Help! Hens plucking rooster - badly!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Plymrocker, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 21, 2014
    Hi Everyone!
    We need your insight, badly! I'm sorry these photos may be hard to look at, but wanted you to see the extent of what we are dealing with.

    Our rooster is a mess! And it's all due to the hens, who won't leave him alone! I don't know WHY he won't stand up to them, and just takes it. But we watch them all day long.....pecking and plucking off his feathers, and eating them. It started on his chest....and then went down his side. His tail too, is a ratty mess, from them grabbing and pulling those out.

    With the bitter old temps and consecutive snowstorms lately, we didn't realize how bad shape he was in, until today. Even though we can watch their behaviors from our house windows most of the day. We just run put there in the morning...take care of what and feed, and let them out into the run. The poor guy!

    Other details:
    - They are 7 months old. 1 rooster- 6 hens. Got them at a day old. We are first time chicken-keepers.
    - For feed, they get a mix of layer food, and grower finisher.
    - They also get oyster shells on the side.
    - They get very little other treat food, and not every day. (Vegetable scraps, sunflower seeds cracked corn or meal worms.)
    - We try to give them things to do to bust boredom, like a hay bale to pull apart, or meal worms every where.
    - They are confined to the big run right now, because snow is a couple feet deep. Other times, they only get supervised free-range, due to hawks.
    - They have a supplemental light in the coop for 2 hours 4-6.
    - The coop is heated to about 38 degrees, on a thermostat.
    - Ventilation is great.
    - They do NOT have lice or mites.

    We read maybe they need more protein, so we gave them a can of tuna the other day.
    What else can we do? Why6 is this even happening? We don't really have a good way to separate them.
    Please share what you think. Thank you!!

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  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Oh my! He is a mess, isn't he. Poor little fellow. You have my utmost sympathy.

    It's a mystery that will go unsolved for the rest of time why roosters silently and patiently put up with being shaved naked by hens. I've had several rooster myself who have endured this treatment.

    I wish I could tell you there is a solution, but all you can do is try to protect him the best you can. You might try smearing on Rooster Booster Pick-no-mor. It's nasty stuff and it ruins feathers, but it might prevent the hens from doing more damage and give his feathers a chance to grow out.

    I notice he's got a very good crop of pin feathers. Those are especially tantalizing due to their rich blood supply. If you could keep those protected with a coating of Pick-no-mor, they could have a chance to grow.

    Another thing you might try is pinless peepers. They can inhibit the ability to see and pick feathers. Your hens are young, so maybe you can stop this habit from becoming entrenched.

    Where are you located? If you can't find peepers, and you are in the US, I might be able to mail you a few to try.
     
  3. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 21, 2014
    Hi Azygous! Thank you so much for your reply. And your sympathy! It means a lot, because this situation is bothering us SO much, and we have felt so helpless about it.
    I will look into Rooster-Booster Pick-no-mor. But it does sound messy! I'm thinking the pinless peepers might be a better first option. We get our feed supply from Tractor Supply. Would they have these things? I am in the U.S. - Plymouth MA.
    Thank you again for your response. As new chicken-keepers, we have been at a loss, and so sad about this. With our great big coop and run, we don't even have a way to separate them, yet. I guess we'll need to expand at some point, or something.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Looks like new feathers growing in......I'll bet he's going thru a juvenile molt.

    Not necessarily bad for them to eat molted feathers, nor unusual for pullets to 'groom' the cockerel.....but I'd keep up with the tuna a couple times a week.

    Is he bleeding anywhere? If they are pecking at blood, that's a different story.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    PM me with your name and address in the next couple hours and I can mail six peepers off today when I go to town. I live in a remote area and only go to town twice a month, so if I don't mail them today, it'll be another couple weeks before I can get them into the mail.

    You would still need to buy snapring pliers to put them on if you don't have those. They work the opposite of regular pliers and hold the peeper open so you can slip them onto the beak. It should give your poor roo a good measure of time to recover, and maybe retrain the girls to leave him alone.
     
  6. Plymrocker

    Plymrocker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Aart! Thank YOU also, for your reply! It would be comforting, to think he is just going through a juvenile molt! But we do see the hens grabbing off feathers and consuming them all of the time. It's hard to watch, because they can just be relentless. Will do on the tuna.
    YES, about bleeding. Not on the main body where they are pulling out feathers, as of yet, but they have grabbed his jowls and his comb, and has gotten him bleeding a handful of times, now. That is what we were treating in the house, when I took the photos above. We dab absorb the blood with a paper towel, and then use just a drop or 2 of essential oils, on a q-tip, and dab the wound with that. We use 100% pure/highest quality/no fillers or contaminants of oils: Melaleuca to disinfect it, and Helichrysum (a.k.a. liquid stitches) to stop the bleeding.
     
  7. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What breed are your hens? The more flighty ones tend to be more cannabilistic than the large docile breeds. I get rid of hens that feather pick other birds, it has only been hybrids that have done that here. Hope the pinless peepers works.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    If you have a big coop, maybe put up a temporary wall and put him with one hen that maybe won't badger him?
    I made a wall out of a couple 2x2's with chicken wire attached between, just takes 4 screws to attach it to the coop walls.
     
  9. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is a great idea. He needs to be separated.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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