Still can't tell if broody or something more nefarious...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Melora, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. Melora

    Melora New Egg

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    Dec 26, 2010
    I've read a ton of the posts about being broody or egg-bound (or worms, etc) and I'm still on the fence. I plan on taking her to the vet, the thing is, that almost scares me more because the practicing vets here don't seem to know crap about birds, let alone chickens. I've had some really bad situations occur. She had a bad reaction to anesthesia in the past, and I know they'll insist on it again for an xray. Etc. And the other vets ask questions like "Are chicken's eyes yellow with red in them normally? or is this strange?" /runs far away. There is one really good vet that doesn't practice any more that I am waiting to hear back from over email... but I can't guarantee I'll hear from her or that she'll be able to meet up with me in time.

    So I have this Ameraucana hen that I can't help but love to no end, she's maybe just over 1.5 years old, and has laid an egg a day like clockwork since her first egg. 4 days ago she didn't lay an egg~ and she hasn't since. She keeps going in to sit on her nest, but nothing is left behind (she's the only one who lays blue eggs, so it's easy to tell.)

    She's very particular about where she lays, she really likes having eggs under her as props while she's laying. She's always adorably fussed over them and coo-clucks at them. Out of laziness I had let 3 days of eggs pile up, so about 12 eggs. I took them away after those 3 days, and about 2-3 days latter is when this started.

    This is the most concerning thing to me: Her abdomen (?) AKA: The triangular area between her legs and vent seems harder than the other hen's, and she acts like it's tender or uncomfortable when I try to feel it. Thing is, my sensory nerves in my hands don't work as well as they should, so I'm not the best judge of just what I'm feeling. I doubt I would be able to say it's egg shaped in there or not.. But it does seem harder and more sensitive than it should. She'll normally let me touch her however I need to, but now she pulls away at even the slightest touch to that area. It does not feel like a water balloon. It is just not squishy at all.... But it's not like it's huge or anything either.

    I guess my main question would be... Can hormones do this to them when they're broody? Dense swelling and tenderness? Like hormones can do similarly to ladies of the human variety? If that's normal, I think I have my answer, if not, I'll be sure it's a bigger problem.

    So... What I can think to say:

    I've found no yolk, not even on the other's faces.

    Her vent looks fine, the skin is its normal pale color. No caked-up poo around her vent.

    Her activity and movements are good when she's up; she acts normal when she's off the nest.

    She's on the nest for about 50% of the waking day. She's puffed up slightly while she's on it. While probably unrelated, it did get extremely cold extremely fast here over the past 4 days, and she is the smallest bird I have and she's got a bare neck right now:

    We thought she started to molt a little on he back of her neck a month or so ago (basically she looks like she has a mullet because of where the bare patch is, the feathers have started to "sprout" but they're not out yet) but she's not dropping any more feathers for some reason... my husband says he thinks a few feathers are missing from her tummy area BUT I do not feel any feathers missing down there. I'm also slightly concerned because she's not ever molted. Maybe unrelated but... Don't they usually molt once a year? I feel like she's way past due. Her feathers are getting pretty tattered looking on the ends.

    The other 3 hens she is with do not pick on her, she's gives them the evil eye and they leave her alone.

    She might be eating less. It's hard for me to tell. She's a kind of dainty bird anyway... I just suspect that she might be because their food container isn't quite as empty as it normally is and the others are always insanely ravenous. She'll eat anything I hand feed her though. She still fills up her crop a decent bit at night.

    I think she's pooping less. They're small poops. Hersey Kiss size (She's a 4lb bird.) They look normal. Which is, I don't know, kind of like light brown play-doh. They're just usually so much bigger though (but then again, wouldn't they be if she's laying eggs?) and I swear she usually poops way more frequently than she is now.

    We live in a very cold desert in the mountains, worms are extremely rare here. As in, I don't think we've really had any rain since early May and fecal samples from all the years past have always come up clear, but I could probably take a fecal in to the vet if that's still a main suspect.

    My husband's eyes are insanely good (like a microscope, people need a microscope to see what he can see. I wish I had his super powers) and he can't see that there are any mites or anything. But those are also rare here, I mean, we don't even have fleas or ticks in this area. I know: *score*

    Her comb is a nice red usually (she seems to have it flux between pale and red throughout the day though, but she's always done this)

    The daylight hours are getting shorter pretty fast right now, but the others are still all laying once a day and I don't think that could be the only reason she wouldn't lay. I bring it up but I would put it at the back of my list for main causes. (They don't have artificial light in their run/coop.)

    Interesting to note: About 2 weeks ago she started doing the sounds and motions mother hens and some roosters do when they call their babies/ladies over to good food. You can tell that she normally seems to think her flock-mates are all the most disgusting of heathens, so I was really surprised she'd want to do them any favors like that (though it's soooo freakn' adorable.) So that makes me want to lean towards a hormonal thing. I just don't want to be wrong and have her die.

    The problem with knowing if she's broody by her nesting actions: I seriously doubt she would ever peck me or screech at me. Not like "I'm in denial." I mean... she preens me and has always tried to share her food with me: I think I'm her pet or something. My husband definitely is, she tries to tuck him under her wing. (Maybe why he thought it was a little more bare? She was probably all ruffled out and laying on him) I would obviously never be offended or shocked if she acted like a normal chicken and pecked me if she were broody, what I'm trying to say is that it's probably not a behavior I think I will have the privilege of using as a diagnostic tool because she's weird and full of love and extreme tolerance for her bumbling humans.

    Also, as for stress being something to add to the mix: The hawks have been active near our yard now that the small rodents are starting to go away for winter, and though all my chickens are protected from above, I know they've been seeing the smaller to mid-sized hawks catch the sparrows that come into the yard for flower seeds, and that has freaked them out a bit... because I keep hearing the hens alarm call and finding sparrow intestines in the yard in the wild patch near the chicken run. :/ I could tell they were super freaked today and, when I went out to see, sure nuff, a hawk swooped and grabbed a song bird about 50 ft away. They did not like that.

    /edited for clarity/
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  2. sherylreno

    sherylreno Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds normal for a broody hen, I really think she's just broody.
     
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Some hens will easily become broody if they see a pile of eggs. I think she is broody. Chickens do molt first time around 16-18 months and yearly thereafter. They don't lay during this period.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  4. Melora

    Melora New Egg

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    Dec 26, 2010
    Thank you so much guys. And yup, broody! I got her xrayed just to be safe. I think it's a combo with what Eggcessive said, if that's the time frame for the first molt: both things are probably happening at the same time.

    Oh god I want her to raise chicks X) It would be so cute. I wish I had more land.
     

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