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Hen putting leaves, grass and feathers on her back??!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 6-acre-zoo, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. 6-acre-zoo

    6-acre-zoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2010
    Hiya all - I've a permanently broody hen who is doing less eating and more putting stuff on her back - what does this behaviour correlate to? Is it like she's trying to disguise herself as a shrub to protect her chickens? Is it to keep the (imaginary) rooster away from her?
    The rooster is imaginary, because although we had one, he was taken by a fox during the summer and I didn't replace him. The hen is mad broody though, and wouldn't sit for more than 2 days when the eggs used to be fertilized....now though, she's been sitting for a month (and I don't want chicks, it's coming into winter and I have enough hens - can't sell them round here either as everyone has them!) So the poor hen is going a little strange I think! Does this account for the leaf carrying?? How will I change her behaviour? [​IMG]:confused:
     
  2. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    ... putting leaves, grass and feathers on her back.
    Interesting... I've never even heard of such behavior.
     
  3. ghillie

    ghillie Hen Pecked

    Nov 13, 2008
    Colorado Springs, Co
    She is trying to hide herself. My permanent broody this summer did the same thing. Always tossing straw, shavings, feathers or whatever was nearby on her back.......
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I've read about this but never seen it. I have two broodies at the moment and have had others, different chickens. Used to have a Kraienkoppe that thought she was a game bird, tried to hatch about 25 eggs out by the mailbox, raised a couple of clutches of chicks, and even she did not do this. Would love to watch one do this hiding behavior as well.
     
  5. 6-acre-zoo

    6-acre-zoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2010
    Thanks all, quite glad to know she's not losing her tiny mind! I'll try and take a short film of it and post it up here - Has anyone any recommendations as to how I could get her to stop being so broody (apart from hatching a clutch!) She is annoying me as she sits on all the other eggs and half-cooks them by the end of the day - the yolks go clumpy! and I can't be up and down to the hen shed all day long.......
    I've tried separating her and left her there with food and water for 3 days, but she goes right back to sitting....sigh!
     
  6. TXmom

    TXmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sometimes my broody hens throw shavings and hay on their backs while sitting in the nest box. I definitely think they're trying to camouflage themselves.

    I've heard people say they put ice packs in the nest boxes (or ziplocs with ice in them). When the broody sits, it lowers her body temperature and it can stop her broodiness. If it's warm where you are, i'm sure the ice would melt quickly, so not sure how well this would work. I haven't tried it myself...I usually just let my broodies have a few eggs (I just gave 6 eggs to my Silkie yesterday). Now I have lots of chickies running around!
     
  7. kristen2678

    kristen2678 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 26, 2009
    North Berwick Maine
    I have a BO and EE that do this every time they lay an egg. They are covered in shavings when they leave the nest.
     
  8. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    Stealth chicken.....cammo!
     
  9. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    On breaking a broody, the method that seems to work most often, from reading on here, is putting them in a wire bottom cage propped up on something so that there is continuous air flow underneath (no nesting material.) Seems to take two or three days. I did manage to succeed at this once but don't have the cage any more. Taking them out of the nest repeatedly has worked for me for a few who didn't seem too strongly broody anyway, but mostly I just let them try to hatch golf balls. The only thing I know of that consistently works is giving them fertile eggs and letting them go through the whole cycle of hatching and mothering. But then after a month or two of laying, some just go broody again. Well, hatching, anyway -- I recently had two who probably killed their chicks, during or right after hatch, about two months ago, and neither has been broody since.

    I'd be reluctant to try the ice, myself.
     
  10. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    A couple of my hens decorate themselves all purty after laying eggs. Sometimes they're not even IN the nest box any more when they do it. It's just an instinctual thing, I'm sure they don't know WHY they do it, they just HAVE to do it. But I like to pretend they're dressing themselves for the Prom after being all proud for laying an egg.
     
    1 person likes this.

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