PLEASE can you help us? Hen pecking & puberty????

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SeaChick, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    The title of this section is apt for this question: do hens behaviours regarding pecking order change or peak as they begin to lay????

    WE're getting really worried that we might have to give away Hazel, our RIR. She ALL OF A SUDDEN started pecking the other girls REALLY hard, especially Rita, who is missing almost all the feathers on her lower back now, within the last 3-4 days.

    We've been watching the pecking order develop and until recently, Rita seemed near the top. But then she started laying last week. None of the other girls are, but Hazel (the suddenly mean RIR) seems about to. Anyway, right around the time Rita started to lay, Hazels really aggressive behavious began. As I said, she pecks everyone, and HARD (like they flap backwards a few feet and squawk) but she picks on Rita by far the worst. She'll come over and take a huge mouthful of her lower back feathers and just eat them.

    Is it possible that this is a hormonal surge thing because she's about to begin laying and that she'll calm down?

    PLEASE HELP!

    Thanks-
    Stacey & Olivia
     
  2. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maine
    I don't know about everybody else's flock, but my running joke was that my girls had PES (pre-egg syndrome). They went from a friendly, cohesive flock to nasty attitudes, constantly pecking at each other. It never got to the extreme that yours did, but for a little while there every lady was out to peck everybody else. Same flock who, for the 18wks leading up to this, NEVER picked on each other. I had a really hard time telling the alpha/omega chickens, because the only sign was that a few would hang back, or not eat out of my hand.

    FINALLY it settled down about a week ago. They are a lot more aggressive with each other than they used to be, but it isn't as bad as it has been. And.. got my first egg yesterday HOORAY! So I DO think it has to do with hormonal surges. If that's the case, than it's actually a GOOD sign, because it means they are getting close.

    BTW, the BA <Bad Attitude, for those of you too young to remember [​IMG] > lasted for about 3wks.

    Meghan
     
  3. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Thanks Meghan-
    That gives me some hope. It's really weird how suddenly it happened and how mean she's being. But she is being REALLY weird today, crying and launching herself around the the house (everyone else is out in the run) like a lunatic. I think she's feeling weird but doesn't know why and hopefully once she starts to lay she'll settle down. She also cut her comb somehow a couple of days ago (must have stuck her head through the wire and pulled back too suddenly? It is ripped about 1/4" at the back end near the base) and I thought maybe it was hurting her and making her cranky. I just hope it stops before poor Rita looses all her back feathers!
    Stacey
     
  4. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Ha, well now it's more clear........ I just went out and looked in the henhouse and there Hazel is, sitting nest-like in a corner. She MUST be laying. I didn't disturb her. BUT..... she's not laying in the nest box like Rita! What should I do? Should I pick her up and put her in it? I'm guessing no, but how will she learn?
    Stacey
     
  5. Queen of the Lilliputians

    Queen of the Lilliputians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2007
    Maine
    Hmm.. I don't have a ton of advice on this one, since I only have one lady laying, but we have plastic easter eggs in all of our nest boxes (the kids put them in and had a blast doing it). Must work ok, since our egg was in one of them.

    Glad to hear Hazel has finally settled down! Must be weird... suddenly feeling like you've got to lay. Is that like when we're in labor, and suddenly feel like we just want to go sit on the toilet for a LOOOONG while? That made me cranky, then, too!

    -Meghan
     
  6. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Well- Hazel laid (layed?) her first egg! [​IMG]

    But it was on the floor in the spot she'd been sitting yesterday [​IMG]

    We DO have fake (wooden) eggs in the nest boxes, and Rita's been laying in there for a week. I guess I will just hope that Hazel finally figures it out. Unfortunately the spot she's chosen is under the roost and her egg had a big glob of poop on it this morning. I'd certainly MUCH prefer she use the nest box and keep the eggs clean!

    Any other ideas on how to get her to understand where to lay???

    Many thanks,
    Stacey
     
  7. schmoo

    schmoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    639
    2
    161
    May 7, 2007
    West MI.
    I used the fake eggs and it seems it worked. I have only found 2 in strange places. One in the run and one on the floor of the coop. So I'm not sure what else you could do.

    I did want to tell you that some of my girls were super cranky right before they started laying. One even bit me! She would follow me around the coop BAWKING at me -like "get out and gimme some privacy would ya"! All is good now. I think it took a couple weeks for them to figure out what was going on with their bodies.
     
  8. SeaChick

    SeaChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Thanks Schmoo- I hope you are right. It does seem entirely reasonable that they'd get especially cranky and weird-acting as they start laying. That's a big change to have to deal with, and they don't get the delightful "Puberty Class" like the 5th graders at Olivia's school had last year to tell them what to expect and why! Poor pullets!

    Stacey
     

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