Roosters Pecking the Back of Hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Cascadialiving, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. Cascadialiving

    Cascadialiving New Egg

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    I've slowly been expanding my flock and had heard that 1 rooster per 10 hens is a good ratio. In the past couple of weeks I've noticed that the roosters have picked the Buff Orpingtons as their favorites. When one rooster is mounting one of the Orpingtons' the other will run up and peck at the other rooster's feet and in the process pull out some of the Orpington's feathers.

    Has anyone noticed behavior like this? And if so do you think that adding a few more Buff's to the flock might spread some of the load to them?

    Thanks,

    John
     
  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    The problem is that unless they all free range in a large area, whenever one rooster mounts a hen, any rooster that sees it happen will also have to mount that same hen.

    With a rooster it is very difficult, even under ideal conditions, to keep the hen's back looking perfect. Even if you only have one rooster.

    This is why so many people end up buying "saddles" for their hens.

    Some roosters are more gentle with the ladies, and it is possible to have perfect looking hens and have a rooster. It is however rather common, that the rooster has a favorite or two that looks worse for wear.
     
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I think the BOs are your problem and not so much the roosters, though I think stocking rate ratio has a lot to do with it as well. BOs are very eager for breeding and will drop down over and over to be bred, more so than any breed I've ever kept. They were the only breed I've ever had that developed bare backs with the rooster ratio of one rooster to 28 hens...and none of my other hens were getting bred at all because the rooster was too busy trying to keep up with servicing the BOs. And that was a free ranged flock.

    Others have reported the same behavior. If you'll look at pics of flocks on this forum, the bird most likely to be wearing a saddle is the BO and a close second will be the Red Sexlink hens. Both breeds have a combination of being too hormonal and having poor feathering.

    How I solved this problem was to cull the BOs...never had a problem since. I like one rooster to every 10-15 hens...this seems to get the trick done and I never see rooster wear on any bird's back since those BOs.
     
  4. Cascadialiving

    Cascadialiving New Egg

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    Thanks for the quick responses!

    Mine free range on about an acre, but the roosters are always close to each other...

    I might just have to have eat or sell the BO's if having a ratio of 1:15 doesn't change anything. They are awesome layers and have great personalities, but I hate seeing them looking so mangy.

    The roosters are a Lemon Cuckoo Orpington and a Barred Rock. Though I'm not sure that matters all that much.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Maybe one less rooster would help?
    Even with a lot of hens can't certain roosters go overboard if there's another rooster to always be in competition with?
    How many hens do you have?
     
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    If the hens themselves don't look stressed about it, then I wouldn't worry about it. I've noticed that bare backs on hens bother humans a great deal, but hens not at all. I've had hens with completely bare backs go right through the winter this way without trouble.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    This is true...I have one now that's really barebacked..she just carries on.
     
  8. Cascadialiving

    Cascadialiving New Egg

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    I've currently got 20 hens and 5 pullets that should be laying within two weeks or so. My plan was to have 30 hens and two roosters, but I might get rid of one rooster.

    That's good to know it doesn't seem to effect them at all. Maybe I'll just roll with it and take pictures of the spots to keep track of the damage and make sure it doesn't get infected or anything.

    We've had a record cold year in the Willamette Valley (getting down to -10) and the missing feathers didn't seem to effect their cold hardiness.

    Thanks for all the responses!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Don't be too alarmed if there's a bit of bleeding if they are being mounted by the rooster while the feathers grow back in.
    New pin feathers are full of blood and if they get broken there can be some bleeding.
    This happened to one of my hens but luckily no one picked at the blood and they healed up and eventually the feathers grew in just fine.
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Injury, exposure to the elements, insect bites and chances of infection are all reasons to not take bare backs lightly. Do the chickens seem to care? No. But if they were supposed to exist like that they would have been born that way, like the Naked Neck chickens and their bare necks. Bare backs make chickens needlessly vulnerable and good management should include keeping the birds adequately feathered in seasons other than molting.

    That cushion of feathers is there to provide protection, without it...no protection. Is protection important? Apparently so or the chickens would all be bald as a cue ball all over their bodies.
     

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