If you’re thinking about getting into chicken farming or owning some chickens in your backyard then you’re probably trying to do your research on chickens and you might be wondering whether they pose any threat to you or your family if they’re allowed to roam free. Well, we have the inside scoop to help you better understand your chickens.
Do Chickens Attack Humans? Is It Dangerous? Yes, chickens do attack humans and for a variety of reasons, roosters are quite famous for attacking people. However, as to whether it’s dangerous – that’s a bit more of a grey area, you can certainly get some nasty scratches from a chicken and there is, we suppose, an outside chance of eye damage but you’re not likely to be killed by a chicken, either.
Yes, Chickens Can Attack Humans
Chickens are not predatory animals (unless you’re a worm) and by and large they tend to get on well with human beings. In fact, many chicken owners say that they experience genuine affection and even love from their birds.
However, that doesn’t mean that they’re entirely passive animals either. Chickens have been known to attack and the truth is that roosters are supposed to defend their flocks against outsiders and other roosters – so rooster attacks are not at all unusual.
There are also recorded instances of chickens attacking human beings and even getting together as a group to do so. This lady in Iowa (seen in the video below) has such aggressive chickens that her story went viral (1.4 million YouTube hits!) around the world.
And Mary Baker on Quora says, “It’s shocking, sudden, and potentially very painful. I’ve been attacked many times by gamecocks, fighting roosters with needle-sharp, 1-2 inch long spurs and generations of killer instinct on how to use them.
They fly up at you with an unerring sense of where your head and sensory organs are. They turn their bodies so as to stretch and raise their legs in front of them. They hammer them up and down against you, driving their spurs into you repeatedly like small, furious Psychos.
A well-bred gamecock can easily give you 10-20 puncture wounds within a few seconds, though I’ve been lucky never to have more than four. The flapping of the wings disorients you, as does the erected neck feathers. And don’t discount the possibility of being bitten.
If they can get hold of you with their beak, it gives them leverage to stab you with their spurs and even greater accuracy.
Hens tend not to have spurs. In that case, the attack is all feathered fury and a few scratches – surprising and a little frightening, but not really dangerous.”
So, yes, chickens can, and sometimes, do attack humans.
Is It Dangerous When Chickens Attack Humans?
You’re not going to die from a chicken attack unless you somehow manage to swallow one and choke on it during the moment, but you might receive a nasty scratch (chicken bites are inconsequential because chickens have no teeth).
If you are scratched, you should:
- Clean the scratch area thoroughly – that means with clean running water and with soap. It will only sting for a moment.
- Use a disinfectant – the odds of infection are not high but they’re not zero either. A little rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide will keep bacteria at bay.
- Add a little antibiotic ointment – a little neomycin or bacitracin ointment is just going to give you a little extra protection against infection. You can buy these over the counter without a prescription.
- Cover it and keep it clean – bandage the wound once it’s clean and change the bandages regularly and keep it clean. Once the wound is properly scabbed over, remove the bandages but still try to keep the area clean.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Chicken Attack?
The most common form of chicken attack on human beings is when a rooster gets riled up because he thinks you’re invading his territory. You can take precautions to make this less likely to end in pain for you and also to help establish who is really boss (that’s you, by the way).
How To Get Past A Rooster
There are three basic tactics which can help you evade rooster attack or at least reduce its impact if it does happen and they are distractions, employing a shield and changing up your clothing.
Distraction Techniques For Avoiding Chicken Attack
Chickens are simple creatures and while they’re capable of higher emotions, seemingly, most of the time they think with their stomachs.
That means you only really need one distraction technique for an aggressive chicken – food. A handful of grain swiftly delivered can help them back off because:
- It shows you’re not another chicken. Chickens divide the world into chickens and not-chickens. Chickens don’t give other chickens grain, therefore you’re not a chicken.
- It shows you’re not a threat. Whilst technically, chickens are often fed by their owners with the intention of turning them into lunch – chickens don’t think long-term if you feed them, you must be a friend.
- It allows them to get used to you. Familiarity won’t breed contempt with chickens, but it will breed a degree of comfort. You know you’ve got this cracked when the rooster invites the hens to come and join him in his snacks.
How To Shield Yourself Against A Chicken Attack
Sometimes, a snack may not be appropriate, or you’ll be in too much of a hurry to play Mr/Mrs. Nice Guy, in that case, use a shield. The back of a shovel or a lid from a garbage fine is perfect.
However, please remember this is a shield. You place it between you and the angry chicken – you don’t hit them with it.
How To Reduce The Impact Of A Chicken Attack
If you have to get involved in a chicken attack the more clothing between you and the chicken, the fewer scratches you will get. Safety spectacles, leather gloves, long sleeves, pants, and safety boots are all useful.
Roosters tend to attack the lower body because of the height difference. Loose-fitting boots can actually goad them into an attack.
How To Avoid Antagonizing A Rooster
If you don’t want to get into a tussle with your chickens (and frankly, we can completely understand why you wouldn’t) then you can use these tactics to avoid a fight:
- Move quickly. We’ve already said it, there are no chicken rocket scientists if you get in and out of the rooster’s space quickly – it may simply not have time to process a reaction.
- Don’t be aggressive. This means in rooster terms, not human ones. Don’t walk directly at the rooster. Don’t stare at him. That sort of thing.
- Don’t be too timid. Roosters can be bullies as well, so don’t creep about like a mouse – you’re just encouraging him to show you who’s boss.
- Don’t swing a bucket around. The rooster might mistake it for another rooster.
- Don’t chase or scare his hens. His job is to protect them (at least in his head), if you upset the hens, he’s completely justified to give you a bit of a spanking.
How To Assert Your Dominance Over A Rooster
It takes a little experience to dominate a rooster (and it’s not as kinky as it might sound) but it’s worth learning how because otherwise, he’s going to bully you every time he gets a chance.
So, here’s the process:
- Learn the attack pattern. Roosters are show-offs before getting stuck in, they dance around. They try to get into a staring match or start sneaking up behind you.
- Wear gloves. Seriously. Wear leather gloves for this. Then when he starts, run up to him, grab him before he can start and hold him in your arms.
- Hold him gently but tightly. Basically, you’re trying to cuddle him into submission, ignore him (he’s going to be vocally angry) and hold on for about 15 minutes.
- Then take him for a walk in your arms for about another 15 minutes. If he starts mouthing off, talk to him gently and if he tries to fight go back to cuddling him into submission and start again.
- Rinse and repeat. Chickens aren’t bright, they take time to learn new tricks. So, bite your tongue and keep doing this. Most roosters will eventually learn it’s not worth kicking off at you.
However, some roosters will never get the message. If this is true of your bird and you have young children around – it might be best to get rid of him and find another rooster. It’s better than getting your kids all scratched up.
Roosters Help Stop Hens Fighting
Roosters actually help keep the piece in the chicken coop and stop the hens from fighting, squabbling hens can fight and peck at each other which can lead to server bullying. The presence of a rooster will help break these fights up as he essentially is the boss and top of the pecking order as shown in this study.
Do Chickens Attack Humans? Is It Dangerous? Yes, and roosters quite often attack humans until they’re shown who is boss. However, it’s not really dangerous and nobody is likely to die from a chicken attack. If you do get scratched by a chicken, make sure to treat the wound to prevent infection. Otherwise, you and your chickens will be just fine.
Here are some of my favorite products for chickens and their coops: