Thought it was molt, now I'm questioning???

Chickie Baby

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 17, 2014
105
28
91
Buff stopped laying over a month ago, she's less than 2 yrs old. She doesn't show obvious signs of molt, but thought that's what it was after asking here. She had been fighting one of my roosters and not allowing him to touch her or any of her sister hens. She was getting really fierce pulling out his hackle feathers so he's now close to naked necked, poor guy.

I found her in the nesting box over this past weekend. She was there a very long time and then finally came out. She never layed. So now, she's not coming out of the coop at all. She seems a little off, but not really anything I can describe. She's not one that I can get my hands on easily, but I did get her on Monday and try to feel her abdomen. Not sure what I was feeling for... She's eating as long as I bring food to her in the coop and she has water in there. She is shaking her head quite a bit which is not unusual for her, she's always done it.

If she were egg bound, wouldn't I see her look different as the days pass? I don't really see a visible change in her appearance. She's just acting like she doesn't want to come out of the coop for some reason. Could the roosters be causing her so much stress that she's secluding herself? She will NOT let them get near her, I've NEVER seen her submit to either of them.

I'm in MS and it is still in the 90s here. She has plenty of air circulating in the coop, I'm not concerned about the heat really, I'm just not sure what to do for her? Any ideas?
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
If she were eggbound you would know by now. Probably more likely that it's at least one broken bone, I think, or the stress could have beaten her immune system down to the point where an incubating disease or parasite burden has overtaken her.

Either your roosters are unfit to breed for whatever reason and she knows it, or she's a non-rooster-tolerant hen, they do exist. Not common to hear of a Buff Orp like that though, more commonly it's Isabrowns etc. From the fact that it's not unusual for her to shake her head, it may be a physical fault on her part, since they often come with mental aberrations, but on the other hand it's also abnormal for a male to fight a hen. Still, plenty of burring of gender roles and instincts among domestics; what's abnormal for wild ancestors can be normal for domestic descendants.

If she has one or more broken bones the period of sitting will help them heal right, but it's possible there's an internal infection. I'd use raw freshly minced garlic but many would use alternative antibiotics like artificial ones. It's your choice but it's possible she needs something done. Due to having a fused skeleton chickens can easily hide many breaks and fractures without any obvious symptoms other than unusually reclusive behavior, being the number one sign you see in any breaks which don't outright obviously cripple them.

Is she losing condition at all? What's her poops like? Also, can you get a pic of her?

ETA: are you sure she's not broody? Many hens will become more violent leading up to brooding as they try to cement their social position one last time before vanishing for a while.

Best wishes.
 
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Chickie Baby

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 17, 2014
105
28
91
If she were eggbound you would know by now. Probably more likely that it's at least one broken bone, I think, or the stress could have beaten her immune system down to the point where an incubating disease or parasite burden has overtaken her.

Great to hear that I'd know by now if she were eggbound. She has never been a consistent layer, like 2 per week and very oddly shaped. But to stop completely and now not come out of the coop.

Either your roosters are unfit to breed for whatever reason and she knows it, or she's a non-rooster-tolerant hen, they do exist. Not common to hear of a Buff Orp like that though, more commonly it's Isabrowns etc. From the fact that it's not unusual for her to shake her head, it may be a physical fault on her part, since they often come with mental aberrations, but on the other hand it's also abnormal for a male to fight a hen. Still, plenty of burring of gender roles and instincts among domestics; what's abnormal for wild ancestors can be normal for domestic descendants.

She has fought the alfa-male from the beginning. She's older than he and it took a while for all the hens to warm up, but she never has. She has zero tolerance for any of the roos. I thought it was strange that she fought the rooster and that he started fighting back, but I think she was giving him no choice.

If she has one or more broken bones the period of sitting will help them heal right, but it's possible there's an internal infection. I'd use raw freshly minced garlic but many would use alternative antibiotics like artificial ones. It's your choice but it's possible she needs something done. Due to having a fused skeleton chickens can easily hide many breaks and fractures without any obvious symptoms other than unusually reclusive behavior, being the number one sign you see in any breaks which don't outright obviously cripple them.

I did see her in the nesting box again yesterday evening when I got home from work. She didn't lay an egg and not sure how long she had been there. I have seen her come out of the coop, on her own, only once in the past week (she flies out of the windows that are open, she doesn't walk down the ladder). It's about 3ft off the ground. I can indeed put fresh garlic in the water that's in the coop. When I looked her over the other day, I did look for mites and she was clear. Internally, could be likely. My flock free-ranges and would come in contact with parasites/worms.

Is she losing condition at all? What's her poops like? Also, can you get a pic of her?

Her poops are normal, nothing that seems different at all. I can get a picture of her this evening while she's in the coop. I don't see loss in condition, her comb and waddles are bright red and she eats and drinks well.

ETA: are you sure she's not broody? Many hens will become more violent leading up to brooding as they try to cement their social position one last time before vanishing for a while.

To be perfectly honest, I've never had a broody. I'm not sure if that's what's going on here. Yesterday, she was sitting in the box with a couple of eggs but she got up on her own when I went to the garden. She knows I'll come back with something for her... She's a bit of a glutton.

Best wishes.
Thank you Chooks, you've always been very helpful to me!
 

Chickie Baby

Chirping
5 Years
Mar 17, 2014
105
28
91
So here she is, looking like she guarding the fort! No egg from her today but gathered eggs out if the nest boxes of the other girls.
400

400

Again... Just stays in this area looking around.
400


Here's a pic of her a couple weeks before, in the yard with the others.
400
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
She has never been a consistent layer, like 2 per week and very oddly shaped. But to stop completely and now not come out of the coop.

^ This. I think this is quite possibly the root of your whole issue. It's certainly important.

Something is not right internally for a Buff Orp to only lay two a week and oddly shaped at that. This may well be spurring her to refuse the roosters; perhaps mating is painful for her. It's fairly likely laying is abnormally painful for her as well, if her eggs are not the right shape.

That, combined with her habit of head shaking, is more of a concern. Still, when one thing is wrong, there are often ripple effects throughout the organism. Could be linked, even if the link is just due to one abnormality causing deficiency in something like calcium due to causing extra exertion (such as would be required to lay an abnormally shaped egg) or draining calcium supplies due to some consistent pain levels.

They usually don't show any signs something is wrong. It may be genetic, or acquired, an injury or illness. Maybe she has a tumor, benign or otherwise. Impossible to say for sure.

She has an unusual amount of eyebrow feathers for a female. It's possible her hormones have gone awol, causing her aggressive and reclusive behavior; cysts or tumors on the reproductive tract can cause all of these symptoms.

She has fought the alfa-male from the beginning. She's older than he and it took a while for all the hens to warm up, but she never has. She has zero tolerance for any of the roos. I thought it was strange that she fought the rooster and that he started fighting back, but I think she was giving him no choice.

Alright then, she's possibly just one with no social instincts left regarding males, but in light of the recent info about her low ratio of deformed eggs, I think it's more complex than that. Normally alpha hen and alpha rooster do not fight, obviously.

I did see her in the nesting box again yesterday evening when I got home from work. She didn't lay an egg and not sure how long she had been there. I have seen her come out of the coop, on her own, only once in the past week (she flies out of the windows that are open, she doesn't walk down the ladder). It's about 3ft off the ground. I can indeed put fresh garlic in the water that's in the coop. When I looked her over the other day, I did look for mites and she was clear. Internally, could be likely. My flock free-ranges and would come in contact with parasites/worms.

Doubt it's a broken bone if she chooses to fly down, but, sometimes walking on an angle is harder for them than jumping depending on what's hurt. I've seen that before. If you use garlic it needs to be freshly minced (within 24 hours of being chopped) for best effect. But I don't think it's an internal infection given her oddly shaped eggs.

Her poops are normal, nothing that seems different at all. I can get a picture of her this evening while she's in the coop. I don't see loss in condition, her comb and waddles are bright red and she eats and drinks well.

Overall she looks alright, but her comb and wattles can be redder than that, it's more pinkish than red; adding stuff like many things in the allium family (onion, garlic, leek, shallots etc), raspberry leaf, cayenne, olive oil, kelp, really a whole lot of things to their diet will give them rich red faces etc, as it increases peripheral circulation and capillary flexibility, improving oxygenation of the whole body especially the often neglected extremities, strengthening the cardiovascular system. More oxygenation is the enemy of all things unhealthy which thrive in anaerobic, acidic environments. The benefits of trying to ensure your poultry always have tomato or cherry red faces are far-reaching and prevent many common problems from ever happening i.e. eggbinding.

To be perfectly honest, I've never had a broody. I'm not sure if that's what's going on here. Yesterday, she was sitting in the box with a couple of eggs but she got up on her own when I went to the garden. She knows I'll come back with something for her... She's a bit of a glutton.

Maybe a sneaky broody. Some hens won't make a peep at you, just abandon nest without a word, never do the typical broody defense/threat display, etc. Unfortunately these hens who choose to flee rather than stand their ground rarely make able mothers. They aren't invested enough and will abandon clutch or chicks at even an imagined provocation. If you can access her at night time or any time without undue trouble, I'd check her breast area; if her breast/pectoral muscles are bare, she's almost certainly brooding. However some (generally) non-broody types like Isabrowns will permanently retain bare breasts which you won't see without touching them, they have some seriously confused hormones, lol! Even if she is brooding it's still possibly due to hormonal imbalance due to a tumor or something. That odd laying pattern and deformed eggs are not something to dismiss lightly.

Thank you Chooks, you've always been very helpful to me!

You're welcome, hope your hen recovers. Best wishes.
 

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