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Hen Laying in Poop Tray AND Pecking Them!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by iwiw60, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm hoping someone can give me advice on just what to do with this new layer of mine.

    1. She accidentally laid her first egg while sleeping on the roost one night. I know this happens some times so I didn't think too much about it.

    2. The next day she didn't lay but kept going in the coop bwoking her fool head off jumping up on the poop tray at the roost and then outta the coop she'd go. She did this repeatedly all....day....long. I went into the coop several times and gently picked her up and put her in one of the nest boxes, talking real quietly to her and petting her to calm her down a little. She'd stay in the nest box as long as I was right there. If I moved away out she'd fly to the run.

    3. The next day she laid an egg! I went out immediately and retrieved the egg, and yes....she laid it in the poop tray again!

    4. Today she laid another egg....in the poop tray. By the time I got out there (which was only maybe 3-4 minutes) there it was in the poop tray but it had BEEN PECKED!!
    ===================================
    WHAT is this hen trying to tell me? I am still feeding the last of their chick starter (2 of the 4 started laying 10-14 days ago) and will switch them over to Layer Crumbles with the next bag. They get one treat a day, either a chunk of watermelon or 2 pieces of raw corn on the cob in a large suet feeder. They have grit available on the side along with crushed oyster shell, too.

    HELP PLEASE! Need advice.
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    She probably just hasn't figured it out yet, they are rather neurotic for up to a month when they start laying.
    Most my pullets laid the first few eggs on the board, they feel safe there maybe...or the floor...or out in the run, or just don't have control of the old sphincter yet. Even my old hens lay on the board once in a while, sometimes in streaks of a couple days when their cycle dictates it.

    Have they been investigating the nests at all?
    Are they easily accessed?
    A pic of your nests would really help folks make a suggestion or spot a potential problem.


    ETA: You have a coop cam, should be able to get a still capture from that.... I know you said your regular camera is on the fritz.

    Also the pecking, curiosity probably. I give some animal protein to my confined birds once a week give or take, meat scraps.... or a bit of dog food....or rendered chicken or bacon fat mixed into scratch grains.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  3. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks SO much for responding @aart I really appreciate you taking the time! I'm hoping you are right, that she just hasn't figured it all out yet. When she gets into the "uh-oh...there's something trying to come out of my butt" mode she just gets frantic. In the coop, outta the coop, in and out in and out all day long. And yes, she is definitely acting neurotic! I'm almost thinking that when she laid that first egg during the night up on the roost she's relating that first experience with "well, guess I should be laying up there".

    She does investigate the two nesting boxes. Whenever #1 layer is in one doing her thing she'll come in and watch her intently, then bounces out to the run. The other day when #2 (the problem girl) was in that frantic mode I went into the coop and gently picked her up and set her at the entrance to a nesting box and she walked in. I talked to her quietly, petted her and she seemed to settle right in. As soon as I would stand up to leave she was hell-bent for the pophole and back into the run. I did this 3-4 times that day. She ended up laying up on the poop board, almost in the exact spot the first egg was found.

    I have two nest boxes that are 18-gallon Rubbermaid tubs with ample cutouts for entering. They are about 8" off the ground on a piece of plywood that rests on cinder blocks (I did it this way so I could anchor the tubs to the plywood with screws/washers so they were solid). The nesting boxes have a "lip of plywood" about 6 or so inches all along the front edge to them. I also punched ventilation holes with my drill using a 1 inch bit all around the top "under-edge" for more air flow. They are filled with fresh pine shavings and 1 golf ball in each. Rather than use the bin lids for the tops, and to prevent any roosting, I took a 1/4" piece of birch ply (very lightweight) and hinged it to the wall at a steep angle...serves 2 purposes: no more poop and easy access to the nesting bins. My #1 girl loves it and lays her eggs in one of them always.

    What really has me confused is this pecking she's doing. She doesn't actually break through to attempt to eat the egg, there's just a single peck...almost like she's mad at what that egg just did to her coming out! LOL And she does this 'pecking' immediately after she lays. Yesterday I ran to the coop the instant I heard her start her egg song...she had just jumped down and out to the run and it was pecked. I couldn't have been more than 60 seconds behind her.

    Question: why meat protein? What relation does this have to the pecking problem? They are still on the last of their Purina medicated chick starter which I will replace in a few weeks with Purina Layer Feed crumbles. So right now they are getting a high protein. Please elaborate, I'd like to learn.

    On the webcam...remember you're dealing with an old-school 70-year-old that doesn't know the first thing about any of these new-fangled doohickies on the market today. I'll dig out my webcam manual this morning while I watch chicken TV and see if I can figure out how to make it take a picture. If I get that far then I'll have to figure out how to put it in my puter so I can post it to you.... [​IMG]

    Thanks again, and I await your reply!
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You certainly have my sympathy! I have a fourteen month-old Welsummer who insists on laying her eggs early in the morning on the poop board while she's still roosting from the night. Day before yesterday, I heard the "egg song" very, very early coming from the run. This same hen had just laid her egg from the perch in the run very soon after coming out of the coop.

    As far as I know, she never, or rarely lays in a nest box. I've chalked it up to laziness. Or stupidity.

    This flock gets fermented feed so nutrients shouldn't be an issue with this behavior. Aart, I'm leery of feeding animal protein ever since I fed it to a Brahma for a "stuck-in-molt" condition which had been going on for a year. She eventually developed acites from a damaged liver.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The pecking is usually just curiosity. especially from new layers.... 'maybe I can eat that'...or 'what came out of my butt'.
    IMO egg eating can possibly develop from the pecking if they get in there and get a taste and it can possibly become a habit and feeding animal protein can possibly quell that habit.

    I think animal protein is important, especially for confined birds like ours, the chicken feed protein contents are not animal proteins so I supplement with real meat at least once a week giving kitchen meat scraps and rendered chicken or bacon fat mixed into their scratch grains.

    I free feed a 20% protein all flock crumble all the time to all ages and genders, then a separate container is always available of oyster mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells for the layers. Keeps things simple, I buy 1 bag of scratch grains and 2 bags of crumble about once every 2 months, it balances out the lower 8% protein scratch that I give as part of their diet(afternoon 'treat'), and the other greens and kitchen scraps they get on occasion.


    On the cam capture, I don't know exactly how cause I don't have one(would love 5 or 6 of them) but I know folks do it.
    Another way, if you have a photo editing software is to do a screen capture(by hitting the key marked 'prt sc', usually in the upper right of your keyboard) and 'paste' it onto the photo editing software...again not usre exactly how you would so this, in my software I hit new file and there's an option to paste from clipboard(which is where the 'prt sc' goes)
     
  6. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks again, @aart ... I think I'll chalk it up to being just plain stupid!! Well, I'm off to do coop chores and I have to rake the run today...man, can they POOP!! [​IMG]
     

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