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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2 year old buff Orpington hen that I raised from a chick. During the summer of 2012, she began to lose a lot of feathers from her back. Initially, I thought maybe she was just molting because some of the other hens were also losing feathers. She continued to lose feathers until she reached the point where her entire back is bare all the way down underneath her wings. She also happens to be a "favorite girl" of one of my roosters, so I thought perhaps excessive romancing may be part of the problem.

When she did not regrow any feathers during the fall, and continued with this excessive "baldness" all through the winter, I began to wonder if she might have a health problem of some type. It has now been over a year since she started this feather loss, and she is still as featherless on her back and under her wings as ever. I worry about her getting her back sunburned, because it gets quite red sometimes.

She shows no sign of acting sick. She free-ranges with my other chickens, she eats normally, my rooster still jumps her several times a day, and she continues to lay eggs. She recently went through a broody period, but has gotten out of it, and is now back to normal.

I have checked her for mites, even though none of my other chickens have a problem with mites, and have used different types of topical ointments on the "bald" areas, but nothing seems to work. She does have some feather "quills" sticking out of the skin on her back, but they never develop into feathers.

Does anyone have any idea what the problem is, and what I should do about it? It just seems like molting continuously for over a year is unnatural.
 

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This is hallmark BO behavior....they are, hands down, the most eager to be bred of any breed I've ever owned. Because of this hot to trot trait, she is the most used by the rooster. As long as you have a rooster and a BO in the same flock, you are going to have a barebacked bird.

When I had this issue with BOs, I just culled all the BOs and it took care of the problem. Since you are not likely to want to do that, other people solve this problem with hen saddles. You can make your own or buy them online from various sources. They are padded little shirts that the hens wear to prevent roo wear on their backs.

She has no health issues beyond being a blonde hussy.... ;) :D and that ain't gonna change.

For help with feather regrowth you can apply Castor oil, which will also be an antibiotic, antifungal, and insecticide for her skin while promoting good feather regrowth. The emollient will nourish and protect her skin and promote feather regrowth. Castor oil is all natural and can be found at any pharmacy and even at Dollar Stores. It's also an old dewormer agent that has been used for centuries on humans.

Another great ointment is NuStock..considerably more expensive but has thousands of testimonials to say that it's the best all round treatment you can ever place in your medicine chest for all the animals you may own. I've used both for this or that and have been greatly impressed with both...all natural, effective and worth their bottle weight in gold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick and informative response, Bee. It's good to know that the only problem my hen has is that she is a "slut". :D Her egg laying ability doesn't seem to be hampered any, so I guess I will just overlook her loose morals and keep her around for a while. Thanks again.
 

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We have a girl like that. Was a favorite to the rooster too,

image-1419233739.jpg

for a year her back feathers never grew back. Then she got a prolapse vent and had to be in a separate cage in our basement to recover. About a month, maybe a little more. Her feathers grew back! Just her being isolated for that time. Even now it seems weird to see her with no bald spot! She turned 3 this June!
 

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Its pretty hard on them to be jumped by roosters that often, I don't think they are particularly keen on the idea, ours squawk and hunker down when the rooster comes at them. if they keep at it, they can cut the skin, the skin can get sunburned, etc. Best to separate the rooster from this hen as much as possible and give the poor thing a break.
 

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I also had one like this, and finally after getting rid of my head hen a big fat GLW hen with issues of attacking other hens, and putting my main breeding rooster in a separate area I have her back to having feathers. However we now have a younger rooster. When she sees he is loose she runs and every time he will chase her and breed with her. It seems to be her own fault when she is still he leaves her alone. It is only when she is running that he chases after her and breeds her. She is our lower level hen, and is always the one that was being bullied. However now with her feathers back, I am seeing a big difference in her attitude. She now rules over the younger pullets and cockerels. However she still runs from the roosters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just as an update on my Buff Orpington hen with the bald back, she still has the bald back, but not as bad as it was. She is one of 2 Buff Orpington hens I got 2-1/2 years ago. Her "sister" from the same clutch had the bald back problem last summer also, but became a "home-body" and decided to just stay in and around the coop and caged run, hardly ever leaving the immediate area of the coop. As a result, she got to where she almost never was jumped by any of the roosters, and after a month or so of "celebacy" her back feather grew back nicely, and she is beautiful now.

In April of 2012, I picked up 3 Speckled Sussex pullets and a Leghorn pullet, and shortly after they reached maturity, I started to notice that 2 of the Sussex hens were getting the bald back, as was the Leghorn. One of the Sussex hens got chased so much, that, even though I allow them to free-range, she would head straight for my workshop, and stayed under my workshop all the time except to come out occasionally for feed and water. I was finally able to catch her, and return her to the coop, and she also became a "home body" that just stays in and around the coop, avoiding the roosters as much as possible, and her feathers have filled back in beautifully.

It is pretty obvious to me now that the cause of this back baldness is from the roosters mounting the hens too frequently. As I said, my chickens free-range, but I allow those that want to to remain in and around the coop to do so, and the ones who want to free-range with the roosters can. It is only the ones who free-range with the roosters who have the bald back and ruffled feathers, so I think the mystery is solved for me.

By the way, last April I bought 3 Aracauna chicks and 2 Rhode Island Red chicks. Unfortunately, one of my Aracauna "pullets" turned out to be a rooster, so now the hens have this "amorous teenager" to contend with in addition to the two 2-1/2 year old Buff Orpington roosters. Although the 4 newest hens enjoy free-ranging with the roosters, they do not get mounted nearly as often as the Orpington hen, the Sussex hen, and the Leghorn hen, so they are still looking beautiful.
 
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