Have you noticed the behavior of your roosters & hen at your backyard? Pulling each other’s feathers is a natural habit of them.
But your roosters can be more vicious with plucking their partner’s feathers. Feather plucking sometimes gets very dangerous and this habit of your rooster can lead your chicken to infections, cannibalism or even chicken molting.
Some roosters may pluck off all the feathers around the neck & back of a hen. Even it’s seen that some roosters often pluck off all the feathers of a hen’s tail. With proper management and protection, you can prevent your Mr. Roo from pulling the feathers of his lovely hens. In this article, you will find ways to prevent your rooster from pulling the feathers of your hens.
Why does Mr. Roo pull feathers of Mrs. Hen?
If your hens are not injured by pulling off their feathers, there is actually no reason to be concerned. It is a courting behavior of the roosters to pecking the feathers around the neck & head of his hens. He pecks his hens to give them a signal that he would lie to mate.
It is normally recommended that you keep at least 10-12 hens per rooster. In this way, you won’t face over mating problems of your roosters & hens as your hens get injured due to over mating.
It is yet possible that your rooster will select one or two hens as his favorite to mate. Hens with the most feathers plucked off are probably your rooster’s favorite partner for mating and he probably makes them more often than the others. So, it’s a perfectly normal behavior of the rooster & hens & there is nothing to be worried about!
Also, Roosters are really naughty. They stand on their hen’s back & hold onto the feathers at the back of the hen just to keep their balance during mating. Sometimes it is seen that blood is drawing from your hen’s back, head & top of wings because of pulling their feathers. Also, there are bloody patches & raw spots which could be dangerous.
I know, we the chicken farm owners raise our chickens as if we are their parents & as a parent, you won’t like to see any of your hens distressed. So, when you face this kind of situation just take preventive actions so that your rooster can’t pull off the feathers of his hens abnormally.
Ways to prevent your rooster from pulling feathers of your hens:
1. Provide Enough Space
You should provide your flock with a lot of space so that they can move easily. Roosters living in an overpopulated flock or cramped cages are more likely to pull feathers. Your entire chicken flock needs a big space where they can run around. If your flock is kept inside a cage, then let them roam around at your backyard for at least one hour twice or thrice a day.
Just imagine you living in a congested place all day long! How would you feel? In this case, the feeling of your roosters & hens is exactly like yours.
In the feeding & watering areas, overcrowding often creates a big problem. All the flock members try to get the food there & if the place is congested, they end up fighting & pulling each other’s feathers.
As the roosters are more aggressive & they take the responsibilities of the flock, if anyone tries to break the pecking order he might attack & pull their feathers off.
To avoid these circumstances always keep your flock in a big & opened space. Always provide several feed dishes & water pods so that your rooster & hens don’t cluster together and end up fighting.
2. Provide Appropriate Diet
Roosters are more likely to pull the feathers of other hens when they are suffering from nutritional deficiencies.
A deficiency of protein in roosters is one of the causes of plucking feathers of hens. An ideal chicken diet consists of a minimum of 20% protein.
Give your flock a good chicken mash. It will reduce the protein deficiency in your roosters and decrease their feather pulling. Also, give your roosters & hens a dose of chicken multivitamins to treat their deficiencies.
3. Use Chicken Saddle
There is no doubt that your rooster will mate your hens if you keep them together. It’s just an obvious thing! While mating your hen squats & let the rooster ride on him. Your rooster will stand on the back of her & pull her feathers around her back & neck while mating.
This feather pulling of roosters sometimes turns into an injurious behavior toward the hens. To prevent this, I would highly recommend to using a chicken saddle on your hen.
Using of chicken saddle won’t allow the rooster to pull the feathers around your hen’s back & thus protect her from the injury. You can get Standard Size 5 Pack Chicken Saddle from Amazon.
It’s a process of partial removal of the beak of your rooster.In this method, the beak of a rooster is shortened permanently. The upper beak is kept shorter & the lower beak is kept a bit longer.
This way the beak of your rooster is trimmed & he is unable to pull off the hair of his hens. Debeaking reduces the damages from injuries on hens. Your rooster’s beak will eventually grow with time & you need to repeat this trimming process whenever needed.
You can get an Automatic Chicken Debeaking Machine easily for trimming the beak.
5. House roosters using litters
Roosters & hens like to thrive in wood shavings & straws as they have nesting instincts. In most of the cases if roosters are not allowed to nest themselves then it is possible that they will resort to plucking & pulling the feathers of hens.
We had a rooster in our flock named Sumo. If Sumo did not find anything for nesting, he would just start to pull his favorite hen’s feathers & injured her. That’s why I will always suggest housing your roosters & hens on litter instead of bare wire floors. Remember not to use cat litters or sand. Try to use straws & wood shavings only.
6. Treat Mineral Deficiency
If you see your rooster pulling feathers of almost all the hens of the flock simultaneously without any reason then it is possible that he is facing the deficiency of minerals in his body.
Mineral deficiencies cause feather pecking in roosters more frequently. The only solution to this problem is salt. Add a tablespoon of salt to every gallon of your flock’s water. Repeat it three days a week. By following this method, you will be able to treat Mr. Roo’s mineral deficiency & prevent him from pulling hen’s feathers.
Even after following all of the methods you might find some aggressive roosters who will fight, pull feathers & injure your hens anyhow! They are just like those stalker boys who will irritate girls whatever prevention you may take!
If you face any situation like this then keep that stalker Roo away from the flock. Keep him in another pen just like you send disturbing stalkers to jail. Until your rooster behaves gently, don’t keep him in that flock. Hope you find the article helpful & it will help you to prevent your rooster from pulling the feathers of your hens.