I am deeply saddened to write this post. Today Apollo the Rooster suffered for his bad temper, partly because of my badly-phrased advice.
A member of my family was at my house, helping me with a renovation project, and Apollo was giving him hell. I gave him the advice I posted in the first Roosters Behaving Badly: Let him know you aren’t scared of him, and defend yourself if you have to. Unfortunately, I wasn’t clear enough.
I was inside the house, and the rooster attacked. My relative had seen me use a plastic, fan rake to stop Apollo from jumping at some garbage bags (the red tassels set him off), and mistakenly assumed I was using it aggressively. He grabbed the nearest rake to himself: a rigid, metal rake. He then made the mistake of moving hesitantly, stepping back as Apollo jumped at him. What was Apollo to think, except that his opponent was giving in?
By the time I had run outside, Apollo was being pushed head-over-heels by the rake. My guest was immediately apologetic, explaining what had happened, and concerned to see how upset I looked.
As I cooed at Apollo, who had retreated to some bushes, I checked him for injuries. He didn’t seem to be in pain, and wasn’t bleeding, so I let him go. He walked away to a large blackberry patch at the back of the property, and even then I thought he was moving strangely. I should have followed my intuition, because now I can’t find him.
[update]: Apollo was found in some bushes, having meandered halfway around the yard from where I thought he was. He is shaken, and a great deal meeker, but mostly unharmed. One of his legs is scraped, and we discovered that he has the dry fowl pox, upon examining him him once he had been found. We think he got the pox from the chicks, because he has never shown symptoms before, and was introduced to them within the known incubation period of the virus.
I don’t blame my relative for hurting Apollo. It was an accident. If anything, I could have prevented this by keeping him cooped up while I had company, and by not trusting in hasty advice to get someone through an alarming encounter like that.
A Word of Advice
If you plan on keeping roosters, make sure you train them vigilantly from a young age. If they are aggressive towards people, don’t let them be around people (cull them, or keep them cooped).
When you are showing a rooster who’s boss:
- Remember their anatomy. They have hollow bones, low stress tolerance, and are smaller than they let on.
- Understand their mentality. Know when to defend yourself, and how to assert dominance. Don’t trust that everyone understands him like you do.
- Wear long pants. You won’t have to worry (as much) about injury to yourself, and can lift a knee in defense.
- Bring a friend. If your feathery football becomes overwhelming, your pal can use a broom (or something else soft) to cover your retreat. I don’t mean that you should ever attack the animal. You should only resort to this method when you need to keep him at a safe distance from yourself.
Please don’t put your poor, instinct-driven rooster at risk by failing to take precautions.