chickens having a hard time

lindakimyMay 12, 2008

We have a little flock - 10 ladies - who will be a year old on the 30th. They have been laying like crazy, even through the winter...up until recently. Now...not so much.

We have a rooster and he has been...well...can I say this? VERY RANDY. To the point that the girls have no feathers on their backs. Most of 'em, anyway. There are three that we think may be gay...they still have feathers! They just don't put up with it.

Anyhow, we are thinking that this rooster is stressing the girls. And we are thinking that we should move him to the small pen we have - away from the ladies. Hey...if he can't stop, we can stop him.

Anybody else got this problem? Is our Arkie the only really sex crazed rooster around? I wish I knew what to put in his food!!

And I'm sorry if this post is not o.k. Really, this is a problem. And it is the only solution we can think of. Ideas, anybody?

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Are your gals getting egg maker feed or a layer feed and calcium?
Do they have a broody nest you don't know about? They could be laying their eggs where you can't find them to brood.
Could your hens be molting? That could slow down egg production and make the missing feathers on their backs more noticeable.
Just a few ideas, hope you figure out what is going on.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 10:39PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

First, check on the overall health of your girls, and if they may be molting. Make sure they aren't infested with internal or external parasites, losing weight, are eating and carrying on normally, etc.

If you can rule out illness, like backlanelady says, search for a hidden nest!

As for the over-active he a youngster? Young fellas can be a little TOO enthusiastic sometimes. Make sure your girls have ample room to roam during the day in order to get away from him when need be, including bushes to hide under. If you have them penned during the day, think about enlarging the pen.

Boredom and overcrowding can both be major causes of feather picking...are the chickens eating any of the feathers they lose? If so, they may need more protein in their diet.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 5:34AM
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Interesting things to consider in all your posts...thanks! I'll share your suggestions with dh.

We do feed them a good feed that is particularly for egg production. They also get some cracked corn "for dessert" as well as vegetables and such now and then.

Apart from their bare backs they appear to be healthy. They are active and eat well.

I particularly like the idea of enlarging their pen. They have cleaned out their space way too much for my liking. That wasn't too bad when we could let them out to scratch and peck around outside. But now that the vegetables are up in the garden they have been staying in the pen. Hmmmm....

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 9:58AM
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Dear Lindakimy - your chickens are molting they will start losing their feathers around neck and head - egg production will drop until done could be up to 6 months! As far as your "very" friendly rooster - not much you can do - could get some more chickens give older ones a rest!! ha! be careful about feeding to much "junk food" that will also drop egg production. Hope this helps I have 85 chickens and alot with bare backs!


    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 6:42PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Until you enlarge the pen, you can offer them something else to peck besides Henrietta Hen's backside...raw corn on the cob, a cabbage hung by a string (make it so they can't hang themselves on it!)...anything that provides diversion and takes time to eat is all good. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 7:56PM
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I really don't think they are moulting - the feather loss is complete but only on their lower backs above their tails. It's a big old patch right where that doofus jumps on them. Dh is going to move him to the smaller pen this evening because he is just OVER Arkie's misbehavin'. And there are those three (straightlaced) ladies who haven't lost any feathers. I've seen their reaction when he tries to jump them - NOT welcoming AT ALL. (GO GIRLS!!)

I love the idea of the cabbage. LOL! Chicken pinata! Dh said he does give them green stuff every day since they can't get out and pick for themselves. And we have always wanted to get a container of bait crickets to pitch in there. That ought to be fun to watch! I carry every grub I find around to their pen and they go nuts for those. But I still think they have just cleared their space out way too well. Looks like fencing more area in is not in the budget right now, though, (tornado damage still to pay for) so we'll see if giving the girls a rest from old Arkie will help.

Nelda, what are you thinking of when you say "junk food"? Is there a problem with the things I mentioned? I hope we aren't giving them anything unhealthy! They get their laying crumbles plus a bit of cracked corn a couple of times a day. That usually means there is food in the pen all the time. Then we pitch weeds and grass we pull up in the garden and flowerbeds over the fence for them and we give them any veggies that are about to go over in the fridge (like slightly browned lettuce or peppers with a soft side - not really rotten stuff...that goes on the compost pile...but just the stuff that isn't really A1). They seem pretty thrilled about it - not picky at all. Later on they will get the extras from the garden - they especially loved the melons last summer. We couldn't eat them fast enough and they really loved to help!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 9:19PM
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Yesterday, dh moved Arkie (the rooster) to the other pen. He isn't happy about it (Arkie, not dh) but so be it. Gotta learn some manners, son.

Today, dh noticed that one of the hens is going broody. Could this have anything to do with the reduction in egg production? I'd think they would lay more. But I am very new to this so what do I know? Dh said that if she still stays on the nest tomorrow he is going to move the other eggs under her let her go to it. - New baby chicks! I hope! Cool! But now I will really have to work on him to enlarge the pen.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:22PM
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I've got 4 chickens, two R.I. reds and two rock bards. All lay eggs every day. One of the R.I. Reds seems to have a very hard time laying her egg. Unlike the other eggs, hers always comes out dirty. She is quirky bird. She sneaks out of the pen each morning in order to lay her egg just outside in a little nesting area that she has created for herself. Some days she even 'sneaks' back into her pen. She never tries to escape at other times and the other ladies never escape either. Anyway, what's up with her laying? Is there something I can do to 'ease' the process for her?


    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 2:14PM
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