First egg or getting sick?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Turtle148, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. Turtle148

    Turtle148 Out Of The Brooder

    18
    1
    24
    Jun 7, 2014
    Georgia
    My three little girls are all 20 weeks old. They switched to layer feed after 17 weeks. No eggs yet but one has me worried. I've raised them from chicks and they have always been handled. Ok they are total rotten if truth be known.
    Cluckey, a Blue Andalusian, has been acting very weird the past three days. She began squatting a week or so ago. Her comb and wattles have increased in size and is really red. She has been the only one interested in the nest box since it became available. I checked her vent (larger than the other girls and moist -no mites or fleas) and hips (2 & 1/2 of my little fingers fit) yesterday. No lumps in the abdomen that I could feel. Her eyes and nose are clear with no drainage.
    Her behavior has me worried the most. She is my baby and is normally right under me when I'm outside. This morning she ate only small amount scratch. She is still drinking water and eating grass and feed. In fact her water intake has increased. Now she is getting away from the others and walking around. She will still run if a bug presents itself but doesn't go as long as she has before. Her poop is runny (no worms or strange color) but I'm thinking it's from the increased water. She is just normally with the others and when they notice she is missing they go nuts. Is this normal for pre-egg laying behavior or is she getting away because she is getting sick?
     
  2. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

    5,291
    626
    318
    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon
    It sounds to me like she's getting ready to lay her first egg. My girls were very restless right beforehand...in the coop, outta the coop...in the coop, outta the coop...bwoking like crazy, drove me nuts. They will lay their first egg when you least expect it! I wouldn't worry at this point, but I do have a question....

    why did you switch them to layer feed at 17 weeks? Was one of your girls laying at that time? It's the general rule of thumb not to switch over to layer feed until your girls start laying, then switch over.

    If you haven't already done so be sure to have oyster shell "on the side" next to their feed for them. They will eat what they want of it..helps produce nice hard shells.
     
  3. Turtle148

    Turtle148 Out Of The Brooder

    18
    1
    24
    Jun 7, 2014
    Georgia
    I followed the Nutrena website feeding guidelines. Was this wrong to change them before laying?
    I do have oyster shell available for them. I'm just really hope she is not getting sick. Should I look for anything else for sickness versus laying an egg?
     
  4. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

    5,291
    626
    318
    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon
    Well, it's not really 'wrong' but you cut back on their protein intake by switching them over so soon. I wouldn't worry about it. I would just keep a close eye on her for the next few days....if she's not showing really visible signs of illness such as laying down all the time, breathing difficulties, comb/wattles turning pale, etc., it's probably that she is just "gearing up" to lay her first egg. Check on her several times a day.
     
  5. Turtle148

    Turtle148 Out Of The Brooder

    18
    1
    24
    Jun 7, 2014
    Georgia
    Thanks so much for the information on looking for the comb and wattles becoming pale. I've not read that before. Just trying to learn so I can care for my little girls.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,824
    6,974
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yep, she's getting ready to lay!

    They get goofy when they reach this point. Don't worry, just watch and be patient.
    She may act weird for up to a month after she starts to lay, until she gets settled in to her new 'normal'.

    Layer feed is fine at 17 weeks tho the excess calcium in non-layers might cause problems long term. I prefer to feed a higher protein and offer calcium on the side.

    I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container. The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  7. Turtle148

    Turtle148 Out Of The Brooder

    18
    1
    24
    Jun 7, 2014
    Georgia
    Would I be able to mix some 22% meatbird feed into the layer feed to add some extra protein? I have about half a bag left over. I could start small and gradually increase it until it's half & half.

    She is not acting normal today but still eating, drinking, and flying around. I guess I understand because I'm sure I don't act normal before I ovulate.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,824
    6,974
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Sure, that would be fine.

    This is her new, for now, normal.
     
  9. Turtle148

    Turtle148 Out Of The Brooder

    18
    1
    24
    Jun 7, 2014
    Georgia
    Could fighting over the top spot in the pecking order delay eggs? I noticed Cluckey and Evo going at it the other night. Evo has been in charge and it seems Cluckey is trying to take over. She didn't even win the coup so she was being punished.
    Yet today I found an egg and I'm assuming it's from my Red Star. It's brown (not dark like the store but not even white) so I don't think it's from Cluckey (Blue Andalusian) or Evo (EE). Ruby (Red Star) is the low girl on the pole so she's not been fighting (ever). Just wondering if the pecking order stress could delay eggs?
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,824
    6,974
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Commencement of laying will cause all sorts of havoc in the flock, they are surging with hormones, not sure what's coming out of their butts, so are all a bit unstable.

    The pecking order is fluid, ever changing...even established flocks seem to like a pecking party at roost time.

    Give them a month or so, be patient and try not to read emotions into every little thing, and they will all probably calm down considerably.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by