Bareback Hen - Apron not working

imagatto2

In the Brooder
Jun 13, 2020
9
14
29
Myrtle Beach, SC
Hi everyone! I have a couple of questions that I am hoping to get some advice/suggestions for:

Here's some background --- I have 2 roosters and 16 hens. Four of those hens are big girls and have spent time wearing aprons or set aside due to punctures from my overly amorous roosters (none of my slimmer bantams have issues at all). I don't even know where to begin so pardon if I ramble.....

Two of the hens were severely injured -- Jello and Thalia. They now spend their days in their own coop with a run outside. I bring them in to the big coop at night (Jello goes in a small dog cage because she limps and they peck her. Thalia sleeps on top of it. They get very impatient with me every morning if I take too long to take them to their run outside. Jello coos because she's sweet. Thalia barks because she's mouthy.:D). My husband said I should have put Jello down because she limps but she lays eggs, eats, drinks, takes dust baths, and otherwise seems very content. She's a sweetheart. She comes when I call her and knows when it's roosting time because she waits for me at her gate and coos. Thalia has spent time back and forth after a puncture. It heals and I put her back only to find her much happier when she is in the pen with Jello so I just started keeping them together because I figured they were besties anyway. The third and fourth are Lizzie and Lulu. My fellas love them way too much. Lizzie is pretty good. I monitor her but she spent some time in the "infirmary" for a puncture once and hasn't since. I think she knows how to keep a low profile. Lulu has no feathers on her back. I noticed today she has a scab from a puncture. When this happened before and I put her in the pen with Jello and Thalia she pecks Jello mercilessly and ended up escaping. I electrified the fence only to find she just flew over it. Enter --- the apron. I measured them and ordered all XL. I put one on Lizzie and on Lulu. Two weeks later I figured things must be better only to find the apron cut into her wings! So now I'm at a crossroads. The apron was useless. Lulu is the one that really needs that layer of protection.

I am pro-rooster. I love my boys. Meester Meester is a Rhode Island Red. Rufus is a Golden Comet. We live out in the country with dogs, foxes, hawks, etc. Not one loss. However, what can I do to help these girls out? I almost wish I could trade the three out (Jello stays with me.) for bantams with another chicken mom but only if they didn't have roosters. They would be better off in a flock of hens. None of my smaller girls have these problems.

I even tried modifying the apron this morning to maybe criss cross under their bellies but it didn't work. Lulu is a pill so I used Jello to model my modification but it didn't fit properly.

Sorry for the rambling. I just don't know what to do. Trade them out? I love them but I would do it if it helped them. Anyone have a better apron pattern? I'll try that too. I see Lulu and I feel horrible - like the worst chicken mom ever. I have to remind myself that I am trying to find a better solution.

Thank you for any help. Peg
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 3, 2009
127,576
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I doubt that the large roosters are able to/trying to breed the bantam hens. That leaves 4 hens for 2 LARGE roosters. That is not realistically a workable situation. I would get rid of the roosters. I understand that will not work for you. Have you considered separating them from the flock.
 

imagatto2

In the Brooder
Jun 13, 2020
9
14
29
Myrtle Beach, SC
Both my roosters "lay" the other hens as well. They do it all day long. Even my small Old English Bantam (which I watched in amazement because I didn't see that being possible 😬😲). They might lose a feather or a fluff, but nothing like the "favorites" which get more attention than the others.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,037
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Southeast Louisiana
How old are they? Are you talking about mature adults or immature cockerels and pullets? If they are immature separating the boys from the girls until they all grow up could help.

The only reason you need a rooster with them is if you want fertile eggs. If you are not after fertile eggs then permanently separate the boys, maybe with the bantams if that is working out.. Problem solved.

Some hens have brittle feathers. No matter how gentle the rooster is feathers break off. It's highly unlikely all four would have that problem though. So it is probably bad mating technique by the boys. Still, it is strange that it is only the four large ones affected.

Sometimes the competition between two boys can stir them up. So separating one of the males might help.

I don't know how old they are or if they even have spurs yet. But they have sharp claws. Clipping the end of their claws (and spurs if they have them) might reduce the damage they are doing.

If they are cutting or puncturing the girls you need to do something. That is dangerous.
 

imagatto2

In the Brooder
Jun 13, 2020
9
14
29
Myrtle Beach, SC
Are the aprons too small? I bought some from my pet chicken and they did not cover enough area of my ladies. I found these in etsy and they were perfect. But their feathers didn't start regrowing until their molt began, like nothing and they had the aprons on for 3 months.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/552182...=sr_gallery-1-11&organic_search_click=1&frs=1

I actually spoke with the lady I bought them from on Ebay. I measured my girls backs and she said "definitely the XL Deluxe". They do fit them across the back perfectly, however, the straps that went around the front of the wing rubbed them to rawness and bleeding. I was horrified! Their backs were looking really good but then their wings were raw so I had to take them off! 😭
 

black_cat

♥♥Lover of Leghorns♥♥
Premium Feather Member
May 21, 2020
18,864
58,477
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Connecticut
I am definitely not the expert here, but it seems like you may want to rehome one of your roosters, or add some more hens. Are your coops/runs at capacity? What breeds are the hens that are having issues with overmating?
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,130
16,921
706
USA
the straps that went around the front of the wing rubbed them to rawness and bleeding. I was horrified! Their backs were looking really good but then their wings were raw so I had to take them off! 😭

If you try any other style of apron, try checking more frequently (especially in the first few hours and days). That way any problems can be caught early.
 

imagatto2

In the Brooder
Jun 13, 2020
9
14
29
Myrtle Beach, SC
How old are they? Are you talking about mature adults or immature cockerels and pullets? If they are immature separating the boys from the girls until they all grow up could help.

The only reason you need a rooster with them is if you want fertile eggs. If you are not after fertile eggs then permanently separate the boys, maybe with the bantams if that is working out.. Problem solved.

Some hens have brittle feathers. No matter how gentle the rooster is feathers break off. It's highly unlikely all four would have that problem though. So it is probably bad mating technique by the boys. Still, it is strange that it is only the four large ones affected.

Sometimes the competition between two boys can stir them up. So separating one of the males might help.

I don't know how old they are or if they even have spurs yet. But they have sharp claws. Clipping the end of their claws (and spurs if they have them) might reduce the damage they are doing.

If they are cutting or puncturing the girls you need to do something. That is dangerous.

The roosters are 9 months. The only thing I could figure for why the smaller hens weren't getting harmed is they're smaller and they don't "fight", and my four larger girls are "more to hang on to" so they have to grab them more firmly???? I like having the roosters around for protection for where we live out in the country. Chickens are all new for us. In the spirit of 2020 we realized the need to be more self-sufficient so I have learned everything as I go. This being something I have been trying different strategies with. Eventually I would like/will probably need more chickens so the roosters will have to be there. They have all grown up together so I'd like to keep them in tact.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,567
143,404
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SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
the need to be more self-sufficient so I have learned everything as I go. This being something I have been trying different strategies with. Eventually I would like/will probably need more chickens so the roosters will have to be there. They have all grown up together so I'd like to keep them in tact.
You only need one male to make more chickens, half of which will be males.
Extra males are for eating, IMO, and part of being more self sufficient.
 

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