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Is my rooster hurting the hens? Or are they sick?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

For a few weeks now I've noticed that two of my hens have had missing feathers on their heads and right in the middle of their backs.  I thought that it was just my rooster being aggressive with them but now I'm noticing it on a few more of them but on the latest, it's not the head, just the middle of the back.  I looked at one of them today and she's missing quite a lot on her back, more than before.  Does this still sound like an aggressive roo or are they sick?

post #2 of 8

I would say rooster, but you may just want to check the hens and see if they may have mites.  What is your rooster to hen ratio, if it is low then it may be that the rooster just doesn't have enough hens to spend his time with, if you know what I mean.  Also, if it is just a rooster issue you could always get some aprons.

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It's supposed to be a challenge, that's why they call it a shortcut. If it was easy it would just be the way.
Life is but a flash of light between two eternities of darkness.
The tongue weighs practically nothing, yet few people can hold it.
Reply
post #3 of 8

It sounds like the rooster is causing the damage when he mates with them.  I don't consider that an aggressive rooster.  There could be many different things causing it, but it sounds like your rooster's behavior is a huge contributing factor.  If it were just one or two hens affected, the hen's behavior could be the problems more than the rooster's, but with several, the suspicion goes toward the rooster.

There is no magic ratio of hens to rooster that causes this or prevents this.  More hens per rooster might help, but some people have three roosters with two hens and never have this type of problem.  Others have 18 to 20 hens with one rooster and have this problem with some hens. 

If they are young, they may grow out of it.  A young rooster often has really over-active hormones and has not yet reached the maturity where the hens respect him enough to willingly squat for him.  He winds up forcing them.  Compounding the problem with young chickens, often young pullets are not ready for mating so they resist.  The rooster's hormones cause him to force himself on them.  As I said, they might grow out of it.  But they might not.  Depends on their personalities.  Often the rooster's technique improves with age too.

Some things that could help.  You can trim the rooster's spurs and claws.  There are different methods.  I prefer the dremel tool.  Just wrap him in a towel and cut.  As long as you don't go too deep and hit the quick, it is just like trimming your fingernails.  He does not even notice.  You are not trying to remove the whole spur or claws.  Just try to blunt them so they are not sharp.  I think the claws do the most damage of this type, but the spurs can cause some damage too.  The danger is that the rooster will cut the hen and cause an open wound.

You can also make chicken saddles for the hens.  It won't help the back of their heads, but it will protect their backs from those cuts and scratches.  I'll give you a link to a pattern.  It's really not that hard to make them.  I find some of the time the snaps (I use the hammer on kind) don't hold real well.  I've had better luck with the buckle type, then put in a couple of stitches after they are on to keep the buckles from slipping.

Chicken Saddle Patterns
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=407575

Good luck.  What you are seeing is not unusual and is not necessarily real serious, but it can become serious.  It needs addressing.

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought....Abraham Lincoln (Freedom carries responsibility)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.....Judge Learned Hand  (The more sure your are that your way is the only right way, the more likely you are wrong.)

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought....Abraham Lincoln (Freedom carries responsibility)

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.....Judge Learned Hand  (The more sure your are that your way is the only right way, the more likely you are wrong.)

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #4 of 8

Agree with Ridgerunner.  In my flock it's happened to the rooster's favorites, or the hens who solicit the roo's attentions most often.  Never had a problem with roos pulling feathers out of necks, though.  I would consider that to be a rooster who is too rough on his hens.

Ventilation -- may be the most important aspect of coop design

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

14 hatchery and mutt hens

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Ventilation -- may be the most important aspect of coop design

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

14 hatchery and mutt hens

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post #5 of 8

If you watch a rooster bred, his technique is to hold them with his bill grasping feathers on the hens heads and by attempting to grasp their bodies with his talons.  The constant manuvering for position often results in raw featherless spots on the hens.  One solution is to place saddles on the hens to protect that area.  Another method that I use is to remove the roosters spurs or at least blunt them with a sanding drum on a Dremel tool.  I also blunt their toe nails and that will lessen the injuries to the hens.  No of mly hens have required I place saddles on them for protection.

When having problems with chickens stop and think, what would Harlan do?
I've dealt with many thorns in my life and the flower is always worth the effort.

6 Nest rollout nest box plans  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/287684/new-rollout-nest-design-picture-heavy-edited-1-21

Smoker plans http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/721017/opas-recirculating-smoker

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When having problems with chickens stop and think, what would Harlan do?
I've dealt with many thorns in my life and the flower is always worth the effort.

6 Nest rollout nest box plans  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/287684/new-rollout-nest-design-picture-heavy-edited-1-21

Smoker plans http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/721017/opas-recirculating-smoker

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post #6 of 8

I agree with everyone else here, your rooster is leaving his mark on the girls.  I had a real nice roo and 19 hens.  He only seemed to be interested in 6 of the girls.  They started showing signs of wear and tear.  A saddle would be a good idea for those hens being mated more frequently.  If he's a young bird he may need more time to work out the kinks.  As he gets more proficient he may not do as much damage to them.  I'd watch though to see if he's being overly rough with them.  You don't want a roo that mates and just out of orneriness pulls the feathers or gets rough just because he can.

It wouldn't hurt to check everyone for mites.  I do it regularly just as preventive care.

Swedish Flower Hens
 

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Swedish Flower Hens
 

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post #7 of 8

I have a similar problem with a young Pekin batam rooster who has wounded the eyes of two of my three young Pekin batam hens to the point where I had to take them to the vet. I have only had them three days and the vet has advised me to get rid to the rooster but I would like to keep him if possible but not if he is going to keep blinding the hens. One of them might even lose their eye if the infection does not go down. Any advice on what I do???

post #8 of 8

2 of my polish hens experienced that too, I thought it was mites but they didnt have any so I took the rooster out and the feathers started coming through again

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