Bully hen 'hogging' the nesting box

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by TinaMaeGirl3, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. TinaMaeGirl3

    TinaMaeGirl3 New Egg

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    I am a backyard chicken 'newbie'. We bought 3 young buff orpingtons about 2 1/2 months ago. They started laying within days and since then have been getting 3 eggs/day in the same nesting box. (They have 3 to choose from) One hen lays early in the morning and two lay together in the same box later. All laying is done by 9:30-10:00am. We let them out 2-3 times a day to free-range in the backyard and veggie garden. They have gotten very fat and happy! :) However, within the last week, one hen, Charlotte, has been 'hogging' the nesting box and pecks at the others if they want in. She'll sit in there for HOURS, while the others are pacing to get out and lay. I eventually will let them out so the other two can lay under the honeysuckle brush in a make-shift nest they've made (that we discovered after occasionally finding only 1-2 eggs in the nesting box). They flat out run to that nest and lay within minutes! Poor girls! All the while, Charlotte sits in the nesting box and, now, is not laying until late in the afternoon. What's going on? She won't come out of the coop or hang with the other girls. Nothing appears physically wrong with her. Why wouldn't the other hens just use the other nesting boxes? Should we break down the dividers and make one community box? Why is Charlotte being such a bully?
     
  2. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

    Sounds like Charlotte is broody. This is when they want to sit on eggs, hatch them, become and mother and not leave the nest. Usually they stop laying during this time though. Has she plucked feathers from her breast? This is another sign of broodiness. Crankiness is very common in broody hens.

    If you are not wanting chicks to be hatched right now then you need to break her.
    Take all eggs out of the nests. Block the nests, remove the hens constantly, put a frozen water bottle in the nest, give the hens a cold bath, put them is a crate or shut them outside. These are all great ways to snap them out of their broodiness.

    Here's a good link too.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/encouraging-or-discouraging-broodiness-in-your-hens

    Good luck!
     
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  3. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    If you do not have a rooster, her eggs are infertile and will not hatch, so matter how hard she tries. This is a good reason to "break her" of broodiness, as she will just get worn out trying to hatch - unhatchable eggs.

    However, if you want to swap out her eggs and buy fertile eggs (of any breed) to put under her - she can be a true mama and you can get another breed the easy way (no need for an incubator or brooder).

    It's your call.
     
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  4. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome to BYC! Glad you decided to join our flock. You have been given some good advice by Mountain Peeps and drumstick diva and a good link by Mountain Peeps. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck with Charlotte.
     
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  5. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC!
     
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Yes, sounds like she is broody. It never hurts to have extra nest boxes for that occasional annoying broody hogging up a box. :)

    Good luck and welcome to our flock!
     
  7. TinaMaeGirl3

    TinaMaeGirl3 New Egg

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    Thanks everyone! Next question is....Will the other two hens figure out they can use the other two nesting boxes? They fuss like crazy and pace about the coop door all morning long. I hate to keep letting them out to lay in the honeysuckle. I don't want that to become a habit and there will be days when I'm not home to let them out. Does it harm them to hold that egg in until they figure out they can use one of the other empty boxes?
     
  8. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

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    What you should do so that they can continue to use that nest is move the broody out. Put her in a dog crate of box where she isn't blocking the usage of the nests.
     
  9. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    X2 on Mountain Peeps advice.
     

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