Another Hen Pecked Rooster Post

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JohnL11935, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. I have 20 hens and one rooster that were hatched on September 15th, 2008. 3 Barred Rocks, 3 Black Austalorps, 3 Delewares, 3 Golden Laced Wyandotte (one of which is the Roo), 3 RIR, 3 NHR, and 3 Silver Laced Wyandotte,

    They are housed in a 10x12 coop with 8' high walls and plenty of 2x4 roosting space. The run is 12x36 ft. Two big windows and plenty of ventilation in the roof eaves.

    Saw my first eggs this past weekend (~ February 1st, 2009) so I switched them to 50% Purina Layena and 50% Purina Scratch grains. Plenty of fresh water. They have a 60w compact fluorescent red light in the coop 24 hours per day. The light is shaded and points out the window. I did this to make sure the power to the water bowl heater is functioning.

    Up until the past two days I have had ZERO problems with them. No health issues, eveyone was getting along just fine.

    Now since the eggs started coming the rooster is having a heck of a time with all the hens pulling the feathers out of both sides of his neck. They haven't broken the skin but you can see the area is quite irritated.

    Based on several posts I've read I have tried treating the plucked area with "Bag Balm" on the understanding that it wouldn't taste good to the hens and would help soothe the irritation. To the contrary the hens seem to enjoy the taste and came back for more.

    Today I stopped and purchased BlueKote and Pine Tar. I sprayed the BlueKote and allowed it to dry and then applied a generous amount of Pine Tar. The Roo doesn't like the feeling of the tar and shakes it head like my dogs after they've had their ears cleaned!

    Anyway, same results. All the hens don't seemed bothered by the Pine Tar and continue to harass him. The dumb cluck doesn't even try to stop them.

    At this point I am assuming the girls are giving him a tough time to see what he's made of and if he is suited to act as their mate. For this reason I have been reluctant to isolate him. I have observed him mounting several of the hens.

    I also purchased a bag of cat food that I'm throwing a few handfuls at a time out in the run to boost their protein intake.

    I suppose I'm looking for reassurance from everyone that what I'm doing is appropriate and I'm not overlooking something. I would hate to have to re-home the Roo as I've come to enjoy his moring wake-up call at 0430.

    Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. SussexInSeattle

    SussexInSeattle Songster

    Oct 6, 2008
    I don't know, I don't have a roo at all, but I would bet The1Much would know what to do, he seems like a rooster eggspert to me! Don't know if I spelled his nic correctly but he is out of TX and his wife is skand.
  3. namreknat

    namreknat In the Brooder

    Sep 21, 2008
    N.W. Oklahoma
    I'm certainly no expert; but I would think that if you are feeding 50% scratch they might not be getting a balanced diet. I feed layer ration free choice;then give them a little scratch before roost time.As for the rooster I think I would isolate him for a while. Give him time to heal up and maybe he will fair better when you put him back in with the girls.[​IMG]
  4. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    they started doing it to line their nest [​IMG] ,, and, since their protein intake is so low,, their body told them that the feathers are a good source of protein. also with the diet you'll start seeing either alot of shelless eggs or very brittle shells.
    for him,, i would get "pick-no-more ,, that tar and stuff dont work,, they dont mind that taste ,, i use "rooster booster"- pick-no-more ,,, its very VERY spicey, hot,, and taste awful,, they wont eat that UNLESS their body tells them they NEED it for the protein.
    i feed mine different then most,, my birds get "game conditioner" "game maintenance" and some scratch for filler. i mix these together,, and add "super spur" supplement for kicks [​IMG].
    their protein intake needs to be in the 20% or higher bracket,, scratch has NO nutritional value,,,my scratch is 3 grain scratch, its only got 9% ,, regular scratch has WAY less.
    i think to catch them up,, you'll need a high protein feed, and some kind of supplement. your hens should have some layer pellets or crumbles before the eggs get bad,, some calcium,, like oyster shells,, and for a supplement,, ask the feed place what they have,,,, anything is better then the scratch their getting,,,,,, and above all else,,,, good work [​IMG] some dont notice this till its too late [​IMG]
  5. Thanks Jim and everyone else. My local feed store had some issues and was closed for a couple of weeks. Ended up at the local Agway where they told me I "had to" feed the 50-50 mix with scratch. "They need the energy." I fell for it.

    I've moved back to throwing a couple of handfuls of scratch on the ground for a treat in the afternoon and am feeding 100% Purina Layena. I also put out all the cat food (which claims to be 30% protein) and they seem to be enjoying that.

    I will order the pick-no-more to have on hand in case the problem continues. Yesterday I didn't notice the picked area getting any bigger so perhaps I've caught things on time.

    Thanks again everyone.
  6. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    your welcomez ,, and sounds like ya "nipped it in the bud" before it got too bad [​IMG] ,, the next step would have been him start bleeding, and once 1 drop of blood starts,, they'd pick him to death. this will also happen if in a "perfect" balanced flock,, and a roo gets a scratch or small injury,, the hens will start pecking it, and most roo's will let them, till he dies from blood lost [​IMG]
  7. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    P.S. ,,I wanna thankies SussexInSeattle fer pointing me here [​IMG]
  8. newbie coops

    newbie coops In the Brooder

    Jun 20, 2008
    Northern New England
    I've had great success with "Avia Charge 2000" that I've only been able to find at Murray McMurray Hatchery. I add this to their water every other day. This seems to really keep them from picking at each other. Also, I feed them for rations only Blue Seal Layer Mash but I supplement their feed with, of course, oyster shells and other sources of calcium and protein such as yogurt, leftovers (even lasagna and chili...they love it!), cabbage, broccoli, and other greens...and sometimes scrambled eggs. Also, they love oatmeal and just about anything you eat.

    They get scratch but only in their run, to give them something to pick at outside. And, I've hung in their house those suet bricks most people use for wild birds because of the extreme cold and confinement because of the ridiculous snow we've had this winter and they like that, too.

    They were hatched out 7/28, started laying just under 16 weeks old, lay reliably almost every day, and haven't had picking/pecking issues...yet.

    But we are especially attentive and change their water every day, tossing out the old icky water (filled up in the morning) once per day as well. They are visited twice per day.

    Who knows, we may experience a picking problem but I've been really paranoid about that and have tried everything I can read about to prevent it.
  9. DottieMarie

    DottieMarie Songster

    May 6, 2008
    South East MI
    I want to thank SussexInSeattle too! Jim I hope you don't mind but I'm saving your name in case of future issues [​IMG]
  10. AngieChick

    AngieChick Poultry Elitist

    Feed store employees are notorious for not knowing what they are talking about. I was chatting with a young employee last week and she mentioned how she checked on her birds on day 2 of the recent cold snap and realized their water was frozen [​IMG] She had no idea how long they had been without water and seemed totally nonchalant about it.

    I put in black oil sunflower seeds with the scratch treats, they seem to enjoy it and it has a higher protein count. It's also not horribly expensive.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009

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