My Buff stopped laying. Could bullying be the cause?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Lesuko, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. Lesuko

    Lesuko In the Brooder

    Aug 27, 2012
    I have 5 chickens and my buff orpington gets picked on by the other 4. They were all raised together from day 1 (April). I have an odd pecking order among them- no one bird is the top, but buff is definitely at the bottom.

    She was the first to lay in August. But, she has stopped laying for about 3 weeks now. My astrolorp and americana stopped laying for about a week but started up again- just yesterday.

    We did "break" her of her broodiness- she didn't move for 3 days! And she hasn't laid since. I have also noticed that the others are picking on her more- she has to wait until everyone else has finished eating until she can sneak back inside for food. If the astrolorp sees her, she'll chase her away from the food... Buff is alone more than the others but they will all graze together on grass.

    Going to bed has to be incredibly stressful for her as the others peck on her until she finds a spot on the roost away, or in between the others that's "acceptable", I'm guessing. The pecking doesn't seem too violent. She doesn't have any bare spots, no thinning of feathers- I'm checking regularly since I've noticed this bullying. Though, the bullying was going on when she was laying.

    She no longer does the submissive squat when we try to pick her up. She was the first and easiest to pick up- never a problem. But now, she won't let us. Actually, she always ran over to me every time I went outside and doesn't really anymore.

    Buff does get food. I watch to make sure. But, maybe not enough feed?. I give treats in 3 throws in different directions now so that she can get some- but will still get chased away eventually. And then there's grass and bugs. I don't let them out of their enclosed run first thing in the morning to make sure they all eat the layer feed first to get the nutrients they need. I did see her eating feed this morning.

    They are 6.5months old. Not molting.

    So, is there cause for concern? Is there a way to stop the pecking order? After her broodiness, she was very pale and weak. She has improved greatly, but perhaps her feathers aren't as deeply colored as they were. Her personality is different though.

    On a side note, my speckeled sussex and brahma haven't started laying either. All seem healthy- jumping and running in the yard. Tails up. The feed has 16% protein.

    Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. And, out of curiosity, has anyone had a change of heart since getting chickens? I never thought I would be so attached.

    Many thanks!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I didn't read your whole post but I'd say it's the result of being broody.

    A broody hen doesn't lay eggs because she has to raise chicks. Expect at least a month sans eggs after being broody.
    Normal for a BO.

    Free ranging is a natural endeavor and helps bonding. Being confined is unnatural.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
  3. Lesuko

    Lesuko In the Brooder

    Aug 27, 2012
    Thank you Chicken Canoe! I didn't think it would take a whole month to recover. It's a huge relief.

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