Hi, I'm new to the chicken world. We currently have 4 bantam/bantam mix hens (if that's possible)... three of which started to lay for us in December. (Here's a little history: We got some chickens from a friend who had hatched several as a home school project in late spring '08. We took the roosters back to the original farm since we're not really in "the country" & didn't want trouble with neighbors. We ended up with 5 bantam hens, but, lost our first layer with her first egg. It was large for her & she died within hours after giving "birth" to it (so sad!). Since then, our little Splash Cochin, "Chicken Little"/"Fluffy Butt", got sick... still don't know what it was even after looking everything up on the web & in the Backyard Chicken book, but, I was able to nurse her back to normal by taking her inside and keeping her away from the others who had started pecking all her "bummy" feathers off when she got sick. Thought she may be having trouble coming into "puberty" (the only thing I can think of calling it when they first start to lay) & we were kinda paranoid about an egg being/getting stuck since she's so small. She recovered in a few days but I may wait 'til spring to introduce her back into the flock... she's currently secluded in her own section of coop & still hasn't laid any eggs.) Which brings us to our latest delema... About 2 weeks ago, I noticed our girl, Snow White, was staying in her nest a lot. She had always been "pecky" when she was about to lay an egg and would sit there for a long time before laying her egg and then getting out. She was still laying eggs, but, then, one day, she laid one, even smaller than normal, outside the nest & then had returned to sit in her nest. She had started puffing herself up (feathers) whenever anyone got near & pecking at them. I thought she may be going broody, so, I just left her for a day or two. Then, it seemed like she might not be eating or drinking & we started bringing food and water to her and she would eat a little but not drink unless we put it right up to her beak. The other hens started pecking at her and I moved her into a box in our house (pine shavings in bottom). She has a nest and her food and water are within inches of her, but, she will not eat or drink unless we hold it up to her (um... have we created a chicken primadonna?). After bringing her in, I noticed her crop was large and hard, about the size of a rubber raquet ball?,... looked up that on the web... "crop impaction" it said, & I started recommended treatments of bread mixed with olive oil and massage to the crop. The crop impaction seems to be gone completely (the poor thing had a couple enormous poops!), but she is still very mean to everyone, fluffs her feathers, won't drink unless we put it up to her beak, doesn't even hardly eat unless we hold it up to her beak (we're feeding her: scratch, layer pellets, corn bread & ww bread crumbs with olive oil, sometimes yogurt, and her water has a tsp. of apple cider vinegar in it... she likes the yogurt and bread crumbs best... she won't eat "greens" anymore.). Her poops turned runny & dk. greenish after only the bread crumb mixture, but is a little firmer now that she's eating some scratch & a little layer pellets... still greenish and really stinky, but, then ANY chicken poop is stinky in a small bathroom indoors! OH, I forgot to mention, she's stopped laying, her "tail" is down usually, and she only poops one time a day when I "roost" her on the edge of the box for a few minutes to give her a little excersize, she is much thinner than before, and I have noticed her head twitching at times, but, not all the time. Can someone help us with figuring out if she's really sick or just broody? My husband's been out of work for a long time now and we just don't have money to spend on chicken vet bills, so, it HAS to be inexpensive. I've spent hours researching things on the internet, but, everyone else's symptoms are just a little different than hers and I can't seem to figure this out.