Micro-flock health

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In the Brooder
9 Years
Jul 6, 2010
Hi all -

I have concerns about the health of my microflock of 3 Australorp hens. For the past few weeks, egg laying has dropped off significantly, and there have been none for the past few days, when we used to get 1 or 2 each day without fail. Also, the girls seem to be eating alot less. When I get home from work, it looks as if they have barely touched their feed bowl. One of the 3 appears to have gone broody, as she hangs out in the nesting box each day. Another's comb is has "faded" from bright red to light pink. In terms of physical appearance, they look OK (other than the one with the faded comb). We live in the cold northeast, but have supplemented their light with a lamp on a timer.

If anyone has any ideas about whats going on here, your input is appreciated.
Broody chickens stop laying eggs and just sit on the ones they've already laid. Sometimes they sit on eggs the other layers in the coop have laid. Sometimes, they sit on nothing. When they stop laying, their combs and wattles turn from red, back to pink. Just like when they were pullets. When they get ready to start laying again, the combs and wattles turn red again. Just like when they first started laying.

The first spring after they start laying is when a lot of layers will first go broody. Broody chickens usually don't eat very much food, either. I hope they are only broody.
Is there anything I should do to try and modify their broody behavior? Or should I just let them be?
Broodiness in chickens is caused by hormonal and chemical physiological changes, just like in other birds. I've read about ways you can "break" a broody cycle, but rather than try to do battle with their natural behavior and fight what's going on in their little brains, I would just let it run it's course, making sure they have food and water close to them so they don't lose too much weight. IMHO, I think forcibly interfering with something they really don't have much control over would be unnecessarily stressful.
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