Strange Behaviour Before Laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Teila, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    G'Day .. I hope I can describe the behaviour without droning on for paragraphs [​IMG]
    I have tried Googling a few 'tags' but no luck .. over to the experts (thats you guys!)

    I have 3 x bantams who all started laying within the last month or so. They reside at Casa Del Chookie and have a large Chateau for sleeping and nesting, a dirt spa and a 2.5 metre covered run for when I am at work and they can't free range. Whenever I am home they supervised free range in the garden. So, my problem is, when they are confined to their Chateau and run, they appear to lay their eggs without much drama, same corner of the nesting box. Admittedly, I am usually at work and don't see what goes on but even on the weekends before letting them out to free range I have gone out and collected freshly laid eggs which would have been laid that morning (2 hours).

    The problem is, when they are supervised free ranging the egg laying seems to turn into a frustrating exercise for both them and us. Two of them on separate weekends have wandered around the garden for hours, looking like they are having trouble laying. They wander into areas that they don't normally go to, they seem disorientated/stressed looking for somewhere to lay or appearing to have trouble laying, panting/stressing. They still have access to the nesting box and will jump up there for a while like they are going to lay and then jump down again, back to the disorientated/stressed behaviour. This can go on for hours and when they finally do lay the egg, always in the nesting box, they revert back to normal and happily dig and peck in the garden.

    As mentioned, this appears to only be an issue when they are not confined. I wonder if the laying hen just doesn't want to sit in the nesting box because her two companions are having fun in the sun? They appear to be healthy and are definitely well fed and very happy girls.

    Has anyone else seen this type of behaviour? Any ideas on what is going through their little chicken heads? [​IMG]
     
  2. Veer67

    Veer67 Chillin' With My Peeps

    When my Easter Egger lays a giant egg usually a double yolker, she walks around the yard with a drooping butt then at some point she will walk to somewhere private and lay her egg.
     
  3. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Thank you for the feedback Veer67 [​IMG]
    Hhhm, the eggs that they eventually lay are no bigger than usual. They don't have a drooping butt at all, they just appear confused/stressed. The whole behaviour points to them not knowing where to lay because they are away from their coop/nesting box but this theory doesn't gel because during this saga they include the nesting box in their wandering. It is very strange!
     
  4. katied

    katied New Egg

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    Hi, My hens have just started laying and we allow them to free range part-time too. We have one hen that has been hiding in the mint garden laying her eggs. Found her there today laying one and there was another one already there. All of the other hens are going back into the coop to lay in the laying boxes...
     
  5. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy katied and thank you for your feedback [​IMG]
    I had a chuckle at your hen hiding in the mint garden!
    My girls have always returned to the nesting box to lay and have not laid anywhere else. The issue is the unusual behaviour leading up to the lay, which only happens when they are free ranging.
    They only get to free range during the week after work for an hour or so and any eggs to be laid would have done so by that time.
    It is just on the weekends if they get let out to free range before an egg is laid.
    Gotta love our querky little feathered companions!
     
  6. Nashonii

    Nashonii Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote: I think you are exactly right in your thinking! " I have to lay this egg, but I don't want to miss out on anything...that bug, that adventure, the conversation!" If they were able to free range all the time, they wouldn't have that anxiety, but as it is, they will figure it out in time. Just my chicken-thinking for what its worth.
     
  7. milola

    milola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 7, 2013
    Exactly what I was thinking.
     
  8. chynasparks

    chynasparks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 2 Orpintons and 2 RIRs. They started out all pullets but Millie decided to unmask as Wild Bill. He'll stay as long as he doesn't cause injuries to my girls, or me. He's a red and a nice bird (so far). Anyway they are 17 weeks. The girls don't have red head dress yet. Should I begin calcium or layer feed? I've red different opinions, one is that you can just provide calcium supplement, another being, start layer feed when you get the first egg. Read that layer feed won't hurt the roo. My flock can't free range. It's long over due but we're finally making a whoop run. I make sure they get stuff in their enclosure for foraging. Has anyone got an opinion about they layer feed and calcium for my peeps?
     
  9. Nashonii

    Nashonii Chillin' With My Peeps

    I definitely would add layer pellets, and I also give mine pullet sized fresh oyster shell from the feed store as a treat. I read a post that said it also fortifies the egg shells when laid, and reduces stress in hot weather. Someone posted that her egg shells were too thin. This is how you make them thicker, and mine are not too thick. I sure don't want them to break inside the hen as she lay's them.
     
  10. chynasparks

    chynasparks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the feedback. I think I'll do just that. I will get some layer feed and mix it with the current feed. When that is gone they'll be on just layer. The calcium too. I would just freak if egg breaks inside one of my girls.
     

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