Separating a rooster - hens not laying - mite protection

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lablover, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. lablover

    lablover Songster

    Apr 7, 2012
    I have a few questions...

    I have 4 hens and roo that are 16-17 months old. The hens have been laying since last August. I got eggs all winter, but this summer I get about 2 a day. One hen lays pretty consistently, 2 alternate, and 1 doesn't lay at all. How do I know if they're molting? Yes there are feathers in the coop, but I also have pullets that are around 5 months old, so everyone seems to be contributing feathers. How long should the hens not lay? They free range, and I am sure that they aren't laying else where.

    The rooster is pretty aggressive with his mating. One hen seems to have scratches/bald spots on her back. Another hen has some of her wing feathers destroyed. (near the top, close to where they touch her back.) However, he is a good protector, so I do not want to get rid of him. I've read that some people separate the rooster for a while... If I did this, how should I? How long?

    I also want to be sure that the chickens are able to protect themselves from mites. Again, they free range, and they have their favorite dust bathing spots, but is that enough?
  2. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    Sounds like a moult to me. If they'd been spring babies, they would have moulted last fall. As they didn't, they are moulting now. You can tell by feeling the birds all over for pin feathers coming in--those new feathers will be your biggest clue. The moult could last as long as a couple of months. Feed lots of protein to help new feathers grow in.

    Since you're worried about mites but not getting any eggs, now is a great time to deworm. Ivermec dewormer is a pour-on cattle dewormer that works well on poultry and kills many internal and external parasites. Put it on with a luer tip syringe (no needle needed). Use half a cc on a large fowl bird, putting .25 cc on the skin on the neck and .25 cc on the skin by the tail. Don't eat the eggs for two weeks. You can also put some Sevin dust in a dust bath, and the Sevin will kill the mites. Finally, you can put the Sevin dust right on the chickens under the feathers. You can also use DE in the dust bathing areas, but that will only help prevent mites, not beat an active infestation.

    As for your rooster, he's not hurting them by rubbing the feathers off. It happens when you have a rooster, and it seems to bother humans far more than it bothers chickens. If you really hate it, you can put chicken saddles on the hens or get rid of the rooster.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Just curious, how do you know they aren't laying elsewhere?
  4. lablover

    lablover Songster

    Apr 7, 2012
    Thanks WalkingOnSunshine! They were born last spring, but like I said, I got eggs all through the fall and winter, everyday.

    donrae, They are turned loose at about noon, when I am home. They are rarely separated from each other, so when one goes to lay an egg, she and the rooster make a lot of noise when getting back together. I'm not 100% sure that they're not hiding them, but we do know most of their hiding spots. Plus, we keep a close eye on the ones that aren't laying, just to see if they go somewhere else. Since one hasn't given an egg in over a month, we're pretty sure she's just not laying.

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