The disappearing and returning hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by elorac, Oct 29, 2016.

  1. elorac

    elorac Out Of The Brooder

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    This came up in my thread about rooster behavior and is all off topic, so new thread here.

    7 month old dominique hen. She is one of 3 hens, and a rooster of the same age. Added to my 6 hen flock this year. Well 5 now, 'cause I lost one. They are a year and a half old.

    9 days ago, a hawk struck through the yard and all were very scared for a long time. That evening, 7 month old dom hen number 1 never came back, and I was sure the hawk must've taken her.

    Yesterday morning, she appeared in the yard! Shocked I was.. but she didn't stay around. Never came in to roost last night.
    Today, I was leaf blowing. I was going to blow the walnuts up my neighbors driveway (nuisance boogers). They have moved and nobody lives there right now, but it's my walnut tree, and those things are such a pain.
    I looked around and there was dom hen #1 in the backyard. She had worn a path pacing up and down right next to the chain link fence, looking toward my back yard as if she needed to figure out how to get in.

    Took a bit, but caught her. This was near dusk, so put her in the coop and made her stay there til everyone else came in.
    She took a place in the fairly open roost and stayed there never bothering anyone. There's always mayhem for a while at roosting time with everyone arguing over who's where and generally picking at other just for meanness.
    This dom hen fluffed herself almost continually and make a low volume cluck sound for a bit. Keeping still and holding her position, nobody really bothered her.

    Dom hen #2 is really annoying loud and fussy "yack yack yack yack" real quick sounds and kinda loud. It seemed the 2 of them were having a sort of standoff.
    #2 didn't fluff herself but "yack"ed a lot, as usual. The rooster was in between them. He just ducks and covers if pecks come his way. But #2 never physically moved closer to #1, and she certainly could have. I've seen her do it before.

    Do you all think hen #1 has been sorta shunned?
    because she was gone for a while? or was this already the case before #1 took a vaca?
    I'd love to have a chicken behaviorist to consult. LOL!

    #1 has never been an aggressor, and I was kinda proud and curious at her fluff thing. She's good at hiding and I can't imagine what all she was doing during the week she was gone, and last night. She normally chooses to walk away from any confrontation. Kinda shy.

    Should I force her to stay in the coop tomorrow, for a few days?, or what?
    I'm concerned she may be prone to just leave frequently. And also, she may now be in a habit of laying eggs just wherever, ya know?

    Recommendations please.

    some general random info.. no idea where #1 exits the yard. She looks well fed and I guess she has had water. She didn't even go for water or food before hopping up to the roost.
    I suppose she could be sneaking in the yard and back out every day, and I just don't see it.
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    Here is my view.. There is a saying, " If you love something let it go. If it comes back to to it is yours If it does not, then it never was " That was by someone way smarter than I, Caveman not a plagiarist.
    Since she did return, I think she will stay. Try observing where she escapes. Could it be she is flying over fence??? You mention that she was well fed. Are there others near you that keep chickens or other fowl?
    Keep us posted if she escapes again. My feeling is she is back to stay.[​IMG]
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Chicken social order is complex. If a hen is absent for even a couple of days, it disturbs the pecking order, and when she returns, her rank has changed, as has everyone else's. Depending on individual temperament, fighting may or may not occur when an absent chicken reunites with the flock. It would appear that #1 is able to make her intentions known without brawling. Perhaps #2 would like to rumble, but #1 has communicated where she stands, and there may be no need to get physical.

    As for her disappearance, when a predator attacks, some survivors of the attack will flee, hide out for a few days, and wander back after scoping out the area for safety. I would attribute her disappearance more to the trauma of the attack than to wanderlust, and relax and not worry about her running off again anytime soon.
     
  4. elorac

    elorac Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2015
    Thanks. I am in town. Lots of chicken keepers in our town. However, there are none within a close distance that I'm aware of. I can hear a rooster in the distance pretty regularly. But it's quite a ways off. Most of my neighbors would be really shocked and have a good laugh.
    One of the unusual circumstances is that my next door neighbor, where I discovered her today, has moved out and the house is empty. So no real obstacles there if she wanted to forage, hide under the deck, bushes, etc.
    They have 2 small dogs. Obviously not there anymore.
     
  5. elorac

    elorac Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2015
    Thank you. They sure are complex! Wish there was a clear translator sometimes. There was clearly some messaging going on there at nightfall this evening.
    Sometimes I stand there with a stick and watch their silliness and tap the neck of the meanies. That is only for my own goofy curiosity though. No matte what, there's going to be meanies/bosses, and the underlings.

    I'm about to remodel the roost a bit, just making it longer, and with more "steps" and am hoping that helps the bedtime beatings a little. They have plenty of room now, but we'll see if it makes a difference.
     
  6. steve232

    steve232 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ya know I can't help but to wonder if your disappearing hen is broody and has been off setting on some eggs. You mentioned about her being ruffled up which broody hens do a lot as well as you mentioned a low clucking sound. With her coming back in for a short time and leaving again sure sounds like a broody hen to me.
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    If #1 is indeed broody, she will make it obvious to all that she has to get to those eggs at all cost. She will be pacing and muttering like a popcorn popper, in a foul fowl mood, puffed up like a mean badger. If she's then let out, she will make a beeline for her hidden nest. You can then follow and locate it and gather the eggs and bring them back to let her sit on them in the coop where she'll be much safer.

    If you have doubts, look at her breast. If she's missing feathers along the keel bone, she probably is broody.
     
  8. elorac

    elorac Out Of The Brooder

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    Broody? hmm........

    I will sure try to watch where she goes in the morning when I let them out.

    I had planned to look around the neighbor's yard for stray eggs also.
     
  9. elorac

    elorac Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 28, 2015
    Well, not broody I guess. She made no interest in the next boxes in the roost, and didn't head anywhere particular when leaving the coop. No hurry either.
    A couple times, the others would approach her with what looked like attitude of aggression (quietly), but she removes herself before they reach her. Before I cam in, she went under a bush and stood pretty still.

    I am babysitting my brother's dog for 2 weeks and I had to get back in to take the dog out the front of the house. Not a chicken friendly dog, so she can't go out back with the chickens.
     

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