Is this my rooster's doing?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jailerjoe, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. jailerjoe

    jailerjoe Chirping

    My chickens are all 8-9 moinths old so it's not molt, correct? I doesn't look like there's any broken skin, she just doesn't have any feathers there. She's an Araucana (I think) and otherwise healthy and laying about every other day.

    What do you think? After thinking about it I though it might be my roo getting rough with her.

  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Probably it is the rooster. Grabbing hold of the neck feathers with the beak is fairly common with roosters. You may need to give the hens a break from the rooster, but also make sure that you have at least 10-12 hens per rooster. Some of the more docile hens may get mated more often, and get feather damage on the backs and neck.
  3. jailerjoe

    jailerjoe Chirping

    I have 11 hens for my one roo. I'm not sure how I'd separate my hens from the roo. I'll have to think about that.

  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    What works for some is to use a large dog crate with food and water in the chicken run during the day. You could also put the hen in there instead. At night they can be out to go to roost normally.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2014
  5. trudyg

    trudyg Songster

    Jun 3, 2013
    North Alabama
    My hen has the same loss of feathers on her back, so I know the rooster is overdoing the deed with her. I isolated her and then noticed that she has a silver-dollar size spot under her wing that must have been scratched/scraped raw. Wish I had known sooner, he'd have been gone. She was really a target of his. Anyway, DH wants to leave her isolated until she heals and then see what happens. He is really good with the other hen, not rough or over-active. Any real chance that isolation will change the targeting? I plan to get more pullets, but would really like to hold out until Feb if possible (get past our really cold weather, which doesn't last long in AL).
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Part of the mating ritual is that when the rooster hops on, he grabs the back of her head. This not only helps him with his balance and helps position himself so he can hit the target, the head grab is her signal to raise her tail up out of the way to expose the target. Without the head grab, there is no successful mating.

    Different chickens mature at different rates. At 8 to 9 months yours have probably gone from the wild abandon of adolescents trying to figure things out and get the hormones in check to starting to act like adults. Either the pullets or cockerel may still need to fine tune their techniques but things should have settled down quite a bit by now. Most of that damage could have come from a younger age. If the feather is totally pulled out then it will grow back before too long. But if the feather broke off and part of the shaft is still in there the feather will not grow back until the pullet molts. That could be at any time but most likely if she is still laying, not until next fall.

    Getting more pullets or hens won’t hurt but I suspect something else. Some chickens have brittle feathers. It’s genetic. Even if the pullet and cockerel follow proper technique those brittle feathers are just easy to break off. That damage may be more from the pullet having brittle feathers than anything the cockerel is doing wrong. As you said, the other pullet is fine.

    We all have different goals. Mine involve raising chickens for meat and playing around with genetics, so I need a rooster for fertile eggs and to pass on the genetics. When I see a hen that has brittle feathers I don’t allow her to pass those genetics onto future generations. How can I blame the rooster when removing the hen from the breeding flock solves the problem?

    I always advise that you keep as few roosters as you can and still reach your goals. The only reason you need a rooster is if you want fertile eggs. Everything else is personal preference. I have no idea if you need a rooster for your goals or not. That’s a personal choice.

    I don’t know what is causing that damage. It may be previous damage and they are maturing out of that phase. It may stem from the pullet and/or cockerel having bad technique. Getting more hens or giving them more time to mature may help. If it is brittle feathers the problem may get a little better at some point but is unlikely to ever go away.

    Good luck!

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