Great rooster but he’s ripping my hens’ flanks

PoultryPeace

In the Brooder
Dec 2, 2018
11
13
37
I’ve had two mean roosters. On the other hand, our current rooster (one we bred) is wonderful. I didn’t even know a roo could be that easy to get along with. He’s pretty and he’s a good protector. However, despite having 9 Ladies to himself and a spacious habitat, he will over-mate 3 or 4 compliant hens rather than extend himself having to chase down the others. Btw he is 19 months old.

Two trips to the vet, and I’m about to do a third, for a hen with a ripped open flank followed by a course of antibiotics that requires me to throw away her eggs ... which goes against everything I believe in. Then she lives in my laundry room until she’s healed up so the maggots don’t come and live in her. Been there - scrubbed them out.

If we trim the spurs, my concern is that it will not solve the problem. I’m guessing it’s his claws that are actually causing the damage. Saddles don’t work because they do not cover their sides only their backs. One of my ripped up hens was wearing a saddle.

I do not want to separate Mason in yet another habitat - where he will spend his whole life pacing and crowing for his women. That is more cruel than rehoming him.

I am hoping there is a solution on this forum. But if not, I need to find him a new pasture/flock. Thanks for any suggestions.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
If trimming an rounding off his spurs and nails doesn't fix the problem, he is NOT a great rooster, he's a menace. No rooster should be injuring hens in his flock!
Trimmed or not, none of my hens have wounds from any of my cockerels or adult cock birds.
Are you sure it's the rooster? Could it be a predator out there?
Mary
 

llombardo

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
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Maybe seperate him for a week where he can see the others but not mate. It may calm him down. I have one rooster that is seperate from the flock and he does not pace or crow, even when the other rooster in with the girls is mating.
 

HollyWoozle

Songster
Jun 12, 2018
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Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
We had exactly the same problem earlier this year, despite having kept chickens with a rooster for a very long time and never having an issue before. Our rooster, Olaf, wounded three hens despite actually not being a 'mean' rooster, I think just accidentally wounding them with spurs and claws. I gave him a pedicure and we haven't had any problems since - the hens all recovered and are in with him again now without problems, although he is mating with them a lot less at this time of year I guess (but he never wounded any of the other hens after his pedicure, despite being very active).

I suspect in Olaf's case that it is partly a conformational issue, as he appears to have slightly crooked toes which are looking worse with age. I have once seen him struggling to keep his balance and I expect that is how hens ended up wounded, so perhaps yours is the same? We have had roosters with very long spurs in previous years without a problem so I think it is primarily a conformational/technique issue (which is what I read on here at the time) but that a pedicure may help.

I carefully trimmed Olaf's spurs and claws with dog claw trimmers and filed them smooth. I was careful not to cut the quick and the whole process was quite calm and easy and he wasn't at all upset by it. Perhaps you can give that a go for your rooster and then observe how things go and whether he seems to have any issues balancing or getting the job done?

I hope your hens heal up well - we never gave ours antibiotics despite having some terrible injuries and they healed very well. They were kept separate, wounds rinsed and treated with purple spray and they were fed well with plenty of protein.
 

PoultryPeace

In the Brooder
Dec 2, 2018
11
13
37
Thank you all for your replies. Holly, we are definitely willing to trim the spurs. And I appreciate all that you shared. It encouraged me. However I wonder, and perhaps worry, that Sourland has it right in the end. He is struggling to balance once in awhile. We have a variety of chicken breeds and Mason is just a good size (Maran.) The Ameraucana and leghorns aren’t doing well with him but larger breeds are fine. And of course he pursues those smaller, easier to pin breeds more frequently.

Do the rest of you agree that probably trimming the spurs is not going to help if there is this kind of disparity in size between the rooster and several of the hens?
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 3, 2009
121,287
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New Jersey
Be sure to also trim toenails as they are more likely to be causing the damage as he tries to balance himself. Note how when a rooster mates he sort of leans backwards and twists somewhat to make contact. While doing this he is holding on/balancing with his toes.
 

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