The mind of a chicken

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by silverback, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. silverback

    silverback Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 18, 2010
    Questions for y'all:

    What is it that runs through hens' little brains and informs their decisions???
    I have 3 "old" hens about 1-1/2 years old. About 4 months ago I introduced three 8 week old chicks. They have their own coop and were fenced apart (but within sight) for several weeks and then we took the fence down and the flock was one. Sort of. The "old" hens keep their top position in the pecking order and while they mingle some, they continue to assert their superiority. The new hens are now 23-24 weeks old. Both sets of hens go to their own coops at night to sleep. The older girls often enter the new girls coop to eat their food (both coops have free choice feed at all times) but the new hens have never set foot in the older girls coop. Until last weekend.

    The biggest of the new girls started laying Saturday. Where? In the nest box of the older hens coop! There are perfectly good nest boxes in the new girls coop and the older hens often try them out - but always return to their own nests to lay. The new hen has now laid a beautiful perfect egg every day since - in the older hens' nest. After I let them out in the morning, she waits a little while and then marches up the ramp and sits in the nest and lays her egg.

    What in the world possessed her to enter the "enemy" territory to make her nest? What drives these birds? Was it smell? Was it magic?

    Am very curious to see what the other two newbies do when they start laying - which should be any day now!

    S.
     
  2. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    That's funny! Maybe it's an effort by the younger generation to take over and usurp the older generation's authority!
    Or could just be that they are learning from the older hens?
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011
  3. Chicken Boo

    Chicken Boo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe the presence of the eggs from the older girls are signalling where she should lay. Just like putting golf balls in the nest box.
     
  4. AngelaClassAct

    AngelaClassAct Out Of The Brooder

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    Are your other younger girls laying yet? Maybe she is just taking notice of where to do her business! [​IMG]
     
  5. silverback

    silverback Chillin' With My Peeps

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    <<That's funny! Maybe it's an effort by the younger generation to take over and usurp the older generation's authority!
    Or could just be that they are learning from the older hens?>>

    I hadn't thought about the younger generation asserting themselves! What an interesting notion!

    And, although I never noticed the youngsters watching the older hens lay - maybe they peeked in?

    S.
     
  6. silverback

    silverback Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 18, 2010
    >>Maybe the presence of the eggs from the older girls are signalling where she should lay. Just like putting golf balls in the nest box.<<

    All the nest boxes have beautiful little wooden eggs my husband turned on the lathe. I'm still wondering if it is smell. Anyone know anything about chicken noses and their ability to smell? Would they smell the place where eggs are safely laid?

    S.
     
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Don't think smell and taste are very developed in chickens. Their sense of sight and hearing are the ones tuned into.

    They probably have seen and heard the older birds laying eggs in the "safe" spot so have "learned" that where the big girls lay is where they should lay too.
     
  8. MoonAngel12

    MoonAngel12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Central NC
    Mine did the same exact thing!! We moved the older ones up to the new tractor when we got the new ones so it wouldn't be anyone's "territory." They figured out the pecking order and seemed to calm down a bit so I started letting them free range more (they had been locked up about a week I think??) - it only took 2 days for all the older hens to find their way back to the old coop. Then I look down one day and find all the new hens in the old run! They don't mingle much at all. The older hens come up to the tractor to steal food, and one of my new hens lays in the old nesting boxes. It's pretty funny to watch...
     
  9. silverback

    silverback Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 18, 2010
    Well - the other two young girls produced their first eggs today - but they never made it to either nest! Found two soft-shell eggs under their overnight roost this morning.
    So, I will have to wait to see whether they follow their "sister" and the older hens or use the nests in their own coop. Hopefully the location and shells will improve by tomorrow.
    S.
     
  10. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Milner, Georgia
    Oh shoot, that ones easy. Just like a new pair of jeans compared to an old pair. The old ones just feel better and are se much more comfortable. The old one feel better. Smell and the whole thing. The old hen wants something new. She's tired of the old. Just like us old folks.
     

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