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Opinion: Think she's sitting??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LTygress, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very odd behavior going on, so I figured I would ask for a few opinions.

    I have a missing Buff Polish (large fowl). She was actually missing for about 2 weeks or so, and reappeared yesterday. I searched all known roosting spots before, with no luck. But yesterday she appeared out of the blue in the back yard. I did a double-take to make sure I was looking at two (I have one other BP). But sure enough, there she was, preening herself and eating the scratch I had just put out.

    NORMALLY I would chalk this up to sitting on eggs. But first, it's a large fowl polish, which isn't known for sitting at all! And second - most important as well - she just turned 4 months old today. Wouldn't this be WAY too early to be sitting on eggs???

    I tried to find her last night when I penned the others up. But I didn't come across anything again. This morning I searched very well, and still nothing. I kept an eye on the yard today but didn't see her. And once again just now I looked pretty well for her.

    There are places in the crawl space under the house that she could get to, and I would never know she was there (holes in the moisture barrier, and insulation up in there would make a nice little nest). So if she's sitting, then she could still have plenty of places to be hiding from me.

    But there are two other caveats. First, it has been raining steady since last night. So where ever she is, if she is dry, I don't blame her for staying hidden. Secondly..... she is sick. She has a respiratory infection that I gave her antibiotics for yesterday (injection - so I'm not worried about her missing a dose). That leads me to believe she would NOT be on eggs.

    So it really boggles my mind as to why she would disappear for two weeks, reappear for a moment, and disappear again. No one else around me owns polish chickens - much less buff polish. So I know it wasn't a neighbor's chicken I saw. And I'd really like to find her to make sure she is okay, since I have lost a total of FIVE buff polish hens this year!


    Do you think she is sitting on eggs somewhere? Or do you think it is something else?
     
  2. redstar14

    redstar14 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Keep her penned a few days if shes. Laying youll find eggs and she can be layin at 4 months
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I suspect either poor health or close encounter with predator has changed her roosting habits. I have seen such numerous times over years where an individual, usually a juvenile or young adult, will get separated from natal flock. Bird will roost in a completely separate location and usually have a foraging range that does not overlap with natal flock. Over time the lost bird will increase its foraging range to point where it overlaps that of another flock or the natal flock. Normally such a bird immediately resumes foraging with natal flock but may be slower to roost with them since likely imprinted in new location. If flock not natal, then individual is slower to range with such birds since they are more inclined to drive it off. Adults are generally much quicker to return to natal location or attempt merger since breeding is usually high on list of concerns.
     
  4. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I figured she could be laying, but she's almost acting like she's SITTING on eggs. She doesn't appear for days at a time.

    And when she did reappear that one day, she had no problem interacting with the others. That's actually how I discovered that she was still around in one glance, because I saw her side-by-side with my other buff polish hen (they are sisters from the same hatch).

    But this time I know that she has been gone for a while because the other polish hen is locked up. I haven't let anyone out to free-range in the past few days, because of the heavy rains here.

    I'm thinking the illness may be keeping her somewhere out of sight, though. But I REALLY hope she's not actually sitting on eggs somewhere!
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    How confident are you about her age?. Could you show a picture of since you found her again?
     
  6. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I didn't take any photos during the moments when I saw her. I was more interested in treating her, and making sure she got food and water.

    And I'm extremely confident on her age. I got her from McMurray Hatchery, and her hatch date was listed as April 19th. When I got that order, all of the chicks were DEFINITELY no more than a few days old.

    I'm thinking that with her illness, she may have been caught by a predator this time. The odd thing is, I have seen a fox, raccoon, and snake attacking chickens in my yard before, but there is almost always a sign of a struggle (lots of feathers) and I don't see that this time. I'm holding out hope that she'll return, but expecting the worst. If I'm lucky, she's up under the house sandwiched between the flooring, and the insulation/moisture barrier. That will keep her cozy and dry while her body fights the illness.

    But we have searched pretty extensively, including neighboring properties. We searched for both a live chicken and a corpse, with no luck either way. So right now we just have to sit back and wait.
     
  7. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    WESOME news!

    It was about to storm again, so I gave it one more glance around the property and started to come inside as my nephew greeted me at the door. He said the guy about the chicken was coming around the house. In his hands... was my missing polish hen. At first I thought she was dead because she was limp and he was kinda holding her sideways. But when I reached out and touched her, she squawked at the feeling of another set of hands!

    He said he found her wandering around and squawking loudly in the subdivision off the back of our property. She was weak, hungry, her crop was completely empty, and (despite the rain and cooler temps) dehydrated.

    I gave her an all-out bath in the kitchen sink, and then put her under a heat lamp with a hair dryer pointed at her rear end (to get warm air under her feathers). I put some medicated chick food in front of her but she wasn't interested. So I tried a live mealworm instead, and she attacked it with a vengeance! I gave her a couple more of those, and then switched to superworms, which she ate about 10. Then I tried the medicated chick feed mixed with water, and she eventually picked at it and got hungrier, the more she ate. Once that small bit was gone, I tried a full mug of the dry version.

    I'm sitting on my bed with a towel spread out beside me, and she is standing on the towel. She still has the heat lamp on her, but not the hair dryer anymore. Half of the mug is gone already, and she is not done! I am going to keep her in here until she is finished eating, at the very least. I'm considering the idea of keeping her indoors overnight.

    The good news is, she's not showing ANY signs of actually being sick anymore! All of the mucus build-up she has in her nose, eyes, and around her mouth, must have gotten washed away by the heavy rain. The bad-breath type smell is gone, and she is having no problems breathing!

    But in bad news, her feet have sores now, and her scales are lifted in a couple of spots, so she may have mites. If I keep her overnight, I'll soak her feet alternately between antibiotics and mite medications to help with that.

    Either way, I'm glad she was found, and that she is alive! She's chattering at me now, and checking out this cell phone. So this all has a happy ending!
     
  8. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]

    All dry, perky, and checking out my phone! Now it is storming outside, so she'll be staying in for the night after all.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Avoid washing a sick bird, usually even a healthy bird as that can be a challenge to health itself. How does her breast feel? The mucus problem is not likely to be impacted by the water.
     
  10. LTygress

    LTygress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She feels fine. Her crop was dead empty at first, but once she ate, it felt fine.

    I figured the actual antibiotic injection actually cleared it up, but the rain washed away the mucus on her face (that would clog her nostrils so she couldn't breath easily) and cleaned her up. The humidity of the air she was breathing probably also helped her clean it out of her system.

    As for washing chickens, I have actually never had a problem with it, and I have had to wash many of them. When this hen was found, she had mud caked on her feathers (rain and Georgia clay make an awful mess) so she didn't have much of a choice. But I have given baths to sick birds, healthy birds, chicks and adults with no problems.

    Although I make sure to use warm water, and I have a heat lamp and hair dryer ready the moment I am done with the water. I even have an incubator almost always half-filled with eggs to put them in after the bath if I need to.

    I don't make it a habit to do it regularly. I don't give them all a bath once a month or anything. But I have given baths to several with nothing but positive results.
     

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