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Strange egg laying behavior or broody?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kculbert, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. kculbert

    kculbert Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi,
    Just got my first chickens in the spring. They just started laying about a month ago and one of them is acting odd. My Faverolles laid her first eggs while I was out of town and made a nest in the bushes instead of her nesting box. She lays an egg almost every day but I have been unsuccessful in breaking the habit. She is a morning layer but if I confine her to the coop and run, she will "hold" her egg until I let her out, even if it's at dusk. She makes a huge amount of noise, like she's in pain, until she gets to her nest in the bush. I've tried confining her to the coop but it is 100 here and even with a fan, it's just too hot in there.

    Sometimes, I have to pick her up while she is trying to lay because the yard guys are here or the dogs need to go out. It takes her hours to lay and if I disturb her, she makes a trilling sound and ruffles up, like a broody hen, and will peck me.

    Am I hurting her if I move her while she's attempting to lay? If I confine her, and she delays laying her egg, does that cause a problem?

    Thanks,

    Kimberly
     
  2. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would suggest 2 things to get her out of that bush. If it's possible, I would block the bush area off. Maybe some plastic snow fencing or bird netting to completely wrap around the bush and even go up and over it. Tent stakes or landscape fabric stakes should hold it in place, so she can't push her way in.
    Then, if you put a nest box next to the in-accessible bush, you might convince her to go in there? Once she gets used to going into the nest box, you might try moving it to the area you prefer. I just use empty kitty litter boxes for outdoor nest boxes, as they provide shade and cover in case of rain.
    If you provide her with an acceptable alternative while barring her from the unacceptable option, you won't have to pick her up or get pecked.
    My girls are so silly. They have 8 boxes to choose from, but they all try to pile into one, or stand outside of it and make a fuss until whoever is in it gets out.
    When mine are kept from laying where they want to, they end up dropping them in random places (once the broody feeling passes, and they no longer feel like nesting). The random dropping increases the possibility of breaking, and for the eggs getting soiled.
    Silly hens! It's always something, isn't it?! Good luck!
     
  3. kculbert

    kculbert Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2013
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    Thanks for the suggestion, JV!
     
  4. kculbert

    kculbert Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, that didn't work. She just turned her beak up at the litter box and nested in the next clump of shrubs over. I can live with picking her up and moving her into the run when I need to. She's a little bitty thing and her pecks don't hurt. Plus, it's kind of cute. She normally won't let me even touch her and now she lets me carry her around.

    I just want to make sure that this is broody behavior and that I'm not actually disrupting her egg laying and causing her damage. She hasn't laid for a couple of days now. She's eating and drinking just fine. If she needs to lay an egg, I'm not doing anything to stop it, right? Can my interference cause her to be egg bound?

    Sorry if this sounds stupid. I just wasn't expecting to have confusing issues so soon after she started laying.
     
  5. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A broody will puff up and make short clucking noises, and sometimes screech at you, if you go near her nest or try to pick her up. Is that what she's doing?
    Hens will behave like a broody for a while before, and sometimes after, laying an egg. But then they get up and go about the rest of their day. If she is just sitting on her little self-appointed nest all day (or returns to it minutes after you shoo her off) then she is likely broody, especially if she is clucking and/or screeching at you.
    If she's not broody, and you pick her up and disrupt her laying, or if she can't get to where she wants to lay the egg, the "broody" feeling will eventually pass and she'll just drop it wherever, as opposed to in a nest. If she's broody, she will be very persistent about sitting on that nest. I had a broody hen that holed up in the "favorite" nest box, and the other girls couldn't get to it, so they ended up dropping the eggs in weird places, while they waited for her to get out. Once I moved the broody-butt and they could get back to the nest, all normal laying resumed.
    If she's broody, you might need to cage her if simply blocking the nesting area isn't working. Or you can go out and shoo her out it repeatedly.
    Broody hens will stop laying eggs. But she won't have any egg-bound behavior. If you see egg-bound behavior (standing upright and straining) you will want to give her a soak in warm water and start treating her for that.
    Good luck!
     
  6. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    You will not hurt her by moving her. She may be thinking about going broody, but not fully there yet. JVeith gave you good things to look for on being broody. She will be on the nest at night when she is broody.
     
  7. kculbert

    kculbert Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the help, JV and Happy! Nice to know I'm not killing her. I have so much to learn and am so glad for the help.

    I guess she's just mildly broody. If I keep her away from the bushes, she's perfectly happy to hang out with her friends. No eggs for three days but no signs of egg binding either. She's a stubborn little stinker but she sure is cute. I hate to say it but I kind of like it that she's broody. She looks so cute when she's puffy and I love being able to carry her around. Her name is Monkey Boots (weird, I know) but we've been calling her The Baked Potato (as in, someone go get The Baked Potato out of the bushes) because she just sits there like a lump. I'll keep working on breaking her broodiness.
     

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