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Hens throwing straw/leaves on their own backs!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by epeloquin, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. epeloquin

    epeloquin Songster

    Mar 11, 2011
    Western Massachusetts
    I noticed some time back that one of my hens was picking up pieces of straw, leaves or wood shavings and throwing them onto her own back. I have since seen several others doing this as well. The last time happened to be when they were trying to use the same nesting box which they always do. I don't know if it had anything to do with the behavior. They always have plenty of fresh clean straw in their nesting boxes. This is just odd and I wonder if anyone else has observed this behavior or have an idea as to why they do it.

  2. Sunyoung

    Sunyoung In the Brooder

    Sep 25, 2011
    I've seen my dad's hens do this. It was always while they were in the nest box and getting ready to lay. Granted, I'm sort of new to chickens..
  3. bel

    bel Songster

    Jan 15, 2010
    East bay
    My cochin did that before she would lay, chickens sometimes do that before going broody. It seems to be a nest building and or hiding instinct.
  4. debid

    debid Crowing

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    It's camouflage. Smart chickens know they'll be stuck on the nest for a while and want to be as invisible to predators as possible.
  5. FeatherPainter

    FeatherPainter Songster

    Apr 19, 2011
    Northern New York
    My first hen to lay, a buff orpington did this right after laying. I wondered why too. She's been laying a few months now and I haven't seen her do it anymore.
  6. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    It may be a lingering 'genetic memory' back to the time when their ancient dinosaur forebears covered their nests for protection prior to leaving. Ducks and geese in particular very frequently cover their eggs so that they are less noticeable to predaors.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Lingering genetic memory. Good way to put it. A kind of nest building/egg hiding behavior. Some seldom demonstrate it, some occasionally, and some do it for a very long and deliberate time.

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