PTSD chicken or is something else wrong?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jimk, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. jimk

    jimk Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2009
    Central Kenucky
    I've got a gut feeling there is something I'm doing wrong or may be missing here, although to read the other posts I probably just have a freaked out chicken. I hope you all won't mind to double-check me.
    I'm going to start from the top: 1)My first flock. In late September I got an Austrolorp and a barred rock from a farmer not too far away. He didn't know how old they were, but thought they had been born in May and would start laying in a few weeks. He also gave me a RIR pullet with some crazy ear feathers. 2) More than several weeks went by with no eggs, but I live close to a busy freight train line, so I figured between adjusting to a new home and all that noise they might take their time. By now the days were getting short, and by the time I figured out a way to add supplemental light to my coop the RIR had already molted. Maybe the barred rock molted too, but only a few feathers? With this I figured no eggs until Spring, but no big deal and I turned my attention towards making cookie tin water heaters and things like that. The RIR also put on a lot of weight and has really matured into a very big bird. The comb is still pretty small, so I'm still pretty sure she's a she. 3) 5 days ago the Austrolorp disappeared during the middle of the day. No feathers, nothing. Gates and fences all intact. 4) Since then, the RIR has acted pretty normal, but the Barred Rock does not want to roost inside the coop. When I do put her in, both birds are roosting on a different end of the perch from where they always hung out before.

    So my question is: Is the Barred Rock just in shock or waiting for the Autrolorp (who had definitely been the lead bird) to come back? Or is the RIR using her new-found size and weight to her advantage, kicking the others out of the coop? Or am I missing something else here?
    Thanks for your ideas, or even just telling me not to worry. I expected to occasionally lose a bird when we went into this, so I'm handling that pretty well, but the Barred Rock's refusal to roost has me perplexed.
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    First off.


    Are you certain that the coop/run was secure? Could it have been a two legged predator?

    Where do you live? You can put where you live in your profile.

    What are you feeding them. If it's just corn or scratch, that will cause them to put on weight quickly and then they don't lay eggs.

    It would be nice if you could take some pictures and post them here.

    BTW: So glad you found us.
  3. dacdeihl

    dacdeihl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2009
    NorthEast, In

    I'm stumped? I lost several chickens to owls over the summer? Do you have owls? I have some chickens that don't roost with all the others. One roosted in the rafters in the coop all by herself. Now I have several that roost in front of the wall heater and the others are still content where they are.
  4. the Pollo Loco

    the Pollo Loco Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2009
    Santa Cruz,CA
    There might be a chicken psychiatrist in the house, he would definitely be able to help that bird. [​IMG]
  5. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2009
    They notice when one is missing - mine do! I have two identical small coops A- Frames and when DH puts chickens up once in a while and one time he put the rooster in with the older girls - another time he put one of the wrong pullets in with them so the coops were 3 and 3 instead of 4 and 2 like usual - the little girls fussed and fussed because one of them were missing and the older girls didn't care much at all - Until I started leaving the rooster in with the big girls and DH put him in with the small girls and the big girls fussed and fussed. When my big girls were chicks we lost one to the family dog so three became two and even then they were 3 weeks or so at the time - they were looking for her for a day or so. - They might be chicken brains but they still have buddies they like to hang with and missing someone if they go missing.
  6. jimk

    jimk Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2009
    Central Kenucky
    Thanks for the kind welcome! I've been reading in these forums for about the three months leading up to this adventure and the three months since we started. A two-legged thief is actually my best guess as to what happened to Dumplings. Like I said, I live near train tracks, and while honest-to-goodness hobos are a pretty rare things, it's not completely unheard of. Other guesses are a hawk or like Dacdeihl suggested an owl, but the long narrow shape of my run coupled with high fences and low branches would make it a tough go for a hawk or other raptor, especially without leaving a few feathers. I suspect she might have managed to get just enough air to top the fence, but couldn't get back in. Once out there are all sorts of critters who could have caused trouble.

    Feed is layer crumbles, the same brand they were eating when I go them. I'm still really concerned about our Barred Rock hen. She was roosting on the door to the coop again tonight despite the falling temperatures and the freezing rain. I know they are more adapted to it than I am, but it still can't be healthy. Here's some pics:
  7. M To The Maxx

    M To The Maxx Baseball+Girls=Life

    Jul 24, 2009
    Your "RIR" is an EE roo. The BR is a hen.
  8. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    Have you tried to pick her up after dark and place her on the roost? I did that a few ties with "wayward" chickens and after a couple of nights they were on track..... Once it is dark you can usually just walk up and grab the chicken and place her amongst the others on the roost.
  9. farmin'chick

    farmin'chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2009
    Rocky Mount VA
    Also, investigate the inside of your coop THOROUGHLY to make sure there's not a snake, possum, or other critter hiding in there....Stir up all the litter to make sure you don't have a rat, etc....

    Mine don't usually change behavior without a reason.
  10. jimk

    jimk Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2009
    Central Kenucky
    Well, I was about to say there is no way "Red" could be a rooster, since she's at least 18 weeks old and we've never heard anything even like a crow. But, I went out to check on their water this morning and was greeted with a half-formed, but still unmistakable crow! Plus, I've noticed since the other hen disappeared he has been more aggressive (a couple lightly nipped fingers) and remembered that the fellow who gave him to me did say he wasn't 100% sure of the sex on the young bird. Oh well, going into this adventure I was knew that loosing a few birds to predators was likely, and that I'd eventually have to learn how to process too. I was hoping to put it off a little longer than the first few months!
    Annie, the BR hen is still not going into the coop every night, but I pick her up, give her some TLC and tuck her in. Now my guess is that sharing the coop with a newly "spirited" rooster by herself may be a little stressful for her. Luckily the only chicken related ordinances in town are that they not roam in the streets! and the noise ordinances. Since my only nearby neighbors are 27 Norfolk Southern freight trains a day and two others who a) love the chickens and b) have loud barking dogs, I'm probably okay for a while. But since I'm not planning on breeding (at least until I have more experience under my belt), it looks like Annie's going to have a few new sisters and Red is headed for the table in the New Year.
    As always, thanks for everyone's help and advice!

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