Can Hens Decide when they want to lay? Mad at being in a coop?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MysteryChik, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. MysteryChik

    MysteryChik Chillin' With My Peeps

    Strange question, I know. But let me tell you why I am asking. I have ten Hens that are all over six months old. 7 that I know are laying. A couple months ago, they started roosting in the rafters of my goat stall. Just out of the blue one day every single hen stopped going into the coop. (the coop was well managed and cleaned and very secure so that no predators could get in.) I know that my pure bread PBRs (3 of them) would still go back in the coop to lay but only to lay and eat and get water.

    2 of my hens are Wheaten OEGs. Granny stays broody all the time, and if she lays an egg somewhere and you pick it up.. she finds a hiding spot and starts laying somewhere secretive. I can NOT tell you how many piles of unfertilized eggs we've found over the last year.

    We have another wheaten hen, that if she lays.. i've never saw evidence of it. I have two wheaten/Dominique mixes that also go off to lay. one has went missing for weeks on end before so I know atleast she is broody. Not sure about the other wheaten/dominque if she's laying and hiding too. Then we have three wheaten/PBR mixes.. IDK if they are gonna go broody or not. I know our pure PBRs are not broody at all. SOrry for all the rambling..

    let me get to why i am asking such a crazy question.

    Did alot of research on this site as to how to pretty much retrain my hens to go back to the coop at night. I left them in there for 3 weeks-to a month. Didn't let them out at all unless it was to clean the coop and they were in a large dog kennel with hood while we did that. That entire month, we would only get one maybe two eggs per week.. DEF came from my pure PBRs. very large brown eggs.

    I figured they had been in there enough time.. so decided to let them start free ranging again. The very first day I let them out.. GUESS WHAT? Again.. not a SINGLE hen came back to the coop. straight back to the Goat stall rafters again. and this time.. they started laying some eggs in the goats' hay trough. One plymouth still goes in the coop to lay. they've been out of the coop about a week..

    yesterday, I had SEVEN eggs in the hay trough. how did i get seven eggs in one day.. and only got that number in an entire month in the coops. today, only two eggs in all and they were in the trough. I'm so confused. I know OEG tend to go broody.. Do they tend to go broody even if bred with non broody breeds such as PRB. Am I going to have to go on an Easter Egg hunt every day to find my eggs? I went on an egg hunt today with my 3 year old and found a stash of 30 eggs. (old) in my tool shed.. Looked like they were from 3 different hens. who knows how long they'd been there. Please help
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    There is obviously something wrong with your coop. Posting photos can help people to help you see what needs fixing or changing. Your roosts may be too low, or maybe it's stuffy without enough ventilation, or it's too crowded. That's a few reasons chickens may dislike a coop.

    The stress of being locked up can cause hens to quit laying.

    Game breeds haven't had broodiness bred out of them, so they will go broody whether there's a rooster or not, or whether there are eggs to sit on or not. They still have the urge to follow a natural biological rhythm.
     
  3. MysteryChik

    MysteryChik Chillin' With My Peeps

    I will post pics tomorrow. thanks for the suggestion. IDK what could be wrong.. Not saying its perfect by any means but its very large.. and only houses the ten hens. I understand about the game breeds.. but if they're game mixed with PBR.. do the chicks born from those automatically broody since their mama is, or is there a chance they won't be since the broodiness is bread out of the "father" breed. im so confused. sorry. DEF not a Chicken professional. I have so much to learn. but I'm tryin!
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    central Wisconsin
    It's okay, everyone learns somewhere. Broodiness is all over the place with breeds sometimes as not only can it be a breed trait, but than it can be an individual thing as well as breeding behind a bird. Technically crosses should be less prone to going broody.

    There could be nothing wrong with your coop, it could be they just prefer the goat shed. You might have to go back to rounding them up in the evening for a while or luring them with treats before dusk to the coop. It can take a long while to change a chickens preference.

    Do you have fake eggs in your nestboxes? They can really help to direct most chickens to lay in the boxes.
     
  5. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It might be lack of sunlight along with stress. Was it very dark, or little ventilation? Did you see a lot of feathers everywhere? When locking up the birds for so long did you give them things to keep them occupied? Is there moving or flapping object close to the chicken door? Any signs of rats/predators? How big is you coop? To keep them totaly confined you need at least 4 sqft per bird- preferably more!
     
  6. MysteryChik

    MysteryChik Chillin' With My Peeps

    Very well ventilated. no not really many feathers.. Yes there were things to keep them occupied. At the time, there were 10 hens locked in a 15x17 open air coop. maybe it was stress.. or overcrowding..
     
  7. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Albany,, Wisconsin
    It might have been as simple as Winter for the lack of eggs. Many birds do not lay much when there isn't enough daylight hours. What breeds do you have? Plus if they were born later in the year they may not have started to lay until now. I have a lot of larger heavy breed birds. Even though mine hatched in February 2016, some are just starting to lay now! I was only getting a couple eggs a week from my 9 hens (just turned 1 year old) this past winter. In just the last couple of weeks we have started to get a lot of eggs- 7 on both of the last 2 days.

    As for them roosting in the rafters- they are probably higher than the roosts in the coop and enclosed- making the birds feel safer. How open air is your coop? It may be that your coop is too open for them. (lots of wind dampness and winter chill will also affect how much they lay) Do they have an area that is enclosed with the roosts?
     
  8. MysteryChik

    MysteryChik Chillin' With My Peeps

    its open on 2 half sides. the rest is boarded, I have 2 PBR pures. then i have 2 old english wheatens. 2 OEW mixed with dominique and 3 OEW mix with PBR
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  9. Paganrose

    Paganrose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2010
    Albany,, Wisconsin
    Picture would help of the coop. My impression is that there is no completely enclosed area for them? Just a large 15x17 run that is halfway enclosed.

    Chickens, especially game bird who retain more wild instincts, will always seek an protective roost- one that is High, dark, warm, and cozy. They like to have a smaller enclosed space to sleep. A smaller space means predators are less likely to see you or climb, or fit in. Some of the birds I had previously would try and roost in the high branches of the pines, where they would squish themselves in between the many small branches- they would be well camouflaged by the needles and branches.

    The same goes for nest boxes- they prefer something dark and cozy. It they are laying in the hay- try using that material in the nest boxes. Make sure the nest boxes are not directly in a sunny area or overlooking a wide open space. You could make sure they nest boxes have a roof and sides, and even add curtains to make it more appealing to the hens.

    I personally would take a corner or end of your run and build a bit more of an enclosed area for them- making sure there is light and vent of course!
     
  10. MysteryChik

    MysteryChik Chillin' With My Peeps

    I was super busy today and didn't get a chance to go up and take pics of the coop cup close and inside. This is from when we first built it, so you cant really see the inside. We had crates at first as nesting boxes right above the red siding on the coop and ended up putting in wooden boxes with dividers for privacy. The back right corner has the ladder type roost with the top roost being probably 18 inches from the ceiling. i am posting this pic so you can see the coop from the outside, but also to see the goat stall behind and to the left of the coop. We built a second coop just to the right of this one, just as large. with the right fence on this one
    being one side of the second.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017

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