A Management + Inury question regarding rooster with bloody quill and cannibal hens chasing him around

plumpybum

In the Brooder
Apr 18, 2021
10
2
14
Noticed my rooster was being chased around the run by my 5 hens this afternoon and each one was taking turns lapping up blood coming from the top of his back near the base of his tail feathers. They wouldnt leave him alone and kept pecking at the bloody area.

I was able to grab him and it appears he has 1 freshly broken tail feather near the base of the quill which has been bleeding out. It's congealed and looks like it's not very bad, but I isolated him and he's now in a separate coop/run next door to the main one.

It looked like there was a prior broken quill next to this one, that had a new feather starting to poke through. Do you think one of the hens is bullying him and did this? The chickens never left their run today and I cant think of a good reason a feather like that would be bleeding. I did not find the broken feather in the coop or run, either. The coop is an Omelet Eglu coop and is fully closed in, so it couldnt have been a hawk.

I was planning to keep the rooster isolated for a few days. I cleaned up most of the blood and let him be. Anything else I should do or be concerned about regarding his health or a potential bully?

Thanks!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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Can you get a pic?
How old is he, in months?
Is he molting?
Might be they pecked a a new pin feather?
They can bleed badly.
If it doesn't stop bleeding, it's best to fully pluck the feather out.

As to bullying or not.
Knowing .....
-your flock size(numbers, ages, genders),
-your coop(size in feet by feet with pics),
-and what and how exactly you are feeding,
might offer clues to if there is a solvable problem.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
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If he is a full size rooster, I wonder if he caught it on something, and tore it? Take a good look around. Wash off the old blood, apply blue note and put him back in.
 

plumpybum

In the Brooder
Apr 18, 2021
10
2
14
Can you get a pic?
How old is he, in months?
Is he molting?
Might be they pecked a a new pin feather?
They can bleed badly.
If it doesn't stop bleeding, it's best to fully pluck the feather out.

As to bullying or not.
Knowing .....
-your flock size(numbers, ages, genders),
-your coop(size in feet by feet with pics),
-and what and how exactly you are feeding,
might offer clues to if there is a solvable problem.

Dont think I'll be able to manage a pic at this point, the feather was broken off about an inch from the quill.

Rooster is 6-7 months old. I dont think he's molting.

Coop is https://www.omlet.us/shop/chicken_keeping/large_chicken_coop_eglu_cube/ with the 9 foot run.

Rooster is an Appenzellar Spitzhauben so medium in size
2 hens are barred rock
2 are olive eggers (auracanas)
1 hen is a sebright bantam
All hens are 8-9 months old

I feed an organic pellet feed, always available, and give them a couple handfuls of scratch each day. They also free range my yard for a couple hours at a time when the weather is nice. However the weather has been freezing, rainy and snowy the past couple of weeks so they have not gotten out of their run much lately.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
101,578
147,285
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SW Michigan
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the feather was broken off about an inch from the quill.
Not sure what this means.
So most the feather is gone, close to the skin?
1638918709060.png


I feed an organic pellet feed, always available, and give them a couple handfuls of scratch each day.
Layer feed, what are protein and calcium percentages?
I would cut out the scratch grains.

Tho they say it's fit 6 LF birds, it's really too small, IMO.
I wouldn't keep more than 2 birds in there.
Crowding often causes stress and aggression.
1638918375786.png
 

plumpybum

In the Brooder
Apr 18, 2021
10
2
14
Not sure what this means.
So most the feather is gone, close to the skin?
View attachment 2921472


Layer feed, what are protein and calcium percentages?
I would cut out the scratch grains.


Tho they say it's fit 6 LF birds, it's really too small, IMO.
I wouldn't keep more than 2 birds in there.
Crowding often causes stress and aggression.
View attachment 2921470

So I had him isolated for almost 3 weeks now, in a separate coop right next to the hens. He was doing fine, no more issues, looked like the tail feathers cleaned up and some new ones were coming in. Decided to put him back in with the hens last night after they were all settled in. This morning I went out and he was bleeding again, same spot at the base of the tail, same situation with the hens pecking at it. I got him out of there and snapped some pictures this time.

Looks like several new feathers are coming in and each one is bleeding where the quill ends and new feather coming out begins? This is the base of his tail feathers, on the lower back.
bloodytail.jpg bloodytail2.jpg bloodytail3.jpg

I sprayed some Vetericyn on the bloody area and like I said he's back in his own solo coop. Trying to figure out what to do next...I would like them to all be together again but I'm still not sure if this is a health/injury/molting issue, or a behavior issue?

Here is a link to the feed I use https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/natures-best-organic-egg-layer-pellets-40-lb?cm_vc=-10005
16% protein
3.5% calcium
I toss a handful of oyster shell and grit in to the run every other day or so as well

And finally pics of the current living situations. We've had some really cold weather, snow and ice all December so the chickens havent left their runs all month. Typically I would let them out each day for an hour or 2. henrun.jpg

roorun.jpg

Thank you for the feedback!
 

plumpybum

In the Brooder
Apr 18, 2021
10
2
14
I'd say it's a behavioral issue and the main reason is crowding.

It did start shortly after winter and snow set in and the chickens were no longer free ranging every day. They all got along great before this though, very frustrating.

I feel really bad for Gus the rooster, he's really sweet and treats the hens well - no aggression at all with them or us.

I plan on converting a large shed in to a mini barn/coop in the spring with a large attached run. Similar to your build, which is awesome btw, it will be slightly larger on the inside so plenty of room for the chickens I have plus a few more.

Until then I am weighing options on what to do for the rest of the winter...The coops are right next to each other so he does get to be close to the hens all day. I am wondering if I should put one of the hens in with him, or if that will just cause more problems?

I just dont understand what they are doing to cause him to bleed like that. Is this a common place for hens to peck at if there is a crowding issue? It looks to me like it's all new feathers coming in there, do they bleed easily like this when they are coming in?
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
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Might want to just keep him separate (but next to the hens) for now until you're able to expand the set up, or else he might end up just ping ponging in and out of isolation until spring anyhow. Since he's the only male integrating him back in at that point shouldn't be a problem.

The base of the tail is one of the most common feather picking areas. The fact that you said he's good with the girls means he's probably more tolerant of them picking on him, even if it's not good for him.
 

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