Chocolate is getting feisty! When I went to look for eggs over the weekend, I was pecked at twice. I was shocked to see this from my usually docile boy. He was definitely telling me that he did not want me in the coop, but this was never going to fly with me, I need to be sure that I can get the eggs, refill the feeders and clean the coop at my leisure, not his.
I am a huge fan of the website http://www.backyardchickens.com/. I have utilized it as a resource since getting my chickens this past Spring. Everything, and I mean everything, you ever would want to know about a chicken is on this site. So, this weekend, I took the plunge and joined as an official member of the site. I posted an introduction about myself and then posted about my situation with Chocolate. Within a few minutes, people started to respond. I was amazed. Over the course of about a day, I had about five suggestions on how to deal with Chocolate. I was thrilled and started to take some of the members’ advice.
I thought all along that his behavior and his rooster dance, aka the sideways two step, was his assertion to let me know that I was one of his girls. However, because I was always in charge with the food and the water, I thought he would always think of me as head hen. Apparently, caretaking is not enough. According to suggestions, I needed to show Chocolate that I am the boss, the ultimate head hen, no matter what he thinks otherwise. So with new advice in mind, I took to action.
First and foremost, Chocolate is no longer allowed to dance near me. He is also not allowed to partake in humpty love in front of me. If he tries to do these things, I must stop him by flapping things at him and make him step away, keeping in mind not to use my hands or feet. So, yesterday morning, I did just that. At first he looked at me confused. I stood my ground and he started to get the message. In the afternoon, when I looked for eggs, he came running into the coop. He did not peck at me. So, I grabbed him with assertiveness and held him for a while, whispering nice things into his ears and stroking his feathers under his chin, on his belly and back. He enjoyed this and I felt him relax and calm down as he snuggled into the down of my coat.
Late in the afternoon when I returned to http://www.backyardchickens.com/ to see if anyone had any other suggestions, there was one more. The suggestion was to turn him over on his back like you would a baby and show him your dominance. So, as I returned outside in the early evening to lock them up for the night, I did just that. I cradled my rooster like a newborn. He looked at me strangely. I held him for about twenty seconds and then I returned him to the coop with the girls. This morning when I opened the coop and he came bolting out, he noticed me but did not visit like he usually does. Who knew that psychology works on chickens?!