Can a broody hen caused others to stop laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Dabeve60618, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. Dabeve60618

    Dabeve60618 New Egg

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    Mar 15, 2014
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    Good Morning,

    Is it normal for one broody hen to cause her 2 other coopmates to stop laying?

    We have 3 hens that are 7 months old. 1 BO, 1 EE & 1 GLW. They all started laying between 17-20 weeks and have been laying consistently 5 to 6 eggs a week each all summer. It appears the BO went broody about a week ago. We are newbie chickens owners but she spent a lot of time sitting the the nest box, had all her feathers puffed out and would get fairly vocal when we opened the nest box. We kept moving her out and shut her out of the coop for hours at a time during the day and she appears to have given up the behavior. However, during that period our egg production crashed and for the past 5 days our EE has not laid at all and the GLW and BO have laid 3 eggs between them.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    RJR
     
  2. blkjak

    blkjak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2014
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    Yes a broody hen can cause everyone to stop laying. Our silkies stopped laying when we let 1 hatch out eggs. It took a month to get them to lay again. We have other hens and our silkies are in their own space so it didnt affect everyone.
     
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  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Any change in the flock dynamic, like breaking a broody, can effect laying.
     
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  4. Dabeve60618

    Dabeve60618 New Egg

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    Good Evening Again,

    I thought I would follow-up on this post as it has been a month. The BO and GLW are back to laying almost as regularly as they were prior to taking the break that caused me to post this message; however, the EE has not yet started laying again at all and I am starting to become concerned. In addition, today I noticed the two other birds doing some pecking at the EE's tail end and seeming to chase her back into the coop. Should we be concerned about the lack of laying? and two how about the pecking?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

    RJR
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The EE may not be laying because of the stress of being harassed, you should probably examine her tail end and make sure she's not wounded.

    Sounds like she's low bird in the pecking order, are both the other hens pecking at her?

    Sometimes removing the meanest bird from the coop for a couple weeks can ease things up.
    Re-integration can improve things, or not. It's hard to balance a pecking order in a tiny flock of 3
     
  6. Dabeve60618

    Dabeve60618 New Egg

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    Thank you. The pecking I noticed today for the first time. I took a look at her back end and there are certainly some feathers missing but no big wounds. There are small rivulets of blood near the base of a missing feather but nothing that looks open. Otherwise her rear looks fine and as far as I can tell her vent looks fine. Seems like one or the other of the hens will give her a peck in the rear and she squawks once and heads to the coop. Until now I have never really noticed a pecking order as they each seemed to do their own thing. They will be 10 months old in a few days now so perhaps this is their attempt at establishing the order? Do hens wait that long to start to sort that kind of thing out? Should I have noticed an established order in hens younger than 10 months?
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The pecking order will always be there and can change for no apparent reason....as I said before, with just 3 birds it can be more trouble as there's less 'love' to go around.
    They peck at each other from days old, it's how chickens communicate and establish/maintain their societal hierarchy. As long as there's no serious bloodletting or trapping/pinning down of the low bird they will coexist just fine. If there's any blood watch closely that the spot is not targeted for more pecking, it can happen and that's the time to intervene. Some birds can just be overly aggressive and may need to be removed from the flock.

    With my 15, someone's always getting pecked or 'pushed' off with a quick short chase. Sometimes it's just a tap, sometimes it's feather pulled right out, sometimes it seems incredibly cruel, sometimes the targeted birds just move off and resume their lives with no apparent distress. I have one that was picked on by almost everyone and very nervous around most the birds for a several months, the other day I saw her deliver a single mild peck to one of the older birds at the feeder then they both resumed eating...and that bird is now much more calm and is laying better. So things do change.
     
  8. Dabeve60618

    Dabeve60618 New Egg

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    Mar 15, 2014
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    Thanks for the information. We appreciate your help.
     
  9. Dabeve60618

    Dabeve60618 New Egg

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    Now coming up on 8 weeks Wednesday since this EE hen last laid. The pecking I described a few weeks ago settled down after a day or two but still she has not started laying again. She doesn't give any outward indication of being in distress and seems to go about her business as she always has in the past.....Is this abnormal? Indicative of a larger problem? OR does it just happen from time to time?

    Thanks for any advice....

    Also..a new issue... these three nitwits have taken to sleeping in the nest boxes the last few days...one in each and then the third pretty much on top of one of the others....what's up with that? I figured to try and just block access at sundown and see if that resolves the issue?? Any better way to correct?

    and forgive me if it is bad form to bump an old thread, but it already contained all the information on what started this...or better said...whatever stopped the laying.

    Thanks!
     
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  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Bringing up the thread is fine....updating and adding a new situation, with all the pertinent information...no problem IMO.

    The not laying could be because of lack of daylight. Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.
    Second year layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Here's pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.


    Are your roosts higher, by at least a foot, than the nests? They like to roost as high as possible.
    You can block the nests, but you'll need to unblock them first thing in the morning.
    Or take them out of the nests and put them on the roosts after dark, might take a few days to over a week to reestablish the proper roosting habits.

    My experience was that I had some pullets that the older birds wouldn't let roost with them so the pullets wanted to roost in the nests. I put up another roost just a couple inches lower than the main roost and began removing the pullets from the nests after dark and putting them on their roost. Did that for a couple nights, then started going in at dusk and poking them in butt if they got into the nests(I have 'outside the coop' access to my nests boxes so this was easy). Pretty soon all I had to do was walk in and they would leave the nest and go to the roost so they didn't get poked in the butt. Took about 3 weeks total before they got in the habit of roosting on the roosts instead of in then nests.
     

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