Can chickens kill humans? Yes, two examples.

A quick search of the Internet confirms that chickens can kill humans but it is obviously rare. I’m referring to the male chicken, the rooster who is programmed to protect the hens of his flock. They might attack when they perceive the person as a threat. And that threat can come in a variety of ways such as grabbing or kicking them. Even holding a rooster upside down might be perceived as a threat. So, the first point is that roosters can attack humans fearlessly and aggressively. Although generally they do not but judging by the stories they can suddenly turn against a person.

Can chickens kill humans? Yes.
Can chickens kill humans? Yes. Infographic by MikeB using images licensed for use and bought.

And in both these stories, the rooster rapidly pecked away at the person’s leg, penetrating the skin and an artery which bled out rapidly leading to loss of blood which proved fatal.

Aggressive chicken attacks man in Ireland

Recently, on 16 February 2023, the Evening Standard reported on the sad story of Jasper Kraus from Roscommon in Ireland. He was “savagely mauled” by one of his chickens, a rooster. It almost sounds comical unless it wasn’t so serious. And you will find some comical comments on the Internet about chickens attacking people.

Kraus was not in great health according to the reports having suffered with a heart condition and cancer. He lived with a tenant, Cory O’Keeffe who heard his calls for help. He rushed to help him and saw that there was a large loss of blood due to severe puncture wounds to his left leg causing massive bleeding.

O’Keeffe called an ambulance and tried to recover Kraus through CPR for half an hour before the ambulance arrived. Kraus slipped in and out of consciousness. He repeatedly said the word “rooster”.

An inquest into his death confirmed that a rooster of the Brahma species had killed him. His daughter arrived at the scene and noticed blood on the bird’s claws. She immediately knew that that rooster had killed him and the bird had also attacked her before.

The doctor at the inquest said that he died due to “lethal cardiac arrhythmia in the context of severe corollary atheroma and cardiomegaly”.

76-year-old woman attacked by her rooster

In another story, this time from Australia, a vulnerable, elderly woman was attacked by her rooster while gathering eggs at her rural property. The lady had varicose veins which were punctured by the rooster. They haemorrhaged severely leading to a large loss of blood and her death. She was vulnerable also because she had suffered from hypertension and type II diabetes.


These are interesting male chickens. As mentioned, they defend their flock and courageously attack when they feel threatened. Their other duty is to mate with their flock. Their genetically inherited instinct to fight off any perceived threat is very high. They might even die in the cause. An expert states that they can’t be treated as cuddly pets.

A person needs to establish dominance over a rooster while simultaneously proving to them that they are not a threat to their flock.

At puberty, roosters demonstrate an aggressive nature. This occurs at around 4-6 months of age. They become the ‘tough guy’ with behaviours such as chest-bumping. Although the degree of aggression varies, aggressivity is an innate trait.

A rooster’s personality varies and therefore their aggressivity varies. As hens and chickens are prey animals to many predators, roosters are naturally suspicious of others and defensive. They are alert at all times and listen for possible threats.

Human conduct around roosters

As mentioned, if a human is perceived as a threat to a rooster he may attack. People must not be aggressive or violent, or intimidate them or humiliate them et cetera. They must be respectful and realise that a rooster would happily die while defending and protecting their flock.

It is not possible to train a rooster to be non-aggressive. Roosters and flocks have a pecking order. It’s a hierarchy which cements their society. Chickens are social animals and, in the hierarchy, the strongest are in the top position. They all understand their pecking order.

Preventing a rooster from attacking you

You are the boss but not a threat. Feeding regularly tells the rooster that you are non-threatening. When collecting eggs from hens you might take with you a form of protection such as a shovel but it should be only used as a defence to pecking not as a weapon to strike the rooster.

You should wear protective clothes such as leather gloves and a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers and boots may help. Apparently floppy boots can agitate roosters.

One expert says that if you feel brave enough you can dominate a rooster by pinning them down. You grab the rooster and place him on the ground and hold them down. The rooster will panic and try and fight back but will then submit, calm down and surrender. You can then let him go. You have demonstrated your dominance without harming him. Seek your own professional advice before trying this.

Why do we like birdsong and Hans Zimmer’s music? It’s in our DNA.

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