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Psychological or physical chicken problem

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chicks47, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Well, I have tried to surf through some issues on the forum here, but have not found anything related to my chicken problem. (Of course there is so very much information I could be missing it.)

    Anyways; I have three chickens currently. We had 5, but on January 29th we had a raccoon attach in the coop (this may be relevant?). So we lost two of our girls. They were all hatched last spring, so they are young layers. My current problem is that one of the girls (Orphington) sits in the nesting box all day. We let them free range, but I don't see her out. Every time I go to the coop she seems to be there. My husband and son claim they have seen her out, but I have not. She is in the box (of 3 boxes) that seems to be used for laying eggs. I do not get an egg from her regularly at all. I have to feel around under her and sometimes there is an egg from our Ameracauna - who typically gives us an egg a day for the most part. Our other chicken - RIR - doesn't seem to be laying at all.

    My concern is the Orphington that hangs out at the nest. Is she depressed from loosing her mates? It has been a couple weeks now and she just started doing this a couple days ago. Is this what being broody is? Yet she is not even laying eggs regularly and there is not usually an egg under her when she is in the box. Also, when I open the coop or the nesting box door she ruffles her feathers up. I feel under her and she slowly decides to give me a peck on the hand. Not too aggressively though.
    Aside from all that, the girls are also more quiet than they used to be. At night I'd lock them up and you'd here them, but now in general they all seem to be a bit quieter.

    By the way the other two girls come out every morning. Peck around and have not changed in their behavior.

    I have not taken the Orphington out of the box itself, I am watching for her to get out so I can get a hold of her and take a look at her. But from what I can see, she seems okay. Just quiet and nesting all the time.
    So any thoughts of my Orphington's behavior would be appreciated. Maybe it is nothing at all. Maybe this is broodiness? Do they change behavior when they molt? When does that take place too?
    This is my first flock. I consider myself quite a newbie at all this.

  2. KellyHM

    KellyHM Crowing

    Sep 10, 2008
    Lakeland, FL
    You've got youself a broody hen. [​IMG] Now get some fertile eggs and stuff them under her!
  3. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Thanks, I thought that may be the case, but doesn't she realize there are no eggs?
    First time around with this.. you just don't know!
    I do not have a Rooster. Would love to add to our flock this spring so this would be a good time to do that!
    If I had some fertile eggs, wouldn't I have to remove the chicks to keep them warm and safe after they hatched? Do they get upset about that? (mama hen that is)
    With no eggs, no chicks, how long will she sit there?
    (we live near WI/IL border... quite chili here for a while)
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I agree with Kelly. You've got yourself a broody.

    The pullet doesn't care there's no eggs under her. Broody is a state of mind and some hens will try to hatch rocks. Letting mama do it is the easiest way to get chicks, without a doubt. She'll teach them everything they need to know about life in the chicken yard.

    No, you wouldn't have to remove the chicks to raise. Mama does all the work. You may want to isolate her at the start of her confinement (I use a large dog crate in the coop). This is to ensure that nobody is adding eggs to her clutch.
    Depending on how determined she is, she could sit for weeks. This would destroy her health, as broodies eat, drink and move around very little while setting.

    I have a broody with 3 week old chicks in the coop. She kept them warm and toasty on nights where the temps. were in the single digits and through a snowstorm. They are now part of the flock, as if they'd always been there.

    Here's some very helpful information on dealing with a broody hen:

  5. bakerjw

    bakerjw Songster

    Apr 14, 2010
    Johnson City, Tn
    Broodys are adorable. Well unless they're mean biting broodies.

    An hens with chicks are even more adorable. The way that they climb through mommas feathers and head stick out in all kinds of odd places. Or momma hens with 2 big feet and a dozen or so little feet under her.

    Look on Craigslist or even put an add on there asking for fertilized eggs. Give them to her and enjoy.
  6. bluere11e

    bluere11e Songster

    Feb 8, 2011
    West Palm Beach
    I agree, sounds like a broody hen. I agree too that there isn't anything more cute than a fluffed up mama with a bunch of chcik faces peeping out from under her..[​IMG]
  7. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Thanks for all the notes.
    So I agree that having mama bring up 'her own' chicks would be great. So forgive my lack of knowledge in this department: If I can find some fertilized eggs and she can hatch them, she will take care of them regardless of what kind of chicks pop out? How many eggs would you tuck under her and when do you do it - day or night so she doesn't even know.
    Also, is there anyway to find eggs that will hatch females? You kindof take the risk of getting roosters then right?

    Okay, one more thing. She is in a 4x5 coop with 2 other hens. Is it critical to isolate her? After the chicks are hatched you say she will take care of them. I will then need to provide some chick feed in the coop too? This would sure beat raising the new chicks in the house!
    Would the other two chicks accept the babies or would they possibly pick on them like introducing other newbies.

    I need to find some eggs before she gives up!

    Oh! I have not found any eggs for a couple days now, so she will not lay for a while I assume?

    Thanks so much for all your help everyone. I really appreciate it. I know I have lots of questions here.


  8. newchik715

    newchik715 Songster

    Aug 31, 2009
    Quote:she will not care what kind of chicks pop out. you should only put enough eggs under her that she can comfortably cover them with her whole body. with a large bird 8 or so i think. i am not sure when the best time to put them under her would be...maybe night when she is more calm? you do risk getting roos...no way around that that i can see. you will need to provide start and grow for the new babies but mama will show them how to forage too if you let them free range. the others may attack the babies but a good mama will not stand for it and will protect them.
    it is hard to break a broody...even without eggs she may not give up for quite awhile so if you can not find any or decide not to let her hatch any then you need to try and break her so she does not starve herself. make sure she has food and water near her.
  9. chicks47

    chicks47 In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    Newchik715 ..thank you so much for the information. We are looking around for some eggs, but if we don't find something soon I think we will try to pull her out of the coop and break her of it. They do free range daily.
    I think our kids (and my husband and I) would love to watch mama hatch and take care of them. She does have her food and water near by though.
  10. ScotianChick

    ScotianChick Songster

    Dec 27, 2010
    I just hatched some red sex links and I can tell which are boys and girls by their colour. You could get some sex links and that way you'd be able to tell who is who and can separate them when they get old enough to realize they are boys and girls [​IMG]

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