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Roosters wreaking havoc on our hens...what do I do?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Ckahler, Mar 12, 2015.

  1. Ckahler

    Ckahler Hatching

    Mar 12, 2015
    We have 35 chickens, 4 roosters and 31 hens. They are all about 9-10 months old. This winter we noticed our hens missing lots of feathers. Right now we have 2 roosters that are torturing their poor hens. I want to get rid of those 2 roosters but DH is unsure. Most of their back feathers are gone as well as the top of their wings and heads. The other two roosters get on the hens but aren't as brutal as the others. Here are my questions:
    -Do you have any other suggestions for fixing this?
    -If we get rid of the 2 will we have drama in the coop?
    -Is there anything we can do to support those hens with so many missing feathers?
    - Anything else you can think of that may be causing this?

    They have had access to go outside all winter but they hate the snow so they spent a lot of time in the coop. Now that it is nice they have been outside a lot more. Also, since it got so brutally cold we have some chickens with frostbite on their combs, very small little black spots here and there. Will this go away? Anything we can do to help this?

    Thanks for all the help. This is our first flock.

  2. paddock36

    paddock36 Songster

    Dec 24, 2008
    Ocala, Florida
    Have you checked for mites as well? You could try putting chicken saddles on them to give them time for their feathers to return. Other than that I would change roos or get rid of them. Unless you want chicks, you don't need them anyway.
  3. rainbowrooster

    rainbowrooster Songster

    Nov 26, 2011
    Sounds like you already have plenty of drama. I would just remove the offending roosters rather than stress your entire flock.
  4. JJSS89

    JJSS89 Songster

    May 14, 2014
    E Washington
    There are many other possible scenarios here.

    1) Hens are molting

    2) Hens are pecking each other because they are malnourished and not getting enough protein

    3) Roosting space is insufficient in size or it isn't dark enough for the chickens to sleep peacefully

    4) Any combination of the above.

    People are sure quick to jump on roosters and how "bad" they are. In my experience the offending chicken in a flock is just as often a bad hen as a rooster. A ratio of 1:8 roosters to hens is within normal bounds and should NOT be resulting in problems. Sure there could be a few overaggressive roosters but it would be foolish to dump them to see if that was really the problem. I keep many chickens in breeding pairs and trios and out of 30+ pens, I have no hens that are "over-done"

    Frostbite: If the areas are small then they should be fine. Next winter give them an area with less wind/moisture. Ventilated but not drafty.
  5. Ckahler

    Ckahler Hatching

    Mar 12, 2015
    Thanks for your feedback. I do't think they are molting. They are thick all over except where the rooster is attacking them and we've caught him singling out the hens and pulling feathers out. After talking to some other chicken owners I think it's best to get rid of those 2 roosters. We are going to supplement with protein for a bit and see if that helps. Our coop is definitely big enough with plenty of roost space. But we did have to use the heat lamp a few times when the temp stayed well below zero so that may have bothered them.

    I will try to post a pic of one of the badly attacked girls and see what you all think. Just found one with bumble foot so we are dealing with that now.
  6. Ckahler

    Ckahler Hatching

    Mar 12, 2015





    See what I mean? It isn't all of them. Just certain ones that are connected to those 2 roosters. The black australorp is hard to really see but she is one of the worst and has been targeted many times. He got her head, top of wings and back. The rest of them it is mostly isolated to the back.

  7. Looks like it started as rooster damage, but watch close as they look picked clean which is probably from flock mates. I've found that most my rooster damage is isolated to "easy" hens and saddles help. I also notice more feather damage when the roosters are constantly competing. My original two roosters basically managed "sub flocks" but we tried two this time and they were constantly wrestling over hens "literally on their backs". Try removing one or two temporarily and see how things go. Good luck.

  8. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Crowing

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    Just get rid of them. They aren't worth the extra work and headache.
    1 person likes this.
  9. Kildare49

    Kildare49 Songster

    Jun 29, 2012
    Central Wisconsin
    I would put at least 2 of them in freezer camp. You will not create "drama" in the flock by culling roosters.
    1 person likes this.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Some of those are pretty drastic for that young...I'd guess there's some pecking going on as well as just treading damage.
    Cockerel ratio seems fine number wise, but individual personality can play a factor too, plus they're young so competition is a huge factor.

    How big is your coop (feet by feet)?
    What and how exactly are you feeding?

    Added animal protein can help, especially indicated if they are eating the picked feathers.

    Depending on your needs for roosters, it might be best to remove 2 of them.
    I found that removing the competition immediately calmed things down.

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