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Chicken Crying when I took her eggs and nest?!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by parsamanesh, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. parsamanesh

    parsamanesh Hatching

    Apr 5, 2016
    Hey guys
    I have 6 polish bantams and they all as far as I have noticed sleep in their coop at night
    Today I went to spend some time with them and I was looking for them and noticed one missing, I noticed after 5 minutes she suddenly appeared from the corner of my eye behind my summer house, wondering why on earth she was back there, then 2 minutes later she wonders back there and I noticed shes found her self an old wooden box she liked to crawl into, I lifted her up to find about 20-30 eggs beneath her!
    She's 11 months old so I'm assuming she's laid every egg here since she's began laying!
    I took the eggs and removed the box so she can go learn to lay in the coop like the rest of the chickens, but as soon as I removed the box and the eggs, it's as if she started crying, he was screaming loudly, kept running back and forth from where the box was in confusion as to where it was, I kept taking her away and as soon as I'd put her down she'd keep screaming and run back to the spot again.
    This happened for approximately 3 hours, I left for about 30 minutes and it started to get dark, and I noticed she wasn't in the coop with the other chickens ready to sleep, I went back to the box spot and she had found a little gap between 2 bits of wood next to the summer house and laid there!

    Should I keep her in the coop for a few days so she gets use to it? Is it normal for her to scream so much in confusion / sadness? It was as if she had lost her children and was crying, was very heart breaking !

  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    She was fussing because she hadn't laid her egg for the day yet. Chickens are creatures of habit and do not enjoy change of any sort. You can try to make the nest boxes in the coop more appealing to her by making them a bit more private and keeping a few dummy eggs in them. Or you can just let her lay where she wants to since you know where it is now.
    She was upset about needing to lay her egg not being able to get to the spot she feels comfortable at. She was not mourning her 'lost children'. Some hens just don't like to lay anywhere near other birds. They want to be completely hidden and private while laying. And some lower ranking hens will get bullied away from the nest boxes by more dominant hens.
    I have one hen that has never voluntarily used the nest boxes her entire life. She'll clear 8 ft tall fences to get to her spot.
    2 people like this.
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Her screaming was alarm calls, because the nest was disturbed, the chicken probably assumes a predator got into the nest. Polish birds can be slightly off or more reactive than other breeds so that's why she probably carried on about it so long. I don't think it was grief.

    I used to have a white crested polish hen who refused to use the nestboxes and always had hidden nests. I never did break her of it. You may or may not be able to break yours and may just have to accommodate her and collect her eggs from her chooses spot. Putting a few ceramic eggs in the nest will calm her down. Polish are odd birds.
    2 people like this.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Do you lock your birds up in a secure coop every night?
    Would be pretty easy to tell if one of six was missing.
    Might take more than a few days to 'train' her to lay in coop nest.

    Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 3-4 days (or longer) can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
  5. Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    I agree with all posters above!

    If it's important to you, confine her until she lays in your boxes for several times. For me it isn't worth the fuss, so I just collect the 2 eggs from girls who refuse to lay in the house from their normal lay spot. [​IMG] I much prefer collecting from my egg house though.

    I agree that your girl was upset she hadn't laid yet that day. Not that she lost her kids. They way a broody reacts when her chicks get separated is quite different then you describe. Your girls sounds like my stubborn EE who will create a distraction of Hollywood proportions before she suddenly disappears and nobody notices she's gone to her "secret" nesting spot. [​IMG]
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    I know Polish are not particularly known for broodiness, but it sounds to me like broody behaviour. My guess is that she has been amassing this clutch for 3 weeks or more and yes you have effectively stolen her babies. The fact that she went back to the same place to spend the night to me is the clincher that she is broody. Do you check that they are all in the coop every night or just shut the door? If you can't be sure that she has been roosting in the coop until now, the chances are that she has been spending quite a few nights trying to incubate those eggs. Do you have a rooster? You might want to be careful when you crack open those eggs to use them. If you decide not to use them for your own use, make them into scrambled egg and feed them back to the chickens.

    I'm really surprised none of the previous posters have covered the possibility of her being broody, especially considering their high level of knowledge and experience.... I'm wondering if I am reading this wrong, but it seems to me the most likely situation given her behaviour.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I read and then reread the first post. I've never had a broody lay 20-30 eggs before setting. I think their instincts shut them down before that because there is no way a chicken could possibly cover that many while incubating. If she were truly broody, she wouldn't still be laying eggs. She also wouldn't be going back to the coop at night. (I'm assuming she was in the coop every other night except the night OP took her nest away?) If she had been spending the nights on the nest, then yes - she maybe was broody.

    I agree with the other posters that she was just having a tantrum. I've taken eggs from a broody (daily for 3 weeks with one of mine last summer) and the most she'd do is growl and peck at me as I was taking the eggs.
    1 person likes this.

  8. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    I also read and reread the initial post several times. There is nothing to say that she was laying an egg that day and it could also be that other hens have also been laying in her nest which would bump up the number of eggs in the clutch. I agree that my broodies growl and fluff up when I remove their eggs but that is when they are in the nest boxes. If they have their own secret nest and you lift them out of sight of it and then not only remove the eggs but the nest, they usually get pretty frantic wanting to get back to it and upset when it's not there. To be fair, even if you lift a broody hen off her nest in the nest box and put her out of the coop, she is usually pretty frantic to get back to it and usually makes quite a fuss about it. The fact that this pullet went back to the nest site for the night instead of the roost is the key indicator for me that she is most likely broody.

    I may be wrong, I'm not saying she is definitely broody but it's certainly something to consider.
  9. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Songster

    Mar 19, 2016
    34.560847, -81.154203
    My Coop
    Silly question, when you removed the box that she had been laying in, did you think of putting it inside the coop? Or at least some of her eggs? If she's that concerned about her clutch it might get the message across. Or at the very least she might prefer to stay with her clutch (in the coop) rather than start a whole new one in the old spot.
  10. @rebrascora Well, if she was broody she would be missing all day every day with only a short show up to eat is why I didn't suspect her to be broody. And yes, she won't lay eggs still if she has gone broody. Which is why I did mention broody behavior, because to me... that wasn't it.

    My broodies will go back to their same spot and sit on air even... until I employ the broody breaker. They care not how many eggs are or aren't there. And they have a puffed up broody demeanor when they come out of their brooding stations. Clucking loudly and chasing off anyone who comes in their zone while they are out. But other than pecking and the loud shrill warning they make... they never walk around announcing to the community that something has just happened or is about to for hours. They are focused on getting back to their nest.

    Other than that... Awesome keeping your eyes open for all possibilities! [​IMG]

    You are right, just because it may not be common for a certain breed to do something, the fact is that no matter what breed... ALL are individuals! And that being said... not ALL broodies will act exactly the same as the ones I have. And what you say is true... there could be more pullets laying their eggs under her. I see it everyday at my place. Even my broody with chicks goes and sets on eggs with her chicks! [​IMG] This girl only sat on eggs a week before she hatched chicks! [​IMG] But the two girls I had to break recently sat and sat for more than a month, their bodies were very thin compared to any non broody. Took a while for me to learn... tried giving them eggs but they kept going back to the wrong nest. Tried taking eggs away, didn't matter. Tried removing girls from nest several time a day to no avail. Finally got the guts to try the broody breaker... 1 week before eggs hatching in my bator. 1 girl broke the first night the other took 3 days. Luckily my 3rd silkie, still in good condition went broody just in time to raise some chicks. She was sooo happy! [​IMG] We still have 10 in the house, but the 4 she is raising (all I though she could handle) are doing great! Thanks for letting me share that, it's been so special. [​IMG]

    In the op post it says there was an egg laid at the original nest site after 3 hours of fussing... doesn't actually say the hen stayed and sat on it. [​IMG] And with 32 current layers... I have seen many a girl who was late in the day to lay and stayed in the box overnight, just to vacate as soon as morning came and the egg was laid. Yes they made me wonder... but the eggs actually come a little later each day (in my experience) until the last day is a late lay & maybe no egg the following day but with a really early morning egg on the 3rd day, if that makes any sense. I have had these late lay occasions with my PBR, EE, OE, FBCM many breeds... SO, don't take me as saying "you are wrong", because that's not what I mean at all! I think there are many possibilities, including the one you raise. And only shared the late lay as more info on your possibilities. [​IMG]

    The flock dynamics are ever changing! And we change with them. [​IMG]

    My birds get accounted for every evening before lock up. Though I realize we all have different ways of doing things. I'm a NEED to know type person.

    But to the OP.... I don't think you have to worry about your girl having a mental break down or being scarred for life over the incident. What she did was a natural response. But chickens and most (not all) other animals are pretty good about moving forward after something semi traumatic happens to them. I'm hoping to get me a couple LF WCBP girls this season as I value white as one of the color pallets in my egg basket and the variety of eye candy they have to offer to my pasture is fantastic. [​IMG]

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