There always has to be that one hen!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Oregonchickenwoman, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. Oregonchickenwoman

    Oregonchickenwoman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2011
    I have tried to read up on this, but found some older threads on it, and decided to ask anew.

    We have this one young hen, who has decided she will stay inside the fence with the others.....

    So, they have about 1/2 an acre fenced in, plus an entire field behind that, about another three acres, and everyone else is happy to stay in their own big roaming range, except this one pesky hen. She gets out numerous times a day in our yard. Her main goal is to get into the shed where the hay is stored (local grass hay we use for their nesting boxes). If it is open, it is a sure magnet, so I make sure it is kept closed. Even so, she gets over the fence, stand there and calls and calls desperately hoping she can get in. She is tough to catch too. Once caught this last time, I clipped her wings....that DID NOT do anything. She keeps getting out. Now I plan to have the guys add height to the fence, but in the meantime I grabbed her, brought her back into the chicken yard, into the henhouse, putting her into the nesting box, within seconds she was out and pacing the fence again.

    I speculated it may be she just got out that one time, laid her first egg (she and 7 others are just starting up) in that spot and has decided that is where she must go now. Is this her issue? Do they fixate on certain spots once they lay an egg there? What would help, other than fencing, to break this habit for her? If there are a lot of hens in the flock (mixed ages, some older, some young and some pullets yet), will they feel "cramped" for space if they perceive there are not enough nesting boxes and try to expand their laying territory?

    Another thought, would adding another devoted nesting "room" on the exterior of the henhouse possibly help? My son did put the nesting boxes, I thought, too high. All the hens are used to it, and he thought it would make them feel safer when laying. Should the boxes be lower in the henhouse?
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    [​IMG]

    Sounds like a very frustrating situation for you. I do think hens can sometimes get obsessive about their nestboxes. I have one that will scream for hours if other hens are in HER nestbox, even with four other boxes right there.

    The nestboxes should be lower than your roosts in the coop. That's to prevent them from sleeping in them. I would look at the area she prefers to lay in real close and see if you can figure out what exactly it is about that area she likes so much. I know my hens are used to covered nestboxes and will not lay in one unless it is covered. I could offer them 10 open boxes and one enclosed box and they will all line up to use the closed one. [​IMG]

    Good luck to you. [​IMG]
     
  3. DinosRBirds

    DinosRBirds Hunted by Moonlight

    Feb 1, 2011
    Lake Huron,MI
    i can't imagine, since my last hen is now deceased, and i am raising a bunch of new pullets, bu if i have to say, you should probably make sure there are as many nesting boxes as thera are pullets.
     
  4. Oregonchickenwoman

    Oregonchickenwoman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2011
    The nesting boxes, in my opinion, are too high, maybe that's why? My 17 year old son put them in, he said he thought they'd feel safer. However, whenever we have added new pullets to the coop, they all aim for the nesting boxes to roost, so at least that solves one problem in my mind (we'd battle the little varmits every night to keep them out of the boxes and fouling them all up).

    I got mad yesterday, home alone (the men at work), on my fifth chicken chasing, and started using zip ties, furing strip pieces, and extending the posts so I could add another three feet higher of fencing in all the areas she used to jump over. I know I finally got the spots she used because she walked back and forth with her wings slightly out, beak half open making little distressed sounds. Yeah, she was obsesssed, but those boxes need to come down lower.
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Yes, chickens will instinctively go to the highest place possible to roost. If your nestboxes are higher than your roosts, guess where they will go?

    I disagree on a box per hen. One box per 4 hens is more than adequate and chickens being chickens, they are all going to favor using the same box anyhow. [​IMG]
     
  6. Oregonchickenwoman

    Oregonchickenwoman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2011
    See, we have eight boxes, and we have 18 currently laying, but I think it is the set-up. I am not even sure our henhouse is adequate at this point. We have a big enough roosting "ladder" which is 4 bars across a 6 foot span (of course they all crowd onto the top bar and knock each other off trying to be squished onto that one upper bar). So here is my question, we have a henhouse which is 6x6 foot floor space, and six feet high (floor to ceiling), does this seem like enough room? I suppose this comes to mind thinking about this neurotic escapee hen, and wondered if she was seeking out more space because what we have for them is inadequate? They have about two acres (or so) to roam freely all day, and are in only to lay eggs and roost, so we assumed this was ok, but now I am wondering if they need more space because we have had a drop in production in the last month. Our oldest hens are only two years old, with 8 young hens just starting up, seems we should be getting more eggs than 8/9 as we have lately.
     
  7. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Okay, if my math skills are adequate today (big if) you have a total of 36 sq. feet of floor space (6 ft. x 6 ft.). It's recommended that you have 4 sq. feet per hen, so that's enough space for 9 hens. I for one think you can get away with a little less if your birds free range all day; though others would disagree with me.

    Still, overcrowding may indeed be an issue for you.

    Roost space I have plenty of, but even if I didn't I don't stress on that as much as I do on floor space. Like nestboxes, you could put in 50 sq. feet of roost space and they are all going to want to be where they want to be anyhow.
     
  8. Oregonchickenwoman

    Oregonchickenwoman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 23, 2011
    We have never been able to get a definitive answer on how much was needed, but this could be one of our issues, maybe simply they perceive it as not enough to nest in to lay eggs.

    Then there is one hen, who has been broody, we got her some chicks, she took to them right away, and I wondered if the broodiness wasn't "catching"?
     
  9. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:Broodiness does indeed seem to be catching. Whether that's fact or fiction, I dunno.
     
  10. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    [​IMG] The nest boxes may be too high. My birds seem to prefer the lower nest boxes.
     

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