Missing a hen tonight/what's the scoop on secret nests?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by suzannaski, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. suzannaski

    suzannaski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 31, 2009
    Berlin
    Hi
    At 6pm, the hens were chillaxin' in the dust in the barn. At 7 pm, they were wandering around (sunset is at 8:30 pm) and one of the hens was AWOL, but nothing to worry about because she does that once a day....except she didn't come back at dusk.
    I've noticed a drop in egg production (I only have two hens and two pullets) so I've been suspecting a secret nest, but I really know nothing about them.
    Is it possible she went to squirt out an egg in her secret nest but it got dark out and she couldn't see to return? We checked everywhere we could think of with a flashlight, both in the tall hay and in the low branches, but couldn't find her. She's the smart one ; I named the other "Babs" after the dumb one in Chicken Run.
    I'm a fatalist, so if she was meant to survive, she will, but I'd still like to know more about these secret nests. And I'll be up all night worried about her despite my fatalism.
    Would they put them near/in areas where cats or foxes would likely be? How savvy are hens, anyway? How far away would a secret nest be from the coop? Should I be making an attractive spot for a new secret nest just so I know where to find her?
    Thanks in advance for any help. This is new territory for me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2010
  2. justtoni44

    justtoni44 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2010
    oregon
    She could have decided to set on her nest....broody?
     
  3. starryhen

    starryhen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
    I'll throw in a reply. I only lose hens now when they go broody on a secret nest (knock on wood). I guess it depends on kind, number and intelligence of the varmints around your place. The varmints will clean out the nest, too. Usually, our hens go broody where we know were she is as they feel safe in the barn or around the other animals. I do get tired of carrying the hen to the coop every might and want to make a varmint proof broody box. If I want more hens I also often put very new chicks under them and coax them to be mothers. Other responders here will have good advice. Keep a very sharp eye out and you may see her pop out from someplace to eat or drink.
     
  4. suzannaski

    suzannaski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 31, 2009
    Berlin
    I don't think she's broody.... she doesn't stay in the "official" nest box very long, and she doesn't disappear for more than an hour a day. I've been trying for a while to find out where she goes when she disappears, but I think I'm being outsmarted, because I swear she waits for me to get distracted.
    I've been toying with two ideas, both crazy: 1) conduct a steakout until I catch her sneaking off, and 2) installing a helmet cam on her.
    But how vulnerable is she being outside tonight? I know for a fact there are coyotes, raccoons and fisher cats (oh my!) in our little Oz.
     
  5. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    I can usually find my broody girls by throwing scratch out mid-morning. The just sort of appear out of nowhere and I keep a close eye on them and follow them back to their nest.
     
  6. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Olympia, WA
    Quote:That's how it starts and then one day they decide there are enough eggs in the nest and you have the amazing disapearing hen.
     
  7. suzannaski

    suzannaski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 31, 2009
    Berlin
    *sniff* No, she's gone. Mum picked up all the feathers for me this morning. All we can figure is that after I left (I live 3 miles down the road from mum & barn), but before mum came home , Fifi wandered down to the corner of the paddock for bugs, and was attacked probably by a hawk we saw earlier in the week. There were a couple feathers there. The majority of the feathers were about 20 feet from the safety of the barn & horses, even though she was inside the paddock.
    We assume she was killed at that time because there was dew on the feathers, but really all we know is that she was killed between 6pm and 3 am, when dew last appears.
    I'm so sad. They may be "just chickens" to many, but they become friends and family with personalities and affections. Mum's sad too, Fifi was her garden companion and supervisor. That in itself is a testament to the likeability of chickens (and my barnkeeping), because my mum grew up with meat & layer chickens and hated having them around because they were noisy, stinky and she had to pluck them.
    I'm off topic now.... sorry.

    Guess it's time to research runs & roos. We are naming our coop "Fifi's Bed & Beak-fest" in her memory.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  8. chickenoma

    chickenoma Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 28, 2010
    Michiana
    I am so sorry for you and your sweet Fifi. Only chicken people can understand your pain. We all love our hennies and roos so much, because they bring us lots of joy. It is part of nature that animals will hunt and eat for their survival, but it hurts so much to loose our little friends. Take care of yourself.
     
  9. burquechick

    burquechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 13, 2008
    Louisiana
    Ohh, how sad. I lost one of mine to a hawk once too. Poor baby.
     

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