One stopped laying - the other roosts in nest

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pnutj58, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. pnutj58

    pnutj58 In the Brooder

    Nov 2, 2013
    Pacific Northwest
    My two dark brahma hens started laying eggs in January 2014 and kept it up until they started molting - one in August, the other in September. We went about 3 months without homegrown eggs, then Tilly started laying again on Christmas Eve. Hilary started laying again a couple of weeks later. For a few days I was getting two eggs a day.

    Then, suddenly, Hilary started choosing to roost in the nest box at night. I changed out the shavings and that seemed to do the trick. But, that didn't last long and then Tilly stopped laying, after laying for only three weeks. I now block the nest box at night, with a piece of cardboard and remove it before the sun comes up. Hilary is forced to roost on the roosting bar instead, and judging by the positions of the poop piles under the roost in the mornings, that is working -- until the next night when the daylight goes away and they put themselves to bed, and Hilary takes the box again. It has become routine to go out and move her to the roost, then block the box for the night.

    In the mean time, Tilly has not only stopped laying, but no longer squats when I reach to pet her. Both girls free range in the daytime, and the only time I ever see them not together is when Hilary goes in to lay her egg (every other day). Once she's done, she is right back out with Tilly.

    So, I have several questions about all of this.
    Firstly, could it be that Tilly's not laying anymore, after starting up again for three weeks, and Hilary's using the nest box at night are related?

    Secondly, this time last year, they were both laying almost every day. Last year it was very cold here and we had snow and ice. This year, the weather is very different and it has been warm - up to 60F in the daytime sometimes. Usually in the 50s. So, because Brahmas are a good winter layer, could it be that it isn't cold enough for Tilly to be laying and Hilary to be laying full time?

    Thirdly, these are my first hens and I know zero about broodiness. If Hilary lays her egg and spends the rest of her day with Tilly, foraging, does her choosing the nest box only at night -- with no eggs in the nest -- sound like broodiness?

    Fourthly, is there something I can do differently to "train" Hilary not to sleep in the nest box? Or should I just keep up with the cardboard blockade?

    Lastly, Tilly isn't acting sick or anything and she looks great. She just isn't laying anymore after starting up again for those few weeks. Should I be worrying about her? Is there anything I can do to help her start laying again or just wait it out? I do not use artificial lighting and do not want to use it. Days are getting longer now anyway, and she was laying great guns at this time last year.

    Sorry to be so long winded. Any help and advice is appreciated. Thanks.
  2. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Songster

    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    I wouldn't think that you have a broody hen if she is still continuing to lay. Thus far, all of my broody hens have stopped laying while sitting on the nest. Also, I would think a broody hen would stay on the nest for the most part (not just roost there at night). -can usually tell if a hen is broody, as opposed to just hanging out in the nest box, by the following: reach my hand into the nest box to see the response. My broody hens always fluff up their feathers, growl, and attempt to peck me. A hen that is just sitting will not fluff nor growl. (This has been my experience, but suppose different chickens can exhibit different behaviors.)

    Also, I am not certain that the weather would have much to do with the chickens laying or not. -would think that the daylight would be more of a factor. -and, if they had begun to lay again and recently stopped then something else might be precipitating the change.

    If one hen is roosting in the nest box, but vacating it during the day, then I don't see why this would affect the other hen in any way to keep her from laying.

    Blocking the nest box at roosting time seems to be a good option, and I can't really think of another alternative to keep her off the nest that would work better.

    -best of luck in determining what is transpiring with your hens!
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  3. pnutj58

    pnutj58 In the Brooder

    Nov 2, 2013
    Pacific Northwest
    Thanks, TXchickmum. Hilary doesn't fluff, growl or peck at me when I reach in to move her. And I was almost sure that she wouldn't be leaving the nest in the daytime if she was broody. But, I thought I'd ask.

    Perhaps if I stop thinking about it all, Tilly will start laying again and Hilary will remember to roost on the roost. Well, one can always hope. [​IMG]

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