Ugh! Another Rooster Question.

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11 Years
Apr 4, 2009
We have 23 standard hens (and some banties) and we use to have 2 standard roos. The roos were being VERY rough on our girls. We lost one last fall after her comb was tore completely off and she didn't make it. Now their back feathers are coming up missing (and looking bad) and their combs are getting very tattered. One is almost gone. We culled one roo about 2 weeks ago. He was the dominant and the prettiest, but we felt he was doing most the damage. It is clear now though that he wasn't the only one doing the harm. Now we have 1 standard roo for 23 standard hens and the girls are still looking rough. So much so that we are going to have to isolate another girl today. Oh and we try and get blue kote on the birds as soon as we see any cut or plucked feathers. Dh thinks the roos are just a pain in the hiney, but I love at least the idea of having a roo (for all the reasons you'd think). Our chickens free range during the day even though their coop has more than enough room. During the winter though they never wanted to go out. Now that the weather is getting warmer they are happy to free range again, but this just started this week.

Here is my question,

Do you think that being "cooped" up contributed to the girls getting so beat up? Even with only 1 standard roo? Do you think now that they are outside everyday the tattered combs and plucked feathers will get better?

Dh thinks we should cull the 2nd roo because the hens are our top priority. We are only wanting eggs and has no plans to brood chicks (although we'd be ok with a hatch or two).

Any advice?

Thanks!!! Julie
You might consider buying some chicken saddles/aprons for your hens. I like having a roo around,they are great babysitters and keep a sharp eye out for predators.Mine is my alarm clock also, crows at 6am every morning lol.
I would not assume it is the Roo. I have never had issues with my roos. Sometimes they do have a favorite. Purchase a saddle/apron for her. Is it possible your hens are going through a hard molt. I had a girl looking pretty bad and it was her molt. She got fine with the boys in there. I have seen hens be pretty relentless on other hens and even the roos sometimes. I personally would not go without a roo. I do have some predator issues from time to time and the roos are the first to sound the alarm and unfortunately, they are usually the first to be killed defending their ladies.
Check them over well for lice and mites - lice like to hang out around the neck/wings/vent area and lay their eggs around the vent - they often look like poo that has "clung on" - you can check for these during the day. Mites are smaller and need to be checked for at night. (search BYC for images or google) They can be hard to find at first - honest

Also have your chickens had a chance to dust themselves lately? A really good, wallow around bath? If not you might want to get them some sand and a box (or kitty litter pan) - fill the box/pan with sand and let them have at it.
Thanks guys for the replies!

Now would lice/mites cause feather plucking some how? I am still pretty new to chickens and I am not quite sure what that connection would be. We do dust with DE every time the coop is cleaned. Also, they free range so they have some opportunities to dust bath, usually in my flower mulch!

I don't think it is a molt, although I could be wrong. The feather's look plucked out, but only on the backs, some around the neck and the combs. Plus it is mostly on our black australorps. Weird eh?

Why would the hens be plucking each other? Aren't the backs/combs typically roo spots?

Thanks so much again!!

Chickens will pluck feathers from one another if they are lacking something in there diet....I just cant remember what that is sorry. You could also try to seperate your roo for awhile and see how your girls do . I love having a roos to so I understand how you feel , but I wouldnt go getting rid of him yet. A nice large dog crate could work.


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