Is my hen broody or being bullied?

Mabel001

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
4
1
5
My hen Mavis has been acting strangely for the last few days. She is almost always sat in a laying box with her feathers puffed up and tail up in the air, so we thought she might be broody, so are now taking the eggs from under her regularly. However, she doesn't mind us picking her up and isn't showing any other signs of being broody.

I picked her up and put her outside the coop this morning and kept an eye on her. She doesn't seem sick or injured but she keeps puffing up her feathers and darting around. The other hens seem to keep watching and following her and sometimes will peck her, so we think she might be getting bullied.

I then opened the pen to let them wander around the garden - one other hen stayed near her, but was pecking at the ground and didn't seem interested in Mavis. The rest went off in a group. Mavis did come out and acted normally, apart from continuing to puff up her feathers often, and she stayed close to the pen and went back to the laying box after about 10 minutes.

We have 5 hens - 1 is four years old, the other 4 (including Mavis) were bought together and are two years old. We haven't noticed any kind of bullying before (apart from a bit of chasing to maintain the pecking order) We're still not sure what's wrong with her and how we could help. Any advice would be much appreciated!
 

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chelseachook

Songster
Mar 9, 2020
239
346
146
QLD, Australia
Usually they will stay on the perch if they are getting bullied. I don't have much experience with broody hens, but in the past they haven't always been aggressive. They will usually puff up their feathers when I come close. Has she pecked out her feathers and put them on the nest? If she sits on the eggs at night then she is probably broody.
 

Mabel001

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
4
1
5
Usually they will stay on the perch if they are getting bullied. I don't have much experience with broody hens, but in the past they haven't always been aggressive. They will usually puff up their feathers when I come close. Has she pecked out her feathers and put them on the nest? If she sits on the eggs at night then she is probably broody.

Thanks for your reply. She hasn't pecked out any feathers. I haven't noticed where she goes at night, will see what she does today.
 

BY Bob

Proprietor, Fluffy Butt Acres
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jan 1, 2016
23,379
215,937
1,467
Hershey, PA
My Coop
My Coop
I have a broody hen right now who is next to the bottom of the pecking order. The higher up hens do not believe that she should be hatching eggs and so they peck at her when she is off the nest. Where does she fall in your pecking order? I have a video on my thread that shows even the one hen below her in the pecking order taking her on.

She could possibly be broody and thus being bullied by the other hens.

You can see the video here.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...es-stories-of-our-flock.1286630/post-22689748
 

Mabel001

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
4
1
5
I have a broody hen right now who is next to the bottom of the pecking order. The higher up hens do not believe that she should be hatching eggs and so they peck at her when she is off the nest. Where does she fall in your pecking order? I have a video on my thread that shows even the one hen below her in the pecking order taking her on.

She could possibly be broody and thus being bullied by the other hens.

You can see the video here.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...es-stories-of-our-flock.1286630/post-22689748
Thanks, that does look like what's happening to Mavis. We think she is either bottom or next to bottom of the pecking order, so that would make sense.

I've put a cool pack under the hay in her nesting box and will keep moving her off today - hopefully that will sort things out if she is broody.
 

Overo Mare

Mayor
Premium Feather Member
Aug 26, 2019
14,383
137,405
1,356
Small-town, Virginia
Best thing to do with a broody that you don't intend to use for hatching, is to break them. Wire dog crates work great. I built broody jails.

The jail needs to be big enough to accommodate food and water and for the hen to turn around and move a bit. Set it up on 6-8" blocks so a decent amount of airflow can circulate underneath.

Keep her in there for a few days and try letting her out. If she goes to the nest box, put her straight back into the slammer. Take her out every day to let her dust bathe and socialize. If she tries to go back to her nest - straight back to jail.

I put my broody jails right in the coop/run. That makes reintegration less dramatic later as the flock can see her the entire time.

Keep testing her until she proves she's broken by ignoring her "nest".
 

Overo Mare

Mayor
Premium Feather Member
Aug 26, 2019
14,383
137,405
1,356
Small-town, Virginia
Do you have pics of these?

I don't, but they're super simple.

My run is covered, so I didn't need to worry about a roof. I built a frame out of 4x4s, put hardware cloth on the bottom, left one side open for a door and wrapped the rest in chicken wire.

For the door I just built a small frame out of 2x2s and stretched the chicken wire across it. Doors are kept in place on the jails using a bungee cord.
 

Mabel001

Hatching
Jun 1, 2020
4
1
5
Thought I'd post an update in case anyone else sees this in a similar situation. When we put the cool packs under her, she just moved to a different box! We don't have enough to cover them all, so gave up on that. We've just been taking her out of the coop whenever we go to see her, and she does stay out for a while now, but is still broody.

Fortunately the bullying has pretty much stopped, and that's what we were most concerned about. We're not too bothered about being 1 egg down each day - we'd certainly rather let the broodiness run its course than put her in a cage. Shouldn't be too much longer.
 

MANNA-PRO

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