Pullet hiding in coop - is she sick or about to start laying?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by pmackeymurray, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. pmackeymurray

    pmackeymurray New Egg

    Sep 12, 2016
    Boulder, Colorado
    Hi! I am new to the forum, and backyard chickens. I have four pullets who are going to start laying eggs any day now. They free range for much of the day. Most mornings when I show up, they come running and talking and love to get let out to roam. They are very socialized and active. They eat out of my hand and are already accustomed to their environment and coop.

    One of my pullets has decided not to come out of the coop today. She is sitting on her roosting bar all morning, very unusual behavior. Should I worry that she is ill? or (optimistically) is she about to start laying? Not sure what laying behavior looks like since none of them have started laying yet. They are between 12-14 weeks old.

  2. Carpenter

    Carpenter Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 21, 2013
    Welcome to BYC! I wouldn't worry too much about her. Sometimes my hens do the same thing. It just depends on the day whether or not they feel like greeting me or staying inside for a while. I know that the pecking order can play a part in who gets to eat first and that might be a factor. Even the weather can be a factor.
  3. Does not sound like egg laying behaviour...Keep an eye on her...Your birds are almost too young to start laying yet...Usually between 16 weeks and 6 months for certain breeds...

    Good luck...Hope she is just wanting to roost more...
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    They are NOT getting ready to lay any day now! And that is NOT laying behavior. Are you already feeding layer feed? That is too much calcium for this age if so. Also depending on breed, your location and supplemental lighting, they may not lay this year if they don't mature enough before the light hours have diminished to actually start laying this season. I'm sure my August babies won't, but hoping June babies might. Some of my April girls are coming into lay now. [​IMG] Also, as you get close there are some indicators. Some will start to squat if you quickly put your hand over the top of them. And their combs will redden up quite a bit. Not all girls will squat for you. Mine usually start laying within 2-4 weeks after starting to squat. Also, they will be apart from the group, may go in and out of the lay box, and often will practice a song before they actually lay!

    Does it happen to be cold this morning? It sounds more like that. I have had it happen before and gone and kicked them out. Everything was fine. However, since you know this is unusual... it wouldn't hurt to check under where she was roosting and see if the poo looks normal. And certainly keep a watch to see the rest of her behavior seems usual throughout the day... eating / drinking / foraging.

    Hope I gave you a few pointers that are useful! And I also hope you enjoy raising your flock as much as I do! Glad to have you be a part of this great informational community.
  5. pmackeymurray

    pmackeymurray New Egg

    Sep 12, 2016
    Boulder, Colorado
    Thanks so much! I got their age wrong. I believe they were born in April so they are quite older than I said. They are on layer feed. And yes it getting colder for sure the last couple of days. Maybe that is the issue. She let me pick her up and barely made a sound. I took her out of the coop and she is now hiding underneath it. So still not sure if she is okay. Her poop seems normal.
  6. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I would not give layer until I saw the first egg. And have oyster shell on the side. (even when you feed layer) The extra calcium can cause kidney problems if it were long term. My white leghorn hasn't started laying yet at 22 weeks even though the general consensus says 16 weeks. It really is an individual thing. I use all flock/flock raiser because I have many different age birds and cockerels as well. It is ok for them all to eat starter/grower but not to eat layer. If you can afford to I would switch back and then add the layer in when you have layers.

    Sometimes they act weird when there was predator visit... May be she had a tiff with one of the other?

    Pay attention and see if she starts eating and drinking. If you don't see her do either or if she doesn't perk up soon, I would be concerned for sure.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Agrees to young and not laying behavior.

    I would isolate her in a wire dog crate right in the coop and/or run,
    so you can observe definitively how much she's eating/drinking/pooping.

    I like to use a 24"L x 18"W x 21"H wire crate with 1x2 cage wire added to bottom under the tray.
    You can put the tray under the crate to get a good look at poops and keep their feet cleaner.

    Have you checked her over closely...... examining crop, vent, abdomen....looking for pests or any abnormalities???
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    How is she doing today? [​IMG]
  9. pmackeymurray

    pmackeymurray New Egg

    Sep 12, 2016
    Boulder, Colorado
    Thanks for asking!! She stayed in the coop or under it all day yesterday. She is out of the coop this morning but still sluggish and not herself. I inspected her pretty closely yesterday. Her crop was empty. No sign of mites or injuries. Nothing weird on her mouth, eyes, etc. She wouldn't even take meal worms from me yesterday! Normally, they lose their minds over them.

    It is a rainy dreary morning here so they are all taking it easy.

    I think I might have been feeding them poorly. I probably am giving them too many kitchen scraps and was feeding them layer (and letting them free range). So I bought some grower/starter feed and switched it out, and I am pulling back on the table scraps and the free ranging. I am worried they are finding random debris in the yard and eating it. I'm going to clean up the area really well and only give them a small amount of select table treats (fruits and vegies). I also noticed she was being picked on pretty hard by another feisty hen. So maybe she is a little traumatized by the bullying.

    Thanks so much for all the advice! So much to learn. She is my favorite bird. A gorgeous blue Americauna with a funny personality. ("Princess Laya'") So, I'm crossing my fingers.
  10. Sounds too me like your learning....Awesome decision....
    Take a few steps back and proceed...We all learn new things everyday with our flocks...What was working might change tomorrow?

    Good luck and enjoy the Birds!

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