Does anyone have that one "Special Needs" chicken?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by EmeraldOaks, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. I swear, out of all my flock 30+ chickens and ducks, I have one Buff Orpington that I swear is mentally challenged! When the day is waning, all the rest head into the Chicken Palace to roost or bed down for the night. Buffy will stooge around outside, then wander off down the hill by herself! Nobody is picking on her, and in the morning she is outside the Palace waiting to be fed. She does this off and on, not consistently. My flock is free range, but separated from my house yard and garden area. Buffy always seems to find a way over to the restricted areas, and she's the only one. I tracked her down one night to her hiding spot, and there were no eggs or anything, just a nest. I'm really getting tired of her behaviour, and will not track her down again. I'm thinking she has her own agenda, and is really smart, or else her internal compass is out of whack! Any suggestions or similar experiences?

  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I'm assuming you don't have a rooster who rounds them up at dusk. You said she's not picked on but she could be the bottom hen and is not comfortable in your coop. She probably has no where she feels safe to roost so she has found somewhere else to go. I would check out the dynamics at dusk to see if there is anywhere she could roost without being pecked. How big is your coop, thirty birds need a lot of room to spread out, mine have a 40x40 shed and there's a lot of different places for mine to roost, from up high, down lower and flat areas for those who don't like roosting. Best to figure it out because more than likely something will find her one night.
  3. ccat1

    ccat1 In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2015
    I have 4 Marans, 3 Black Copper and 1 Blue Copper Maran.
    I too feel we have a "special" chicken. Her name is Nugget.
    We love her, as do the others. We got our hens when they were 12 weeks old.
    That was July 10, so you can do the math now.
    Nugget has always seemed a little slower than the others. She doesn't have a long neck like the others, basically her shoulders then her head. I have noticed when the others just "bend" down to peck or scratch, she has to bend her legs to squat down, and her bend/squat isn't like the others who just bend their bodies to eat.
    The people who we got the hens from told me a month ago when visiting the hens that nugget was sickly for about 4 weeks. I don't know with what, but they told me they had to really stay with her and help her along.
    The others have always seems to stick up for her, as they peck the blue hen, but pecking order picked her for her color. Occasionally Nugget pecks others, but mainly she is just slower.
    She is so funny when I let them out. If they have been catching bugs and just scratching around and Nugget gets seperated, she seems to look up to notice she is alone. She will spot the others and do this goofy run/jump/fly towards the others. Her run isn't that waddle run like most chickens, but a cool, almost "raptor" head first run. We love watching Nugget.
    3 of the hens had been laying for several weeks and I thought Nugget would never get the memo.
    We found a darker with specks egg one day that didn't match what the others had been laying., but I just couldn't catch Nugget heading up to the nesting box. One day, we had 4 eggs by mid afternoon so I knew Nugget was in business. Of course the Black Copper Marans lay the darkest of all eggs. Nuggets eggs I am proud to say are very chocolate brown. She lays about every day now.
    She has the coolest personality and seems very happy.
    I am very attached to these hens and work to keep their coop/run as clean as possible and them as happy as possible.
    I am not providing them light for laying this winter, but so far, they haven't stopped yet, not even Nugget.
    Thanks for letting me put my 2-5 cents worth in.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  4. keesmom

    keesmom Crowing

    Jul 28, 2008
    We had a mentally challenged buff laced Polish hen a year ago. Every once in a while she would escape the pen. Instead of remaining near the other (confined) hens she would wander off on her own in random directions. Once I found her ready to walk into the road. Another time she was found a quarter mile away in the next town under a bush laying an egg (she was gone all night too). The last time I found her tracks leading off in the snow but we never found her.

    I do agree sometimes the evening roosting/pecking order could cause a low ranking hen to look elsewhere for a nighttime spot. However sometimes there are birds that are just going to do their own thing.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Ours is a Faverolles hen named Fluffy.

    She was given to me, so I know nothing about her. I'd guess she's quite a mature bird, though. No spring chicken, Fluffy.
    The lady who got her for me said she'd basically lay in the run most of the day. the rooster would come over and mate her and she literally would not get up, she's just raise her tail and not move otherwise.

    She's very comfortable with people. She'd love to be a lap chicken. I'm constantly having to push her out of my way when I'm in the run.

    She doesn't roost with the other birds. She roosts on the edge of a nest box (Rubbermaid tub) by herself.

    She laid maybe a dozen eggs all summer. maybe.

    but she was a gift, so I think I'm stuck with her. I wonder if she'd adopt chicks? Might have to try that. Never seemed the slightest bit broody, but she may just be old or tarded or mellow enough to be a presence for them, even if she doesn't actually brood them.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by