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Behaviour of hen before laying first egg?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hello!  Our first chickens (Australorp, Barred Rock, Ameraucana) are about 23 weeks old and we're waiting for our first eggs.  Our favourite, friendliest chicken (Australorp) is acting strange today - not moving much, not eating much, not very responsive.  IS THIS HOW CHICKENS ACT BEFORE LAYING THEIR FIRST EGG??   Or is she sick (please no!). 

They're free-range, cooped up at night but fairly open-air, no light/heat.  Bodies look mature (red comb/wattle).

Advice/comments welcome - I can't find anything on behaviour of chickens that are getting ready for their first laying.

post #2 of 17

My chickens started the squat a week or two before laying for the first time.  When they squat, they also seem suddenly more tame as they squat for you instead of running away. Otherwise, I haven't noticed anything different as far as behavior goes.

post #3 of 17

Squatting is a good indicator that a pullet is reaching maturity. Combs and wattles really start turning red about this time also.

Laying that first egg is often a distressing experience for both the pullet & the pullet-keeper. Behavior could really be all over the map. Pullets don't seem to have much of a clue what is going on but usually don't like it, whatever it is.

Instinct takes them quite a ways. They will begin to show an interest in a place where they can have a nest. That doesn't necessarily mean that they will be in the nest when the egg actually shows up. They could be darn near anywhere.

Usually, and especially with a noisy hen, they will be a good deal noisier. With our quiet Australorp, pretty much the opposite was true with the noise factor. But, she couldn't seem to find a place where she was comfortable. Other pullets just seem to suddenly start laying without any noticeable change in behavior.

It won't take long before you will know if she is coming into lay - a few days, at most.

Here's wishing you the best of luck smile!

Steve

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post #4 of 17

Is she not moving because she's squatting or is she just acting lethargic?  When they get close to laying supposedly they will start squatting when you are around and not move but mine never did despite some being very friendly.  Now if she's just not active even when you aren't around and not eating I would worry.  Unresponsive kind of worries me too.  I'd keep an eye on her.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately, I'd say generally lethargic.  I noticed out the window she wasn't keeping up with the other two; when they went across the yard to chase a crow away she just stayed put, which was very unusual.  I went out with a treat to see how she was - the others came running and while she slowly made her way over to where the other two were gobbling up the crumbs, she wasn't very interested when she arrived, nibbled one crumb from my hand, then stood there, and finally stepped away.

Despite this, she flew up onto the window ledge at dusk as she has often done in the past few weeks.  A bit after that they were all roosting back in the coop.  I'll see what tomorrow brings.

Thanks for your comments and concern, I really appreciate it.

post #6 of 17

My hens have been laying for a couple of months now and I have yet to see one squat for me.  I did see one squat the other day for  a rooster, though, so at least I got to see what it looked like.

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post #7 of 17

Most of my hens will seek out a nesting spot away from the other birds and they've never really acted "lethargic" so I would maybe consider an illness if she is lethargic and unresponsive . Most of mine will choose a nesting spot and act kind of weird if you approach them while they are on it (like they want to leave or be left alone maybe some clucking) but lethargic and unresponsive doesn't sound good......
So sorry! Hope your bird is OK, but you might want to consider seperating her from the rest of your flock. Good Luck!

post #8 of 17

I know this feed is old, but you didn't respond back after your chick's strange behavior in '09.

I have a chick doing the same thing right now.  She was hatched Feb 27 & she is the largest & most often the piggiest.  Today she came out of the pen slowly & has not really done mush of anything including eating/drinking. 

What was your outcome?

post #9 of 17

I would like to know this too. I have a pullet doing the same type of thing. Not lethargic, though. I think thats the wrong word... Since I've been on an egg watch this week, all seemed normal, the squat, and all. And I've been out to the run every few hours. Usually I can count on my 8 pullets running up to the fence just to see what I'm bringing them! But when I went down this evening, my LBrahma just stood under the coop - it looked like she was holding her back/tail feathers up a little? 
Anyway, she didn't really move, but wasn't sitting down. She didn't seem distressed, just... uninterested in what the others were doing and what goodies I had in tow. She's a top bird (in the peck. order) and its unlike her to be so... still.. and not fight for her portion of the scraps. She did seem to kind of trance out and close her eyes... maybe lethargic is the right word, but based on how often I've been checking, it would be sudden onset whatever it is... It has been hot here, but this afternoon was not so bad (shady, nice breeze), and I have seen her eat and drink today, though I haven't been able to tell how much, really.

 

Does anyone have any clues? Can she be egg boung after only laying an egg or two? She's right in the middle of figuring this whole egg laying business, and its been a week since our first, and last egg....

post #10 of 17

Question asked, question answered. Now I'm just mad I MISSED IT! smile.png

 

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