Weird behavior change

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Ariel301, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    I have a group of chickens that were all hatched early this year. At around four months old, they were like normal birds that age--cockerels crowing their heads off, pullets starting to turn pinker in the combs and scratching around in the nest boxes a lot. Within the last month or two, though, I have noticed something. The cockerels have crowed less and less, and now are not crowing at all. They have also given up mating with the females. The pullets are ignoring the nest boxes, and have not laid anything at all. Some lost their nice red faces and went back to sort of a dull lavender-ish pink. Others have stayed red but are still not laying or interested in the nests. They are now pushing 6 1/2 to 7 months old! They otherwise look healthy, are active and eating and alert. I have not changed anything I am doing. What's going on?
     
  2. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,873
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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    What do you feed them? Have they had anything stressfull happen lately (pred. attack, move, etc.)? Have they ever been wormed? Have you checked them over for lice/mites? What are they living in and how big is the coop/run areas?
     
  3. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    The birds are free-ranging plus they have a large run/coop made of chainlink with a roof and a wooden "shed" area that they have their nests in and perches in the shade in there for resting during the day or sleeping at night. We make all of our animal housing from chain link here for ventilation because it can get to 150 degrees inside an enclosed barn/coop very easily in our weather. Their coop area is 15 feet by 12 feet for about 30 birds to sleep in, and they have 7 acres to roam all day.

    They eat what they find on their own, plus a big "buffet" trough feeder that has Flock Raiser, whole grains, spent brewery grain, and vegetables and fruits, plus free access to grit, crushed eggshells for calcium, and a salt-free livestock mineral mix that is labeled for use on poultry. I figure that they know what they need, so I let them choose what they want. They like the veggie section the most, and I see that they really go for the high-protein brewery grain (it's about 25%) during the times when bugs are less plentiful, and ignore it when there are tons of bugs around, so they do seem to self-regulate well.

    I have not done anything stressful for them, no new birds in the last two months, no moves except this last week I took six birds to the fair, but none of the others seem to notice they are gone; no signs of disease among any of them. I check regularly for mites on random birds as I can catch them, and do not see any; I de-loused and dewormed a few months back. I don't like to regularly deworm my chickens as I am breeding for parasite resistance, birds that don't do well with my raising method are culled from the flock. As for predators, nothing I know of that is not normal; we do have hawks, vultures, and a fox that are regular visitors, but they have not attacked or eaten anyone in many months. One of those MAY have scared them more than usual, or something I didn't see was out there and left no tracks in the sand around the pen...we do have coyotes, stray dogs, wolves (released from people's homes, not wild ones, but strays), bobcats, and mountain lions here. But I can't see them coming every night and never leaving a sign, and one or two visits would quickly be forgotten by the birds, they don't act stressed at all.

    And, yes, I have already checked to be sure they are not hiding their eggs in a sneaky spot other than the coop. They're not, but even if they were, it is still strange that the cockerels have lost interest in crowing or mating...The one I took to the fair is sitting quietly in the middle of a row of birds of his own breed and age that are crowing and trying to fight through the bars, and he is just sitting and looking around.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2010

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