Hens losing feathers around there rears

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Denise's zoo, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Denise's zoo

    Denise's zoo New Egg

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    We have 9 hens and 1 rooster. Almost all the hens have feather loss on their backs from our very active rooster (we have 5 more hens that will be introduced in about a month to cut down on feather loss), but 2 of our hens have lost feathers in a circular pattern on their bottoms and 1 of these has also lost some feathers on her head. They other wise appear healthy and no one else has been affected. Any ideas on the cause or suggestions to regrow these feather?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Don't be too surprised if the addition of the five does not help this problem. It is a good excuse to get more chickens so definitely use it. It may help. Depending on your set-up, I would expect the five new hens to hang as a group separate to your other flock. The rooster will still mate with them, but the ones that normally hang with him are better targets of opportunity so will still get most of his attention. There are a lot of things that go into bareback hens other than number of hens or hen-rooster ratio.

    The one with the feather loss on the back of her head is probably due to the rooster grabbing hold and hanging on. The other two, I am not sure the rooster is the cause.

    A couple of things come to mind. Are they molting? It is getting to that time of year. The normal pattern is to start around the head and neck, and progress from there. If they are molting, you should see a lot of feathers around.

    Second question. Have you checked for mites and lice. For roost mites you have to check after dark since those mites hide during the day and attack at night.

    As far as regrowing the feathers. If the feather is completely pulled out it should grow back. If the feather is broken off and some of the shaft is still there, it will not grow back until she molts or you pull the rest of the feather out. That is a big part of what molting is about, replacing damaged feathers.

    If there are no big bare spots, it is probably not that big a deal. If you feel there is actual danger to your hens, you can use the search feature and read about saddles. They do help.

    I don't know how old your rooster is. This type of behavior is typical of an adolescent rooster, especially with young pullets. Usually, not always but usually, their behavior will improve as they and the hens mature.

    Good luck!
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    [​IMG]

    First thing I would do, if you haven't already, is to check for mites. The easiest way I've found to check for mites is to go into the coop at night, after the chickens are roosting. Use a flashlight and turn each hen bottom up. Check around the vent. Mites will look like tiny specks of black or red pepper that are moving. Check in the corner and crevices of the coop as well.

    It's not uncommon for hens that have been laying for awhile to lose feathers in a circular pattern around their vents. The feathers get worn off during egglaying.

    The missing feathers on the head I would attribute to the roo's mating. Also alot of times when a chicken starts to molt they will start by losing feathers on the head first.

    The addition of more hens may not help keep your hens from feather losses on their backs during matings if your roo has favorites. I have one hen that wears a hen saddle year-round because she is my roo's favorite. I have 13 hens to one roo, but only the one hen shows feather damage from his near constant matings of her. I suggest you look into the saddles for your hens.

    Good luck to you [​IMG]
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Okay Ridge, I'm not stalking you or anything.....honestly. [​IMG]
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Gritsar,
    Don't you love it when we are typing at the same time? At least I don't see any conflicting advice.
     
  6. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    You may also have a hen who is picking feathers from the others. I am growing out some pullets for a friend. The pullets are being kept in my bantam coop with one old silkie hen and 2 bantam cochins. One of the pullets is being picked on by the silkie. And she has a definite pattern of baldness starting on her hind end.
     
  7. Denise's zoo

    Denise's zoo New Egg

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    Sep 6, 2010
    Thanks for the feedback...I got the pattern for the saddles and I'm going to get started sewing tomorrow night! I couldn't see any evidence of mites, but the two ladies with the bald-patched rears are the consistant layers! Thanks again [​IMG]
     
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Denise's zoo :

    Thanks for the feedback...I got the pattern for the saddles and I'm going to get started sewing tomorrow night! I couldn't see any evidence of mites, but the two ladies with the bald-patched rears are the consistant layers! Thanks again [​IMG]

    When you start sewing the saddles, you may want to consider using the elastic in a criss-cross pattern across the chest vs. a single piece of elastic that just circles the neck. I've found that my hen is a houdini when it comes to getting the single strap saddles off. She has yet to figure out how to get off the one that has elastic that criss-crosses.​
     

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