I'm starting to get very concerned...

Garden Gal

10 Years
Apr 11, 2009
My coop and run are divided into two seperate sections. Both sides of the coop are 10 x 7 (70 sq. ft.) One one side I have seven hens and one roo. On the other, I have 10 hens and one roo. both runs are very large.

The problem I'm having on the side with the fewer hens is what I guess must be canibalism. I've looked for lice with a magnifing glass and can't see anything. Four of the hens have developed bare patches on their backs which started out the size of a quarter but have gotten much larger. Only two hens will keep their saddles on, and fortunately one of these has gone broody so she is laying low in her nesting box. I'm treating all with neosporin and Blue Kote, but the two who won't wear the saddles are getting worse and I'm really starting to worry about them. My next plan is Pine Tar - can someone please tell me where to get this? All are eating well and have access to a large run every day. Even when we had deep snow, I shoveled enough space and put down straw so they have never been confined to the coop for more than one day (while I shoveled...)

The other side of the coop the problem is, I guess, the roo. He is wonderful! Respectful of me, protective of the gals, I have no complaints about him except that the hens are showing signs of his "attention". NONE of these gals will wear saddles and several are developing bare spots on both backs and shoulders and they are only getting worse. I'm also treating with neosporin on the bare spots. I HATE the thought of culling this roo for only doing what he was hired to do!!! HELP!!!

Any thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. These are all nice, happy birds who lay like crazy and I hate to see what is happening.
I have no answer for you, but hopefully someone more knowledgeable will respond. I have to ask, why do you not think the rooster is responsible for the bare spots on the hens in the section with fewer birds??? If it's hens picking on one another (pecking and pulling out feathers), then I think protein deficiency issues first. Than I would spend time observing so that you can find out if it's one main hen doing all of the bullying. If so, isolation/time out would be in order.
I feel your pain, I'm going through the same thing. My roo has 22 girls to play with and seems to favor the 4 EE's that I have. I don't know if it's because they're the same breed as he is or what?!!
You can purchase pine tar at a TSC or any local feed/tack shop around. I usually have it on hand for my horses and now the chickens. I'm thinking of building one of those A-frame coops this weekend to put the EE's in and give them a break from the Captain, lol! Hopefully, he'll pick on the rir's or the comets, they're not as nice to him as the EE's are. You can almost hear them telling him "One ride a day and that's it mister"!! lol
Hopefully things will calm down soon with these roo's, it seems that there's a bunch of us with this problem.
mine seem to pick a favorite couple to mate with so they wear the aprons.. i am thinking of bringing the roos to the hens once in a while instead of daily.. give the hens a break.. put the roos into a bachelor pad
If you have time, stay and just observe your chickens in the pen with the problem. Watch your rooster and see if he is overly agressive with those hens that have the bald spots. The problem is that once other chickens notice a bald spot, then it's like a magnet...and they will want to peck that spot.

A couple of things you can do is, isolate the hens with the wounds and give them a chance to heal, or isolate the rooster, if he's being too rough, and that will give the hens a chance to heal.

I personally would make some soup out of a rooster that is too rough with the ladies. But if you really like the rooster, then maybe you could isolate him for a while, then put him back in the the girls and see what happens.

Good luck to you!
It may not be the best solution, but how about filing the nails on his feet down so they aren't so sharp or even rounding them to see if it helps from him digging in so much. They have those battery operated pet grinders available now.
Thank you for the responses... they help me think this through.

I will definitely spend some time tomorrow (more than normal) and watch the hens in the coop which has the bald spots due to pecking to see if I can tell who is pecking the others. I don't believe it is the roo, but time will tell. I did notice one of the hens who has the bald spot was even reaching around and pecking at herself a bit today!

This is going to sound stupid - but how can you tell if a roo is being too rough with the girls? Is the fact that they are developing bare spots on the backs and wings enough evidence? I've heard they can have their favorites, but don't know how to determine if they are too rough. I've only been raising chickens for a bit less than a year, so I'm still learning!!

If I elect to isolate the roo, how much space does he need? I don't have a set up for this at the moment as the extra storage in the coop is being used for a broody hen, but i can get creative if needed... Would it be best if I also tried to give him space in the yard by himself as well?

Oh man, I've hatched these guys from eggs... it is so sweet when all goes well but so hard when problems surface and you aren't sure what to do! Thanks again. I'll hit the feed store tomorrow for the pine tar.
It's not necessary to have the roo with the hens all the time. Once or twice a week for the day should be plenty and keep the girls in feather. Would it be possible to build him a little batchelor pad away from the girls so he can't see them? With some roos this isn't necessary, but some are a little rougher and limiting their time with the girls would probably be appreciated by them.
I meant to ask if it is appropriate to cut/drill the nails of the roo... I use a dremel on my dog but can only imagine how much fun this would be on a roo!!! LOL!

The gals are getting their saddles off my pecking and pulling I guess! I find them in the yard or in the bottom of the coop. They connect with snaps on elastic which passes under their wings. Is there another type I'm not aware of? I'm open anything!

I have the roos only to keep the gals in line, not for fertile eggs. Their run is pretty predator proof (electric fence, etc...) so they are not as much for daily protection as much as for keeping the gals in line. How do hens do over the long run without a roo? I had not planned on roos but came to appreciate the first, then the second, but am not above getting rid of them if needed. Sniff... I won't like it however... they are so nice compared to some of the stories I read....

Will the hens get nasty with each other if no roo is with them?

Thanks again!!!

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