Is my pullet trying to go broody? Weird behaviours, newbie question!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ticketism, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. ticketism

    ticketism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey all!

    One of our white Orpingtons started laying a couple of months ago, she's now about 7-8months old. She's recently started displaying some kinda mean and completely out of character behaviours.

    Since I spotted a huge carpet python in the garden nearly a fortnight ago, everyone has been kept in the coop 'round the clock. They're all pretty unhappy about it coz they usually free-range in our large yard every day. I initially thought she was getting grumpy from being cooped up (haha, no pun intended), but now I'm wondering if she's decided she wants some babies...

    The first grumpy thing she did was when I opened the nesting box not knowing she was in there, I went to give her a gentle pat and she gave me a pretty good peck. Then she got all ruffled up, went down into the run to pace around in a huff for a bit, then went back up into the box to lay her egg. She just left it there and went down for a feed and a dustbathe when she was done.

    I've noticed her spending more and more time in the nesting box, and sitting on her egg for longer and longer once she's layed. The other day I was in the coop doing some housekeeping, and Little Star did the 'submissive squat' every time I went near her, while she usually just does it when I actually touch her back. As I went to leave, she followed me to the door, then did this super weird thing I've never seen before - She lifted her wings, puffed out all of her feathers, and made this loud 'SKREEE!!' noise, she sounded like an eagle!

    The next 'mean' thing was yesterday when my partner opened the nesting box to find her in there, sitting on her sisters egg. My partner felt under Little Star to grab Chai's egg, and got quite a few pretty aggressive pecks. We went out for the afternoon and only got back at around 9pm or just after. I checked the box for Little Star's egg, and she was still in there sitting on it! She never does that, she's usually very possessive about her spot on the roost. So I picked her up (no pecks, but I'm sure she was sleepy), she had a totally empty crop, and was really determined to stay right there on that egg. She wasn't happy when I took the egg away, so I actually went into the coop and put her up on the roost.

    It seems as though she went up there sometime after midday and sat on Chai's egg, then just stayed there all day and into the night on her own one.

    Do you think she's going broody? Or is it that she's just unhappy with not having been able to free range like she's used to? The pecking and aggression is so out of character for her, but once I saw she was still on the egg I started to think maybe she's going broody... I don't want any broodies in the flock, haha. How can we stop her from going broody and hopefully stop the defensive, kinda 'mean' behaviour?

    Cheers!
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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  3. ticketism

    ticketism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So, she's definitely broody! Very stubbornly so. Every time I check the nesting box she's in there. Sometimes sitting on an egg or two, sometimes just sitting in there. I have to physically pick her up (which she dislikes and nips me) and put her down in the run to eat or else she just won't bother eating. The last few days there's only been one egg, I'm not sure if she's stopped laying or if her sister, Chai, has slowed down due to the weather (it's Autumn here and we're having a bit of a cold, rainy time).

    Last night I went to check on them - She was in the box. I picked her up and put her on the roost, within 10 seconds she jumped down and went straight back to the box. This happened about 5 times, when I finally just went 'okay, you win, stay in the box' haha. Same thing has happened the last few nights.

    Today they came out to free-range, and she had to be coaxed out of the box, long after everyone else had run off into the yard. After she realised no one else was in the run, she squawked a bit and ran off to join them, but over the day she just kept going back to the coop, and straight into the box. I kept picking her up and putting her in the yard with everyone else, but she'd make her way back to the box within a few minutes anyway.

    She's gotten this weird, large, squishy lump on her chest which jiggles when she runs. I wondered if it was sour crop... I picked her up and tried to smell her breath, but she wouldn't open her beak long enough for me know if I was just smelling her face or her breath, haha. It didn't smell great, but it didn't smell sour or yeasty or anything either. Actually it kinda smelled like plasma =/ You know when you have a graze or cut that's not bleeding or infected, and you smell it? That's the closest thing I can liken it to. She hasn't been lethargic or otherwise seeming unwell, just really determined to stay in the box and not eating/drinking very much.

    Could it be sour crop? Or do broody chickens have some physiological differences that change their appearance, or maybe it's due to not getting the same amount of sun, exercise and food?

    I guess now the decision is what to do about the broodiness. Do we try to break the broodiness? Do we just see how it goes? Do we get her some eggs and let her have her way - And how effective is that at stopping broodiness once they've hatched, do they feel satisfied and return to normal?

    Is it likely that she's stopped laying whilst broody and is sitting on Chai's eggs? Or maybe Chai hasn't been laying, either due to the weather or because she can't get a minute in the nesting box herself? Haha, out of all our chickens, I wouldn't have picked Little Star as the one to go stubbornly broody, and especially so young.

    Chickens hey? Always an adventure xD
     
  4. ticketism

    ticketism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our buff Orpington (who is younger and hasn't started laying yet, but is just starting to kinda do the submissive squat and make the funny noise that goes with it when I touch her back/tail) has taken to sleeping in the nesting box with Little Star =\ Little Star doesn't seem to mind, whereas she's been pretty unhappy with anyone else occupying 'her' nest until now. The buff used to sleep in the box all the time when she was new to the coop and didn't have enough status in the flock to be allowed space on the roost, but she's happily been sleeping on the roost with both Chai and Little Star for ages now. She's usually the first one up to bed in the evening, and the one that spends more time in the coop/run in general (of her own choice). But now she's kinda starting the same behaviours we saw in our other layers leading up to them laying, and she gets on the roost (first of course, haha, no one beats Buff to bed), then when Little Star comes up and goes into the box, Buff jumps down and follows her in. She hasn't been hanging out in there all day like Little Star does, but she's definitely very purposefully following her in there at night. What's going on there? ... Is she young and impressionable and wants to copy Little Star? Is broodiness 'contagious' and having one broody can set the others off? Should I be trying to separate them in case they start fighting over the nest and they're both too stubborn to share or move? Will two of them in there potentially cause a problem?
     
  5. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Broody hens will go forever without eating.Dont bother her.She knows what she is doing.
     
  6. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Broody chickens will sit on eggs for up to 5 weeks.But usually its 3 unless the eggs are late,or they are never gonna hatch.Yes a broody hens appearence is usually puffed up while in box and walking around,also makibg chirping/peeping sounds.The bump on her chest may be just her crop.

    You needa to dunk her breast/bone area stomach into water for about 30 seconds.Then lock her in a keneel with no eggs and a lil bit of hay for a few days.Take to the water dumping every day.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Yes, she's broody.


    If you don't want her to hatch out chicks, best to break her promptly.
    My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some crumble a couple times a day.

    I let her out a couple times a day and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two.
    Water nipple bottle added after pic was taken.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. ticketism

    ticketism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay well that's all good to know. I'll chat with my partner and we'll decide whether to let her hatch some eggs or to just break the broodiness and be done with it. I'd kinda like to hatch some chicks, it's an experience we haven't had yet and the idea of doing so the 'old fashioned' way with a broody is pretty exciting. But it's the middle of Autumn, quite cold, humid, and rainy. I'm not sure that it's quite the right time of year for hatching? It might take a few days to source some eggs, then three weeks to hatch them... We'll have day old chicks in Winter. I thought that wasn't really an ideal time to do that? All of the breeders I know tend to stop hatching around November/December (end of Spring/beginning of Summer), as during the middle of Summer it's just far too hot (QLD Australia, haha), and then it goes into Autumn and Winter which is too cold. They don't tend to start back up again until the end of August (just before Spring so the chicks are hatched when it starts warming up). We have the setup to take care of chicks, brooder, heat lamp, etc. I guess in some countries it's colder in Spring and Summer than it is in Winter is Aus, heh, so maybe I'm just being overconcerned.

    And what about the weird crop thing? Does it sound to you guys like sour crop? If there's something wrong I'd like to address it as quickly as possible.

    And Buff now sleeping in the box with Little Star - Is that a potential problem? I don't want everyone deciding babies are the new hot thing as going broody, then fighting each other over nesting spots xD

    The up side is that those two as now no longer bothering our Sussex pullets. The two Sussex are both younger by a few weeks, and even though they're the same size or maybe even bigger, they are still intimidated by Buff especially, and Little Star a bit. Chai never bothers anyone, unless she's keeping them in line. It's nice not seeing them getting picked on. They haven't been getting picked on that badly, but they're my little buddies (especially Solar, the light Sussex), so I still don't like seeing them not getting along with everyone else harmoniously. I understand they have their pecking order and their own set of politics, so I don't intervene unless it's bad enough that I have to.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I let a broody hatch in winter....negative F temps...wouldn't do it again but it worked out OK.
    How cold does it get there? Keeping water liquid was the only challenge.
    Chickens can handle cold better than heat.

    How old is this bird with the big crop?
    Search 'pendulous crop'.
     
  10. ticketism

    ticketism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She's about 9 months old, I think...

    It gets down to about 10 degrees Celsius, but that'd kinda be the absolute coldest it'll get around this area. It just gets so humid, rainy... Really wet. If it wouldn't be a danger to Little Star or the chicks, and there's a fair chance of the eggs actually hatching... I'm starting to lean towards letting her hatch some! We had no plans to do that at all at this stage, but considering she's gone so stubbornly broody anyway, maybe it'll be a cool thing to take the opportunity =D
     

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