Bare-backed hens ...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MidwestMom, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Hatching

    Jun 1, 2010
    All of my hens are bare-backed, though a few are less bare than others. At first I thought it was my Barred Rocks (they kept their feathers longest) attacking the other hens.

    A friend suggested lice or mites, but the rooster and the guinea hen have all their feathers still.

    I was reading here today, and noticed it could be the rooster doing it (which also explains why he and the guinea hen are fine) ... or the hens could be eating the feathers for protein.

    We also have egg-eating going on. Sigh. Which could also be a lack of protein.

    We moved them into a barn (no run) for the winter, because we didn't agree on a better location to build a coop and run before then. They'd been in a pen w/o adequate shelter for winter last Summer and early Fall.

    We are building a hoop style tractor at the moment (almost done) and we moved some of the hens into the old pen last night, to help give them more space if they were crowded. Some are still in the barn.

    Any thoughts on how to know if it's lack of protein, or not? What is the DE that was suggested for treating mites? Does it work for lice, too?
  2. Scoop

    Scoop Songster

    Jan 16, 2009
    Central PA
    I've heard that you should have at least 9 hens per rooster. The rooster will definetely give them a bare back. I seperate my rooster out when I don't want fertile eggs. When I do put him in with the 13 hens he has his favorites and a couple of the hens never lay a fertile egg! Also, believe it or not, I currently have a juvenile rooster that was in with the hens and they henpecked him so bad he has a bare back! If it's lice you should positively be able to see them and the hens will preen and itch nonstop. You almost can't miss it, in my opinion, but I am not an expert.
  3. SmartyChick

    SmartyChick An Official Milkmaid

    Oct 19, 2009
    Sullivan County NY
    I can't answer all your questions, but it think it might be the rooster treading on the hens. Normally I would say parasite protein deficiency, but since the the rooster seems to be fine I'd say there has been some extra lovin' going on. [​IMG] If it gets worse, you can put saddles on the hens to let their feathers grow back.
    PS I'm pretty sure DE takes care of lice too.
    PSS I would powder all of them just in case. Better safe than sorry [​IMG]
  4. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Hatching

    Jun 1, 2010
    We have 22 hens, 1 guinea hen, and the rooster who was supposed to have been a pullet. LOL!!

    13 are Ameraucana hens
    4 are Production Red hens
    3 are Barred Rock hens
    1 is a Buff Orpington hen
    1 was supposed to be Buff Orpington, but she appears to be half Ameraucana (white but with green feet and a beard)

    Then the Buff Orpington roo who was supposed to be a pullet. That set of 3 BO turned out to be a bust.

    All were pullets last Spring, and we are new to chickens. The guinea hen was from the year before and is the lone survivor of the 5 guineas we had.

    So, the rooster should have PLENTY of females to choose from!!

    Can someone tell me what DE stands for? I'll get some, but I need to know what it is ... or would my Encyclopedia of Country Living tell me?
  5. trilyn

    trilyn Songster

    Apr 13, 2009
    East Syracuse
    DE is Diatomaceous Earth-you'll want the food grade kind, not the pool grade. Check with your local feed store and if they don't have it, ask if they can order it. Perma-Guard is the brand name, have fun and good luck!! I love DE, it gets put in the food, the dust baths and I dust the coop and roosts/nest boxes regularly.
  6. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Hatching

    Jun 1, 2010
    I had just googled DE powder to find the answer, but thank you for answering me. [​IMG] I do recall that being mentioned in the Enc. of Country Living.
  7. Crack N' Egg

    Crack N' Egg Songster

    Jul 29, 2009
    Flemington, NJ
    mmmm I love my DE!! It goes everywhere too. A bit expensive, but soooo worth it!!!!

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