Penny's on restriction but she sang the Egg Song!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AnnieSantiago, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So today I moved Penny into a separate cage because she was bullying my little RIR.

    Some people said to completely separate her from the other birds.
    One lady told me to be sure and put her CLOSE to the other birds.

    Opinions???

    The good news is she has been singing the Egg Song this afternoon!
    Yay!
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Why is it good news that she's been making the alarm call/'egg song'?

    If you have separated her due to the bullying, out of sight is best, since the intention there is to reset her place in the social hierarchy and then when you reintroduce her, two or more days later, she will be more focused on regaining her previous social status than continuing to bully. This only works if they temporarily forget her.

    When isolating a chook to break her off the brood or give her time to recover from injury or illness, being in daily sight of the main flock is important so they remember her, since then you can reintroduce her to the flock with minimum friction since as far as they're concerned she never really left.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's good news because, from what I've read here, this means she's close to laying???

    Penny is totally isolated.
    She is in the shed, in a pen by herself.
    I feel sorry for her because I really like her.
    And what I'm noticing is that her partner in crime, the Easter Egger, has now become the main bully and is chasing the RIR away from food and water, and all over the pen.
    This is hard to watch.
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh, I see. That's not really correct info you've heard there about the egg song indicating reaching sexual maturity... But it's a bit complicated.

    The 'egg song' (aka alarm call) is not a reliable indicator of anything much. It is naturally their alarm call, made by chickens of all ages and both genders, but humans appear to have modified their triggers for it, so now many hens lay an egg and begin screaming immediately. Of course, in the wild, a hen who did that wouldn't pass on her genes since she's announcing the location of her clutch to the world; it's a domestic trait. Even in domesticity many chooks only make that call when something scares them.

    I think it's associated with laying because humans often thieve eggs from hens while they're watching, triggering the alarm call since a 'predator' just raided the nest. I did have some hens who took to screaming the so-called 'egg song' after watching me raid their nest, but out of many hundreds of hens that's the rare exception --- generally if my hens or roosters make the 'egg song' they are making it for the right reason --- a predator has attacked or something has seriously scared them.

    It's naturally just an alarm call which is why hens who have either seen their clutch desecrated or expect it to be desecrated are more likely to make it; but it is an automatic behavior for some and they make that ruckus while totally calm. Roosters are very prone to joining in on the alarm call for no logical reason. Traits for vocal triggers, specific vocalizations, patterns, voice tones, frequency, everything are all highly heritable. If you have a chook who likes to complain, chances are her offspring will too. If you have a rooster who likes to crow as soon as it's dark, and crow nonstop all night every night (but be silent in the daytime --- they do exist, and they're not uncommon, more's the pity) then breeding that rooster could fill your flock with more of his sort. Night crowers. One of my pet hates.

    I've never seen the alarm call/egg song be described as a method for telling when a pullet is close to lay. Chicks of both genders will make that noise if something scares them too, so I don't know why someone would say it's a sign of female sexual maturity ---- but that said, there's such variation between family lines that it's entirely probable that it's a reliable sign for some bloodlines out there. You can find a unique trait in many family lines, whether it's genetic of behavioral or whatever.

    Regarding the bullying... Bullying is hard to watch, hard to deal with, hard for the bullied chooks to deal with too; it causes stress, which causes stress-related problems like injuries, ill-thrift, susceptibility to disease and parasites, low production, etc... If you really don't want to see any more bullying, your best option is to not breed bullies. Breed your own chooks, selecting those who don't bully only, and in about 7 generations you should have a very peaceful, kind flock. I did that. Worked like a charm. Soon enough they don't produce bullies; using violence to entertain themselves, cannibalism, chick-killing, etc are all highly heritable behaviors. Excessive violence is not natural nor healthy despite what some will tell you.

    Personally I'd cull the bullies but understand this may not be an option for you, or only a desperate last resort.

    Another option you have is to introduce enrichment into their lives to help stimulate them to do other things, add obstacles so chasing the victim around and around and around is difficult or impossible... Walls they can't see around or over, even rocks in the cage, low perches they have to duck under, or can climb on, all that can help break the mental pattern of bullying. They are often quite unwilling to duck under a low perch to pursue a victim, since it puts them into a vulnerable position.

    They're not utterly stupid animals despite what most people believe; they need more than just four walls, a perch, a nestbox, food, water, and other chooks for quality of life. They need stimulation. Without it, you get obsessive behaviors, neuroses, and most of them will be either harmful to themselves or others since there is literally nothing much else to do with their boring lives. You're seeing 'stereotypies' --- repetitive behaviors that have no logic behind them, the same sort of thing you get when a zoo animal repeats a behavior over and over again for hours on end... A meaningless distraction from their meaningless lives in their maddeningly boring cages. It is, quite literally, a sign of madness from boredom. But it's basically bred into some breeds now, even if you let them free range they can remain fixated on their destructive habits.

    You can rehabilitate some but not all. Some must be removed for the quality of life of others. Remove bullies, you get a calmer flock. Remove victims, like so many people do, and nothing is fixed. Bullies will just choose another victim. It's what bullies do. Too many people think domestic animals are still instinctively intact, and if they're bullying, it's a sign of their superiority to the faulty creature they're attacking; in reality, domestic bullies are often actually the faulty one. We've bred maternal and paternal and even filial instincts out of some bloodlines, and familial instincts are very strong, so it makes no sense to think all their other natural instincts are intact, lol!

    Hens have very, very limited use for, or interest in, other hens. They have more use for roosters and chicks. That's their natural family unit and gives them the situation to display alternative social behaviors which are beneficial, not harmful. But many layer breed hens lack instincts for families so some have no use for chicks or roosters. Referring to the highest production layer or meat breeds, their breed often holds them permanently out of reach of total mental or social or physical health. They're often pretty tragic animals.

    Anyway, enriching their cage should help a lot, and enriching their diet should too, but beyond that you need to decide if keeping all bullies or all non-bullies is the sort of flock you want. In an all-bully flock it's only a matter of time before the weakest is hurt or bullied to death. It's high stress, it's the 'normal' flock most people have and most believe it's inevitable.

    In a no-bully flock, you can leave injured or ill birds among the main flock and they will not be harmed, there's no bullying, no stress... For them or you. But you only get that flock by culling strictly against bullies, whether culling means killing or rehoming.

    Best wishes.
     
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  5. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you do a search on this forum on "egg song" you will find many threads which say exactly this, which is why I thought that's what is happening.
    Perhaps I mis-read.

    Anyway, thanks for your informative post.

    The man who sold me my last two pullets is willing to trade Bertha for a 3d pullet.
    I'm hoping since that one will be the same breed and age, it may get along better.

    I'm going to try to keep Penny for now.
    I just love her.
    But if she gets out of hand after being on restriction, I'll trade or sell her also.

    Thanks again.
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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  7. AnnieSantiago

    AnnieSantiago Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh Oh Oh!
    Penny is exploring the nesting boxes today!
    Does this mean she's at least considering laying?
    ::excited::
     

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