My hens aren't pretty anymore! :((

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Dutchess, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Dutchess

    Dutchess Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a flock 7 of chickens, 2 Barred Rock hens, 4 Rhode Island Reds and one Lakenvelder Rooster. They are all the same age and came in the same group in April 2012 from the hatchery.
    This is my first flock with a rooster, the only reason I have this one is it was a “free exotic breed” sent with the other chicks. He’s a very pretty bird!
    I am one to enjoy seeing my hens happy, fat and healthy looking, but this time it’s not the case. This rooster seems to be doing a number on my hens. I thought that because he was a bantam and they were full size, he wouldn’t “mark” them up as bad as others I’ve seen, being about the same size as they are.
    The only visible problem is the feathers around their tail are down to the “fluffy” feathers and almost bald, and their head around the comb (actually in back of the comb). Is this a common occurrence when you have a rooster with the hens? Could it be parasites? It does seem to be localized around the tail and head, not the vent. BTW~
    His feathers are fine! Actually very beautiful! LOL
     
  2. hennotrooster

    hennotrooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When we had our roo our two hens looked the same the feathers around the comb were pecked at. The hens will also peck at that area. Good luck.
     
  3. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Those are the signs of a rooster doing his duty. Trimming his toenails will help with the feather loss on the back and prevent him from scratching them up. The baldness on the heads is from him holding on to those feathers to keep his balance.
     
  4. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have noticed that sometimes smaller roos are more aggressive with the hens. I have a huge White Rock roo that breeds regularly with a bantam sized hen, and not one feather gets out of place...He is very easy...We have a silkie rooster that jumps on the hens from above and grabs them and just hangs on it's like watching a chicken rodeo...Lol. So in my limited experience, old giant roosters are easier on hens then any small young rooster will be...But an aggressive mating rooster can cause the symptoms you are having...but so can parasites. Easy to check for the parasites though. Just grab a chicken and look at their skin...If you see any creepy crawlies then give them a dusting with Sevin dust and then repeat in 7-10 days...if after that there is still an issue, then think about keeping the rooster separated from the hens for short periods of time to allow the hens to recover a little. As he gets older he should calm down a little
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  5. Dutchess

    Dutchess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you so much for the replies. It makes sense that the feather loss is from him, but I will check for parasites for sure. I will try to separate them on occasion to give the hens a rest, hopefully as he matures he won't be so aggressive.
     
  6. coffeenutdesign

    coffeenutdesign Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My poor hens are looking a little scraggly these days, too. I have 7 hens with 1 roo. You can tell who his favorites are, poor things. He is about to get his spurs trimmed, so I might have to look into doing his toenails as well.
     
  7. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To protect the feathers on your hens' backs, you can purchase chicken saddles. I've been very happy with the saddles I purchased from this forum member: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/651503/hen-saddles-free-shipping/

    What you are describing is exactly what happens when a rooster is overly-amorous with a hen. We had a barred rock named Maude that was completely bald on her back by the end of the season, and most of our hens have some amount of wear. Since then, we've bought the hen saddles and removed a rooster from the equation, but it takes a long time for the feathers to grow back in--poor Maude didn't feather back out until after her molt

    Here you can see Goldie in her stylish "Butterfly" saddle. It protects her wings as well as her back, since they tend to get a bit plucked as well.
    .[​IMG]
    Three of our Easter Eggers, sporting their regular saddles.



    [​IMG]
    The red and white hen in the next few photos is Bella. You can see the damage that's been done to her feathers on her back and wings by a rooster's attentions. She had a saddle but lost it, and I haven't ordered a new one for her yet.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
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