1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Need some flock management guidance!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Noymira, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

    979
    1
    121
    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    I'm dealing with a couple issues right now, and I'd love some advice!

    I've got 18 hens and 1 rooster. I had two roosters until about 2 months ago, when the hens started balding badly and showing injuries from mating and the 2nd rooster started showing aggression towards me. Now that I've only got one rooster the hens are starting to regrow feathers and heal, but his mating seems to be slowing the regrowth and causing some injuries on areas of bare skin. I'm thinking of separating him to give the hens a chance to heal and grow their feathers back. In addition to their backs going bald they are also losing feathers and getting cut on the top of their wings, so I'm not sure aprons will help.

    This rooster also lost a lot of feathers around his neck mid-winter and they have been VERY slow growing back. I thought perhaps he was losing them fighting with the other roo, but now he's losing feather above his tail and around his vent as well. I've checked him over carefully the last few nights but see no signs of mites/lice, very few pin feathers either. None of my hens are losing feathers around their vents. Is there something else I should be looking for for a pest or condition? Or just separate him and up the protein for feather growth?

    One of my older hens has also been pulling the new feather growth, and generally attacking, most of the other hens. She's been eating the feathers. I am thinking about separating her as well for a bit to see if she'll calm down, or just re-homing her.

    I've also got 4 white leghorns, who are fairly small compared to my other birds and are sustaining injuries, both from mating and from the other hens. I'm planning moving them to another pen, letting them heal then finding new homes for them once they've feathered out again. The size difference between them and my rooster (a BCM) just seems too great. Plus they are too flighty for my preference, most of my other birds have much calmer personalities.

    Can I put the mean hen with the rooster or will he cause too much mating damage? She's currently not one of his favorites (based on the amount of feathers she has), but I've never kept a roo with just one hen. If I can't put her with the roo I'll need to come up with some other containment system since my pens will all be full at that point. How much room does one hen need for temporary confinement?

    I'd love your advice and/or thoughts!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    449
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would get rid of the roo and the hen who is doing the feather pulling. There are plenty of roos around who don't injure their hens. Feather picking isn't an easy habit to break. Hopefully, either increasing their space or their protein will prevent this in the rest.
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,604
    1,150
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    You might have too many chickens for your space, that sounds like a lot of picking going on.

    Also, I am wondering if roosters don't get blamed for a lot of molt. Hens do go through molts, in which they get rid of old feather and grow new ones, and they can look pretty ratty. If a roo is mating, I think it is reasonable to assume those stressed feathers will come out soonest.

    You dont say how old your roo is, but if he is somewhere between 10 - 18 months, you might nearly be over the worst, and you have one that seems to be nice to you. A year ago, my roo was a year old, and most of my hens, they all looked horriable, but they acted healthy, so I left them together. The feathers grew back, he grew some manners, and got some experience, and I am glad I kept him.

    I think you might try reducing your flock to 12 hens, and keep the roo, unless you are quite sure that you have enough space. Or free range extensively.

    Mrs K
     
  4. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

    979
    1
    121
    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    Thank you both for your replies. I've got a 10x10 shed coop with a 12x20 run. I am in the process of fencing in a small field for them to range in.

    The only place my hens are losing feathers are on the back and behind the head. My roo is a year old and seems to be a pretty mellow guy, he's just a big boy. I'm worried he's just too big and clumsy for the smallest of my hens.

    I'm suspecting lice might also be a problem with the roo. I was looking again closely last nigh and think I found some white eggs on the feather bases around his tail region. I'm going to give them all a good look over tonight once I've looked up more on it. I've got some birds that will be hard to catch unless I get them while they are roosting 8' up In the shed.

    Any tricks on treating birds that don't like being handled?
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I'd also second the advice at much more room and more diversity.

    10x10 coop just isn't sufficient for 19 or 20 birds, other than to maybe roost at night. That small run is a complete bore to them as well, by now. Likely it is just dirt, as 20 chickens can turn a run 4 times larger than your's into dust in just a few days. Without a lot of space to stay busy, avoid each other and move about, bad behaviors are quite common in confined chickens. You're not alone with these issues.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,604
    1,150
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Treating them after dark, is about the easiest, and if they are going to be too high, take down (if possible) the highest roost. someone to help hold the flashlight and give moral support is also nice! haha

    The above poster does have a point about a boring run. An easy way to make a lot more space in your run is to add levels. setting up a pallet in the run on top of some sawhorses, provides shade, and doubles that space as in chickens can get under it, or perch on top of it. Setting up a couple of roosts, is also a good idea, an old shovel handle stuck sidewise in the cornor, 4 feet off the ground is a perch that my birds love out in the run. or setting up an old ladder. A box set in the kitty corner, can also provide a hideaway.

    Just some ideas, that you may already have, or perhaps you are already using. Just thought I would mention in case you are not.

    MrsK
     
  7. DelDels

    DelDels Chillin' With My Peeps

    118
    2
    80
    Dec 26, 2011
    Lower Slower Delaware
    I did just what you mentioned. I penned my rooster who was starting to wear feathers off one girl, with my old trouble maker hen who needed to loose her place of dominance in the pecking order. It worked out great. That wily hen doesn't have a feather out of place and they have been together about a month. So give it a try if you want.
     
  8. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

    979
    1
    121
    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    Thanks for the replies! I've checked the rooster over really well, and all the hens I can get ahold off. I don't know what I was looking at on the rooster, but I can't find any signs of mites/lice on anyone. He is molting, and I founds LOTS of healthy new feather growth.

    I did fence in a smaller paddock with some grass for them this weekend to get out and double their run space. They loved it a stripped all the grass down in 2 days! I think more space and diversion will be a good thing for them all. I also identified another feather puller, so I'm going to put the two hens and the rooster together in my quarantine pen and let the others feather back in. Hopefully once they have the larger yard to range, and everyone has had a chance to grown their feathers back I'll see a difference. If not, then the other two hens, and possible the roo, will have to go.

    They do have two roosts and a chair in the enclosed run, but I am going to try and find more to distract them for when they are left in there. My coop has a 12 foot peaked roof, so some of the smaller birds have taken to roosting in the supports 8' up, while the rest roost down low. I thought the coop was plenty big for 20 birds based on the suggestions I first found when starting with chickens. I don't think I'd put any more than I have in there now for the a full Vermont winter, and will definitely only keep one roo going forward, but I'm not willing to give up on my roo yet, he is actually well loved by his hens and several fight over who gets to roost next to him at night.
     
  9. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,418
    193
    216
    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    10'x10'=100sq' 100sq'divdied by 4(what is commonly recommend here)=25. So you are under what is recommend here for your coop. 12'x20'=240sq' 240sq' divided by 10sq' per bird = 24. Again under this site's recommend space. Or did I miss something?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by