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strange hen behavior

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by vonchick, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. vonchick

    vonchick In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2010
    Madison, Florida
    Our silkie-cross hen is a little over a year old, and has started exhibiting worrisome behavior. "Zippy" was always an active hen, she mingled well with the flock, was one of the rooster's favorite mates and gave us a fairly steady supply of eggs. She stopped laying two months ago when we introduced (after a long introduction period) seven young hens from a hatchery. She started molting around the same time. She looks as if she has finished molting - and appears to be her bright, healthy self. But - her behavior has changed. She "owns" the nest boxes now, and chases all other hens away. Zippy has stopped coming down from the boxes to mingle with the flock, she has even stopped sleeping on the roost with the other birds in favor of sleeping in a nest box. I realized two days ago that she was looking a little thin and put food and water up where can get to it, and she was famished and thirsty. She has stopped coming down even to eat with the other birds. And today her droppings are very liquid. None of the other birds are showing any problems.

    We built a second set of nest boxes that the older hens use - they have finished molting and are back to laying eggs. The new hens are now 24 weeks and exhibit every sign of maturity but have not started laying . Could the fact that Zippy guards of some of the boxes be putting them off? The last few times we saw her come down, the rooster was on her immediately. Could she be avoiding his attentions? Have the combination of new flock members and molting been too much stress for her? I would appreciate any ideas as to what is going on with this hen. I had thought of putting her into an isolation cage, but she has really isolated herself. She is a lovely bird, and I'd like to see her back to normal.


  2. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Songster

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    it kinda sounds like Zippy is broody to me [​IMG]
  3. jjthink

    jjthink Crowing

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    Broody is one possibility. Keep making sure she gets lots of food and fresh water. Take her outside in the nice weather and distract her with treats out there - in case she is broody, need to break her of it, especially going into the cold weather (assuming you are going into cold weather, that is - your location isn't noted). She may also benefit from a worming unless that's been done already (or a stool parasite check by vet first if you can).
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  4. vonchick

    vonchick In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2010
    Madison, Florida
    Thank you!

    I'll try to get my hands on her (there's a reason she was named Zippy!) and put her outdoors for a while where I can keep an eye on her. We keep our birds penned because they go over or through the fence to visit the neighbors - who do not have a chicken-friendly environment.

    She was wormed, along with the rest of the flock, about 3 1/2 - 4 months ago with Wazine. She is the only bird with abnormal droppings.

    We're in North Florida, and are just starting to see the occasional night in the 30s.

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