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Hens losing back feathers? Any advice or common sense on how to manage this?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SIMZ, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello!

    We have hens that are losing their back feathers to the point of being bald now. It started with one or two and we butchered all but one of our roosters to eliminate the problem. We now have one Buff Orpington rooster running with 21 hens. In the last week I've started noticing several hens becoming completely bare on their backs. Personally, I hate this and it bothers me because it seems that I must not be doing a good job taking care of my chickens.

    Is this unavoidable if there is a rooster with the hens?

    Is this a big deal if it happens? Any experienced keepers out there??

    I just received 3 aprons in the mail today to try. Although, now I need about 5-6 more. For some reason this seems kind of silly to me. Did our grandparents do this with their chickens?

    Finally, will trimming our rooster's toenails help with this?


    Thanks!!
     
  2. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Are you noticing any bullying happening between the hens?
     
  3. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No, not that I've noticed, BUT the other day I was throwing treats out and a glob of yogurt landed one of the hen's back. The next day that area was bare, and I suspect someone plucked her feathers getting that yogurt. I feel badly about that. I've also started noticing more feather loss since this, too. Will they pick each other's feathers off their backs like that?
     
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    How old is your rooster? If he's still young, I'm guessing those bald-backed hens are his favs. My cockerel has a few favorite ladies (the most submissive hens) and they're backs are looking a little rough. Once he matures, he should calm down and spread his attentions a little thinner. Good luck!
     
  5. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He'll be a year old in May. It is mostly the older hens that are losing feathers, and yes, the ones that seem to be his favorites.

    How about that age? Is that "older" or "younger"?

    Thanks!
     
  6. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Have you ever noticed the hens mounting each other? You can put saddles on the bare backed girls.
     
  7. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Yep- your rooster is to blame. My roo is a Cochin (he'll be 1yr at the end of April, so about the same age as your boy), and he's only just started wooing the ladies. He didn't even let a crow fly until he was about 9 months old. Give him a little more time and he'll settle down- or separate him for a little while and give your girls a break.
     
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I have the same problem with 7-8 of my 11 month old hens. I took an old polarfleece shirt and cut out rectangles about 7x9 inches and put 2 slits for the wings about 2.5 inches log, then put them over both wings above the "notch." Some were too big and needed trimming down, and of course a couple got them off a time or too. I put them on at night when they were on th roost and easy to grab. By the 3rd day they started ignoring them, and a couple of weeks later they are still on and the backs are much better. Polartech or fleece is good because you don't have to sew or put elastic on it. One of my husband's shirt XL made about 12 of these.
     
  9. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just got three very nicely made aprons from lovemychix on BYC. They're NICE and very reasonably priced. I'll put those on the chickens that look really bad and maybe try the fleece idea if I need more.

    So, am I correct that this is pretty much unavoidable? "Rooey" is such a nice boy and does really well with the girls. It's cute seeing them all together, but I guess I can't have it both ways. I plan on keeping a few roosters next winter, so the plan will just be to keep them separate unless I need fertile eggs.
     
  10. ya its unavoidable until he calms down, we have a roo (a couple years i think) with our hens, they dont have bare backs and he isnt very active with them (in my case, ANNOYING)
     

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