Chickens not laying, not eating, not coming out of coop

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Vonnie1, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. Vonnie1

    Vonnie1 New Egg

    7
    1
    9
    Mar 19, 2017
    Hi. I have two 3 year old chickens. They used to free range all day and would happily go back in to their house to lay and again in the evening to roost. Last summer they started "hiding" their eggs in the hedges and I couldn't find them. So, I built a fairly large coop (about 15 metres x 15 metres) for the two of them. They seemed to be fine with the confinement and began laying back in their nesting boxes again. However, over the winter the eggs have been very sporadic, they have developed illnesses and infections and have been a bit lethargic at times. I live in Ireland and it hasn't been terribly cold over the winter, no snow or anything like that. Recently, as in the last week or so, first one and now the other has stopped coming out of the house into the coop. Neither of them have laid for well over a fortnight. They spend the day facing the corner of the house, won't eat and won't come out unless I hoosh them out and then they immediately go back in again. Yesterday they were both lying in the corner. I put some straw down as the floor is a bit hard and they stayed there all day and were still there this morning so I assume they didn't even get up onto the perch for the night. They don't appear to be ill, their crops seem to be ok, not hard and not too squishy and don't look to be over-full, Their wattles are a healthy colour and they don't have any scaliness on their faces. Can chickens get depressed at being in a coop all the time? I'm thinking they were much happier and healthier when they were out and about all day and wonder if I let them out would they perk up? Could they be broody even if they're not laying any eggs? I don't have a rooster so even if they did sit on the eggs nothing would happen. Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    25,645
    1,834
    463
    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Greetings, Vonnie1, and [​IMG]! Pleased you joined our community! I can't really think of what might be up with your hens. I think age explains most of the decrease in egg production. But the illness and not leaving the coop are mysterious. Did they receive a bad scare recently and now are reluctant to leave? Does you coop have adequate ventilation? It seems like they have some sort of illness has griped them that they can't shake. Have they had contact with other chickens recently? I've also heard that common song birds that feed at the chicken feeders can import diseases into your flock. In time it might be prudent to give the coop and run a good sanitizing. You could also post in this link to see if someone recognizes those symptoms: https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/10/emergencies-diseases-injuries-and-cures
    Good luck to you and thanks for joining BYC!
     
  3. Vonnie1

    Vonnie1 New Egg

    7
    1
    9
    Mar 19, 2017
    Thanks for your reply RedSox. I've come to the conclusion they are broody. They haven't come out of the straw at all today and haven't eaten anything that I've put down for them. If they're still laying around tomorrow I'll ring the livestock vet to swing by and have a look at them. I've taken them in to the vet surgery in the past but they get quite traumatised by being put into a pet carrier and sometimes I have to leave them at the surgery all day or overnight until the livestock guy can get in to see them. I might get them out of the coop tomorrow also and see if the wide open spaces will get them motivated again. At this stage I don't even care about the eggs anymore. I just want to see them happy again
     
  4. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,183
    258
    211
    Jul 18, 2013
    Pennsylvania
    Welcome,
    Vonnie. I hope some of these scenarios can help you. Yes they could be broody. Are they sitting on eggs at all. Broody hens will stop laying. I also wondered what breed they are. I do know some of the production breeds lay like crazy then when they hit two or three the number of eggs they lay really falls off while to dual purpose birds will continue laying for longer.
     
  5. Vonnie1

    Vonnie1 New Egg

    7
    1
    9
    Mar 19, 2017
    Hi Dekel10842. I don't know what breed they are [​IMG] One's white and the other is red.

    [​IMG]

    (The 2nd red one unfortunately met an untimely end at the hands of speeding motorist. Why did the chicken cross the road???)

    No, they're not sitting on eggs. Neither of them have laid for about two weeks and even before that it was only an occasional egg from one or other of them. But Gracie (the red one) has that sort of puffed up, disgruntled look that she's had before when she was hiding her eggs.
     
  6. Cntry1958

    Cntry1958 Chillin' With My Peeps

    553
    358
    126
    Mar 16, 2017
    Somewhere in Maryland
    Put her a store bought egg in there for her to sit on or ask around to see if anyone has a few fertile eggs you can have. They will sit on them for 21 days. Make sure you have fresh feed and water each day. They will come out maybe once a day and return to their nesting in about 20 to 30 minutes. It sounds like she's broody to me. I have one just like that right now and we do not have roosters either so her eggs are not fertile. YOU may end up with a baby chick or two depending on how many eggs you give her to sit on. These chicks will replace the chicken you lost and also give you egg producing chickens again in about 5 months after they are hatched. Just a thought.
     
  7. Vonnie1

    Vonnie1 New Egg

    7
    1
    9
    Mar 19, 2017
    Thanks Cntry1958. I'll try that. They look so forlorn just sitting there in the straw. I suppose they should be allowed to hatch something they can keep in their little lives.
     
  8. Cntry1958

    Cntry1958 Chillin' With My Peeps

    553
    358
    126
    Mar 16, 2017
    Somewhere in Maryland
    Places you can FREE get fertile eggs from. Place note at the feed store, this is where most people come to get their supplies for their chickens. Place a ad on Craigs list or local neighborhood paper. With store bought eggs you don't know if they are all fertile or not so its hit or miss. Ask in your state area here on the BYC someone maybe willing to give you a few eggs. But dont forget to ask what breed they are if you get someone giving you eggs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  9. Vonnie1

    Vonnie1 New Egg

    7
    1
    9
    Mar 19, 2017
    I think I should be ok to get some fertilised eggs. I live in a rural area and I'm surrounded by farms most of whom have poultry so I can easily ask one of my neighbours for a couple of fertilised eggs. However, just curious to know if they sat on unfertilised eggs would they just go on brooding indefinitely waiting for them to hatch or would they go through the motions for the 3 weeks and then just get on with their normal lives?
     
  10. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Welcome to BYC! It's great to have you.

    I highly doubt they are broody. There are a few reasons for this - one, the chances of two hens coming down broody at the exact same time are low. Secondly, the birds in the photo you posted are Red Sex Links and a White Rock. Though White Rocks can brood on occasion, for a Red Sex Link to go broody would be one in a million. They've had the instinct bred almost entirely out of them. Third, a broody hen, if offered food while on the nest, will almost certainly go after it voraciously. Though they do eat less during a time of broodiness, this is simply because they do not wish to leave the nest for too long - they are quite literally starving themselves to a minor extent, so if offered food they will act quite hungry. Fourth, a hen who is not currently laying generally will not brood. They just shouldn't have the right hormones for it and it doesn't make sense, biologically.

    My thoughts, unfortunately, go to an illness of some sort. Hiding in the coop and frightened behavior are one thing - those alone would make me think some kind of stress, e.g. a predator in the area, is bothering them. But add in a lack of roosting and not wanting to eat... sounds very much like they are ill. If a vet is an option for you, I think it would be wise to have them looked at.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by