Commanding Skippy

by Melody Wall
(Article first published in Summer 1992 Poultry Press.)

Hope for the Animals Podcast

Roosters can sometimes be aggressive towards people making an otherwise fine feathered friend who needs a loving home, scary. Melody Wall of California explains how she met this problem.

The first 4 -5 months with Skippy, my white leghorn [“egg-type”] rooster, were easy. He didn’t crow and was as lovable as can be. After that he started to become the proud rooster. I wasn’t prepared for his change. He crowed most of the day and became aggressive. I worried because I loved him and feared the possibility of parting from him. I also knew the odds of finding a kind home for a fierce rooster. People and stories come out of the woodwork about how impossible roosters can be! I was beside myself. Everyone was predicting doom.

Skippy is now 11 months old. I can’t imagine life without him. Instead of giving up, we kept working together, learning each other’s behavior. I pinpointed his most aggressive times. Since Skippy gets so excited at feeding time, especially in the morning, I now carry him to the place where I feed him. In the morning I spend as much time as I can stroking him till he isn’t so keyed up.

However, Skippy is subject to these surprise charges, so I must stay alert. When I see him coming, I hold my hand up and out in front of me, and say, “Slow, Skippy.” Of course, I have to do this while he’s still a little bit away. When he’s close, I snap my fingers and point to the nearest object for him to jump up on. He’s much easier to deal with if he’s higher and not around my legs. Fortunately he was held a lot when he was little, so I do this often and it seems to soften his disposition. Because of these communications, we are totally fine together. I have no fear of him and he seems to understand my movements and gestures. Skippy is alert, affectionate, and full of personality. At first I kept him in a large pen where he crowed often. Gradually I let him out till now he is free-roaming in the fenced yard all day. His crowing is better and not really a problem.

In the morning Skippy is packed full of energy and crazy with excitement. At night he’s a gentle bird. He had an incredible variety of sounds. Many I understand, but many I don’t. Skippy sleeps in a cage that I cover with a dark blanket. When I turn the light out, I always say, “Good night, Skippy,” and he says goodnight back. I go to sleep feeling blessed.