Welsummer loses her mind when laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TeamBigfoot, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. TeamBigfoot

    TeamBigfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello BYC. This is our Welsummer hen, Major Cluster:

    [​IMG]

    Our flock was born in August 2013. We have a total of four hens and all are now laying, but only Major Cluster loses her mind when she needs to lay. The other three girls quietly go about their business.

    When Major Cluster needs to lay, she shrieks every few minutes over the course of the 1.5 hours it takes for her to lay, paces up and down the coop ramp, paces into and out of the coop, and into and out of the nesting box (separately, or all together, relentlessly). She'll spend 10 seconds in the nesting box, then hop back out, go back outside, immediately turn around and come back in the coop and do the whole thing again.

    Even more of a concern, if her need to lay an egg coincides with backyard recess in the afternoon, she's begun to make a bee line for our yard's rear fence. For some reason she has the strongest desire to jump the fence when she needs to lay. This has happened three times so far, and each time her desire is more insistent. So far I've managed to get a hold of her and shoo her into the coop, where I lower the run door and keep her inside until she lays. She doesn't try for any of the other three sides of the yard, just the back (nearest the coop) and otherwise none of the hens have any inclination to fly or try to leave the yard.

    When she does actually lay, she's in the nesting box for less than three minutes, pops the egg out, and goes to get a drink. As soon as she's laid her egg I can open the run door and she has zero desire to jump the fence, is quiet as you please, and just wants to go explore. It is very much a Dr. Jekell & Mr. Hyde thing.

    We're wondering if her behavior is because she's somehow in distress, if this is something Welsummer's are known for, or if she's just affected by the whole egg-laying thing more than the others. When she gets down to it, she has no problems laying her egg, every one of her eggs has been well formed, etc.
     
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Wellies do love their egg songs, and the whole world MUST hear it. On her jumping the fence, it sounds like she's being sneaky and found a place on the other side that she wants to lay.
     
  3. TeamBigfoot

    TeamBigfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your reply. She's never been out of the backyard, so if she's got some place she'd rather be, it's all in her mind[​IMG] She doesn't actually sing the typical Egg Song, but her screeching is more of a "rah Rah RAH RAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!"

    We just want to make sure her behaviors aren't pointing to some distress or problem. She's otherwise perfectly healthy, but these are our first chickens, so our practical knowledge started from scratch, as it were.
     
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    How long has she been laying? She may settle down some as her body gets used to laying.
     
  5. TeamBigfoot

    TeamBigfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She's only been laying for about a month. She was noisy from a couple weeks before she laid her first, but her in-and-out behavior has increased somewhat, and the "I'm hopping this fence and there's nothing you can do about it" drive is increasing pretty dramatically.

    Not that a month is a long time, or necessarily time enough for her to get used to it, I suppose.
     
  6. Hayduke27

    Hayduke27 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had an Easter Egger that did a very similar thing with respect to jumping around on things and trying to find a place to nest. She would try to climb walls, get on tables, get over the fence, etc. When I would catch her doing this, I just picked her up and took her in to the nest boxes and placed her in one. She would usually stay in there after that to lay, though often she would have to pick a different nest than I had picked (out of principle, I suppose). She got used to it, and after a couple weeks was laying in the nests regularly. This took place when she was about 6 months old.
     
  7. TeamBigfoot

    TeamBigfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The age is close, Major Cluster is just over 6 months. I've tried the "let's get you settled nice and cozy" routine with her by placing her in the nesting box. She only lays in one nesting box, and I'll put her in there, but she's out again after a few seconds of scratching around and a u-turn or two. Once she decides it is time, she hops right in and gets it done.

    She's a regular layer (4-5 a week), but she'll vary from laying in the morning, early afternoon, or afternoon recess when the run is open.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    My Welsummers recently began laying, too. Yes, they love to make egg-laying a high-drama event.

    On the vocalizing, it sounds like she's trying to crow. Again, a high-drama thing.
     
  9. TeamBigfoot

    TeamBigfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is all good information. Thank you. Just need to be extra careful when the run is open and she needs to lay.
     
  10. TeamBigfoot

    TeamBigfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens have taught me something new. My Welsummer will make noise and go crazy when she needs to lay, as mentioned above. However, if, when she goes into the coop when she needs to lay, she sees a nesting box WITH an egg already in it, she'll just jump in, sit down, lay her egg, and that's that.

    This morning two of the four nesting boxes were occupied, the other two boxes were empty of eggs and hens. Major Cluster (our Welsummer) was going crazy, and she even attempted a double-occupancy move that was rebuffed. I went out and put another hen's egg (laid earlier this morning) into an empty nesting box. Major Cluster went back inside, looked at the egg, then went in to the box I'd placed the egg, sat down, and 5 minutes later I get the Egg Song.
     

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