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#67404 - 01/22/07 04:31 PM Missing feathers
Nickers3 Offline

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 42
Loc: Idaho
I'm not sure if this is a common problem or not, but my roosters are plucking the feathers off the backs of my hens during mating. Some of the hens are almost bald on their backs. I keep their coop heated during this time of year so they won't be so cold, but is there any way to stop this other than getting rid of all the roosters? confused

#67405 - 01/22/07 04:57 PM Re: Missing feathers
Foehn Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1974
Loc: New Zealand
Your roos are probably not plucking the feathers off with their beaks, rather with their feet when they mount your hens. Some roosters are much rougher than others and will not only pull out the feathers but can make your hens very sore. Best thing you can do is separate your roosters for a while so that the hens can recover (unless you are wanting fertile eggs) You can also grind off the sharp end of their spurs as often this is the cause. There's a very good picture on Feathersite of blue orpingtons wearing saddles to protect their backs. Orpington saddles Though that might be either a last resort, or protection for show birds??

#67406 - 01/22/07 05:28 PM Re: Missing feathers
Jrsygntbrdr1 Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 06/12/05
Posts: 2601
Loc: Arkansas
I had a cockerel that did this. He wasn't my favorite bird in my flock, but I didn't have a real issue with him. Until I saw him picking and eating the feathers off of the backs of the hens. I KNEW that none of the other cockerels did this and they were all on the same feed. He is now nutrients within my body...YUMMY! He was scrawny, but he made good soup! I will not stand for ANY of my roosters mistreating their hens. I also don't like for the hens to become accustomed to pecking the roosters. I don't eat the hens, but instead put them into another pen to be chased and taught a lesson by that rooster. After about 2 weeks, no more pecking problems from the hens.

I would try separating your roosters from the hens for a short while, but this may make the problem worse. If the feathers are just being knocked loose from the claws of the males, I would try to protect the females by using saddles or separating until all the hens are back in perfect shape.

#67407 - 01/22/07 07:40 PM Re: Missing feathers
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
Only gentlemen get to remain in my coop. That, and I keep a wide ratio of roosters to hens. If I see a rooster who picks feathers or who just stands on a hen, he goes.

You really have to watch this because what comes after the missing feathers sometimes, is deep cuts on the sides of your hens. That's a mess and can kill them because it's an automatic infection, given the environment. You can blunt rooster spurs and clip toenails, but the bottom line to me is, no heavy treading is allowed.


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