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suddenly laying in hidden outside nest

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Trishkabob, Jun 4, 2016.

  1. Trishkabob

    Trishkabob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 4 girls, 3 are about 2yrs. old, 1 about 6. One of the 2 yr olds, a submissive barred rock, was crazy to be let out of the pen this morning (they always crowd the gate when it's time but she had been pacing back and forth frantically). When they came out the other 3 did their usual thing and she ran to a hidden spot under some brush. I followed her and found her sitting on a nest with 2 eggs in it. I picked her up and put her, with the eggs, in the nest box but in a couple of min. she ran back out to her nest. In threads I looked up before writing, advice was to lock them in the pen for a few days but these aren't pullets and we were away last weekend for 4 days and they were in the pen the whole time. Could she be responding to bullying? we have 2 nestboxes in a roomy henhouse and pen. thanks.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    Sometimes hens just find what they think is a better spot. If your coop is smaller she may not be comfortable going in it especially if there are other more dominant hens. I would try putting something in her choose spot like a log or some rocks. Make sure you have some fake eggs in your nests. Then I might watch one day to see if anyone is guarding the nestboxes as a means of control.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Doesn't matter if they aren't pullets, any aged free ranging layer might need to be rehabituated to coop nests.

    Where were they all laying before you left for the 4 days?
    How big is 'roomy' in feet by feet?

    Wonders if they had some stress being confined(if they aren't normally used to it) while you were gone?
    Could have been some pecking order showdowns.

    Not sure I'd try to deter the found nest, at least you know where to find the eggs.
    But, if you can make the time, maybe observe for any harassment or nest guarding as suggested.
     
  4. Trishkabob

    Trishkabob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thank you both for your thoughts. We do go away occasionally so they aren't unused to being confined for a few days at times but, you're right, it is irregular. The henhouse is 3'x4' plus an additional space for 2 nestboxes, which are 12"x12"x12" each. The pen is 8'x20' with a roost in one corner and 2 waterers (food inside henhouse).
    I will watch their behavior with each other (already checked her for any sign of pecking-comb and feathers....all ok) and keep checking her renegade nest.
    We will be rebuilding the henhouse in a month as we are getting 3 chicks in August (it will be 5'x5')-perhaps a 3rd nestbox would be a good idea. We're going to make the pen 4' longer as well-think that's big enough for 7?
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    That still might be a bit tight for 7 birds, nestboxes and enough roosts, plan on at least two roosts because the young ones won't want to be near the adults. If possible build just a bit bigger.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    If you are buying new building materials, most come in 4’ or 8’ dimensions. You can usually provide a larger coop at no significant extra cost with less cutting and waste if you build around those dimensions. Think out to out coop dimensions, not center to center. A 4x6 is pretty close to a 5x5 in size and easier to build. A 4x8 would probably cost you a couple of extra sheets of plywood compared to a 4x6. Just something to think about.

    It’s not that unusual for a hen of any age to start laying somewhere else. It may or may not be related to bullying or intimidation. I’ve noticed that hens that try to hide a nest after they have been laying in my nests in the coop sometimes go broody within a couple of months. They don’t always go broody but I have noticed a trend. There are usually different possible explanations for a chicken’s behavior. It could be different things.

    I made a couple of my nests so I can lock a chicken in them if I wish. A method I’ve used to get a hen to lay in the right nest is, when I see them on the hidden nest, I catch them and lock them in the nest I want them to use until they lay their egg. It usually takes a half hour for them to lay that egg but I had a hen once that took over three hours. Usually I only have to do this once for the hen to make the switch but I have had a couple that it took twice. Usually they stick to the correct nest after that but I’ve also had a hen go back to the wrong nest after a week or so of laying in the right nest. There is not much consistent with chickens and their behavior.
     
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  7. Trishkabob

    Trishkabob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Interesting that you think 8"x24" is tight for 7 birds. What would you suggest sizewise? Do you think a 5'x5' henhouse is too small as well? They only sleep and lay in the henhouse for the most part (unless it's snowing or otherwise lousy weather). When we go away on weekends they do stay in the pen (our chicken checkers come give treats, check water/food, collect eggs, and generally look in on them but don't want to be responsible for letting them range free when we aren't here) and last week we were gone for 3 nights.
    We will be away next weekend too; this morning I found another egg in the rogue nest. I'm ok letting her go there-it's safe-but worry about her next weekend. Should we put a temporary nest/nestbox in a corner of their pen? We could put a golfball in it, maybe....
    I have seen no sign of undue bullying beyond the usual bickering as they settle in at night...last few days, when they are ranging around the yard, she has been a bit separate though, and they usually roam as a group, more or less.
    never a dull moment...
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Runs With Chickens Premium Member

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    I think you run size is good. Your coop is small not because they can't all comfortably fit in but because they can't behaviorally all fit in it. I've notice that a bottom hen need to stay about 5 feet away from the bottom hen to not be punished. When you add a few more their will be a divide between them, and the younger ones will need to stay away from the older ones or risk being pecked. So your coop and planned coop can and do work, but to avoid behavioral problems it's always best to give them as much room as possible. So my thinking is if you are enlarging it I would go a bit bigger, Ridgerunner suggested a good size, but that's always your decision. I just like a peaceful flock and figure there can never be enough room.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Agrees 5' x 5' coop is tight for 7 birds.....
    .....especially in your winters when they might not go outside into run for days on end if the weather is atrocious.
    ...especially if you consider space for food and water in coop.
     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    FWIW, I agree with Aart and OHLD. Bare minimum IMO is 4 s.f./bird in the coop, 10 s.f./bird in the run. And the smaller your flock, the more important these basic guidelines are. For the simple reason that 25 birds would have 100 s.f. while 4 birds would have only 16 s.f. Those 25 birds, effectively would each have 100 s.f. to roam in, while the 4 birds would each only have 16 s.f. Add the feed and water, and the space limitation becomes even more evident in a smaller flock/coop.
     
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