Weather change and behavior

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TNchickns, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. TNchickns

    TNchickns Chirping

    Nov 12, 2014
    We had what was hopefully our last snow here in middle TN last week. The hens stay in the coop while there's snow on the ground, still have access to food and water. Each time its gotten warm after the snow, one hen's behavior (3 year old SLW) changes for the worse. She seems agitated (pecking me at meal time, hard!), being a complete nuisance about going where she's not supposed to be and laying outside the coop in an unused horse stall on top of a few spare bales of straw. I can remove everything in the stall so she will have to lay somewhere else, but the question is since I know where she's laying, should I just let it be or try to get her to lay in the coop again? Are the behavior changes normal after being "cooped up" in cold weather?
    The other issue is meal time...all 4 hens are much less interested in food since the weather warmed up. They free range so we meal feed twice daily. Egg production has actually increased so is it a problem for them to eat less actual layer feed if they're foraging on their own?
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Being cooped up could make them irritable, especially if they get a taste now and then of being out free ranging. Between free ranging and foraging and eating their feed, they are probably getting all the nutrients they need, in spite of consuming less feed. It's a good sign they adjust their intake according to how much they eat when free ranging, or else you'd have a problem with fat chickens.
  3. TNchickns

    TNchickns Chirping

    Nov 12, 2014
    Thanks azygous, although still annoying, good to know I can write some of that off as normal. What do you think about the laying eggs outside the coop? I've read a lot of previous posts about that, but still not sure if its something I should attempt to remedy since I know where she'd laying and its accessible. She still may not choose to lay in the coop if I force her out and might end up in a worse spot.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Not unusual for them to eat less fed once it warms up......
    .....especially if they are free ranging and there's other things to eat.

    But......I'd leave a balanced feed available to them at all times.

    You could coop her back up to 'retrain' her to lay in the nests.
    Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    This time of year the free-range birds are enjoying a large increase in animal forages (insects, isopods and spiders). They can be so well satisfied they will pass up feed and even water for days. The warming temps after snows makes so those eats concentrate in leafy areas that warm up faster and that are also easier for birds to scratch through. If you handle your birds just after they go to roost you will notice their crops are greatly distended with something that is soft. In addition to the critters, they will also be eating lots of tender plant growth.

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