Is it molting or aggressive rooster?

Wil781

Songster
Apr 29, 2018
276
527
167
Central Alabama
Hello everyone, I have a question about my hens. Two of my girls are 18 months old and the other two are a year old and they are really starting to look shabby. The rooster has always been with my girls he is a Rhode Island Red and my girls are Golden Comets. So my question is if the sudden appearance of shabby feathers on their backs and missing feathers at the base of the comb are from my rooster or molting? I have ordered saddles just in case but it sure is hot in Alabama right now, don’t want to make them anymore uncomfortable than they probably are.
 

azygous

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Dec 11, 2009
18,623
22,737
912
Colorado Rockies
Unless the hens' backs show signs of lacerations from the rooster treading, I wouldn't bother with the saddles. The damage has already been done.

This is the time when chickens are beginning fall molt. Mine sure are. They do look very frowzy at this stage.

I've used saddles in the past, and hens hate them. They also make it difficult for a hen to reach the oil gland on the back in front of the tail in order to preen and care for her feathers.

A better strategy to preserve feathers is to limit the rooster's access. My two roosters spend most of the day on their own outside the run, and they get maybe an hour or two with the hens when the hens go out to free range later in the day. I also use a Dremmel grinding tool to blunt the spurs and toenails on the roosters to minimize damage from mating.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
12,471
15,862
762
California's Redwood Coast
It looks like rooster damage for sure. BUT... is that fancy organic feed or heavily laden with scratch? Wow, although mealworm are a good source of protein and a nice treat... they are super high in fat and should only be fed as a personal treat not mixed into the feed. If it is scratch, switching to a formulated ration (layer, grower, or flock raiser) WILL make a difference in feather quality AND over all health and immunity of the entire flock. :)

To do your own confirmation of parasite management... you will get you best true picture checking after dark with a flashlight. Part feathers below vent and on abdomen down to the skin and look for things running away.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,494
7,523
536
western South Dakota
This time of year, the feathers are old which makes them more vulnerable to rooster damage. Mine look like they have been on a very long week-end party, straggly, and some with feathers hanging out funny.

Molting and new feathers and they will look just grand around January. In the late summer and fall, the urge to mate drops in the roosters too. So I agree, do nothing, and this will probably fix itself.

I find bareback hens bother people more than they do hens.

Mrs K
 

Wil781

Songster
Apr 29, 2018
276
527
167
Central Alabama
It looks like rooster damage for sure. BUT... is that fancy organic feed or heavily laden with scratch? Wow, although mealworm are a good source of protein and a nice treat... they are super high in fat and should only be fed as a personal treat not mixed into the feed. If it is scratch, switching to a formulated ration (layer, grower, or flock raiser) WILL make a difference in feather quality AND over all health and immunity of the entire flock. :)

To do your own confirmation of parasite management... you will get you best true picture checking after dark with a flashlight. Part feathers below vent and on abdomen down to the skin and look for things running away.
I feed flock raiser and give oyster shell on the side (due to roo not sure he needs an overload in calcium) the feeder in the pic is scratch but my girls don’t like the cracked corn so fixing to trash what is left. I throw them a few mealworms but put them in the feeder today just to get pictures. I have looked for parasites and have not seen a thing. I just think it strange that all of a sudden that Mr. P is getting aggressive. I ordered the saddles and they will be in tomorrow so I guess I will give those a try.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
12,471
15,862
762
California's Redwood Coast
I just think it strange that all of a sudden that Mr. P is getting aggressive.
Can you please describe what is being viewed as aggressive behavior? I agree with Mrs. K that feathers can be fairly worn this time of year.

Is he coming after you? Standing on the hens after done mating and pecking their combs? Chasing the ladies away from feed?
 
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