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Chickens: Are larger flocks more vicious? 4 dead hens so far

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

I have lost 4 of my 33 Buff Orpington hens so far (found them dead inside the coop); all of them with a large patch of feathers missing on their lower backs. I have been unable to find out WHO is doing the plucking but have never had this problem with my smaller flocks of 10-7 chickens. I only have 1 rooster, so I know he has plenty of hens.

Are larger flocks meaner???

I'd appreciate any help you can give.....

(Louise) Palm Bay, FL(Zone 9b)

Is there a size/age difference in the flock?

Richmond, TX

I have found the reverse. It is easier to keep the peace with a large flock than with a few "catty" biddies. I would blame the missing feathers on the rooster. Did they all die at once?

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

The chickens were all raised together from chicks. No size or age difference. They're all Buff Orpingtons so they all look alike.

They did not all die at once. One at a time, a week or two apart.

I have started to wonder if the few who already have a spot of missing feathers on their backs will eventually die. Most of my hens have all their feathers.

I don't know what to think.......

Richmond, TX

The rooster's favorite hens will suffer feather loss. I bet if you remove the rooster no more bald backs will occur. I doubt, however, if the loss of feathers had much to do with their deaths. Were there any other signs of damage or illness?

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

No signs of illness. Everyone seems happy as larks. They have a large coop, all the food and water they want, lay lots of eggs, and they free-range on our farm.

So you think the bald spots and the deaths are two separate issues; not related? I know that the life of a free-ranging chicken is kind of dicey, but this is just weird. I thought maybe, when you have 35 chickens, you're bound to loose a few for this and that reasons, but I would rest better if I KNEW why. :-/

Here's a picture of one of the hens with a bald spot. The one that died yesterday, her spot was twice as big.

Thumbnail by Glenda_Michigan
Richmond, TX

Your hen looks to have typical feather loss from "attentive" roosters. I have often had chickens die mysteriously over the years. I too wish I knew the cause. I hope the rest of your flock will stay healthy.

Fowlerville, MI(Zone 5b)

Thanks so much Porkpal. I feel better now that you have seen what I'm seeing. :)

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I would isolate the rooster and see what happens. We have a flock about the same size and haven't ever lost chickens in that way. Once in a while a hawk will get one but the two ganders act as good watchdogs most of the time.

We no longer keep roosters because they seemed to harass the hens mercilessly.

(Nadine) Devers, TX(Zone 9b)

I had that problem and solved it..roosters were aggressive to their fav hens..I made saddle aprons and put them on my hens..even in the heat..didn't make them hot..just protect the backs..I even made the saddle aprons go up abit on the neck area to keep the rooster from holding on to the neck feathers..seen him get aggravated cuz he couldn't get a grip..lol...

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