How To Stop Rooster From Pecking Out Hens Feathers

A rooster with a flock of hens in coop.

It seems customary for chickens to pull out the feathers of their family members. There are many reasons chickens pluck out the feathers, but it could be unhealthy for hens if roosters keep harassing them.

When feather plucking becomes a vicious cycle, the owner should stop this destructive behavior because it could lead to chicken molting, infection, and cannibalism. Usually, the rooster pulls out the hen’s feather on the tail, back, or head. 

But if it becomes a daily habit, you must take extra measures to control the damage your rooster can do to your hens. 

Read this blog post and learn how to stop your rooster from harassing your hens. 

Common Reasons for Feather Plucking

Like some animals, roosters show their interest in hens by doing something that attracts attention. Among their habits is to pluck the feather out of the hen’s head and back. 

Pecking is a natural habit of roosters to court hens. It means the rooster is ready to have sex or mate with the hen through treading activity. The hen squats down while the rooster stands on the back of the hen. 

The rooster holds the hen’s neck feathers using his beak with feet on the ground. Sometimes the rooster focuses on one or two hens in the flock even if mating does not occur. 

Roosters are naughty; for them, pecking the hen is expected, which could be dangerous for their favorite hen. This habit leads to bald patches on the hen’s neck, wings, head, and back. 

Try checking your chickens, and you will find many hens losing their feathers due to pecking. There is nothing to worry about if the hens are safe after pulling off their feathers, but if the hen is getting balder, you must find ways to control the rooster’s behavior. 

Here are the common causes of feather plucking:

Ways to Prevent Rooster From Pulling Feathers of Your Hens

Adjust Coop & Flooring to Provide Enough Space to Avoid Overcrowding

The competition is stiff when there is overcrowding in your flock. Chickens bully each other to survive. Those aggressive roosters hurt the weak members of the congregation. 

You will find a lot of plucked feathers in the Coop as the chickens compete for food, water, and a place to rest. Try resolving this situation by providing enough resources and space for your chickens. 

Give them many waterers and feeders in every corner of the yard so that those weaker flock members can eat and drink well without competing with each other. Add more perches and coops to keep them healthy and safe. 

Better Rooster to Hen Ratio (1:12)

Raising a limited number of hens in your garden will lead to over-mating. It occurs when you have only one or two hens in your yard. The rooster mates with the same hen, which leads to plucking more feathers every time he courts the hen. 

One of the best methods to solve the over-mating problems of your chickens is to raise many hens so that the rooster will not focus on one or two hens. The ideal number is ten to twelve hens per rooster. If you have many hens, your rooster can pick different hens during mating.  

Prevent Overheating: Monitor temperature in the Coop Regularly

The temperature becomes too hot to bear when there is not enough space in the chicken coop. The chickens become agitated due to overheating. It triggers hurting the weaker birds. They become uncomfortable, which leads them to peck, bully, and hurt their fellow chickens to relieve their feelings. 

The best way to prevent this is to provide the chickens with clean and cool water. Change the water when it becomes murky at least thrice a day. Ensure that the Coop has proper ventilation for their comfort. 

If their cage has too much lighting, it will also cause overheating, which leads to agitation. Allow the chickens to get accustomed to daylight and not artificial light. 

Provide Sufficient Nutrient 

Chickens become uncomfortable if they lack food and water. They become irritable, which leads them to pluck the feathers of their fellow birds. To avoid this scenario, give your flock a healthy diet by choosing the right food that contains essential nutrients. A regular supply of water is of utmost importance. 

One of the causes of feather plucking is a lack of salt in their diet. They usually peck the hair at the preen gland, which produces oil to groom themselves. The preen gland is salty, which causes them to peck at their fellow’s preen gland to compensate for their deficiency. 

Reduce Flock Size

Pecking may occur when you have a large flock of over thirty chickens in your yard. Chickens may find it challenging to identify who among them belongs to the upper class or lower class. The situation leads to anxiety and stress in your flock. 

The ideal number to raise chickens is less than thirty birds. As the chickens feel uncomfortable, they become aggressive and bully their fellow chickens. If you cannot do away with more than thirty birds, you must separate some of the chickens in another part of your farm to minimize the aggression. 

When birds start hurting each other, it will also lead to injury. You have to separate the wounded chickens from the flock to treat their injuries and recover from their condition. Separate the injured chickens as they are prone to bullying since they cannot retaliate against unharmed chickens. 

Environmental Changes

Chickens react to environmental changes that lead to aggression. They become agitated and bully other chickens if they cannot locate their feeders and waterers. Moving their waterers and feeders to another place can lead to discomfort and confusion. 

This situation is similar to removing the eggs from the nesting boxes. Most hens do not lay their eggs anymore once they notice the changes in their position. 

If there is a lack of nesting boxes, older hens peck the feathers of other chickens to let them out of the nesting boxes. You must allocate one nesting box for every three hens to avoid pecking one another.

FAQs on Preventing Feather Pecking Among Chickens

What is the Suitable Coop for Chickens to Prevent Overcrowding?

Since overcrowding can trigger aggressive behavior in your chickens, ensure that the Coop should be spacious to accommodate at least four square feet per chicken. Those chickens that are not allowed to stay outside during the daytime should have a space of at least ten square feet in the Coop per bird. 

Keep the flooring safe and comfortable to run around. Instead of wired, sandy, rocky, or bare flooring, add wood shavings or straw as bedding to give them comfort throughout the day. 

What are the Uses of Chicken Saddles?

A chicken saddle mounted on the back of the hen can protect from the spurs and nails of roosters during mating. With a saddle, the rooster cannot pluck the feathers anymore on the back and head of your hen. Those injured chickens should wear saddles until the bruises heal and the feathers grow again. 

What is the Appropriate Diet for Chickens?

Roosters tend to pluck the feathers of other hens because their bodies lack nutrients, especially protein and salt. The best diet recommendation for chickens should consist of twenty percent protein. 

Feed your chickens the right amount of chicken mash to increase their protein intake and chicken multivitamins to treat other nutrient deficiencies. For salt deficiency, add one tablespoon of salt for every gallon of water and give your chicken at least thrice a week. 

What is Debeaking?

Debeaking or beak trimming is a temporary removal of the bird’s beak. In most cases, the beaks of roosters are shortened permanently, where the upper beak is shorter while the lower beak is a bit longer. 

The purpose of debeaking is to prevent the rooster from pulling off the feather of his hens and minimize infection and injuries. Since the beak regrows over time, you have to trim the beak regularly.

What is Pine Tar?

Pine tar is a type of wood tar that is useful in treating wounds in animals. It is applied on pecked chicken as it heals the wound fast. It also protects the hen from pecking due to its unpleasant taste. Apply pine tar to the affected area for fast healing. You can buy pine tar at garden supply and feed stores.

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