Dirty bottoms, mean birds and when to reduce flock

FountainFlock

Chirping
Mar 21, 2017
17
24
54
Northern Colorado
Hello all,
We have a flock of ten, 5 breeds, all about 1 1/2 years old. For a while now our two alpha hens have been pecking to the point of leaving some of the others with large bald spots. One has no feathers on her head, another none on her back, two others are bare at their shoulders. This is our first flock and I guess I'm just now realizing that maybe it doesn't have to be this way. We are planning to reduce the flock (we have some friends with land willing to take our cast offs) to keep our favorites and try to reset the flock dynamics. We plan to introduce some new chicks next spring. Is it best to remove the undesirable hens now before winter? If we're keeping the ones with more mild temperaments is this a good indication of a more even flock next year?

Second to that, we also have hens who have constantly dirty bottoms. Eggs come out clean but their fluff butts are caked with dried poop. Again, just now kinda figuring that maybe this isn't normal. We feed Ranchway Organic no corn, no soy mash. Grubblies, scratch and kitchen scraps for treats daily. They also free range in a outdoor run (no green left this time of year). They sleep on perches. Any red flags that we are missing?

Also egg laying lately has been pretty poor due to moulting and broodys. We're only getting 2-4 eggs a day.

Thanks!
 
How big is your set up? The more you confine chickens the more you will see aggressive behaviors.

Some breeds do worse in confinement than others no matter the size. What breeds?

As far as the poopy butts some birds seem to have them and others don't. You can trim feathers or wash bottoms. Too much protein sometimes can cause looser poops as well as more water consumption.
 
:):)
Hello all,
We have a flock of ten, 5 breeds, all about 1 1/2 years old. For a while now our two alpha hens have been pecking to the point of leaving some of the others with large bald spots. One has no feathers on her head, another none on her back, two others are bare at their shoulders. This is our first flock and I guess I'm just now realizing that maybe it doesn't have to be this way. We are planning to reduce the flock (we have some friends with land willing to take our cast offs) to keep our favorites and try to reset the flock dynamics. We plan to introduce some new chicks next spring. Is it best to remove the undesirable hens now before winter? If we're keeping the ones with more mild temperaments is this a good indication of a more even flock next year?

Second to that, we also have hens who have constantly dirty bottoms. Eggs come out clean but their fluff butts are caked with dried poop. Again, just now kinda figuring that maybe this isn't normal. We feed Ranchway Organic no corn, no soy mash. Grubblies, scratch and kitchen scraps for treats daily. They also free range in a outdoor run (no green left this time of year). They sleep on perches. Any red flags that we are missing?

Also egg laying lately has been pretty poor due to moulting and broodys. We're only getting 2-4 eggs a day.

Thanks!

If you are giving them up I see no reason why you shouldn’t now so you don’t have to pay the feed bill for not many eggs at this time. :)
 
Getting more information about your setup with specifics (like coop and run measurements, photos can help) would help. If you simply don't have enough space, I would not add more birds, no matter how mild mannered the flock is.

Since you mentioned broodies being an issue, if you do add new birds, try choosing breeds that are less prone to broodiness, so that hopefully won't be an issue.

For birds that are chronically poopy (but otherwise healthy) i just trim back the butt fluff so there's less fluff for the poop to get stuck on.
 
We feed Ranchway Organic no corn, no soy mash. Grubblies, scratch and kitchen scraps for treats daily.
Cut out everything but the main feed and plain water for a week, see if that firms up their poops.

their fluff butts are caked with dried poop.
Meanwhile, take good close look back there, trim up some feathers(cut to 1/2" from skin) and make sure their skin is in good shape.
Poop can build up and create the perfect place for flies to lay their eggs, resulting larvae(maggots) dining on chicken flesh.


Where in this world are you located?
Climate is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, then it's always there!
upload_2018-10-11_9-22-5.png
 
How big is your set up? The more you confine chickens the more you will see aggressive behaviors.

Some breeds do worse in confinement than others no matter the size. What breeds?

As far as the poopy butts some birds seem to have them and others don't. You can trim feathers or wash bottoms. Too much protein sometimes can cause looser poops as well as more water consumption.


Our coop is 6' x 6' inside with two roost bars, it's attached to a 6'x14' enclosed outdoor run. Then they have about 1500 sq feet of outdoor uncovered run space as well. We let them out to the uncovered space every day from morning to dusk. Over the summer we leave the pop door open and some will sleep indoors and some out. It's just turned cold here but at this point we're still leaving it open and we still have some going in, some staying out.

The alphas are Red Sex Links. We have Black Australorps, Easter Eggers, Lavender Orpingtons and Blue Copper Marans.

The BA have been the broodies. We've used the cage method to break it and that has worked but 1 has gone broody twice and then moulted immediately after. The Lav's are the worst hen pecked, bottom of the flock and the worst poopy butts. One Maran is untouched and the other has lost her back feathers. They have a good temperament though they don't like to be handled. One of the Eggers goes through mini moults every couple months but otherwise they are good, friendly birds.

We want to keep the Easter Eggers and the Blue Copper Marans. We'd add back 4-6 new chicks so still a flock no bigger than 10.

We do plan on enlarging the enclosed outdoor run space before adding to the flock.
IMG_1399.JPG
 
Cut out everything but the main feed and plain water for a week, see if that firms up their poops.

Meanwhile, take good close look back there, trim up some feathers(cut to 1/2" from skin) and make sure their skin is in good shape.
Poop can build up and create the perfect place for flies to lay their eggs, resulting larvae(maggots) dining on chicken flesh.


Where in this world are you located?
Climate is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, then it's always there!
View attachment 1557695

Thanks! We are in Northern Colorado and I added that to my profile. I will try a couple days of no extras. It's supposed to warm back up to normal fall temps next week so I'll plan on feather trimming and bottom clean up then.
 
Our coop is 6' x 6' inside with two roost bars, it's attached to a 6'x14' enclosed outdoor run. Then they have about 1500 sq feet of outdoor uncovered run space as well. We let them out to the uncovered space every day from morning to dusk. Over the summer we leave the pop door open and some will sleep indoors and some out. It's just turned cold here but at this point we're still leaving it open and we still have some going in, some staying out.

The alphas are Red Sex Links. We have Black Australorps, Easter Eggers, Lavender Orpingtons and Blue Copper Marans.

The BA have been the broodies. We've used the cage method to break it and that has worked but 1 has gone broody twice and then moulted immediately after. The Lav's are the worst hen pecked, bottom of the flock and the worst poopy butts. One Maran is untouched and the other has lost her back feathers. They have a good temperament though they don't like to be handled. One of the Eggers goes through mini moults every couple months but otherwise they are good, friendly birds.

We want to keep the Easter Eggers and the Blue Copper Marans. We'd add back 4-6 new chicks so still a flock no bigger than 10.

We do plan on enlarging the enclosed outdoor run space before adding to the flock.View attachment 1557694
I personally have found sex links to be nasty birds that often crave more protein due to their higher egg production. That can translate into aggressive behaviors. I no longer keep any.

When and if you remove the top birds the others may step up and be the same or they may be different. So it may or may not fix your troubles.

I personally would turn the whole set up into a coop area so birds can spread out more at roost time.
 
I personally have found sex links to be nasty birds that often crave more protein due to their higher egg production. That can translate into aggressive behaviors. I no longer keep any.

When and if you remove the top birds the others may step up and be the same or they may be different. So it may or may not fix your troubles.

I personally would turn the whole set up into a coop area so birds can spread out more at roost time.

Hmmn, hadn't thought of just closing in the entire structure. It's actually a good and idea and we have enough space to make more enclosed run. I'll have to see if my husband is up for a project.

The four that we want to keep are all pretty evenly matched, but I think one of our EE would likely take the top spot until we add more and the hierarchy shuffles again.
 

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