My Roo Looks Terrible!!

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

  1. Iheartchickies

    Iheartchickies Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2012
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    We currently have one Black Australorp Rooster and 2 hens (buff orpington and golden comet). We got them all when they were chicks this past summer and they have always shared their coop together. This past fall we noticed the hens had plucked and broken all of the poor roo's tail feathers out. We started supplementing their feed with more protein and calcium and this seemed to cure the pecking of the roo. However, over the past few weeks the hens have plucked out nearly all of his saddle feathers and he also has a nasty gaping wound in his neck that seems to be getting worse every morning when I let them out of the chicken house for the day.

    I am concerned that my hens are bullying my Roo and do not know how to correct this behavior. I have never witnessed it as the girls are always so docile when they are out. I can only assume that it is happening at night when they are all shut in the chicken house. I am afraid I will go out one day and have a dead roo. The chicken house is plenty big for the three of them. It is 3x3 feet with two nesting boxes, two perches and lots of space to hang out. They are only confined to this area overnight then are let out into their run which is about 3x12 feet with more fun chicken stuff for them.

    We live in MN and the weather has been brutally cold this season and in spite of all of our heat lamps, shelters, heated dishes, etc., our poor Casper (the rooster) still fell victim to frostbite on top of his comb and on the ends of his waddles. Could the hens be sensing that he is not "up-to-par" with his frostbite and are picking on him because he appears "weak" because of it?

    Either way, I love my boy and am terribly worried about him. Between missing all of his tail and saddle feathers, his gaping neck wound and his frostbite, he just looks absolutely awful!! What can I do to help him?? How do I get the girls to leave him alone?

    I appreciate any input as this is my first time raising chickens.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I can sympathize with you because, while not as bad as yours, I have a sweet, docile roo that has half his beautiful neck feathers eaten off. I've seen various hens nibble at his neck, and he just holds perfectly still and lets them do it because he adores them and they adore him. But he looks very frowzy.

    Your situation is much worse, and the first thing you need to do is isolate your poor victim. This will serve two purposes. One is to permit him to heal. A gaping wound is an open invitation to the others to keep pecking away at it. Keep it clean and moist and it will heal quickest.

    The second reason for removing him is to remove the habit of picking on him from the hens. Chickens are creatures of habit, but if you can take away all incentives for maintaining the habit, chickens can be tricked into forgetting about it.

    I'd say keep him out of their sight for two or three weeks. I've been successful in treating a rooster by keeping him in a dog crate in the garage near a window, and every few hours, I would get him out and place him on a newspaper on the window ledge so he could poop. He got so good at it, he would go as soon as his feet hit the paper. You'll be surprised how easy it is.

    When you re-introduce him to the hens, you need to watch them closely to see if any of them make moves to resume the picking. If you've heard of pinless peepers, they're very helpful in discouraging this behavior.
     
  3. Iheartchickies

    Iheartchickies Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2012
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    Thank you so much! Im relieved to know I am not the only one with Bullying hens. [​IMG]I plan on cleaning out my large dog crate and filling it with hay for my Roo to stay in for awhile tomorrow. I feel so bad for him! I hope it works! He loves his hens and Im uncertain how he will behave without them. At least his poor neck will have some time to heal [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Watch his feather re-growth. All of the feathers that have been completely plucked out should quickly re-grow. The broken ones, you're stuck with until he molts again.

    The reason you want to keep a watch on the new feathers is because you do not want to put him back with the hens while the new feathers are still at the pinfeather stage. Chickens know that these pinfeathers are engorged with blood supply and are an irresistible treat. Putting him back too soon is to set him up for being picked at all over again.

    The feathers all need to be, well, feathers before he goes back. You can encourage feather growth by feeding him high grade protein. Meat bird grower feed, or chick grower feed would do. Also, meal worms for high protein treats. Occasionally, cat food, yogurt, etc.

    If he's a tame boy now, he'll be a real domesticated creature by the time he returns to the flock. You'll also discover just how smart roosters are. Enjoy this special time with him!
     
  5. Impress

    Impress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Reading about this really makes me realize why we have the phrase "hen pecked" [​IMG]

    I hope you can get him back to his former glory! Good luck!
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Any progress on the neck wound healing on your roo? How's he taking to the dog crate?
     
  7. Iheartchickies

    Iheartchickies Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2012
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    It has been awhile since I've been on. The rooster DID grow back his feathers! We did not crate him, he was not having it at all. We instead let the chickens free range from sun up to sun down. This seemed to allow the rooster places to "hide" at first but now he clearly dominates the hens. No more neck wounds! He is still lacking in tail feathers but doesn't ever look to be on the verge of death anymore!
     

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