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#1045 - 11/14/09 11:43 AM rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
What, if anything, can be fixed and how?
I have one rooster- 7 months old- and I have 6 pullets, 1 hen. The rooster is of a big breed- Blue Copper Marans. I have 2 Marans pullets, 1 sex link hen, 2 Welsummer pullets, 2 Dominiques. The Marans pullets, being the largest and of the same breed seem to handle him well- no feather loss on head. The other birds are all suffering a loss of feathers just behind their combs, to the point of scabbing and near bleeding. I am wondering if there is a solution- something I can do to protect their heads, doctor them- whatever.

Thank you!

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#1046 - 11/14/09 02:10 PM Re: rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1257
Loc: Canada
Is he pulling out the feathers because he is not very good at breeding, starts to fall over sideways and uses the head feathers for balance? If he's just clumsy, he might get better with practice.

But if he's pulling them out because he's an aggressive monster, then get rid of him. A rooster, in my opinion, has a very small window of opportunity in which bad conduct is tolerated. He has to learn fast how to get the job done the right way without damaging the hens. I have had roosters who are just plain crazy, attack the hens brutally. There is no reason in the world to keep such a rooster.

Watch. If it is accidental damage, give him a bit of time to perfect his technique. But if he's being a bully, get rid of him.

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#1047 - 11/14/09 03:13 PM Re: rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
I will have to watch because I honestly don't know the answer to the question. He is, to correct it, 8 months old now. I don't know what the spectrum of rooster behavior is supposed to look like and be okay. He is mostly a morning rooster but he also chases the females at other times of day. He seems to basically be holding them down in this manner. I figured perhaps it happens because the all but the Marans pullets are out of proportion to the Marans rooster- not to the degree of a banty versus standard size but still the Marans are larger and heavier then the other breeds I have.

So, if he looks clumsy or seeming to balance himself, that is okay?

He isn't a mean rooster otherwise. Doesn't seem to go out of his way to terrorize anything.
Is there anything I can do to help the pullet (s)- with their heads?

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#1048 - 11/16/09 12:01 AM Re: rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1257
Loc: Canada
Another thing to watch is your hens. How do they react when he approaches? DO they squat down or do they run off squawking? If he's getting a negative reaction, he could be a bully.

I have no advice on how to preserve the head feathers. BUt if a hen is bleeding bad you might want to separate her as others will pick that wound and make a bad situation worse.

It sounds like his technique is pretty normal, they climb on and grab the back of the head/ neck area to stablize themselves. IT could be the feathers are coming out by accident rather than willful intent to do harm. But you are going to have to watch to determine if he's over breeding, harrassing and bullying, or just a bit young and putzy. Observation will give you clues.

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#1049 - 11/16/09 01:10 PM Re: rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
Thank you, I will watch. Others are missing feathers but none to the same degree as this one pullet. The Marans pullets look fine, as do the Dominiques (who are relatively smaller then the other birds), but they have only been here 3 weeks. The other Welsummer is missing head feathers but not as dramatically.

Oh well, I will watch.

I hope the magic age for diminishing ineptitude is 8 months, 1 week.

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#1050 - 11/17/09 04:30 PM Re: rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
Bushman Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/25/07
Posts: 968
Loc: Wisconsin
Have you thought about trimming his beak? If you cut both top and bottom back to the quick, he will be more sensitive about grabbing onto something with it. Of course it will grow back, but you can always trim it again.
_________________________
Pilgrim in a foreign land and true believer.
1 John 5:11-12

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#1051 - 11/20/09 12:43 PM Re: rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
Really? I have never trimmed anything's beak - is it like fingernails-is there a clear line of demarcation as to what you clip? Do I do it in the middle of the night? This guy is big.

What do I use?

Better yet, maybe my rancher friend will do it?

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#1052 - 11/20/09 07:42 PM Re: rooster pulling out head feathers on hens
IPF Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Canada
I wouldn't do it. No, it's not like fingernails - beaks have live tissue in them. Trimming beaks makes it hard for them to feed, and you know it hurts.

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