Roosters shearing off their own tail feathers.


Oct 12, 2018
In my present situation, I have my two boys separated as they fight pretty intensely to the point of drawing blood. One has lost an eye so, I felt it best they be kept apart. Both are let out during the day. One in a run, the other free ranging. The hens are split between them so neither gets lonely and they rotate who's set out and who stays in the run. My current problem is that both roos have been shearing off their own tail feathers. Their backsides aren't bald but, the feathers appear to be cut short. Both coops are secure from predators so, I don't think there's anything getting in and doing this to them. They're doing this mostly at night as I find the feathers inside the coops when I go to let them out in the morning. The hens seem to be doing just fine with their feathers. Any ideas as to the cause of this and what I can do to fix it?
Hi again, August.
This might have to do with the size of your coops. It looks like they need a bit more room to move around in. What exactly are your ultimate plans to house these two boys? You'll need 2 coops/runs sized large enough for each small flock. Or one much larger coop/run and more pullets/hens so each rooster has enough of a harem to keep the fighting down.
It sounds like you are very attached to the boys but is there any way you would consider rehoming one of them? That would reduce stress in the current situation.
Agree with @DobieLover... what may be happening is during the evening shuffling and jostling for roost space, their tail feathers are getting brushed or pushed against the wall and the long feather shaft is snapping, or the roost just may be too close to the wall in general. Some people build special "rooster roosts" to protect their long tails. But adding more space between the roost and the wall, about 2 feet should be sufficient.
I plan to get a much larger coop with a good sized run and more hens in the future. The hens will have to wait for the new coop. I have 20'x40' fenced area that serves as the run for whichever roo is staying in at present. I have reservations about rehoming the boys because myself and my children are attached to both of them and in my area, the general consensus seems to be that roosters are for eating and fighting. I'd hate to rehome one into a situation like that as we consider them pets rather than food. Thank you both for the advice. It sounds like this is more of a space issue than it is a medical issue. I'll be doing everything I can to see that they get the space they need with room to spare for more girls!
If you have photos of the tails and of your roosters, we will be happy to take a look.

But I agree, likely housing space is the issue. If I read your introduction thread correctly, you have large fowl roosters - 1 Barred Rock and 1 Black Copper Marans. Those breeds needs some space to move around, so the tails may be getting rubbed off in the small housing you have.

It's good that you are planning on expanding, hopefully that will fix some of your problems.
I'd hate to rehome one into a situation like that as we consider them pets rather than food.

I was in the same situation. I ordered one cockerel chick and 10 pullets. One of my pullets ended up being a cockerel. Rookie mistake but I still had to deal with it.
I can't help but to get attached to the animals I care for and I liked both of my boys. No way was I going to just let anyone take one. But I could see that they and the girls were not as happy as they could be because of the close proximity of the boys to each other with too few girls to go around. So I ended up rehoming the nicest one. I visited his new home recently and he is a happy boy with 4 hens of his own.
The one I kept is coming along nicely. A few minor behavioral issues for a young cockerel. Nothing that concerns me at all. I know I made the right decision for the happiness and well being of the flock.
Good luck to you. I'm sure you will work it out.
Thank you all for the helpful advice! I'll try and get some pictures of the boys for you to look at. In the meantime, I just got the green light to order a new coop! It will be the one pictured in the link with a couple of upgrades. A 6 foot run extension and the HDPE interior flooring. I also plan to add a raised run door with perches to keep my goats out of it. The overall footprint after the extension is 6'x18' and the hen house is 4'x6'. Perches are 2 ft from the floor and 2 ft from the walls. The bedding will be about 4' deep to start since it's a deep litter bed. It will be 7.5 tall at the peak of the roof. With them free ranging most days, provided the weather isn't terrible, hopefully that will be enough space to make things work. If not, I'll look at the possibility of trying to find a good home for one of the boys. What do you guys think?

Before I order this thing, I'd like to ask for opinions on it. I know it's expensive. But, I'm looking at it as an investment for the well being of my chickens now, and in the future. Here's a look at the full purchase page from the manufacturer. They've made some improvements to it (Not shown in the pictures) like the direction the metal faces on the roof and the hen house doors being lift off solid frames in front of the hardware cloth screens.
I like the way it looks. How many chickens do you plan to house in there?
At present, I have 7. I'd need to get more hens. I'm aware that I can only get 5 more in this particular setup for a total of 12 birds. Which might be problematic with the roo situation. I've been considering the idea of converting the area I'm using as a separation run into a coop / run. The area is about 20'x40' I feel like I could do all but the roof and windows on my own. For that, I'd have to hire someone to help me out. This is going to be an expensive undertaking no matter how I look at it. And I'm not very handy.

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