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Hen preventing another hen from laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Baz, May 20, 2011.

  1. Baz

    Baz New Egg

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    Hello there! I have what seems like a strange problem, but we're fairly new to this, so maybe it's not strange at all! About a week ago we got two one-year-old laying hens to add to our flock (not ideal, I know, but it seemed like the best option). We currently have them in a cage and run completely separate from our other hens, for quarantine. One of the new hens (I'll call her Hen #1) is handling the transition well and has laid an egg every day since she got here. The other hen was clearly stressed by the move and for the first several days was doing poorly, but she seems much better now, and yesterday she showed signs of being ready to lay an egg. However, whenever she tried to go into the nest box, Hen #1 went in there and chased her out. The same behavior continued today. I tried closing Hen #2 in there so that Hen #1 couldn't get to her, but that really upset them both, being kept apart. I also tried providing another nest box so they could each have one, but apparently it didn't suit them--they haven't gone near it since initially trying it out (and rejecting it). Hen #2, as far as we can tell, has not yet laid an egg.

    I'm wondering (1) if anyone has ever heard of a hen attempting to prevent another hen from laying in order to ... I don't know ... establish her dominance, and (2) whether it's possible for a hen to have an egg "in the hopper" but be prevented from laying it (it seems like it would have to come out whether the boss hen wants it to or not). I know it's common for hens to stop laying when they're stressed, but Hen #2 was acting pretty "hormonal" so we are not sure what's up. They are both Delawares, if that makes any difference.

    Thanks in advance for any insights or advice you can offer!
     
  2. losvegas

    losvegas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 7 hens & 4 egg boxes, yet they all seem to want to use the same box to lay their eggs which sometimes becomes a problem. I too have had times where they used their pecking order to establish who gets to use the box. In fact I've had to clean up a few combs that got pecked while in the box. I placed a golf ball in one of the empty boxes in order to entice her to a new box. My girls are all obsessed with the golf ball my husband put in one of the nests last autumn, trying to teach them where to lay. It seems to work for my girls. I have also locked the dominant hen from the house so the other could lay her egg without being pecked. (I have also found 2 hens in one box.)
    Shock can cause a hen not to lay for a few days.
     
  3. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    [​IMG]

    It's a pretty common problem. No matter how many nesting boxes you have, all the hens will pile into one box to lay. Dominant birds will try to keep submissive birds out of the box, and it can lead to all sorts of scuffles. Try to let them work it out amongst themselves without intervening. They need to get their pecking order established, and they do that far quicker if you don't try to help things along. If the fighting gets too intense you may have to step in and remove the worst bully for a week or so, but that should be a last ditch effort because the fighting will just resume once the flock is put back together. These girls are going to need to be friends for when they get introduced to the larger flock, so my advice is to let them work it out.

    Good luck.
     
  4. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Quote:X 2 !
     
  5. Baz

    Baz New Egg

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    Thanks so much for the responses! Does it seem odd that Hen #2 would exhibit all the signs of having to lay an egg, and then not lay one? She was twittering, going in and out of the nest box, "feathering" the nest, getting snuggled in, etc.--but no egg. We looked all over the place in case she'd laid it out of the box somewhere, and we don't think she would have eaten it, because Hen #1 has laid several eggs and she's shown no interest in them.

    We are on Day 9 now and still no egg from Hen #2, while Hen #1 continues to lay regularly (yesterday she somehow managed to lay an egg whilst Hen #2 was sitting on her head--strange to us, but again, maybe not so uncommon?). Nine days seems like a long time to take a break from laying ... perhaps she has underlying health issues, or has anyone witnessed such a long break due solely to stress?

    Thanks again! [​IMG]
     
  6. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Oh yes. Stress in birds is kind of a big deal. Stress can kill birds where a pretty grim injury may not. I would give her at least a month before I started to worry about whether or not she is a dud.
     
  7. Mamachicks28

    Mamachicks28 Out Of The Brooder

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    We have 5 pullets and 6 nesting boxes. Out of the 5 pullets, only two laying pullets, and they are only using one nesting box. They both lay their eggs but more than occassionally, we find a totally cracked egg in the nesting box or on the floor. The laying hens have been fighting to get the same nesting box when they need to lay but today, I found and egg in the run, in the dirt. I guess one of them couldn't get the nesting box in time or tired of fighting for it just figured she had to find a place to lay the egg. I hear and see them fighting for the space but haven't seen them in the act of the damaging the eggs. I'm not sure why they fight for one particular nesting box to lay their egg when the other seems to be open and as comfortable to me. :). We also set golf balls in the other boxes too but this one particular corner box, they have kicked the golf balls to the floor. Okay, just subscribing so I can find out the answer too.
     
  8. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can the dominant hen "talk" the other out?
    If I had not seen this behavior, I would not believe it: We have 3 FBCM hens. Mahogany went broody (YES!), and a few days later Copper goes broody ( oh!). The girls are separated with their blue Roo in a coop with 2 nest boxes ( fine for 3 hens, right?). So a broody in each nest and for a week we watched as Huckleberry would squoosh into the nests to lay her eggs. We'd remove hers daily.
    THEN Huckleberry goes broody. All Heck breaks loose. She wants ALL the eggs. Eggs are being fought over and broken. Fortunately we are home and see the commotion and my idea is to physically block off the nests until she calms down a bit. No see eggs, no think eggs, right?
    The only board we could grab at the moment left a 1 inch gap at the top of the open area. Huckleberry keeps squawking, trying to get through a 1 inch opening-- not going to happen, dear,
    I look one hour later. She is STILL at it and OMG, the two hens have moved onto one nest and left the other nest of eggs open. That darn hen had trash-talked the others into giving up eggs even though she could not physically reach them at all!
    Result? Disruptive Huckleberry was removed from the coop area totally and isolated in the empty rooster coop. I gave her a set of eggs but she refused the nest. I don't care. A week later she started laying again and she will remain isolated ( I let the roo join her)until chicks are hatched and safely out of the nests.
     
  9. Baz

    Baz New Egg

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    May 20, 2011
    Oh dear! I hope these new hens don't introduce the fighting-over-nest-boxes habit to our old hens when we combine the flocks--right now they're not at all particular about which box they lay in, but maybe their carefree days are numbered! [​IMG]

    CMV, thanks for the input about the effects of stress. I felt bad questioning the "henliness" of Hen #2, but with Hen #1 handling the transition so well, the contrast between them made us wonder if something else was wrong with #2. Just their individual personalities coming out, I'm sure, so we'll just give Hen #2 time and space and patience and hope she'll be all right. Thanks!
     

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