strange behavior question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jann, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. jann

    jann New Egg

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    May 24, 2011
    our 4 chicks are 8, 9(2) and 10 weeks old. we're going with the baby's age getting them use to being out doors in their coop.
    bringing them in at night for about 4 or 5 days now. tonight one of the 9 week olds escaped the brooding box and was sitting
    on the floor in the basement next to the box. we got her back in and her behavior was very odd, she kept jumping to get out
    and walking over the other chicks as they tried to nest down for the night. finally we took all of them back out to the coop and
    put them in the roosting part with a night light. agnes, the one that is acting weird was trying to escape that box too, we put her
    in the outside part - the run (it's still enclosed and secure and she can join the others if she walks up the ramp) she tried to walk
    up the wall on the inside of the coop/run and finally roosted on the top of the 5 gallon water dispenser. the other 3 chicks are
    all trying to occupy the same corner of the coop and keep wrestling for the position. They're all acting a bit odd, but Agnes is
    more so. Agnes is a rhode island red - her tail feathers don't look the same as the other 3 chicks, so there is the possibility that
    she's a he. would that explain the weird behavior?
     
  2. BANTAMWYANDOTTE

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 2, 2011
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    It could in fact, simply be that she is a he.

    Roosters ,typically, roost with their hens every night in the same tree. Every great once in awhile, when there is a change in the roosters sense of security in the old roost, he will lead them to a new roost. This is most common in older more experienced roosters. Also, it is common for some roosters to move roosts away from the hens just to have a better eye on things while his hens are safe and secure in another roost. Usually he won't go very far from them though. Especially if he can't see/hear them.

    However, your chick is very young to be displaying this very mature type of behavior. It could simply be that the summer heat is too much in the coop and the water-device you have is cool too his feet. Not to mention that he is outside where there is more likely a light breeze. I can not see where you live in your post but if it is a warmer climate, I would try installing a very small wall fan in the coop, if you don't already have one. This may make the coop a bit cooler than the outside and the flock may return.

    I wouldn't worry too much though, as long as your run is enclosed and impenetrable to predators, it is perfectly fine to let the flock choose their roost outside. If they start fighting or showing signs of illness then I would be concerned but unless that happens, I see no reason to worry or stop them.

    If the same chick keeps avoiding the coop at night, you may want to get a watch-dog or sit up late observing. The most common reason that a single chicken will change their roosting place is threat. If a predator threatens the chicken at night, they will attempt to move their roost, to ensure safety. You may have a possum or raccoon visiting the coop at night causing them to consider the coop an unsafe place. Try some pest-control and see of that helps.

    There is some good information here about keeping predators away:

    http://professorchickenspredators.webs.com/

    It is obvious they are loved and for that, you have respect!


    Hope I helped


    Timothy in KY
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  3. jann

    jann New Egg

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    May 24, 2011
    Thank you for your response Timothy - we are in Portland Oregon, heat has not been a problem (yet). It's wet outside and temperatures range from 50-73 or so. Agnes, stayed on the water dispenser all night. At 5 this morning I looked out the bedroom window and saw she was standing at the door. I went out and opened the door, she (or maybe he) got up on my arm as I was opening the door trying to keep her from dashing.. tho', I just didn't know what kind of behavior to expect. She was on my arm like a parrot. I stood up with her there and opened the upper door (we have a witicha coop plan that we saw on this site) so I opened the upper door and put her into the inside coop with the other 3 and she seemed almost normal then. But pretty dependent for a chicken. I sure hope she's not a rooster, he'll have to find another home if that is the case.. we're in the city and no boys allowed.
    It's true, these girls are well cared for and will have a good life in our care. This is our first time having chickens, so I'm sure I'm just worried more than I should be. We'll go down to our local organic garden shop where we got the girls (and took chicken classes;-) and ask them if they can tell if Agnes is Amos.

    Thanks again..
     
  4. BANTAMWYANDOTTE

    BANTAMWYANDOTTE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have to say that the behavior you described seems like s/he is frightened of something. I know you said you were in the city, so is it possible that some people (possibly children) are frightening them at night? S/he acts like a frightened child reaching for his parents hand. I would observe the coop at night to see if that is possible.
     
  5. jann

    jann New Egg

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    May 24, 2011
    Yea, I totally agree, she(?) did seem extremely frightened. BUT - they were in the basement, back in the brooding box when it started. She's always been just a little
    different than the others (that is what makes me most nervous;-). There really wasn't anything in the basement that would spook her, but she was acting afraid.
    It did prompt the transition to the coop tho' and we put a night light in there that we can turn off from inside the coop, or inside the house. Eventually we'll turn
    off the night light, but they seem to be adjusting pretty well. They're not getting up on the roosts much. 3 of the 4 have been seen perched on the lowest, but only
    a couple times. I'm not going to worry about that (yet), they seem to be warm enough at night and they're still all sleeping close to each other - except Agnes -
    she's always in the next corner, but not too far away.
    We are suspecting it could be a pecking order deal that went down that day and Agnes may not be pleased with her position. That seems like the only other logical
    explanation. They have been exploring the back yard daily since they have moved out, and we make sure they're safe in their coop by dark. They have moments of
    running, flapping races across the lawn, and they've found a nice cool fern/jungle that they run to as soon as we open the coop door. They love that corner.
    Agnes hangs around me most when I'm out working in the garden, the others come around, but this rhode island red seems to be the friendliest so far. We also
    have Wendy (Wyandot), Madona (white plymouth rock) and Baba Ganoush (a buff orpinton?)

    We are very surprised at how amusing and entertaining they are..
    thank you for your input, I appreciate your experience and opinion.
    So I'm off to "chill with the peeps" as you say.
     

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