bald but not broody?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by peartreehens, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. peartreehens

    peartreehens Out Of The Brooder

    May 10, 2013
    I have an 18mo old cuckoo marans who's plucked her belly totally clean, isn't laying, but isn't broody. She sits in the nest box every other day or so, but doesn't lay anything. She leaves the box after an hour or so. Checked for mites/lice etc, but found nothing. Haven't see anyone plucking her. . . Any thoughts? Separate her? She's been this way for about 2 months. She eats and acts just fine.
  2. chickenbloomers

    chickenbloomers Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 17, 2014
    I live in Missouri.
    She may have a nutrition deficiency, which means you need to cut back on foods that have vary little nutrients like cracked corn, crackers, stale bread, etc. Give her foods like watermelon rinds, spinach, clover, carrots, eggshell things like that. It could also be over crowding and boredom. If it's boredom you can give your girls some hey to scratch in, they need lots of Entertainment chickens are busy birds.:) if it's over crowding then they need space, which there is lots of stuff on how much space they need in the coop section. Some farm stores sell products for canablisim in chickens,like dyes that you put on the bold spots, not quite sure how that could help never had to use them but guess it may be worth a try.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  3. Papas Chickens

    Papas Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 13, 2014
    Dateland Arizona
    Spring is the most common time for broodiness to occur although it can happen any time throughout the year.

    You've heard of the term 'feathering one's nest', well that's exactly what a broody hen will do. She will start picking feathersfrom her chest and undercarriage area to line her nesting box. So do not be alarmed if she has developed some bald spots, they will all grow back again.

    Many do have a nasty peck, but don't be scared to pick her up gently around her wings against her body to move her out of the nesting box. Wear thick gardening gloves when picking her up, if necessary.

    Broody hens do not lay and it may take up to 21 days before she will start to lay again - in some cases it may take a few months! Every breed is different, some bounce back into laying much sooner, but in order to get her to start laying and stop her broodiness we have to change her behaviour on Day 1.

    Broodiness can encourage the other hens to also become broody. So the quicker we fix it the better the whole flock will be.

    If you do not have a door for the nesting box area, you will need to separate the broody hen from the flock. I recommend some temporary pet fencing that is high enough to stop chickens from jumping over. Even attaching a small tarp over the top for shade and to keep pigeons out is a great idea. Include water and food and make sure you have set up the fencing in a cool shaded spot in the garden.

    If you do not have a temporary pet enclosure, use a large pet transport box/cage.
    It is important to keep the chicken's belly cool to help her calm down in her broody state, so I always recommend that she be kept in a shady grassy area. Her hormones will elevate her temperature, so
    reducing her temperature will help to normalise her hormones.

    The biggest problem with a broody hen is her refusal to eat and drink properly or at all.
    If she is sitting on a clutch of eggs for hatching then we do need to provide her with food and water in small quantities in her nesting box so that she does not fatigue or dehydrate.

    Dehydration in a chicken can lead to a quick death, but when broodiness sets in they seem to last a little longer, but my rule is to never let them go without water for their overall well-being.

    How to fix a broody hen

    • Remove her from the nesting box on Day 1.
    • Place her in a temporary cage/yard without a nesting area in a cool shady spot. Provide food and water. Do not constantly throw the hen out of the nesting box as this can lead to unnecessary repeated stress.
    • Once all the other hens have laid their eggs for the day you may release her from her cage area to roam with the other hens, but close off access to the nesting boxes entirely until dusk.
    • Let the broody hen roost with the other hens over night, but remove her again in the morning (just look in the nesting box to find her).
    • When she finally chooses to come out in the morning with the other hens you will know that you have succeeded. This may take roughly about one to four weeks.
    • Egg laying may cease for around 21 days (as this would be the natural incubation period for the fertilised eggs).

    The loss of feathers can actually be due a range of things rather than just immediately diagnosing it as from an attack. Molting and broodiness are the other two major times in a chickens life when feathers come out. You may have heard of 'feathering ones nest', well in the case of chickens that is exactly what the girls do. The feathers are mostly self plucked from around underneath where she can reach.

    Investigate their overall health to to see if they have a parasitic infection, lice or mites. Sometimes worming and pest dusting can be the simple solution that is often overlooked. Clean out their nesting boxes and roosting area too. Strange behaviours can often manifest themselves when parasitic pests invade.

    It is not normal behaviour for chickens to peck at each other to pull out feathers or leave one another bleeding. If it is only one chicken being picked on then remove her to another coop for her safety until she heals sufficiently to be reintroduced back to the flock. Sick or injured hens are also likely to be heavily picked on by the flock, so for their own safety need to be moved to another temporary coop.

    Feather pecking can be caused by:
    • Stress
    • Boredom
    • Light/dark of nesting areas
    • Nutrition


    Over-crowding is the usually the main reason. Can the floor area of the coop and run be extended?
    Pecking of any kind is almost always due to high stress levels, so investigate what could be up setting the hens.
    Observe other animals that may interact with the hens or their cage area. Don't forget the night time investigation for other unseen predators.


    When hens are kept in a cage and limited run their view and foraging is highly limited. As every yard is significantly different to a number of factors this type of housing for the hens may be their only option. Boredom will be a high influencing factor.

    To help break the boredom include interesting ways of foraging for their food such as hanging up a cabbage or cob of corn for them to jump and peck at.

    Include different heights for the girls to investigate. Something as simple as a wooden ladder or some natural sticks placed across a corner can be just what they are looking for, especially if the coop they are in has limited outside views from ground level.

    If there is no dust bath in their coop/run, please add one as it is essential to their overall health and pest control maintenance. It is also a very social time for the hens that also benefits their psychological well being.

    Light/dark of Nesting Areas

    Hens love to lay in darker secluded places rather than in open bright spaces regardless of where the nesting boxes have been set up. I have seen hens desperate to lay but with no where to go. That soon builds to an unmanageable stress level that could leave the hens egg bound and in the worse cases, soon dead. Make sure there is somewhere hidden for your girls to lay. They can be very shy about their egg laying when they first start their laying career.


    Make sure your hens have a high protein layer pellet mix, not just surviving on greens and kitchen scraps. You might find that your flock prefers one brand over another. Every breed has a slightly different protein need. Try adding a little minced meat, chop bone with a little meat on it or some meal worms a couple of times a week to help increase their protein levels.

    Are you finding eggs are frequently broken and eaten by the flock in the coop?
    This is a definite sign of a lack of protein. As eggs are a great source of protein the hens will try to find any source that will help them. The problem, however, becomes two-fold when they start to eat their own eggs.
    1. Eggs will be eaten by the hens rather than by you.
    2. Cannibalising of a hen at her vent (where the egg comes out) may occur = death


    • Feeding egg shells back to hens is a good source of calcium.

    BUSTED! This type of calcium cannot be reabsorbed since it has already come from the hen. The calcium level does not increase in the hen through this method, but merely passes on an inferior level of calcium and teaches the hen that egg shells are normal to be pecked at.

    INSTEAD give the hens fine shell-grit to peck at or dust bath in. Hens tend to peck at the ground while they dust bath, thus taking in the fine shell-grit that they need. Alternative give the some live-culture yoghurt once or twice a week. Limit the frequency of yoghurt as it can result in runny poos and thus very messy bottoms.

    I hope this helps. [​IMG]
  4. peartreehens

    peartreehens Out Of The Brooder

    May 10, 2013
    thanks. She's not ACTING broody, though. She goes in the nest box like she's going to lay an egg, hangs out for an hour, then comes back out. She eats, roosts, poops, and plays in the yard like the other girls. Would it be a nutritional thing if no one else has trouble? I've upped the protein content in their diet just in case, and the treats they get are mostly what they find in the yard when I let them out of the run for a few hours every day. Two or three times a week, I hang a head of cabbage (or greens smashed into a suet feeder) just above their head height so they can play tether ball. They have roosts at multiple heights. They get out to play in the yard almost every day.
    I'm not sure what else to do . . .
  5. chickenbloomers

    chickenbloomers Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 17, 2014
    I live in Missouri.
    Aww, your such a good ma,ma! It sounds like she eats vary good so I doubt it's nutrition. It may be bird mites which will only come out at night, they hang out in the coop during the day. Are there any red spots on her skin have you noticed?

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