Hen constantly in laying box, loosing feathers, starting to worry.

mjzaniewski

Hatching
Jan 30, 2015
4
1
9
I have 8 hens a little over a year old. They have been great, no dominance issues or fighting. Lately I've noticed one girl constantly in the laying box, though she's not sitting on anything. When I let them out she just stays in there. I'm a new chicken owner and didn't think of it. Today when I went to gather eggs I lifted her up a bit and noticed her belly was bare. So I took her out and the other girls were around and they attacked her and chased her into the run out portion of the coop. Now I have her in the run out with the coop itself closed off so she can be outside a little, and I have the rest outside. The most aggressive hen is now limping on her right leg but I can't find a cause. So I'm wondering what my next move should be. I've never had aggressions issues so I'm a bit stumped. The broody girl seems healthy otherwise, fat and others feathers are shiny, and the skin that is bare isn't red or irritated. Any suggestions? Thank you!
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
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Mar 9, 2014
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I have 8 hens a little over a year old. They have been great, no dominance issues or fighting. Lately I've noticed one girl constantly in the laying box, though she's not sitting on anything. When I let them out she just stays in there. I'm a new chicken owner and didn't think of it. Today when I went to gather eggs I lifted her up a bit and noticed her belly was bare. So I took her out and the other girls were around and they attacked her and chased her into the run out portion of the coop. Now I have her in the run out with the coop itself closed off so she can be outside a little, and I have the rest outside. The most aggressive hen is now limping on her right leg but I can't find a cause. So I'm wondering what my next move should be. I've never had aggressions issues so I'm a bit stumped. The broody girl seems healthy otherwise, fat and others feathers are shiny, and the skin that is bare isn't red or irritated. Any suggestions? Thank you!

Broody hens will pluck their feathers on the belly to line the nest and provide more direct contact between their skin and the eggs they are sitting on - they will also sit on an empty nest. The nature of a broody also makes them prone to being picked on as all they want to do is set down and lay in one spot and the other birds can take advantage of that to pick on them. If you don't want chicks/don't have access to hatching eggs, it's best to go ahead and employ the use of a "broody buster" to break her out of her current state of mind and get her back to her normal self sooner rather than later.
 

mjzaniewski

Hatching
Jan 30, 2015
4
1
9
Ok, thanks for the info, glad to hear that the feather plucking is her idea and not the others and it all makes more sense. But... What's a broody buster and how do I do it?
Thank you!!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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A broody breaker is wire cage with no bedding set up off the ground so the hen can't keep her belly really warm.

My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some watered down crumble a couple times a day.

I let her out a couple times a day and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two.


I put a nipple water bottle on the crate after this pic was taken.
 

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