Broody or illness? ... and bullies.


5 Years
Apr 23, 2014
Hello! My husband and I have been raising our backyard flock for a year without many problems. We started out with five chicken and now have four 2 buffs and 2 GL Wyandottes. During the day they are maintained in the coop and run and then come out to free range around the yard in the evenings after work (as weather allows). Mostly, we've dealt with aggressive bullying from our top hen who, we had to rehome as a result.

Here we are two weeks later. After removing the top hen, everything evened out and everyone seemed more relaxed. Then, 5 days ago I noticed that one of my Buffs was hiding out a lot in the coop on the roosting bar and in the nesting box. When she came out to free range around the flock, she fluffed up her feathers and ran away from one hen (who used to be bottom in the order). The next day, I saw she was hiding again and had a bloody comb. Sweet Jesus, not again! Well, as the day went by, I found her mostly on the roosting bar and felt her crop to be bigger than normal. She would try to come down into the run to eat but was quickly chased off by new queeny and her sister. I removed her from the flock and put her in a sick bay, thinking she had a sour crop or infection and wanted to monitor her eating/drinking/pooping. Well, everything seems normal: eating, drinking, pooping and even laying! After 24 hours, I decided she was fine and put her back out with the flock. Today's the same story! First thing in the morning, I went out to check on her and she was on the roosting bar with blood on her comb. She ate feed from my hand and puffed up whenever anyone came near her. A couple hours later, she was on the nesting box and I figured he was laying an egg. Couples after that, she's still in there with an egg underneath her. I forced her out and let the others free range so she could eat and drink in peace. She ate some sunflower seeds to tossed for her and then immediately went into the nest box.

Here are my questions: is she broody? I've found her more on the roosting bar than in the nest. But I'm gone mostly during the day and don't see which she's in.

Could she be picked on because of being broody? And should I separate the new queen bee to break the aggression? She's been chasing her sister some too but not to the point of making her bleed.

Or could she be sick even with normal eating/pooping/drinking/laying? I've been through all the likely culprits: impacted/sour crop--- she's empty in the morning with no noticeable hard mass; GI infection--- no sign with normal poops; egg bound--- laying eggs still.

I called an avian vet and they offered an appointment at $100 for just the exam. :( My husband wouldn't allow it (grew up on a farm and has strict opinions about this) and since she's not seeming too sick, I haven't pushed the issue. Just yet.

Sorry for the wordiness and thanks in advanced for any advise and input. I'm at my wits end by this point!!!
If she's spending her time on the roost, she's not broody. It could be that she's sick, but I don't have any idea what it could be. To be honest, I wouldn't spend $100 on a chicken, either. I could buy a lot more chickens with that $100. But then, mine aren't pets. They are kept for eggs and meat and the entertainment they provide is a bonus.
Thanks for the reply Bobbi-J. I don't feel so bad about vet now. After getting home I'm stumped again :/

Update: So. This afternoon I put Phyllis (buff) back in the crate cuz she wouldn't get out of the nest boxes all morning and eat or drink anything. I thought at least if she was broody, I could keep her from getting hurt and give her plenty of food and water if she decided to eat or drink. Well. I came home and she was just laying there kind if in a trance and I opened the door to the crate and petted her. She looked up at me and then stood up, shook her feathers out and pooped the most enormous poop I'd ever seen! I thought broody poop, right? Some food and water was gone but no other poops for 6.5 hours. Then, I noticed she laid another egg. I let her outside and she headed straight for the coop. I thought that was a good sign, when I opened the door she headed straight in and up to the roost she went. The only thing she was interested in eating was black sunflower seeds. Her crop felt full so I think she ate just before I got home.

Gosh, I really wish I knew what was going on. Has anyone given antibiotics for something like this? Could it hurt? If she's broody should I stop it or help her through it?

I think I'm going to separate the queeny for a while and see how she does when the aggressor is gone. Any other thoughts or advice? Thanks ya'll!
Here the picture of the poop!

Dear OP,

Sounds exactly like a broody hen to me so no need to worry. They always fluff up and cluck, avoiding other chickens even getting more aggressive and provoking fights. It's all just instinct they develop in order to help protect their babies once they hatch.

If you want to break her of being broody, the best way I've ever used is to put her in a wire cage with wire walls, top and bottom. Put it in a well lit area so she is exposed and can't try to "nest". Keep her in there for about 3 days or so until she stops fluffing up and clucking when you approach. Some hens take less and some longer to break them of it. Still provide her with food and water.

Or you can give her a few fertilized eggs and let her hatch them out. It will take 3 weeks. I hope that helps. I wish you the best of luck!
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I'm still not entirely convinced that she's broody if she went straight back to the roost in the coop. A broody generally does not spend it's time on the roost, is not currently laying, and will return to the nest rather than get off the nest, poop and go find the roost. If she's not eating much, she's not going to poop much. I could be wrong as all animals are different, but this does not sound like typical broody behavior to me.

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