Saddle feather loss from roosters

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by rachki, May 22, 2019.

  1. rachki

    rachki Chirping

    Apr 10, 2018
    Hi all, we have an acre run with about 35 to 50 hens and 3 roosters. About 10 to 15 of our hens are losing feathers on their backs, and tops of their heads. I am 99% sure it is our 3 roosters despite there being 10 to 15 birds per roo.

    The run has plenty of grass, brush and trees for the hens to escape the roosters, but the hens just keep happily submitting. A few hens now are completely bald on their backs, yet they dont seem to mind.

    Before I go through the brute force method of making 10 to 15 saddles for the hens, are there any other suggestions?
  2. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Eat the roosters. :drool

    Or separate them boys until the hens grow their feathers back in. Are you using them for fertile eggs? What is their age? Randy cockerels seem to cause these type of issues more often than mature roosters.

    Another option.. rooster tie outs... keep them in place and the hens come get serviced ONLY when they want.

    My guess.. the hens DO mind being plucked and bald, exposed to the weather... both cold or sunburn and just don't have a way to communicate it to you.

    While your ratio sound okay.. it's obvious there are some favorites. Maybe a separation pen for the ladies being over mated while they recover? Unfortunately... some may not grow feathers back in until they molt.

    Happily submitting to me means ran from across the yard and squatted in front of him when he had no intent. Going in to a squat every time he approaches is more in line with beaten into submission or accepting it as part of life even if they don't like it. But yes, I have seen some hens totally enamored with their mate.

    That being said.. even if they are happily submitting... just like our kids... if it's causing injury... sometimes we have to set boundaries. :)

    Just making a discussion... I don't mean to sound judgey or anything like that.

    Hey... if your making saddles... don't forget to do helmets! ;)

    Adding your general location to your profile might help others make the most relevant suggestions at a glance. :thumbsup How is your weather? I have seen some concerned about saddles in hot weather.

    What you've got going on is proof that no amount of data for ratios or space really matter... They are good starting points but what really matters is the individual behavior of the flock and EVERY situation is unique. I mean according to numbers you should be having zero issues. And some folks with their numbers out of whack aren't having balding. Thank you tons for sharing! :pop

  3. Is the fertility of the eggs important to you?
    Some roosters just are brutes and have bad technique.
    I have 1 rooster and about 8 hens. None of my girls are missing any feathers.
    I would spend some time out there and see what is going on and decide if i had one or more fellas that are to rough. It might help to trim your roosters spurs and toe nails, after dark works best.
    Hens with bare skin are so unsightly, and problematic for them.
    Good luck
    EggSighted4Life likes this.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Another factor can come into this story; some birds have poorer feather quality, and their feathers are more easily damaged. When you watch your flock, are the bare backed hens (pullets?) being overmounted compared to the others? Are the roosters, or one rooster (cockerel?) being too rough?
    I'd rearrange the flock before making any saddles, much less fifteen of them!
    Any mites or lice? Look at night with a flashlight.
    Alaskan and EggSighted4Life like this.
  5. rachki

    rachki Chirping

    Apr 10, 2018
    Fertility of eggs is only important 2 to 3 times a year when we incubate. We have the 3 roosters because while the acre run is fenced, there is no covering. The 3 roos fight off hawks and other aerial predators. The roos are between 12 and 18 months old.

    The birds having the most problems are Easter Eggers, black sexlinks and our 2 buffs. The RIR and barred rock hens have minimal issues. Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if it's the fact that the roos are very large RIR and BR mating on some tiny Easter Eggers and small BSLs. Although our leghorns are small and have no problems. I'm not noticing the bare backed hens being over mounted, the roos seem to spread the love around often haha.

    We live in the Piedmont of NC. Very hot, very humid. I do see an occasional red mite at night, but I do random checks on the birds at night and haven't seen any near the vent, nor other 'warm' spots. Also haven't seen a red mite for about 3 weeks.

    Diet is layer feed, scratch and tons of critters from the run (bugs, snakes, mice, lizards, etc).

    My concern is if I seperate the hens wity missing feathers from the flock, then the remaining hens will now get overbred and wind up with the same condition.
  6. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake


    I would try it... because from your description I would guess it is either a feather quality issue on those girls... or a size disparity issue.

    If you segregate and the hens with good feather start to look scruffy.. then you will KNOW it is a problem with your males.

    I would however do one more very careful and thorough look for parasites. Those suckers are small, and hard to see. Some live in the perches/coop cracks and eat on the birds while the birds are sleeping.
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Leghorn are flighty and less docile... a lot harder to catch for breeding!

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