Rudy the rooster and the herding oar

by Debbie Fleischer
(Gardnerville, NV, U.S. A.)

To begin, I've only raised chickens for 2 years. Got the babies at tractor supply store. I knew nothing. Read everything about them. I didn't realize that you could get roosters along with hens when you picked out chicks.

I got 3 Rhode island Reds, plus 9 other hens. Two turned out to be roosters – Rosie and Rudy.

Rudy was the dominant male. Rosie was the nice one. So I read everything I could about calming and taming the aggressive male. I got attacked and spurred so many times.

Spraying with a water bottle, acting aggressive etc etc., nothing worked. Finally my brother in law gave me a giant fishing net, maybe to catch salmon or something. It was very lightweight so I was able to carry it everywhere.

If Rudy looked like he was going to attack, I just dropped the net over him. This worked fine and I'd remove it after a few minutes. Didn't hurt him, but kept him from attacking.

Of course, I looked ridiculous carrying it everywhere with me, but I didn't care. This worked until one time he got all tangled in it. So, I had to pick him up and free the net from his feet and beak.

Then I decided to just hold him for about 5 minutes. I petted him and cooed to him for about 5 minutes or so. He was very calm.I put him down and he ran away like the wind. He was so humiliated I guess. Didn't want the hens seeing him.

This kept him calm for about 2 days, then back to attacking.

Why did I keep him and not kill him, like everyone said? He and Rosie were the protectors of the hens. That is their job. They actually kept them from being killed by a coyote. Feathers everywhere. I was sure that Blanche had been killed, but it was all rooster feathers.

They lost a good part of their tail and some wing feathers. That coyote must have been a wreck. So all hens were fine. Unfortunately, the coyote came back and got Rosie. I felt bad. Of course, the mean one survived.

Last year on my birthday, my friend gave me a present. She took it out of her car and it was an oar. I thought there was a kayak involved. She said no, this is a herding oar. So it was like a regular oar except the flat part has beads in it so it makes a rattling noise when you shake it.

Chickens and roosters don't like the sound. Rudy doesn't like it and attacks it instead of me. So win win solution. I just carry it with me. He just sees it and walks away, or attacks it.

I'm still careful. I do have a new rooster from another hatch. He's really nice and calm. So who knows.

But I have my oar, so all is good.

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May 22, 2023
A fascinating story!
by: Cath

Debbie, thank you so much for sharing Rudi's story with us. I found it fascinating!

I have never heard of a herding oar before, so I looked it up online. Apparently it seems to be used mostly for pig farms, but it looks like it works for roosters too, so – wonderful!

Using a hose pipe with water has worked for me, but I'm always looking for ways of helping people get along with their roosters without needing to kill them, so in future I will remember your story.

Thank you so much for taking the time to let us all know about your amazing herding oar!

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