Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This town ain't big enough for the two of them

Ever since Pip has found his voice:

there has been chaos and conflict in my sweet little coop.

While Roopert, my Silver-Laced Wyandotte rooster, has been crowing since he was a mere 10-weeks-old, it took Pip, my White Crested Black Polish, until he was 14 weeks old before he felt the urge to express himself.

Unfortunately, Roopert is entirely unimpressed:

and, despite Pip's unaggressive, non-confrontational style, Roopert has decided Pip must go. One way or the other.

Twice now, I've found Pip cowering, head first in a corner of the chicken coop, having been chased there by Roopert. Yesterday, Pip ran, full speed, into the corner of the chicken run, wedging his head through the bars, where he then hung limply, head crooked at an awkward angle. I thought he was dead. He wasn't, but he apparently felt it wise to simply hang there, in that position, rather than get up and risk the wrath of Roopert.

The sad thing is that now the girls are even beginning to ostracize and pick on him. Here's Rose-Uppity giving Pip a stern lecturing:

Can you see Pip hiding in the grass? This is where he thinks Roopert can't see him:

Here's Pip left all alone in the chicken run:

Inside the chicken coop, Pip will cower in the farthest corners, hoping to escape notice. I feel so guilty locking him in there at night, I help him out a bit and put him up on the "big girl roost". He won't get down, no matter what, until I open up the coop the next day. Last night, as a special treat, he got dinner in bed:

It makes me so mad when I see Roopert chasing Pip down, jumping on his back, and hammering the back of his head with his sharp, pointy beak. I've set up the hose for quick access and totally douse Roopert each time I catch him in the act of charging Pip:

Last night was the last straw, though. It was not my proudest moment. When Roopert again cornered Pip in the coop and Pip was shrieking hysterically, I lost my cool, swooped in, grabbed Roopert up and...

hung him upside down.
There. How's that for effective conflict resolution?

Today, things have been a bit calmer, but I've washed out our old dog crate in the event that somebody (Roopert) needs to spend an evening in time-out, should the nastiness continue:

Maybe I'm fighting a losing battle, though. I really don't think Pip is challenging Roopert's dominance. He's just being Pip. I have heard of multiple roosters living harmoniously together once their male pecking order has been established, but perhaps I'm being naive and just prolonging the inevitable. Does Pip need to go?

Roopert, in all his glory.


  1. Wow, that Roopert can really belt one out! Unfortunately, I do think you are fighting a losing battle. Something about Polish chickens just doesn't blend well with other breeds. Their hindered eyesight can help matters any. My boys still haven't crowed at 11 weeks, although I heard some unusual vocalizations the other morning as I swept the chicken coop floor. I think the broom was alarming one of the roosters and he let me know.

    Presently, I have 26 chickens, 6 of which are roosters. I haven't had any problem with bullying but they do keep their pecking order. If I were you, I'd find another home for Pip. He's the odd man out I'm afraid.

  2. I do think that Roopert has clearly established his dominance in the flock. Those 10 ladies are his girls and he wants to make sure Pip knows it. The hens seem to agree with Roopert, but may change their mind once mating starts happening.

    I have heard of roosters working out their pecking order (hens do that too amongst themselves)and living together without much fuss, but I have never had two roosters myself. I have only experienced one, and I had to separate him from the hens as he was too rough during mating and fatally injured one of my hens. After that he lived comfortably behind a wire fence partition and still could see and visit with the girls. He just couldn't physically get to them. He would still sound the alarm when danger was present and called the girls when it was time to eat. Maybe you can separate one of the roosters that way too.

    I doubt that your garden hose drenching and hanging upside down techniques will teach Roopert anything except to be afraid of you. I do believe his male instinct is larger than his rooster brain.

  3. I'm touched by your protectiveness over Pip. I'm the same way, trying to always stand up for the 'under dog....er...chicken.
    And Pip is just so endearing.

    Being fairly new to chickens myself, I'm not sure my advice will help, but I keep remembering what you said when your plans were to buy chickens. Hubby said 'No Roosters'.

    Is he ok with your roosters now? Especially Roopert's full out body crow. Man, he sure knows how to belt one out! haha

    I would also wait to see how both roosters treat the girls, as well as your family, friends, and especially children once breeding starts. Things can change pretty dramatically I've been told.

    Some big, strong, bold roosters have been known to turn on their owners and even become too aggressive during mating with the hens, often causing severe injury and even death.

    I'm kind of a wait-and-see person, but it does look like Roopert rules the roost and it probably won't improve for Pip, unfortunately. Possibly if Roopert was out of the picture, Pip would be respected by the ladies. But it's hard to tell at this point.

    I'll be going through this scenario pretty soon with my polish roo and silky roo chicks.
    Already my polish roo, Sid Vicious, is confronting my silky roo and chasing him in mock battles.

    Though I'm thinking that because my silkies are bantys, and they are small and gentle, I may just keep the two silkies separated from the rest of my flock altogether. Should solve that problem hopefully! haha

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  4. Couldn't Pip just become a house chicken?? Wouldn't Roxy share her bed??? Or Jim???
    Ha Ha Well Danni...I hope it works out...Hey you could always get Guineas!!!! They all get along!!!

  5. Roopert is learning that you're aggressive. Watch him closely so that he doesn't get you before you get him.

    We've had a dozen roosters at a time mostly barred rocks) without a problem and we've had two at a time with constant battles. It's hard to tell what will happen. I hope you're able to find a good home for Pip. Would the sanctuary be willing to take him?

  6. Poor PIP! I thinks he is adorable. I would hate for him to go.... but for his safety it might be best. We are at 11 weeks.... and no crowing from Stew yet!

    Have a good day!

  7. Pips crow is adorable.
    I have heard that if you have 3 or more roosters, that they may get along but not two. My dad had 2 for a while, the mean one got nabbed by a fox and the poor little victim took over, and never became aggressive to people though.

    If you want to keep them both, maybe have two seperate yards and each their own little harem.

  8. When I was trying to raise and breed both dark cornishes and buff orpingtons, I kept a roo of both types. They managed to co-exist moderately peacefully for the first summer and in through to winter. (and I had ALOT more hens for them to share.) But come late winter/early spring when the breeding season really gets into full swing, they tried to kill one another and darn near did. I had an injured roo in the basement for weeks and the dark cornish roo had to go. If you decide to keep both, you're going to have to be on constant vigilance and Pip may have to spend his life in somewhat solitary confinement from the rest. If it were me, I'd try to rehome him. Rupert clearly acts as a roo should, he's accepted by the girls and he'll help you protect them from predators when free ranging etc.... Pip has been rejected by the girls, will continue to be harassed by Rupert and possibly killed one day when your out on errands or something (won't take him and the girls long to really seriously hurt pip, I'm afraid.) The good news is pip is sweet and good natured. He'd make someone a wonderful pet, or could possibly be integrated into someone's young pullet flock with minimal repercussions. Good luck, danni, it's tough I know.

  9. Poor Pip! His crow is so cute. I wish I had some good advice about Pip but I don't.

  10. My that Roopert is a handsome roo. Poor Pip he can not compete. I think you need to find Pip another home. I don't think it is going to get better. As much as we love the chickens they can be ruthless. I gave my younger chicks to the neighbors because my older girls were attacking them and I hated to watch. Good luck. Maybe that handy husband can build a chicken tractor and you can put the two polish ones in it. Just an idea.

  11. I'm no farmer, but I love your blog. My vote is for PIP. Roopert needs a new home! Only you could really love and appreciate and care for and watch after Pip, don't pass him on!

  12. His crow sounded like he said, "I'm a rooooooster!" I swear it, did anyone else hear that?

  13. We had a Sliver-Laced Wyandotte rooster we had to get rid of. He was too mean. He started life named Sparkle and we all thought he was so cool. Then he started crowing at all hours, terrorizing the other rooster (a Silver-Spangled Hamburg, and threatening anyone who came in the chicken paddock. The kids changed his name to Big Mean Rooster, and left me to to all the chicken chores. He went to a new home up the road where he beats up on the raccoons and gets people to work on time.

    Lots of luck with yours.

  14. Oh, how sad!! Poor Pip!! Thank goodness he has a "Mama chick" like you!!

  15. After reading all the comments above I'm thinking one of'em has to go! I'll stay tuned to see how this scenario plays out. Poor Pip, he's so adorable . . . but Roopert is gorgeous too. What to do? What to do?

  16. We kept three roosters, having heard that 3 was better than 2. It worked until the day 2 of them decided to fight- bloody messz! We ended up chopping their heads off. Better to only have one and lots och hens!

  17. It's hard to tell sometimes how it's all going to pan out, but likely the older they get, the more aggressive. At least, that's how it's happened around here. We had a rooster that was nice until about a year old, then he started hiding around the corner of a building and wait until I passed by, then he'd rush out and spur my legs.

    We have 3 right now, and they've established a pecking order, and don't bother me, but there's still 2 too many roosters. The hens are missing a lot of feathers on their backs.

  18. We had two roosters and one of them was very agressive. Napoleon, our banty rooster was very passive and didn't even crow until we gave the big pushy one to some folks that needed a rooster. We'll...., Napoleon turned out to be a kind, loveable soul that controls the coop with patience and understanding . He came into his own after the big rooster left and we have never regretted the choice.

  19. AWWWW, poor Pip! What a terrible bird Roopert is! I don't have any advice...Loved the videos of them crowing, they sound SOOO cool! :D

  20. Sigh. While it sounds like the cards are stacked in favor of Roopert, I have a soft spot in my heart for poor Pip. You've got to admit that, what with Dot's wall-staring and Pip's lack of assertiveness, The Pompadour Twins have had their share of social issues. Still, I'm rooting for the underbird and hoping there's a tiny niche somewhere that Pip can fit into.

    I'm tellin' ya, the helmet would have made him into a rock star! Sure, Roopert can belt one out, but Pip's got the "it" factor.


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