And thankfully I got a batch of babies out of Elrond. I was very keen to get babies out of Frodo and Elrond as soon as possible, which is why I let Frodo raise them in winter. I had a feeling I needed to. Not for a second did I think Elrond was going to turn aggressive, I just thought one of the neighbours might complain and I might have to find a new home for him. As horrible as this situation is, it’s just another facet of the chicken keeping life and at least I have the little Australorps coming along. Something went right.
There is no knowing whether Scrappy or any of the other little roos might turn aggressive. Having a father who turned aggressive in no way implies that any of them will. It’s the same situation of nobody knows. I will be keeping a close eye on their behaviour as they grow. And I will be prepared for the fact that this situation could happen again, so I have to make the most of the chickens that I have. At some point in the not-too-distant-future I’m going to have to introduce new genetics too, as having a mother and son breeding pair can only go so far. But I think I’ve got enough to think about for now. Oh, Elrond.