Hi everyone. I'm brand new here and this is my first post. I am hope you can help me out and give me some advice as to what to do.
Before I go into the issue, let me tell you what I have setup in case that will help.
I’m currently raising Rhode Island Reds and have a dozen hens and one rooster. While I have had Rhode Island Reds for a few years, this particular group was hatched spring 2011. All of the chickens are confined to a coop and fenced-in run. The run is about 20x30' (dirt) and also has a 15’x20’ area that is fenced in over green grass. This area is moved so the chickens have an area to forage. Their diet consists of mostly DuMOR pellets with some scratch mixed in as well as whatever they forage for and some garden / veggie scraps.
All was well last summer, fall and winter. They started to molt around the New Year and ever since then I they have had feather loss on their backs. During the molt, their backs were full of new quills but this has long since disappeared. The spots range from bare patches on some to completely bare on others. The skin of some hens is white looking while others is very raw / red looking almost to the point of a horrible sunburn.
A little while ago, I had two roosters. Starting early spring I started to notice that when one would mount a hen, the other would follow right behind. This eventually started to turn into a fight where one would mount a hen and the other rooster would try to push the first off and climb on the hen. I also noticed that the rooster would cling onto the hen’s back while fighting. After seeing this happen several times, I gave the second rooster away, leaving only one.
Since then the feather loss still has not stopped and I don’t see any improvement. Today I witnessed in horror a hen simply lying on the ground while several other hens pecked at her bare back. I broke this up and when I went to pick the hen up, I realized that she had a few small drops of blood where she had been picked at. I quickly moved the hen back into the coop and she happily retreated to a safe place where should could be alone. I looked over the other hens and don’t see any other wounds or cuts.
I’m not exactly sure what to do about the feather loss. Separating each hen individually is impossible. I’m not sure if they need more room to run around in or if it is diet related or if they are going cannibalistic and if so, how I can stop it. I’ve heard that it’s something that really can’t be stopped once it starts but I hope this is a solution. I really just want to get them healthy and happy again.
Your help/advice is greatly appreciated!