Stray chicken brooding in my garage...not sure what to do

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sheag, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. sheag

    sheag Chirping

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    Jun 19, 2009
    A few months ago, a small white chicken showed up in our yard. She started running to meet us when we drove up, walking with us down to feed the horse. So we bought some chicken scratch and started feeding her every day. Then one day in the garage on one of our stored suitcases, a couple of eggs showed up. They were really small but we cracked 'em open and they looked good and we ate them. A few weeks later in a different corner of the garage, up on one of the plywood shelves, we heard a noise and found her sitting on about a dozen very small eggs. She had picked a shelf full of lawn and flower chemicals, some of which had spilled and seeped into the plywood. I collected all the eggs but threw them out since they smelled like roundup. Weeks went by and we found no more eggs and she appeared to not be roosting anywhere we could find. She didn't show up every day to eat like she used to, but we did see her every few days.

    About a week or ten days ago, she disappeared. Then today, we found her back in her old chemical spot in the garage (which is a bit cleaner now), sitting on eggs, and clearly brooding. Refusing to move and pecking us and puffing up when we got too close. We brought her water and scratch, which she ate and drank. Now, I have no idea if she hooked up with a rooster. I haven't seen any near my house, but I live in a rural area and there are lots of free range chickens around the general area. I managed to snag an egg from her. I couldn't make the candling thing work, so we just cracked it open. What came out was what looked like a huge yolk. No white. Just very dark orange and runny. Does that mean anything? Could it just be a nonfertilized egg that went bad from sitting underneath her for a week?

    So what do I do? Insist she move? Leave her be? She could have been then for some time, she seemed really happy to see the food and drink. Her comb is falling over, which I think means she probably is malnourished. If the eggs are fertilized, I'd rather just leave her be and see if they incubate. But they're awfully small.
     
  2. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

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    Welcome to BYC!

    If she had hooked up with a rooster, I'd be willing you bet you'd know that there was one in the neighborhood by having heard its crowing.

    I don't know anything about hatching eggs, to be honest with you. If I were you, I'd check around the "hatching & incubating" section to find pics of candling eggs. If you know she's been there for 10 days (or however long), you can be assured that the eggs would have some significant development by that point, as it take 21 days for an egg to develop.

    It's up to you if you want to allow her to continue to brood. Why don't you build her a little coop and slip some day-old chicks from the feed store under her at night.
     
  3. If shes small and the eggs are small, then shes probably a bantam (miniature chicken) That doesnt mean there's anything wrong with the eggs. I would leave them and see what (if anything) hatches! good luck.


    Oh, and about her comb, if its fallin over, I dont think that means shes malnourished. Maybe shes a leghorn?
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    I would wait one more week with her on the eggs and try to candle them again. Get a really bright flashlight.

    If you still can't see though them, give her two more weeks, and if none have hatched by then, I would say it is safe to just toss them. Eggs take 21 days to hatch so there isn't much chance past the 3 weeks mark.

    If you could give her food and water near to where she is brooding, she should get up once a day to eat and drink. Some hens have been known to sit so tight on a nest they nearly die because of it, so if you do notice her getting very skinny, it might be best for her if you break her from setting. To do this, put her in a cage and prevent her from setting on the nest for about 3 days and she should be back to normal.

    Good luck!
     
  5. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

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    Oh, and it definitely sounds like she needs a name and siblings. [​IMG]

    You mentioned that you're giving her scratch. That's like chocolate to chickens and doesn't have much nutritional value. Find some layer feed for her instead, as that has the right balance of nutrients she needs.
     
  6. sheag

    sheag Chirping

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    Jun 19, 2009
    Thanks so much for the replies! I'll just leave her for a while longer. I have actually heard roosters crowing, but pretty far away (we're in a rural subdivision with five acre lots).

    Yeah, I just learned reading through here that scratch isn't the right thing to be giving her, and now I feel bad. It's what they gave us at the feed store, but I should have researched it. I feel like one of those newbies on the dog forums who announce they're feeding Beneful or Pedigree or something. Just because there's a picture of the animal on the bag doesn't mean it's healthy food! :)

    I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to building a coop, but it may come to that. She has a pretty sweet spot in the garage now that I've cleaned it up :)
     

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